Languages of the Philippines

Although Tagalog is the national language of the Philippines there are numerous different dialects that are predominantly used depending on which part of the Philippines you are in. This is the reason all children are taught their native language, Tagalog and English from the first day they start school.

The best example I can give is my wife is from the Visayas region and speaks a dialect called Ilonggo, also known as Hiligaynon. Last year when we went to a town about 20km away to go to a fiesta at one of her relatives house we found ourselves getting close and our guide, my father in law did not remember exactly wher the house was. So we stopped at a near by store and asked. Seems like a simple answer right? When he asked the store owner if he knew what street these relatives lived. the man looked at him like we were from another planet. He had no idea of what my father in law was saying. From that point we were just winging it and we were so close it only took a few minutes to get there.

A good source to find information on the different languages of the Philippines go to http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=PH. This site lists all the different languages in alphabetical order and has a handy map to show the ares they are spoken. It would be a good idea to learn some basic Tagalog even though most Filipinos speak and understand English. The people will feel more comfortable and you will have a better understanding of what they are saying when they speak to each other.