Learn Tagalog in Baguio Philippines

Learn Tagalog in Baguio Philippines
I found a great reason to learn Tagalog, the common language used in the Philippines. I can text message Transient rooms or Apartments using Tagalog and the owner will text back closer to honest prices.

If I write an email and the price is 4 times higher than the the Philippines people pay and normally they do not reply.

If I call talking in English, I wlll pay four time more, the English speakers tax.

To get them to lower their price is almost impossible, some Philippines culture goal, I need to make the foreigner pay mentality.

Send a text message in Tagalog by cell phone, get a few replies in Tagalog, then after you know enough to proceed, you have a Philippines person call on the phone to nail down the price before you go look. I feel this is the best way to rent anything in the Philippines, there is almost zero transparency.

Baguio, Philippines
Southeast Asia
Tuesday, July 28, 2009


How to learn to text message in Tagalog

This is Paul sitting in the Red Lion Pub and Inn teaching me Tagalog for Free… He is married to a Filipino girl who can also kick butt on rental calls. Paul was a linguist in the US Military, he speaks both Tagalog and Korean, and he is truly an expert, not just a local with no education teaching a language. I speak three languages, English, Spanish and French fluently, this man has more knowledge about languages than I have ever met on planet earth. He knows how languages work.

How to get a cheap apartment or room in Baguio?
Example, I text messaged a Transient Room number I found on the Internet in English. (Wrong way to start) The person came back with a daily price of 2000 Pesos or 60,000 Pesos per month. We then text messaged in Tagalog, and the person instantly replied back.
“Call me.”

Funny, the person wanted to learn whether they could rip us a new one, or they had to be serious, does this person speak English? We had Paul’s wife then call the Apartment or Transient room, it was too funny. The price went from 60,000 Pesos per month, 1200 US Dollar down to 15,000-20,000 or about 300-400 Dollars per month. I am now looking around and will only text message in Tagalog, I will never call or show my face, I need to get the price down to reality.

I do not have a little Philippines girl in tow to do this, I am with a Thailand girl, and we are soft target, but not now because of Paul’s expertise in the Tagalog language. I want to do this in five days, not five weeks, this all feels incredibly scammy.

Note, he needs a project, he says he is teaching free, I think a person needs to give a donation, or buy plenty of beer. To find him ask around in the Red Lion Pub and Inn. I would give you the email or cell phone number, but better if he writes a comment to do that.

Learn Tagalog, a great way to understand a culture, I truly do not believe you understand the nuances of a culture until you speak the language. I speak French that gets most of Africa; I speak Spanish that covers Central and South America.

Stop paying the English Speakers Tax here in the Philippines learn enough Tagalog to get the price down from rip-you-a-new-one status. Do not be the next stupid foreigner to enter Baguio…

I am now walking around in areas where I want to live, I am writing down the telephone numbers and I will text.

Tagalog on Wikipedia

A two bedroom apartment as best I can suss out, should rent between 10,000 and 15,000, if close to the center 15,000 and if far away 10,000 per month. I think JD has his finger on the pulse of the correct values.

Learn Tagalog in Baguio Philippines


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Great blog about a great guy. Paul is really a nice, genuine, and friendly man. He is retired US Airforce and loves travel and adventure. I wish I had the linguistic ability he has.

Special thanks to Andy for all of his time spent helping me. I do not know a url from a watermelon and Andy still took the time to help me. He is a great guy, a good source of information and totally interesting to talk to.
We just finished having a breakfast cup fo coffee in the Red Lion Pubs cafe and as usual I walked away with a new perspective on things and a different way of thinking.

I dont know about being an expert, although I am thrilled with Andys confidence in me.

I am happy to be of help to any coming here, and I will be happy to tailor lessons to individuals who wish to learn Tagalog. I will offer the first couple of lessons for free to make sure we jive and that you are getting what you want -- then we can set a mutually acceptable price for more.

Once again, thanks for the mention, Andy! Hope to get you continued deals on rooms.

Couple of ideas for readers:

Why waste time on any bus? Have locals input txt msgs for various phrases into your phone. Most of them are bored to death too. It saves a traveler the annoying same old questions and chit-chat, while gleaning information that can be used later. The txt msgs imply youre local with appropriate abbreviations et. c. For example, Magkano? = How much?

