Ybanag, Ibanak
Native toPhilippines
RegionNorthern Luzon
Native speakers
400,000 (2010)[1][needs update]
Official status
Official language in
Regional language in the Philippines
Regulated byKomisyon sa Wikang Filipino
Language codes
ISO 639-3ibg
Areas where Ibanag is spoken according to Ethnologue
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The Ibanag language (also Ybanag or Ibanak) is an Austronesian language spoken by up to 500,000 speakers, most particularly by the Ibanag people, in the Philippines, in the northeastern provinces of Isabela and Cagayan, especially in Tuguegarao, Solana, Abulug, Cabagan, Tumauini, San Pablo, Sto. Tomas, Sta. Maria, and Ilagan and other neighboring towns and villages around the Cagayan River and with overseas immigrants in countries located in the Middle East, United Kingdom and the United States. Most of the speakers can also speak Ilocano, the lingua franca of northern Luzon island. The name Ibanag comes from the prefix I which means 'people of', and bannag, meaning 'river'. It is closely related to Gaddang, Itawis, Agta, Atta, Yogad, Isneg, and Malaweg.


Similar to more known languages in the Philippines such as Cebuano and Tagalog, Ibanag is a Philippine language within the Austronesian language family. On the other hand, it belongs to the Northern Philippine languages subgroup where related yet larger Ilocano and Pangasinan also fall under.

Distribution and dialects

Ibanag is spoken in various areas of Northeastern Region of the Philippines (namely within Isabela and Cagayan), and because of this there are also minor differences in the way that it is spoken in these areas. Ibanag spoken in Tuguegarao is known to be the standard dialect. And other native Ibanag speakers usually distinguish if the speaker is from Tuguegarao City with the variation of their pronunciation and accent. Most who have adapted the urban dialects of Ibanag tend to have a Hispanic accent.[citation needed]

In Tuguegarao, before the Spaniards came, the language was Irraya (an almost-extinct Gaddang dialect). Spaniards introduced Ibanag to the city from Lal-lo (formerly the city of Nueva Segovia) and made the language as the lingua franca of the northeastern Philippines. But with the introduction of Ilocano settlers, Ilocano has become the new lingua franca since the late 20th century.[2][3]

Cauayan speakers and Ilagan speakers in Isabela have a hard accent as opposed to the Tuguegarao Ibanag that sounded Hispanic. But, native speakers of Northern Cagayan have a harder accent.[citation needed]

For example, Ibanags from towns in northern Cagayan, which includes Abulug, Aparri, Camalaniugan, Pamplona and Lallo, tend to replace their ps with fs.[4] Also, certain Ibanag words differ from these areas as opposed to the Tuguegarao and Isabela Ibanag. The dialects are South Ibanag and North Ibanag.[5]


Tuguegarao Ibanag may be considered the standard; however, Northern Cagayan Ibanag may be closest to the ancient Pre-Hispanic Ibanag existent prior to the spread of the language throughout the province, as Northern Cagayan was the original Ibanag home territory. On the other hand, Tuguegarao Ibanag, besides having Spanish influences, may have acquired elements from nearby Itawis. At the same time, Isabela Ibanag may have acquired elements from the original Gaddang language predominant in the province.

Tuguegarao Ibanag Isabela Ibanag English Tagalog
Ari ka nga kuman ta illuk. Kammu nga kumang tu illug. Don't eat eggs. Huwag kang kumain ng itlog.

Archaic Ibanag

Some words used in the present such as innafi 'rice', bavi 'pig', afi 'fire', are listed in Spanish texts as innafuy, bavuy, and afuy respectively. Also, the Ibanag term for the number one, tadday, was once used interchangeably with the word itte, which is no longer used apparently by modern speakers of the language.[6][7]

Use and current status

As of Oct. 2012, "revival of the Ibanag culture is part of the Mother-Tongue Based (MTB) program of the [Philippine] government which seeks to preserve indigenous cultures, including its languages, for generations to come. Ibanag is one of the MTB languages now taught in Philippine schools," and two current stage plays, Zininaga Ta Bannag (Heritage of the River) and Why Women Wash the Dishes are being performed in the Ibanag language.[8]


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Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e ə
Open a ɔ

Monophthongization of diphthongs is observable in Ibanag. For example, the words umay ('to go'), balay ('house') or aggaw ('day') are sometimes pronounced as ume, bale, and aggo respectively.[citation needed]


