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Guide For Official Languages In The Philippines

Posted by Ethan N. on December 20, 2023.

A standardized version of Tagalog known as Filipino is one of the official languages in The Philippines. The majority of people speak Filipino, however English is also commonly used as the language of teaching in schools. The following languages are also spoken in the Philippines: Bicolano, Pangasinan, Waray-Waray, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, and Tagalog.

1. National and official languages in The Philippines

Official Languages

English and Filipino are the two official languages in The Philippines. The official language of the country is Filipino, with English serving as a residual from its existence as a U.S. territory from 1898 to 1946.


The main language spoken in schools and the media is Filipino, which also serves as the lingua franca among the various linguistic communities in the country. English is primarily used in government, newspapers, and publications.

Filipino Vs. Tagalog

Are Tagalog and Filipino essentially the same language? Not quite, but almost. English, Spanish, Malay, Chinese, and other aspects of other native Philippine languages are all included in Filipino, an updated form of Tagalog.

When Congress decided in 1937 to include a local language among the legally recognized languages, Tagalog was declared the national language of the Philippines because it was at the time the primary language spoken in Manila. After a while, Tagalog was renamed Pilipino, and Congress moved to develop a new version of the language, to be called Filipino, when the Constitution was changed in 1973 under the dictator President Ferdinand Marcos. Then, in 1987, Filipinos were granted formal status.

2. Usage and regional languages

Spoken predominantly in Metro Manila, Filipino is a standardized form of Tagalog language. It is common to simultaneously utilize a third local language in business, education, government, print, and broadcast media, as well as in Filipino and English – the official languages in The Philippines. Spanish, English, Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Malay, Chinese, Japanese, and Nahuatl are among the languages that the Filipino people have borrowed words from. Filipino is the official language of education, yet it is less significant in talks about academia, science, and technology than English is as a publishing language (with the exception of comic books). 


For the most part, non-Tagalog civil servants and the military (perhaps with the exception of some officer corps from wealthy or upper-middle class families) speak Filipino as their first language. It is also the lingua franca in all regions of the Philippines and among Filipino communities overseas.

Dikamai-Agta, Katabaga, Tayabas-Aita, and Villaviciosa-Agta are the four native languages that are considered extinct, out of the 182 that are spoken in the nation, according to Ethnologue. Except for English, Spanish, Chabacano, and many Chinese languages (Hokkien, Cantonese, and Mandarin), all languages are members of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. With approximately 5 million native speakers, her four languages are listed below in the Philippines. 

3. Writing systems and dialects

One of the oldest writing systems and scriptures in the Philippines is called Baybayin. Before the arrival of European influence, the pre-colonial Philippines had at least sixteen distinct writing systems, of which Baybayin is just one. The character-based alphabet was in use prior to colonization and has suddenly become more popular in the modern era of the nation.

The word Baybayin translates to

  1. “to spell” or “to write” in verb form
  2. “coast,” “seaside,” “syllables” in literal form
  3. and “alphabet” in noun form

The Tagalog people, whose name comes from the word “taga-ilog,” which denotes individuals and/or groups who dwell near bodies of water, especially along the banks of lush and rich rivers, utilize this ancient and methodical writing system in the Philippines.

Filipino is a national language that is standardized, and one of the official languages in The Philippines is Tagalog. Most of Luzon is home to the Tagalog people, who originate from the Philippines. Therefore, together with other languages spoken in the Philippines, Tagalog is the primary basis for Filipino, the national language of the country, and is spoken primarily in Central Luzon and parts of Northern Luzon.

The Philippines is home to eight main dialects. Other cities are mentioned at the bottom, with Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon (Ilonggo), Ilocano, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Tagalog, and Waray at the top. The two languages taught in schools across the Philippines are English and Tagalog.

The degree of dialect diversity differs between languages. Languages with relatively slight dialect changes include Tagalog, Kapampangan, and Pangasinan. Nonetheless, there are significant dialectal differences in the Bicol region’s language. There are towns and cities with distinct accents and cultures.  

4. Languages spoken

Beside official languages in The Philippines, other significant regional languages spoken in the Philippines are Hiligaynon, Ibanag, Ilocano, Ilonggo, Ivatan, Maranao, Tagalog, Kapampangan, Kinaray-a, Waray, Maguindanao, Pangasinan, Sambal, Surigaonon, Tausug, and Yakan. These languages are based on a Spanish creole. The Austronesian language family includes all of them, the majority of which are indigenous languages.

The languages that more than 90% of Filipinos speak at home are represented by these ten languages. They are Hiligaynon Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Maguindanao, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Bisaya, Cebuano, Ilocano, and Tagalog.

The Philippines’ linguistic environment has also been impacted by immigrant communities. The primary languages spoken by immigrants are Korean, Arabic, Vietnamese, Malay, Tamil, and several varieties of Chinese. Other major languages spoken by immigrants include Hindi (2,420), Japanese (2,900), Indonesian (2,580), Sindhi (20,000 speakers), and German (960).

5. GTE Localize Offer Best Translation Services In Philippines

Over the next ten years, the Philippines’ economy is predicted to grow at a high rate, surpassing one trillion dollars in GDP, making it one of the fastest-growing countries in the East Asia Pacific area.

The Philippines’ economy will undergo a significant transformation as a result of this growth, which will also draw foreign direct investment into a number of sectors, including manufacturing and services, and significantly expand the local consumer market.

Do you need trustworthy Tagalog Translation Services in the Philippines to fulfill your linguistic needs?

GTE Localize is an ISO 9001: 2015 certified business that was founded in 2017 and offers translation services to global markets.

They offer translation services in official languages in The Philippines  across a range of industries, and they have offices in the US, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Services that GTE Provides

  • Translation
  • Localization
  • Subtitling

GTE Localize may not be the best choice for you if you’re an individual looking for Tagalog translation services because they serve business-to-business clientele.


Contact us to find out if we’re the best choice for your translation project.