New Bible Translations Clear Up Confusion in Philippines

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Best-selling author Philip Yancey joins celebration of two new Biblica Bible translations set to reach 38 million Filipinos.

Christian leaders pray a blessing on Biblica's new Philippine Bible translations

It took 18 years to complete these two translations, which are bringing God's Word in contemporary language to the two largest people groups of the Philippines.

Sometimes meaning gets lost in translation. Literally.

For instance, an old Cebuano Bible translation for the Philippines’ second-largest language group (16 million speakers) incorrectly refers to marital sex using a word that refers to illicit sex, "pakighilawas," bringing a negative connotation to Bible passages that doesn’t exist in the original languages.

Because the meaning of older Cebuano and Tagalog (22 million speakers) translations often caused confusion, church leaders asked Biblica to work on new Bible translations based on the same principles of accuracy and modern language used by the New International Version® (NIV®) of the Bible. It took 18 years to complete these two translations, which are bringing God’s Word in contemporary language to the two largest people groups of the Philippines.

On May 3, 2010, Biblica celebrated the launch of the Cebuano and Tagalog Bibles in Manila. Special guest and award-winning author Philip Yancey joined Biblica International CEO Keith Danby, and Biblica Asia Pacific Group Vice President Somporn Sirikolkarn for the celebration.

“The launch of our Tagalog and Cebuano Bible editions, attended by more than 630 Christian leaders, was truly blessed by God,” said Bishop Leo Alconga, Biblica East Asia Area Executive Director.

Biblica has completed three new Philippine Bible translations in three years. The Hiligaynon Bible launched in 2007 for the 8 million Filipinos who speak it as their first language. Sirikolkarn said Biblica plans to begin translation of the Ilocano language next, spoken by nearly 10 million Filipinos.

The Philippines is the 12th-most-populous nation in the world, with more than 98 million inhabitants in its 7,100-island chain. It shares with East Timor the distinction of being the only predominantly Christian nation in the East Asia region. Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines is an ongoing threat to the nation’s stability.

The new translations will help communicate God’s love and mercy in clear language to people throughout the Philippines. Much of Biblica East Asia’s outreach is centered on the predominantly Muslim island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

About Biblica
Celebrating more than 200 years in ministry, Biblica provides God’s Word to people through translation, publishing, and Bible engagement. Biblica’s ministry is in 55 countries worldwide. Biblica has translated the Bible in more than 100 languages and is the translation sponsor and ministry publisher of the New International Version® (NIV®) of the Bible, the most widely read and trusted contemporary English translation. Through its worldwide reach, Biblica engages people with God’s Word so that their lives are transformed through a relationship with Jesus Christ. For more information, visit


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