The beauty of knowing a few Tagalog words and phrases is that you can throw in a few Tagalog words and phrases with English words in the same darn sentence and people can easily be mislead by their prejudices and intuition on the phone and in msging. Once the they txt the price, and other details, you will have them at their word. There are at least 15 language/ethnic groupings with more than 1/2 mil speakers, all with different accents, so it is very plausible and probable that the person on the other end of the phone will believe its a bayani (fellow country man).

In SE Asia, I have found this also works in Malaysia, Brunei, and to a lesser extent Singapore but generally speaking, the local price in those countries is generally, more in line with what an Amerikano would pay.

In the Philippines, Joe, the Kano, is usually exploited to the hilt. They are the easiest marks, besides the Japanese, who are still (over)paying for the last time they invaded the Philippines.

Keep the travel hints coming.

It is always knee high in July, if we keep our eyes open and share our experiences with other travelers.


You have now found the taybul of Nolidge was named so for the very reason you have stated the assistance rendered in friendship to those who visit Baguio City and the Red Lion in particular. Paul is a perfect example of the real expats of the Philippines, fellows who want to add to the community and be good ambassadors of their homelands, whether American, Canadian, British, Aussie or Danish...you will find the folks in Baguio very acommodating to fellow travelers. These are not temporary tourists looking for quick strikes and then haul ass out of town. Many of these folks have been here for decades and take pride in their roots here in Baguio and the surrounding area to raise their families and be of good cheer in public.

I have benefited greatly from the help Ive received from the Red Lion patrons, from renting my house to finding the right college to put my 4 nurses through the BSN program.

In addition, we are fortunate to have Paul and Phil as members of the VFW Post 9892 down on the beach at Bauang, LaUnion. When you visit down there, please stop in at the VFW Canteen (next to the Bali Hai East Resort) and someone will help you get a very nice room for 700p/nite for a little get away from the rain soaked hills of the Cordilleras!! LOL...

Now that I have blatantly plugged our VFW, the Bali Hai East, and the Red Lion....I wish you continued good fortune in seeking out sound advice, cheap rents and good eats whilst in Baguio and on the beach areas of Central Luzon!!

Semper Fi


Unfortunately, reaching fluency in Tagalog takes about twice as long as reaching fluency in a Romance language for a native English speaker. See:


Of course, there is way more English spoken in the Philippines than most places (and more tourists and expats), so pure English or Taglish often suffice.

But I did use this chart to help with my country navigations. At one point, I considered teaching English in Taiwan. I realized that one big negative was that I was not going to just pick up Mandarin (which is about 4x harder than learning a Romance language), not to mention that there are many dialects of Mandarin and they mostly dont understand one another (for instance, Taiwanese version and Cantonese has 9 tones compared to official Mandarins 4 tones).

I speak Spanish at an advanced level (and I am a solid beginner in Thai) and I worked so hard to get to where I am at that I view having to learn new languages as a major barrier. I think the majority of people, who speak one language, dont realize just how hard it is to reach fluency in another language. It is way harder than I ever imagined.



At between 16 to 33 percent of the original room price e, language skills may very well be the best tool for reducing costs as a long term world traveler.


Number one way to save money on Hotel rooms is language skills that allows us to disguise the fact we are rich tourist.

Hotels try to hide behind screens, they want you to get a reservation before you come so you cannot shop around. Our site HoboHideOut.com is trying to allow readers to see what they are getting for their money.

How do I hide the fact I am a tourist from a Hotel, how do I negotiate a cheaper room, get the same price as a local?

Generally I try to tell my price when I walk in a hotel? Here in the Philippines I say,
- Do you have room for 300 Pesos? -

IF it is a worker in the hotel than the person is for sure brain dead and you will get nowhere normally. If you can find a brain, then you can make progress. I think walking in and asking for the owner, or the manager, then saying
- I want a room for 300 pesos would work.

Having a Philippines person walk in and say this would be the way to remove the language problem. This is the reason to have a little Philippines girl in tow.

Convincing a Philippines girl to be cheap would be an act of God though, they want to the rich, I do not care about money girl for one time in their life. They want to prove they are rich, and sadly so do most expats here.

All in all, the more you prove you understand their system, the better the price, I say the price before them, so they can save face.

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