Types of Filipino Languages Spoken Across The Philippines

The Philippines, when looked at on a map, looks like its own large land mass that’s made up several of different islands that span across the Western Pacific Ocean. The more granular you get as you zoom in, the more you realize how many islands it actually consists of.

At this point, it gets difficult to count.

The Philippines, which is considered an archipelago that sits in Southeast Asia, is made up of a staggering 7,640 islands. While it’s said that only roughly 2,000 of those islands are inhabited, the most recent figure for the total population comes out to around 114 million people.

That’s a lot of island space for not what can be considered not a ton of people, relatively speaking.

All of those thousands of islands are categorized under three (3) main divisions (or portions), which include Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Luzon is the northern portion, Visayas is the central portion, and Mindanao is the southern portion.

Having that many people living on so many different islands brings forth a seemingly endless number of dimensions in diversity including how they live, what they do, and of course, language differences.

There are said to be more than 120 spoken languages and dialects, and that number is as high as 200, depending on language classifications. The languages and dialects that people speak range from just a few hundred to several million, depending on the specific region.

Many of these languages are spoken by a select number of people, while a large chunk of the population (roughly over 5 million people) speak only 4 of those languages.

Those include Tagalog, Ilocano, Cebuano, and Hiligaynon. We’ll go over these more later on.

Additionally, it’s said about 1 to 5 million people in total, speak roughly 7 additional languages. These languages include Tausug, Waray, Bikol, Maguindanao, Maranao, Kapampangan, Masbateňo, and Pangasinan.

So what does this mean?

This means that with so much diversity in language, comes vast differentiations in life and how people communicate with each other – and that’s just scratching the surface. We’re here to provide you with the basics of the different types of Filipino languages spoken.

What are the Different Languages Spoken in The Philippines?

Like any other major country in the world, there are many people from many walks of life, and there is a large diversity of languages spoken. Many people are polyglots, being bilingual, trilingual, quadrilingual, and perhaps even more.

However, some of the most popular Filipino languages and ones that are spoken most frequently in The Philippines and in the world include Tagalog, Cebuano, and Ilocano.

According to the University of Arizona’s Critical Language Program, Tagalog

“is spoken by approximately 64 million Filipinos, 96% of the household population. 22 million, or 28% of the total Philippine population, speak it as a native language.”

Additionally, in regard to Cebuano, sources tell us

“…it was spoken in the early 21st century by roughly 18.5 million people in the Philippines.

To round out the top 3, in regard to the Ilocano language, sources tell us that

“…the Ilocano language is spoken by around 9.31% of people in the Philippines”.

These are just three.

Remember, there are well over 120 of them.

Different Languages Spoken in The Philippines

Here are many of the other languages, but this is definitely not the entire list. This just goes to show how much variation there is.

  1. Tagalog
  2. Cebuano
  3. Ilocano
  4. Hiligaynon
  5. Waray
  6. Kapampangan
  7. Pangasinan
  8. Bikol
  9. Maranao
  10. Maguindanao
  11. Tausug
  12. Chavacano
  13. Ivatan (Chirin nu Ibatan)
  14. Yakan
  15. Kalinga
  16. Bontoc
  17. Ifugao
  18. Kankanaey
  19. Ibanag
  20. Ilianen Manobo
  21. Bukidnon
  22. Higaonon
  23. Subanon
  24. Tagabawa
  25. Agta
  26. Aklanon
  27. Ati
  28. Bantoanon
  29. Bikol Roco
  30. Binukid
  31. Casiguran Dumagat Agta
  32. Cuyonon
  33. Ga’dang
  34. Hinukay
  35. Itawis
  36. Kalinga Apayao
  37. Kalamian Tagbanwa
  38. Kinaray-a
  39. Mansaka
  40. Matigsalug Manobo

Agta, for example, is an endangered language spoken by less than 2,000 nomadic hunter-gatherers predominately in the Isabela and Cagayan provinces in Luzon.

Super interesting!

Knowing that there are so many languages out there, with some that are endangered and spoken by only a small number of people, is truly inspiring in the fact that there are other basically other worlds out there that we have only scratched the surface of.

What we do know for sure is that regardless of your language or where you come from, we love to gather with family and friends, have fun singing the night away, and eat amazing food and drink as we create core memories. (Can’t go wrong with a fresh plate of Chicken Adobo)

Tagalog vs the Filipino Language

There have been debates from some saying that Tagalog and Filipino languages are different, while many say that they are the same.

So, what’s the answer?

When discussing Tagalog vs the Filipino language, they are different for all intents and purposes. With over 28 million speakers and stemming from Austronesian language families, it’s known as a standardized version of Tagalog.

As mentioned earlier, there are dozens and even hundreds of languages spoken in The Philippines. However, we also need to look at other languages to see if there is any correlation.

Tagalog vs Spanish

It’s widely said that the Spanish language played a part in the Tagalog language, from the colonial rule of The Philippines by the Spaniards, particularly that of Ferdinand Magellan, in the early 16th century.

However, it’s also stated that they aren’t related at all.

Spanish is an Indo-European language that has origins in Latin, while Tagalog is an Austronesian language.

With all that being said, what’s the answer?

Although they sound similar in many instances, Spanish and Tagalog are technically not the same and are not related.

Filipino Sign Language

Also known as FSL (Filipino Sign Language), there are hundreds of thousands of people who are deaf who rely on this form of communication.

FSL was recently considered a national language in 2018, signed in by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Other Languages Spoken in The Philippines

As mentioned, like in any other major country in the world, there are many people who speak different languages. This all depends on the person’s background, where they come from (if different than The Philippines), their line of work, the influence of trade and immigration, and many other factors.

Some of the most common languages spoken include:

  1. English
  2. Chinese
  3. Japanese
  4. Korean
  5. Russian
  6. Arabic
  7. Portuguese
  8. Vietnamese
  9. Indonesian
  10. Malaysian

There is no comprehensive list here since many people come in and out of The Philippines for various reasons.

A large majority of the listed languages are from neighboring countries and regions, and individuals who live in countries in close proximity are more likely to go to The Philippines.

What Have We Learned?

We have learned that The Philippines has a seemingly endless variety of languages and dialects that are spoken there. Some languages are more popular, while some languages are on the brink of extinction.

Knowing that there are hundreds of types of languages and dialects spoken by people helps to provide a much-needed perspective on the world.

Terrain Trends is your source of information and resources for travelers and those on worldly expeditions. Whether it be about the culture of the Philippines, different types of foods and drinks, or anything you may experience on your travels, we have it.