Ilocano (Iloko / Pagsasao nga Ilokano)

Ilocano is a member of the Northern Luzon branch of the Malayo-Polynesian language family. It is spoken mainly in the Philippines, particularly in the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions of northern Luzon, and also in parts of central Luzon, Mindoro and southern Mindanao. It is officially recognized as a provincial language, along with Filipino and English, in La Union province in the Ilocos region of Luzon, and recognized as an auxiliary offical language in other regions where it is spoken.

Ilocano at a glance

  • Native name: Pagsasao nga Ilokano
  • Language family: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Philippine, Northern Luzon
  • Number of speakers: c. 11.1 million
  • Spoken in: Philippines, USA and Canada
  • First written: 17th century
  • Writing system: Kur-itan and Latin scripts
  • Status: official provincial language in La Union. auxiliary official language in other Ilocano-speaking areas

Ilocano is the third most spoken language in the Philippines with 11 million speakers in 2015, including 9.1 million native speakers [source]. There are also about 85,000 Ilocano speakers in the USA, mainly in Hawaii, and 26,000 in Canada [source].

Ilocano has been used as a medium of instruction in Philippine schools since 1897. It is currently used as such in schools in the Ilocos and Cordilleras region until grade 3.

The language is also known as Ilokano, Iloko, Iluko or Iloco. Native names for the language include Ilokano and Pagsasao nga Ilokano. The Ilocano people call themselves Samtoy, a contraction from the Ilocano phrase saö mi ditoy, meaning "our language here".

Ilocano was first written with a version of the Baybayin script known as Kur-itan or Kurdita. This was gradually replaced by the Latin alphabet the Spanish arrived in the Philippines in the 16th century. One of the first publications in Iloko was the Doctrina Cristiana of 1621. Several ways to write Ilocano with the Latin alphabet were devised, based either on Spanish spelling or Tagalog spelling. The Spanish-based spelling is preferred by most of the older generation.

Recently there have been proposals to teach the Kur-itan script in schools in the Ilocos region where Ilocano speakers are in the majority.

Kur-itan script for Ilocano

Kur-itan script for Ilocano


Ilocano alphabet and pronunciation

Ilocano alphabet and pronuciation


Download alphabet charts for Ilocano (Excel)

Sample text in Iloko

Amin nga tao nga sibibiag ket naiyanak a siwawayawaya ken addaan iti agpapada nga dayaw ken kalintegan. Naikkanda ti panagikalintegan ken konsensya a nasken ti panagtitinnulong iti meysa ken meysa iti espiritu nga nainkak-absatan.

Alternative version of the sample text

Amin a tao ket nayanak a nawaya ken agpapada iti dayaw ken karbengan. Naikkanda iti isip ken konsensia ket masapul nga aglilinnangen iti anag ti panagkikinnabsat.
Translated by Eugene Carmelo C. Pedro


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample text in the Baybayin syllabary in Iloko (Lord's Prayer)

Sample text in the Ilocano version of baybayin


Amami a addaka't sadi langita
Pasantipikalmo ti nagammo
padtengmo kadakam ti paghadiam
Paannugummo ti nakemmo ditoy
daga kas sadi langit itdem kadaka-
m iti aldao itoy ti kanemmi
a patinayon a aldao paavani


Sample videos in Ilocano

Information about Ilocano | Phrases | Numbers | Tower of Babel


Information about the Ilocano language

Ilocano English Dictionary

Ilocano Community Online

Ilocano web portal - includes songs, fiction, poetry, riddles and a forum

Northern Luzon languages

Arta, Balangao, Bontoc, Bugkalot, Dupaningan, Gaddang, Ibaloi, Ibanag, Ifugao, Ilocano, Isinai, Itawis, Kankanaey, Pangasinan, Yogad

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 14.01.23


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