Would you consider yourself an expert in tongue twisters? A tongue twister is basically a series of words, phrases, or sentences that are not easy to pronounce. In English, some of the most popular tongue twisters are “She sells sea shells on the sea shore,” “Top chopstick shops sell top chopsticks,” and so on. You get the idea!
Now, how good are you in reciting Filipino (Tagalog) tongue twisters? In this article, we have gathered a list of Tagalog tongue twisters — grouped into easy, moderate, and difficult categories. Whether you are a Filipino or a non-Filipino learning the Tagalog language, you are bound to have lots of fun reciting these tongue twisters!
Tagalog Tongue Twisters Challenge
Before anything else, let’s talk a little bit about Filipino and Tagalog, for clarification. The term “Filipino” refers to a Filipino national, a person born in the Philippines or one whose parent(s) are Philippine nationals. The term may also be used to refer to the country’s national language, Filipino, which is mainly based on Tagalog.
Meanwhile, the term “Tagalog” refers to an ethic group (the Tagalogs), who are mostly from Southern Luzon in the Philippines. The language they use is also called Tagalog. Let us remember that the Philippines is composed of many ethnic groups, each with its own language and unique culture. The Tagalogs speak Tagalog, the Ilocanos (from North Luzon) speak Ilocano, the Bicolanos speak Bicolano, and so on.
In 1935, the Tagalog language was chosen by Philippine government officials to be the basis of the country’s national language, which became known as “Filipino.” While the Filipino language is based mainly on Tagalog, it also includes words from other Philippine languages. Today, the national language is spoken widely across the Philippines, and also by millions of Filipinos around the world!
Now that you have a deeper understanding about the terms Filipino and Tagalog, let’s proceed to our main topic… tongue twisters!
Easy Tagalog Tongue Twisters
The following tongue twisters are composed mostly of words and short phrases. The idea is to repeat each line — twice, thrice, or as many times as you can — without making a mistake. We have included the English translation under each tongue twister, for your reference, and also for better context.
Are you ready? Give these a try!
Butiki, bituka, botika
Lizard, intestine, drug store
Kabilugan ng buwan, buwan ng kabilugan
Full moon, month of full moon
Kakaba-kaba ka ba?
Are you nervous?
Christmas, paksiw (a Filipino dish)
Pitumpu’t-pitong puting pating
77 white sharks
Pitumpu’t-pitong puting tupa
77 white sheep
Siopao, siomai, suman
Hot bun, dumpling, rice cake
Tanso sa tasa, tasa sa tanso
Brass cups, cups of brass
Moderate Tagalog Tongue Twisters
Let’s take things up a notch, shall we? The tongue twisters below are mostly whole sentences, some of which contain longer words with multiple syllables. Some of them may look easy at first, but are actually tricky because you need to know which syllables to stress or emphasize. For example, in the sentence, “Bababa ka ba?” — the stress is on the last syllable and the last word (e.g. babaBA ka BA).
And now… go ahead and recite these tongue twisters!
Ako ay biik, ikaw ay baboy!
I’m a piglet, you’re a pig!
Ang relo ni Leroy ay rolex.
Leroy’s watch is a Rolex.
Bababa ka ba? Bababa din ako!
Are you going down? I am also going down.
Bumili ako ng bituka ng butiki sa botika.
I bought lizard’s guts at the drugstore.
Kapapansiteria mo pa lang, magpapansiteria ka na naman.
You just came from the noodle shop, and now you’re going back there again.
Minekaniko nang mekaniko ni Monico ang makina nang Minica ni Monica.
Monico’s mechanic fixed the machine of Monica’s Minica (a Minica is a small Honda model during the 1970s).
Nakakapagpabagabag kapag kinakabag ka.
It is so worrying when you have gastritis.
Nagprito ng pitumpu’t-pitong puting puto ang pumipitong puting pato.
The whistling white duck fried 77 white rice cakes.
Ngumunguya at nangunguyakoy nang paa si Ka Ngarding.
Ka Ngarding is chewing and swinging his feet at the same time.
Sinusi ni Susan ang sisidlan ng sisiw.
Susan locked the chicks’ cage.
Tinuka ng pitumpu’t-pitong puting pato ang pitumpu’t-pitong puting puto.
77 white geese bit 77 white rice cakes.
Hard Tagalog Tongue Twisters
If you have made it this far, congratulations! Now on to these difficult tongue twisters, which are mostly longer sentences, and including a short paragraph:
Bagong bahay, bagong buhay. Bagong buhay sa bagong bahay.
New house, new life. New life in a new house.
Isinayaw nang isinayaw ng mananayaw ang sayaw na isinasayaw ng mga mananayaw.
The entertainer kept dancing the dance that the entertainers are dancing.
Kakakanan lang sa kangkungan sa may kakahuyan si Ken Ken habang kumakain ng kakaibang kakanin kahapon.
Ken Ken just turned right at the swamp near the woods while eating a weird rice cake yesterday.
Kalabit ng kalabit si Alabit na may bitbit sa balikat ng kanyang kalapit-balikat na kapit-bahay.
Alabit keeps nudging the shoulder of his nearby neighbor.
Maya-maya’y mamamanhikan si Aman sa mayamang si Maya, malamang sa harap ng maraming mamamayan.
A little later, Aman will court the wealthy Maya, most likely in front of many people.
Nagtanim nang nagtanim ang manananim ng tanim na itinatanim ng mga manananim.
The gardener kept planting the plant that the gardeners are planting.
Palakang Kabkab, kumakalabukab, kaka-kalabukab pa lamang, kumakalabukab na naman.
A Kabkab frog, croaking, just finished croaking, but now it’s croaking again.
Pinaputi ni Tepiterio ang pitong puting putong patung-patong.
Tepiterio whitened the 7 white rice cakes on top of each other.
Tumalon si Tonton sa malalim na balon sa ilalim ng talon sa taniman ng talong.
Tonton jumped into the deep well under the waterfall at the eggplant garden.
And now, for the finale… a paragraph-long tongue twister. Take a deep breath, and give it a go!
Humuli ng ahas si Pedro Penduko. Ang nahuling ahas ay biglang nagluko. Ang naglukong ahas nanuklaw kay Pedro. Ang nanuklaw na ahas tinodas ni Pedro, kaya sila ngayon ay kapwa nadedo.
Pedro Penduko caught a snake. The snake suddenly went crazy. The crazy snake bit Pedro. Pedro killed the snake, so now they are both dead.
Video: Foreigners Reciting Filipino Tagalog Tongue Twisters
Whew! Some of those tongue twisters were really hard, weren’t they? In fact many Filipinos themselves have a hard time reciting Tagalog tongue twisters.
How much more for foreigners? Here is a video featuring non-Filipinos trying to recite Tagalog tongue twisters… with hilarious results! It is shared by JASTravel YouTube channel:
Were you able to recite all of the above tongue twisters? How about making a video with your friends, and see who’s the champion?! If you know other ultra-difficult Tagalog tongue twisters, do share them with us in the comments below!
Meanwhile, check out this other video about a Saudi man who can speak fluent Tagalog. Isn’t that amazing? Indeed, the Filipino language is a beautiful and widely spoken language that many people are trying to learn!