Ibanag is one of the Philippine languages which are excluded in the [ɾ]-[d] allophony.[clarification needed]

Ibanag features phonemes that are not present in many related Philippine languages; phonemes unique to Ibanag compared to its sister languages include [f] as in innafi, 'rice', [v] as in bavi, 'pig', [z] as in kazzing, 'goat' and [dʒ] as in madjan, 'maid'.[citation needed]

Ibanag features gemination:

Table of consonant phonemes of Ibanag
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v z
Tap ɾ ~ r
Approximant l j w


There are two ways that Ibanag can be written. In older texts, the "Spanish style" is often used: ⟨c⟩, and ⟨qu⟩ are used to represent /k/, and words that end with a glottal stop have -c added to the end of the word.[9]

Example: Quiminac cami tab bavi. 'We ate pork.'

Example: Napannu tac cunam y langui-c. 'The sky is full of clouds.'

The other way of writing Ibanag is the new, simplified way which tends to be more phonetic. This modern spelling system is consistent with that of the Filipino language and other languages such as Bisaya and Ilokano. Moreover, silent letters are omitted. This orthography is the one being adopted for use in public schools for the purpose of the Department of Education's Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education policy in Ibanag-speaking areas and is prescribed by the Ibanag Heritage Foundation, Inc.[10][11][12]

Example: Kiminak kami tu bavi. 'We ate pork.'

Example: Napannu tu kunam i langi. 'The sky is full of clouds.'



Personal pronouns

Pronoun Possessive pronoun forms Example of root word Example of derived word(s)
First person Sakan, Sakang (Isabela), So' (I) -ku,

-' when subject ends with a vowel or diphthong

kazzing (goat)

lima (hand)

kazzing ku (my goat)

lima' (my hand)

Sikami (exclusive, our), Sittam, sittang (Isabela) (inclusive, our) -mi, -tam libru (book) libru mi (our book), libru tam (our book)
Second person Sikaw (you, singular) -mu, -m mejas (socks), libru (book) mejas mu (your socks), librum (your book)
Sikamu (you (plural/polite)) -nu bandera (flag) bandera nu (your flag)
Third person Yayya, yatun (he, she, it) -na manu' (chicken) manu' na (his, her, its chicken)
Ira (they) -da itubang (chair) itubang da (their chair)








Possessive pronouns

Kua is the root word that identifies something as belonging to someone. Often ku is added before kua to emphasize this. This is only possible with 'mine' and 'yours' but not with other possessive pronouns.

'That IS mine.': Kukua' yatun

Demonstrative pronouns

In order to emphasize or stress the distance or time, the stress on the word falls on the first syllable except for yatun – i.e. yatun davvun 'that land'.

Other ways that words are emphasized are by using locatives.

With turi the stress on tu is often lengthened to emphasize the distance and time that has passed.


Enclitic particles

Interrogative Words

Each of the doubled consonants must be pronounced separately – i.e. anni?an ni


Ibanag verbs are conjugated based on tense, but not person.

Like most other Malayo-Polynesian languages, Ibanag does not have a copula, which means there is no verb equivalent to English to be. However, this is sometimes compensated for by using the verb for to have.

Infinitive and present tense

Many times, the infinitive form is the same as the present tense.

Past tense

There are different ways to form the past tense. Here are a few common ways.

Future tense

Again, there are a couple of ways of forming future tense. One is by the use of a helping word like to go.
Sometimes the present tense can indicate future depending on the context.

Sangaw and Sangawe


Syntax and word order

Ibanag sentence structure often follows the verb–subject–object pattern.

Adjectives often follow the nouns with a marker attached.

Simple sentences as opposed to descriptive patterns:


Y and nga are the two most commonly used markers in Ibanag. They either link adjectives to nouns or indicate the subject of the sentence.

Tu is another marker that is used, but is not very simple to explain.[citation needed] Often it is seen in conjunction with the word awan, meaning 'nothing, none'.

Ta is yet another marker used. Ta is like sa in Tagalog.

Tu and ta in the Isabela dialect

Ta is used to refer to place (Isabela). This is also used in Tuguegarao.

Example: 'We went to Tuguegarao.': Minay kami ta Tuguegarao.

Tu is used to refer to things.

Example: 'We ate pork.' Kiminang kami tu bavi. (Isabela)


Ibanag verbs that end in n lose the last consonant, which is replaced by the first consonant of the succeeding word. However, when the succeeding word starts with a vowel or another n, the last n is not affected.


