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  • Writer's pictureJazz Carilla

Unity in Diversity: Naming PH’s 8 Major Local Languages

Defined as the number one tool for communication, language has been used by people from ages before to express emotions, tell stories and pass on culture.

With our country being composed of 7,641 islands, it is no surprise that the Philippines has several languages spoken by its people. In fact, there are currently 187 languages and dialects used all over the country.

To honor and celebrate PH’s linguistic richness and diversity, we have listed below the top 8 local languages that we have. Share with us which one is yours!


Bicolano is the major language spoken in Region V--the southernmost peninsula of the island Luzon extending to the provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate. The Bicolano language is highly influenced by the Spanish language and is further divided into four major dialects: Northern Coastal Bikol, Southern Bikol, Central Bikol, and Bisakol.


Cebuano, otherwise known as Bisaya or Binisaya, is the country’s second-most spoken language. With over 20 percent of the country’s population using this language as their household communication, the Cebuano language is spoken in provinces located in Central Visayas, western parts of Eastern Visayas, and most of Mindanao.


Hiligaynon, directly translated as “people of the coast,” is more commonly known as Ilonggo. It is the mother tongue of people from Western Visayas, SOCCSKSARGEN, and some parts of Negros Oriental, Masbate, Palawan, Romblon, and Northern Mindanao. The language has three varieties, namely Hiligaynon, Kawayan, and Kari.


The word Ilocano is a portmanteau of the words “I,” (from) “looc,” (bay), and “ano” (native of), creating a word that means “the people of the bay.” People speak the Ilocano language in Northern Luzon, some parts of Central Luzon, and a few parts of SOCCSKSARGEN, making the language the country’s third most spoken native language in the country. Ilocanos used to have their own unique indigenous writing system kur-itan, and recently, there are proposals to revive it to honor the richness of this language’s history and culture.


Pampango or Kapampangan language is the most spoken language in the northern part of the country, particularly the whole of Central Luzon. The word is derived from the word “pampang” which means riverbank and is respectfully known as Amánung Sísuan, meaning nurtured language.


Pangasinan or Pangasinense is the official language of the province of Pangasinan ("land of salt" or "place of salt-making") and some parts of other nearby provinces such as La Union, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Cordilleras, and Cagayan Valley. The language is closely related to the language Ibaloi which is spoken in the nearby provinces Benguet and Baguio City and was previously written in Pangasinense script before it was changed to Latin alphabet after the arrival of the Spanish colonizers in 1571.


Considered the most spoken language in the country, Tagalog is the basis of the PH’s national language Filipino. Derived from the word “taga-ilog”, which means from the river, the Tagalog language is spoken by the majority of the people from the National Capital Region, Southern Tagalog, and Central Luzon.


During the Spanish period, Waray is considered a dialect of the Visayan language; however, the language is distinct and not just a dialect. Waray is the country’s fifth most spoken language and is used by people from Eastern Visayas and some parts of Masbate and Sorsogon.

So what language are you speaking and what languages are you interested in learning? Share with us in the comment!



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