How many languages are spoken in the Philippines?

The Philippines is a known Southeast Asian destination country that is loved by many tourists because of its many distinct natural sceneries. From the north to the south, the Philippines has something very distinct and unique to offer for every tourist to enjoy.

Apart from the diverse natural resources and scenic views in the country, the country is also known for being one of the countries with the most languages spoken in the world. There are approximately between 120 to 187 native dialects that are being spoken by locals in the country. Besides the national language, which is Tagalog, every province in the country is known to speak its own dialect.

The reason for this is because the different provinces in the country have been exposed to different international neighbors who have come into contact with the Philippines. Among the three world powers that colonized the Philippines include Spain, Japan, and the United States. The influence of these countries on the languages spoken in each province could be determined obviously from their accent and the very words used in each dialect.

While some may think that this is a downside when it comes to people who want to visit the country, it is one of the most exciting facts about the Philippines and the Filipinos. It is observed by many tourists that this fact has made it easier for Filipinos to be flexible in speaking with those who visit their provinces, may they be locals or international tourists.

Philippines: A Nation of Cultural Diversity 

The Philippines is culturally diverse. As mentioned earlier, this could be accounted for the history of the country and the many international influences that came to affect the very culture and language spoken by the people in many provinces.

Some indigenous groups retain their culture amidst the many changes happening in society. Because of this, the traditional culture and way of speaking are preserved in many remote areas in the country.

In some locations, specifically in the Mindanao region religion has so much to do when it comes to the language that they speak. The majority of the communities in Mindanao follow the Muslim culture, hence, their language is largely influenced by Arabic backgrounds.

A Brief History of the Filipino Language

Right now, the primary language in the Philippines is ‘Filipino’ or also known as Tagalog. Its base is largely founded upon the influence of the Spanish regime on the Filipino culture.

Since the Spanish regime stayed for at least 333 years in the Philippines, they have created a strongly embedded impact on the way the Filipinos speak from all regions of the country. In the three major regions in the country, namely Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, different varieties of the Chavacano language are spoken. Chavacano is a creole language that is based in Spanish but is mixed with the local language spoken by the communities. For instance, in Luzon, the Chavacano language is mixed with Tagalog and is spoken in Cavite and Ternate. In the Visayas and Mindanao, Chavacano is mixed with ‘Bisaya’ which is the regional dialect within the said locations. The concentration of the Chavacano language is spoken in Zamboanga City. According to studies, Chavacano, which is one of the many languages spoken in the Philippines, is the only Spanish-creole spoken in Asia. This just goes to show that in Asia, the Philippines is the only nation where the Spanish regime has established its strongest foundation in history and such influences remain powerful within the Filipino culture up to these days.

Traditional languages are spoken all across the country. Nonetheless, the strongest concentration of traditional and ethnic languages could be found in Northern Luzon. Being surrounded by the highest mountainous regions, it was not easy for the Spanish regime to enter this region. Nonetheless, the Japanese power was more fervent in getting into the region. Nonetheless, even though there were distinct influences to the way the people speak in connection with the Japanese regime, the traditional languages were able to retain integrity and uniqueness across the majority of the provinces in Northern Luzon.

With all the many languages spoken in the Philippines, the 1987 constitution designates ‘Filipino’ as the nationally accepted language. In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law on making Filipino Sign Language the nationally accepted form of action language for deaf-mutes in the country. Although there is a huge dependence of this language on the American language, there are specifications in this version that are designed to make it easier for Filipino deaf-mutes to express themselves better.

The great thing about the many languages in the Philippines is that even though it is diversified and characterizes the people within the communities where they are spoken, the people tend to take an extra step towards making feel visitors at home and adjust well to the language of those who visit their local communities.

Given the fact that the Americans have also come and ruled over the Philippine communities for at least 48 years, adaptation to the English language became second nature to Filipinos. One of the reasons why American English takes a great take on the many languages spoken in the country is because the Americans brought to the Philippines the first instances of formal education ever known to the nation.

American schools where missionaries taught children about academic realizations became common and later on, children became even more fluent with English. History has it that the Filipinos were more than ready to accept the challenge of globalization even before it has affected the lifestyle within the Asian region.

Filipinos are used to speaking more than two languages, being ‘Tagalog’ and their provincial language, and the language they learn from school, which is English. The flexibility of Filipinos in terms of adapting to the many languages spoken in the country also mirrors the capacity of Filipinos to adjust to whatever life throws at them.

If you are going to visit the Philippines, try to immerse in the language culture that the people in the areas you visit use and experience an exceptional adventure that highlights the human capacity to use language to connect and bridge the differences that individuals have between each other.

The Filipino Voice and Language Today

Like in many other countries around the globe, social media language is gradually taking over the language that the younger generations use in casual conversation.

The flexibility of Filipinos in using different languages and specifically developing fluency in using the English language made it easier for members of the Filipino community to be flexible in terms of going outside the country and working for foreign nationals outside the Philippines. At the same time, it is also this fluency in the English language that made it easier for Filipinos to jump into the latest trend of working remotely from home while their employers are situated in different parts of the country.

In reality, many modern Filipinos view the historical influences of the Spanish, the Japanese, and of course the American regimes that colonized the country as more of a blessing than a disturbance to the growth and integrity of the Filipino culture. It is because of these influences that Filipinos have become even more open to social changes and speaking in a foreign language is already second nature to the young ones attending school.

In comparison with other countries in Asia, young Filipinos are easy to cope with the challenge of global engagement because of the fluency that they are required to accomplish even as they finish their primary education.

This is why among the many characteristics of young Filipinos include being outspoken and well-versed about expressing themselves in either written or spoken English. Growing in a community that largely embraces diversity in culture also makes Filipinos more open to the idea of learning new languages.

With many Filipinos dispersed around the different parts of the world, the Filipino language continues to evolve. Even the language used in formal conversations is being restructured to fit the demands of modern society and the requirements to become more communicative and conversant in any field of concern that involves their need to adjust to those with who they intend to work.

Businesses from all around the globe find it easier to invest in the Philippines because it is easier to connect with the people and establish agreements and accomplish transactions because of lesser pressure on issues relating to language barriers. Compared to other countries within the Asian region, Filipinos are more than open to welcome international business investors into the country and serve them with their needs with full competency especially in terms of retaining open and free-flowing communication, whatever language they may speak.

Several schools in the country are now offering courses on learning other international languages such as Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, French, and Spanish. Depending on the current demand in the market, the international languages that are offered in schools are adjusted. Children become completely immersed in using these languages as part of their learning curriculum, making them more flexible in terms of language acquisition as they grow older.

Besides the interest in serving international investors, making tourists feel more comfortable in visiting the country, and simply becoming globally ready to communicate with anyone they meet, Filipinos simply enjoy the idea behind learning new things and this attitude is what makes it easier for people to acquire second, third, fourth, and even fifth spoken language that individuals can embrace as part of improving their communication skills.

English as a Second Language in the Philippines 

Filipinos love the English language so much that they have also tried learning the many varieties of English accents spoken in different parts of the world.

So, if you are visiting the Philippines, there is no need to be scared of getting lost and not being able to find someone who can understand you. At some point, even those who have not attended school and are living within the remotest areas of the country know a little English.

Language is a critical part of any nation’s identity, and Filipinos are glad to use different languages not to diminish the value of their language but to prove that Filipinos are flexible enough to face different challenges that come their way. The diversity of the many languages spoken in the Philippines certainly create a huge difference in how the world sees the Filipino communities as a whole.

Feeling welcomed to the country because of the use of English in the majority of the regions in the country, tourists always consider the Philippines as a possible destination for long vacations. The truth is, in many cases, some tourists find themselves falling in love not only with the country’s grand display of natural beauty but also falling in love with the people and their distinctive qualities to the point of deciding to live in the country as expatriates.

Because Filipinos are also known for their hospitability, many tourists decide to settle and enjoy the gifts of living in a community where they are respected and are appreciated. Living conditions in the Philippines have been found more conducive by many tourists especially that the cost of living in the country is much lower compared to other nations in Asia.

Key Takeaways 

There are many things that tourists appreciate about the Philippines.

Among these things include the willingness of Filipinos to adjust in the manner by which they communicate with others. With a diversified set of languages spoken within the different provinces in the country, it is simply heartwarming to know that many members of the community take the initiative to learn the English language to properly welcome international visitors and work with international investors.

The Filipino language continues to evolve and through time, it is expected that more would be accomplished especially in terms of making it more accommodating as more tourists and investors are welcoming the ideas of visiting and at some point even settling in the country.



Leave a Reply