Correct: Apam mu yari libru 'Go get the book.'

Correct: Nasingak ku y yama na 'I saw his father.'

The marker ta and the preposition na (not the pronoun) sometimes, depending also on the dialect, acquire the first consonant of the succeeding word.

Tal likuk nab balay 'at the back of the house'



This is an example of an Ibanag proverb, which is also known throughout the archipelago.

Ibanag: Y tolay nga/tu ari nga/amme* na mallipay ta pinaggafuanan na ay ari nga/amme na makadde ta angayanan na. (*Isabela)

Tagalog: Ang taong Hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay Hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.

English: 'He who does not look back into his past, cannot reach his destination.'

Ibanag: Ta langi awan tu binarayang, yatun ta utun na davvun ittam minum.

Tagalog: Sa langit walang alak, kaya sa ibabaw ng lupa dapat tayo'y lumaklak.

English: 'In heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here.'

Ibanag: Ari mu kagian nga piyyo ngana y illuk tapenu ari nga magivung. (Tuguegarao)

Ibanag: Ammeng kagim tu piyyo ngana y illug tapenu ari nga magivung. (Isabela)

Tagalog: Huwag mong sabihing sisiw na ang itlog para Hindi ito maging bugok.

English: 'Never call an egg a chick, so that it will not become rotten.'

Cagayan provincial anthem

The direct translation here is different from the English version of the Cagayan Provincial Anthem.


Loan words

Simple greetings


[13][clarification needed]


Ibanag Tagalog English
Anni y kinnam mu ganguri? Ano ang kinain mo kanina? What did you eat?
Anni y kinnan nu? Ano ang kinain ninyo? What did you,(all) eat?
Anni y kanakanam mu? Ano ang kinakain mo? What are you eating?
Anni y kankanam mu sangaw? Ano ang kinakain mo ngayon? What are you eating now?
Kuman ittam sangaw nu pallabbe na. Kakain tayo pagdating niya. We will eat when he/she comes.
Maddaguk kami kuman kustu limibbe yayya. Kumakain kami nang dumating siya. We were eating when he came.
Nakakak kami nakwang nu minilubbe yayya. Nakakain sana kami kung dumating siya. We would have eaten I if he had arrived.
Natturukí y gattó. Sumirit ang gatas. The milk shot out.
Ari ka nga kuman. Huwag kang kumain. Don't eat.
Kumak ka ngana! Kumain ka na! Eat now!
Kukwa' yatun! Akin yan! That's mine!
Iddu taka/ay-ayatat taka Mahal kita I love you


  1. ^ "2010 Census of Population and Housing, Report No. 2A - Demographic and Housing Characteristics (Non-Sample Variables)" (PDF). Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  2. ^ Keesing, Felix Maxwell (1962). The Ethnohistory of Northern Luzon. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  3. ^ Salgado, Pedro V. (2002). Cagayan valley and eastern Cordillera, 1581-1898. Vol. 1. Quezon City: Rex Commercial.
  4. ^ Da Ayong Anni Dagga. https://archive.org/stream/rosettaproject_ibg_vertxt-1/rosettaproject_ibg_vertxt-1_djvu.txt
  5. ^ "Ethnologue".(subscription required)
  6. ^ Bugarin, Jose (1854). Diccionario ybanag-español. Manila: Imp. de los Amigos del País.
  7. ^ Fernández, Miguel (1867). Diccionario españól-ibanág: ó sea, Tesauro hispánocagayán. Manila: Imp. de Ramirez y Giraudier.
  8. ^ Benji De Yro (2012-10-16). "DepEd indigenous culture revival in upswing". Philippine Information Agency. Archived from the original on 2012-12-21. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  9. ^ Nolasco de Medio, Pedro (1892). Agguiguiammuan tac Cagui Gasila / Grammatica Ibanag-Castellana (second ed.). Manila: Estab. Tipog. del Colegio de Santo Tomás.
  10. ^ Dita, S. N. (2013). The Orthography of Ibanag. Manila: Ibanag Heritage Foundation, Inc.
  11. ^ Cabalza, Chester (2013). Ibanag Language and Culture. http://cbclawmatters.blogspot.com/2013/07/ibanag-language-anc-culture.html
  12. ^ Clapano, Jose Rodel (May 10, 2012). "Ibanag to be a medium of instruction in DepEd's multi-lingual education program - VP Binay". philstar.com. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  13. ^ ayya itta

Further reading