Speaking Ivatan

While in Batanes for a week, I managed to pick up a few Ivatan words and phrases which the tour guides, a fishball vendor, and random people I met or had beer (and Gran Matador) with were kind enough to teach me. I sounded funny while attempting to speak in their language of course, but they seemed pleased that I’m trying at least. Here’s a sampling of Ivatan I can still remember:

Kapian kapanu dius si cha mavekhas/ maraw/ makuyab/ mahep – Good morning/ noon/ afternoon/ evening

I learned these greetings while intoxicated with Red Horse on my first night in Batanes. I woke up with a hangover the next day and saying good morning in Ivatan was the first thing I remembered.

Dinu mavid kanan dyaya? – Where’s a good place to eat?
Mapteng – hungry
Maychinuhat an madinyat. – Have coffee when drunk.

I picked these up in Sabtang while badgering Ryan, the tour guide, and Kuya Noli, the driver who also happens to be the town’s municipal planning and development coordinator.

Mamchit – spicy
Manawnas – sweet

While choosing a sauce for the fishball I was about to devour, I asked Ate Mila, the vendor, how to say sweet and spicy in Ivatan.

Mahanebneb – cold
Makuhat – hot

Kuya Philip, my guide for the Mt. Iraya climb, probably had the hardest time among my impromptu language teachers. He had to answer my incessant questions about Ivatan words while navigating the trail, keeping a snake off our path, and picking me up when I fell on my ass several times.

Dius mamajes – Thank you
Dius mavidin – God stay with you, goodbye
Dius machivan – God go with you; send-off to someone who’s leaving
Dius – Hello; used for calling out to people when you just got to their house (Tao po!)
Masdep – delicious
Mavid – beautiful
Tatus – coconut crab
Payi – lobster
Danem – water
Dekey – little
Padawpa – May I have some? (Pahingi)
Nabsuy – full, satiated
Maduho – sleepy
Makaicho – to sleep
Kaivan – friend
Mahakay – man
Mavakes – woman
Metde – child

Most of the Ivatan words I learned were courtesy of Kuya Romy who was my guide in Batan and Itbayat. While trying to string together these words to form sentences, I’d come up with something understandable from time to time. But I did earn an amused smile from a stranger when I tried to practice my Ivatan on her and ended up saying “the coconut crab and lobster are beautiful.” I apparently just described the crustaceans in the same way people admire the beauty of a Miss Universe titlist.


2 thoughts on “Speaking Ivatan

  1. Noli Gabilo

    Nice one Kristine! When you visit again please find time to visit Itbayat. They have a different language there.

    Makaycheh – to sleep

    Mutdeh – child

    Mawnawnas – sweet

    In the southern towns and Sabtang Danum (water) is Ranum.

    1. Tintin Post author

      Thank you sir! I also went to Itbayat actually and yeah, there are differences in the language and intonation. I had fun learning Ivatan and the locals were very helpful.


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