The Tagalog Language and People

Tagalog refers to a people and to a language.

1. The Tagalog people live in Manila and surrounding areas and even to the large islands of Mindoro and Palawan to the South.

2. The Tagalog language as stated earlier is the basis for the Filipino national language.

Ask a native of the Philippines if the country’s official language is Tagalog, and the answer will be “No, it’s not called Tagalog, but Filipino.” This is because that is what the law says and that is what is taught in the educational system.

Tagalog is the basis of the Filipino national language.

If you ask a native Filipino what the official language of the Philippines is, they will probably tell you Filipino and English.  Filipino was defined as the national language through their Constitution (1987 Constitution, Article XIV, Section 6).  That is also what is taught to students in the classroom.

Filipinos that have gone on to university will often make a distinction between Tagalog and Filipino.

Filipino is based on Tagalog, but it has borrowings from other languages in the Philippines such as Cebuano, Ilocano and Kapampangan.  It also has borrowings from English and Spanish.  Tagalog also has borrowings from English and Spanish.  With that said, the Filipino language is still VERY similar to Tagalog and many people, including many Filipinos don’t make a distinction between the two.

Someone who says that the Philippine national language is “Tagalog” may offend some Filipinos from other areas of the country where Tagalog is NOT the first language.  Languages such as Cebuano, Ilocano and  Kapampangan are NOT mere dialects of Tagalog — they are completely different LANGUAGES that are very different from each other.  I studied and learned Tagalog and lived in the Tagalog area and now I’m learning Cebuano while living in the Cebuano speaking area.

I can tell you as a foreigner that the two languages are very different.  Some words are the same but some are very different. Some words have different meanings between Cebuano and Tagalog.  The verbal system is different.  I can sense the fact that they both come from similar roots, but they have diverged a great deal also.

I also notice here in Cebu province that Cebuanos would much rather speak Cebuano or English before speaking Tagalog.  The people I meet know Filipino (or Tagalog) because they are taught it in school and hear it on television and movies but would much rather speak English instead of Filipino.

I also lived in the Kampampangan speaking area for a while (Pampanga province) and found their language to be very different from Tagalog even though Pampanga is relatively close to Manila.

This website aims to help foreigners speak with the average Filipino that speaks Tagalog.  Most Filipinos naturally mix Tagalog with words from English, Spanish, and other Philippine languages.

My name is Alan and I am an American that has been living in the Philippines since early 2014 and studying the Tagalog language and Filipino culture for many years before that.  I am also learning the Cebuano (Bisaya) language at this time.