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Filipino is the national language of the Philippinesmarker and, along with English, is an official language; designated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Filipino is an Austronesian language that is based on various existing native languages in the Philippines, with a significant number of Spanish words in the vocabulary. In fact, about 40% of everyday (informal) Filipino conversation is practically made up of Spanish loanwords. The Filipino language is in evolution, development and further enrichment on the basis of existing languages of the Philippines and other languages. It is the first language of Filipinos living in Metro Manilamarker and the second language of most Filipinos.

Sometimes the name "Filipino" is incorrectly used as the generic name for all the languages of the Philippines which, in turn, would be incorrectly termed as "dialects". Also, because of its similarity to the language on which it is based, it is still incorrectly identified with Tagalog.

The Commission on the Filipino Language (Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino), the regulating body of Filipino, envisions a process of popularizing regional dialect usage derived from regional languages as the basis for standardizing and intellectualizing the language, thus forming a lingua franca.


On November 13, 1936, the Surian ng Wikang Pambansa (National Language Institute) selected Tagalog as the basis of Wikang Pambansâ ("National Language") based on the following factors:
  1. Tagalog is widely spoken and is the language most understood in all the Regions of the Philippines;
  2. It is not divided into smaller, separate languages as Visayan is;
  3. Its literary tradition is the richest and the most developed and extensive (mirroring that of the Tuscan dialect of Italian ). More books are written in Tagalog than in any other autochthonous Philippine language;
  4. Tagalog has always been the language of Manilamarker - the political and economic capital of the Philippines during the Spanish and American eras;
  5. Tagalog was the language of the 1896 Revolution and the Katipunan— two highly important elements in Philippine history.

In 1959, the language became known as Pilipino in an effort to dissociate it from the Tagalog ethnic group.

Later, the 1973 Constitution provided for a separate national language to replace Pilipino, a language which it named Filipino. The pertinent article, though, Article XV, Section 3(2), mentions neither Tagalog nor Pilipino as the basis for Filipino, instead calling on the National Assembly to:

In 1987, the New Constitution introduced many provisions for the language.Article XIV, Section 6, omits any mention of Tagalog as the basis for Filipino, and states that:

Meanwhile, Article XIV, Section 7 states that:


Republic Act No. 7104, approved on August 14, 1991, created the Commission on the Filipino Language, reporting directly to the President and tasked to undertake, coordinate and promote researches for the development, propagation and preservation of Filipino and other Philippine languages. On May 13, 1992, the commission issued Resolution 92-1, specifying that Filipino is the

However, as with the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions, 92-1 neither went so far as to categorically identify nor dis-identify this language as Tagalog. Definite, absolute, and unambiguous interpretation of 92-1 is the prerogative of the Supreme Court in the absence of directives from the KWF, otherwise the sole legal arbiter of the Filipino language.

Filipino was presented and registered with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), by then Ateneo de Manila University student Martin Gomez, and was added to the ISO registry of languages on September 21, 2004 with it receiving the ISO 639-2 code fil. In June 2007, Ricardo Maria Nolasco, then Chair of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (Commission on the Filipino Language), acknowledged that Filipino was simply Tagalog in syntax and grammar, with as yet no grammatical element or lexicon coming from Ilocano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, or any of the other Philippine languages. This is contrary to the intention of Republic Act No. 7104 that requires that the national language be developed and enriched by the lexicon of the country's other dialects and languages, something that the commission is working towards. Furthermore, on August 24, 2007, Dr. Nolasco elaborated further on the relationship between Tagalog and Filipino:

On August 22, 2007, three Malolos Citymarker regional trial courts in Bulacanmarker decided to use Filipino, instead of English, in order to promote the national language. Twelve stenographers from Branches 6, 80 and 81, as model courts, had undergone training at Marcelo H. del Pilar College of Law of Bulacan State University following a directive from the Supreme Court of the Philippines. De la Rama said it was the dream of Chief Justice Reynato Puno to implement the program in other areas such as Lagunamarker, Cavitemarker, Quezonmarker, Nueva Ecijamarker, Batangasmarker, Rizalmarker and Metro Manilamarker.


Filipino is considered by Ethnologue to be a variant of Tagalog, a Central Philippine language within the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. In practical terms, however, Filipino is a synonym for or the formal name of the Tagalog language, especially as used by non-Tagalogs, who may sometimes refuse to refer to their national language as Tagalog-based. Tagalog is also a slang term for the national language.

One famous event in which the definition between Filipino and Tagalog was challenged was during the impeachment trial of the former President Joseph Estrada. When the presiding justice Hilario Davide, a Cebuano, asked which language the witness Emma Lim preferred to testify in, Lim promptly answered "Tagalog", to which Davide did not agree. According to Davide, nobody could testify in Tagalog because it is not the official language of the Philippines and there is no available interpreter from Tagalog to Filipino. However, the then-President of the Senate, Franklin Drilon, an Ilonggo, defended the oneness of the two by saying that an interpreter will not be needed because everybody would understand the testimony in Tagalog.





Filipino uses the Latin alphabet with the addition of the 2 letters Ñ and Ng.

Learning Resources

Many of the following books are published in the Philippines. Many are available on

  • By Vito C. Santos
    • New Vicassan's English-Pilipino Dictionary, ISBN 971-27-0349-5
    • Vicassan's Pilipino-English Dictionary, ISBN 971-08-2900-9
    • Vicassan's Pilipino-English Dictionary (Abridged Edition), ISBN 971-27-1707-0
  • By others
    • Learn Filipino: Book One by Victor Eclar Romero ISBN 1-932956-41-7
    • Learn Filipino: Book Two by Victor Eclar Romero ISBN 978-1-932956-42-9
    • Lonely Planet Filipino Tagalog (TravelTalk) ISBN 1-59125-364-0
    • Lonely Planet Pilipino Phrasebook ISBN 0-86442-432-9
    • UP Diksyonaryong Filipino by Virgilio S. Almario (ed.) ISBN 971-8781-98-6, and ISBN 971-8781-99-4
    • English-Pilipino Dictionary, Conuelo T. Panganiban, ISBN 971-08-5569-7
    • Diksyunaryong Filipino - English, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, ISBN 971-8705-20-1
    • Il Nuovo Dizionario Filippino: Italiano-Tagalog/Tagalog-Italiano (English: The New Philippine Dictionary), by Dominador Limeta ISBN 9710866176
    • New English-Filipino Filipino-English Dictionary, by Maria Odulio de Guzman ISBN 9710817760
    • Lim English-Filipino Filipino-English Dictionary, by Ed Lim (2008), ISBN 9780557038008

See also


  1.,3 Bulacan courts to use Filipino in judicial proceedings
  2. A similar situation exists with Valencian, which is the name for the Catalan language in Valencia.
  3. A similar situation exists with Valencian, which is the name for the Catalan language in Valencia.
  4. A similar situation exists with Valencian, which is the name for the Catalan language in Valencia.

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