Ilocano, Spanish colonies, Hiligaynon, Bicol, national language
More than 80 indigenous languages and dialects are spoken in the Philippines. These languages and dialects belong to the Malayo-Polynesian group of the Austronesian language family. The most widely spoken are Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Bicol, Waray-Waray, Pampangan, Pangasinan, and Maranao.
English and Filipino (formerly spelled Pilipino) are the official languages. Filipino is largely based on Tagalog, with many words adopted from other languages, including English and Spanish. It was made the national language in 1987 in an attempt to address the fact that no two of the indigenous languages are mutually comprehensible. Filipino is a required subject in schools, but English is more commonly used in higher education. English is also commonly used in government and commerce. Some Filipinos are trilingual, speaking an indigenous language, Filipino, and English. Many Filipinos continue to primarily speak their indigenous language, rather than Filipino. Very few people speak Spanish, despite the country’s colonial history. Spanish never became a widely used or learned language in the Philippines, in contrast to the Spanish colonies in the Americas, because the Spanish friars used the vernacular to introduce Catholicism to the indigenous population. Arabic and various dialects of Chinese are spoken by a small minority of the population.
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