The Ethnologue lists 175 languages for the Philippines, including English (3.4 mil speakers in 2000) and Filipino (fil), the modified form of Tagalog used as an official language alongside English.
According to “Long odyssey to save Philippine languages,” one of the many languages struggling in the island nation is Ayta Magindi or Mag-indi (blx), a language reported by the Ethnologue as having 5,000 speakers and rising as of 1998. The article claims a mere 3,000 tribal members. Elder Arnel Valencia tells how he was humiliated as a child in school, where only English and Filipino were acceptable.
With the new school year beginning next month, 12 local languages will be taught in schools, as a result of a program launched by linguist Diane Dekker in 1987. The results of that program showed that children performed better in students if they were provided with instruction in their native tongue.
According to “Good or not? DepEd to use 12 languages for June classes,” this move by the Department of Education is part of the Mother Tongue-Based Multi-Lingual Education program, and the languages are:
- Bikol (bcl) – 2.5 mil. speakers,
- Cebuano (ceb) – 15.8 mil. speakers,
- