What Languages Do They Speak In The Philippines? Top 7 Most Famous

The Philippines is an archipelago, and most of each island has its language. There are over 120 to 175 languages in the Philippines. However, only eight significant languages are being used all over the country. Tagalog is the national language and is widely used by most Filipinos to understand and disrupt language barriers. 

The most common language spoken in the Philippines is Tagalog and Cebuano, comprising half of the country’s population. But each region has its native language spoken. Tagalog and English are the two main languages used in the educational setting. 

Since there are various languages spoken in the Philippines, this became a barrier to understanding each other. Under the 1987 Constitution, they designate Filipino, a standardized version of Tagalog to become the official language of the Philippines alongside English.

There is so much to share about the languages spoken in the Philippines; however, I will be sharing the top 8 spoken languages in the country; keep on reading.


Filipinos widely use Tagalog in the Philippines. This language is widely used in the Luzon area and some parts of Mindanao, comprising one-fourth of the entire Philippine population.

Tagalog is considered one of the most spoken languages in the country, officially used in the government and educational setting. 

Tagalog is a Malayo-Polynesian language from the Austronesian language family and is considered the lingua franca of the Filipinos worldwide. Tagalog is the dominating language used in producing literary works, films, and media.

Cebuano or Binisaya

Cebuano laguage is generically called Bisaya or Binisaya wich means Visayan or Visayan Language. This language is widely used in Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and most areas in Mindanao.

Cebuano became the lingua franca of most people in Visayan and Mindanao region. Cebuano or Binisaya speakers consist of one-fifth of the entire Philippine population. However, the language is less used than a literary language through Cebuano or Binisya is widely used in newspapers and films. 

This language was heavily influenced by the Spanish language when the Spanish colonizers arrived in the country.

There are objections to how the language is called either Cebuano or Binisaya since areas in Mindanao ethnically claim to call it Bisaya and not Cebuano, and their language is Binisaya. 


Ilocano is the third most spoken native language in the Philippines, spoken by Ilocano people. The language also has a rich distinct writing and script system called Kur-itan, which was proposed to be revived in the educational system in the Ilocos region. 

People mainly use Ilocano, particularly in the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley Regions, in Central Luzon, Mindoro, and Southern Mindanao.

The language can be called Ilokano, Iloko, Iluko or Iloco including the native name of the langugae called Ilokano and Pagsasao. The Ilocano language was first written in Baybayin, also known as Kur-itan or Kurdita; the language was then replaced into Latin when Spanish arrived.

Hiligaynon or Ilonggo

Hiligaynon is also called Ilonggo since this language is widely used in Western Visayas and Soccsksargen, spoken by mostly Hiligaynon people. There are disagreements regarding the name Ilonggo since it is typically referred to people residing in Iloilo. 

Hiligaynon is written in the Latin script due to the influence of Spanish colonialism in the country.

Hiligaynon is one of the Visayan languages widely used in some areas of the Visayas containing Spanish loanwords.

Hiligaynon is the second most spoken word in the Visayas region. Though numbers of Filipinos widely use this language, Hiligaynon has no official status in the Philippines. The Hiligaynon language is closely related to Capiznon, Masbatenyo, and Porohanon.


Bicolano or Bicol language is primarily used by people in the Central Philippines, specifically in the Bicol Peninsula. Bikol is the primary local language in the Bicol region in the country’s southeastern part, which is highly influenced by the Spanish language.

The Bicolano language is divided or grouped based on its Ethnologue, including the Coastal Bikol, Inland Bikol, Northern Catanduanes Bikol, or Pandan Bikol.

Some areas in the Bicol Region have a combination of Visayan and Bicol language called Bisakol.

Bicolano speakers resides in the areas of Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur and in islands of Catanduanes, Masbate, Ticao and Burias.


Waray is the native language of EasternVisayas people; it is also considered the fifth most spoken regional language in the country.

Waray is the native language of Waray people and is considered the second language is spoken by Abaknon people and the third most spoken language among Bisayan languages.

Waray and Cebuano languages are not far from each other and share mostly the same word meanings. 

Waray or Waray-Waray language is one of the branches of Visayan languages spoken by three million Filipinos residing in the provinces of Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, and Biliran. There are variations in the name of the language wherein Waray is also known in some areas as, Samar-Leyte, Winaray, Binisaya nga Winaray, Samarenyo, and Lineyte-Samarnon.

There are slight variations in the Waray language, like the Ninorte- Samarnon Waray, than the regular Waray language.

Pampango Pangasinense

Pampango Pangasinense or Kapampangan is the Austronesian language of the Philippine type, widely used by Filipinos residing in plain central Luzon.

Kapampangan is the official language of Pangasinan province, where the people residing there are called Pangasinense. More than two million people speak Kapampangan, and it is also one of the eight major languages in the Philippines. 

There is an alarm that Kapampangan is a dying language that threatens culture and identity. Due to this alarm, the Angeles City in Pampanga passed an ordinance establishing the City to used Kapampangan as their official language institutionalizing its use in all sectors.


There are more than a hundred languages that Filipinos use. These languages vary in the different locations within the three major regions, including the Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

These languages have distinct characteristics that showcase the identity and culture of the place. If you plan to visit and have a vacation in the Philippines, it is best that you can speak Tagalog or Cebuano since that is the most well-spoken language.

Nonetheless, Filipinos are also good at speaking English, so you don’t need to worry about language barriers as long as you speak English.

Regina and Joe

Hello! It's Regina and Joe here. Like many other couples, we met online and after a long-distance relationship, Joe decided to move to the Philippines, where we married and live together since 2017. In this blog, we will teach you how to enjoy the Philippines to the fullest and what to expect from Filipino culture. Who more than us can understand both the West and the East?

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