Davao Tagalog: Learning to Speak This Dialect


Davao is a melting pot of various cultures, from the native Bagobo tribes to immigrants from Cebu, Bohol, Iloilo, Luzon and nearby places in Mindanao. This amalgamation of culture inevitably resulted in various adaptations in food, way of living and traditions.

However, one of the most obvious change manifested is through the dialect. While Davao is predominantly a Cebuano-speaking city, there is an emerging trend of distinctly Davaoeno dialect. If Singapore prides itself of Singlish, Davao has its Davao Tagalog, a loose mixture of Cebuano and Tagalog with funny twist — at least to those familiar with the language.

is used as prefix and occasionally to replace article such as Ang. Cebuano version makes full use of this prefix to various adjectives (Kalisod, Kahadlok, Katalinis). But with Davao Tagalog, the root word gets dropped in favor of Tagalog equivalent, yet retain the prefix so that words above become (Kahirap, Katakot, Katulis). Of course this doesn’t mean other legitimate Tagalog terms that use Ka at the beginning (Kabag, Kamiseta, Karugtong) ought to be corrected.

Uy may be a common family name of someone who can trace Chinese family roots. But Uy is also a common ingredient in Davao Tagalog. As if to convey feelings, Uy is added in order to provide emphasis in the statement.

Manila Tagalog: Ang galing nya
Davao Tagalog: Kagaling nya.
Hardcore Davao Tagalog: Kagaling nya UY.

Uy comes handy regardless of emotional state and can be inserted anytime in a sentence. It can be used to convey admiration (Katalino talaga nya UY), surprise (UY sya pala ang boyfriend mo?), irritated (kasamok mo UY) or reprimand (wag kang ganyan UY).

Perhaps taking cue that GI can be used as part of Cebuano (gisumbag) or Tagalog verbs (ginawa) Davao Tagalog also makes use of this unlapi/prefix with a twist.

Gi-diligan mo na ba ang flowers bago ka umalis ng bahay?
Di ba gi-sabihan na kita na magdala ka ng payong?
Gi-bigyan sya ng scholarship dahil Valedictorian man sya.

This supposed variable can mean a variety of things depending on sentence usage. Or maybe used to substitute for a word when the speaker’s train of thought is distracted but need to utter something.

Kuan kasi,  mahirap gumising ng alas-kwatro kaya late ako.
Gihamon ni Anastacio si kuan, kaya ayun  nag karambola.
Mahirap makapasok sa kuan, pero may backer kasi sya.

The word exists but how it is being used appeared like it was murdered in Davao Tagalog. Ignoring the other forms of prefix, Mag takes it all.

Mag-inom ka muna ng gamot bago matulog.
Magsama daw sya sa atin manood ng sine.
Magtalon ka dyan at ma-appendicitis ka ngayon.

Same as Ka, this prefix attaches to verb as though it matters that much.

Maka-duling man ang handwriting mo Uy.
Yehey! Maka-drive na gyud ako ngayon.
Maka-inis man yan si Victoria Montenegro-de la Vega Uy.
Hindi ako maka-tuo sa ginawa nya

Galenga talaga ng taga-Davao mag-Tagalog Uy!