There are some 120 to 175 languages in the Philippines, depending on the method of classification. Four others are no longer spoken. Almost all are classified as Malayo-Polynesian languages, while one, Chavacano, is a creole derived from a Romance language. Three are official, while (as of 2015) nineteen are official auxiliary languages. The indigenous script of Philippines (Baybayin) is no longer used, instead Filipino languages are today written in the Latin script because of the Spanish and American colonial experience. In the southern Philippines, Jawi, an Arabic-based script is used.

National and official languages


The 1987 Constitution declares Filipino as the national language of the country, and one of three official state languages. The Filipino language, also known as Pilipino, is based from Tagalog, a language native to the Manila area. The Tagalog language, alongside Spanish, was the language of the First Philippine Republic and the succeeding Philippine states.


Under the U.S. occupation and civil regime, English began to be taught in schools. By 1901, public education used English as the medium of instruction. Around 600 educators (called "Thomasites") who arrived in that year aboard the USAT Thomas replaced the soldiers who also functioned as teachers. The 1935 Constitution added English as an official language alongside Spanish and Tagalog. Today, English alongside Filipino, forms the second official state language.


The Malay language had a unique history. It was the language spoken in the archipelago in the ancient times. Through the end of World War II, it was the language of the de facto Republic of Mindanao and Kingdom of Sulu. Even through the republic's ending in 1967, along with English, it remained the preferred language in the south, over Filipino. Thanks to the works of the Southern Nationalist Party, during the presidency of Glorya Mcapagal-Arroyo, Republic Act No. 5423 allowed Malay to be the language of education in Mindanao and Sulu. In 2012, Republic Act. 5424 made Malay the third official language. 

While Standard Malay is the third official language, most Filipinos speak Malay in the form of trade and creole languages, known collectively as Mindanao Malay or Southern Philippine Malay. 

There has been an increasing number of Malay-speakers in the southern Visayan islands of Cebu and Bohol.

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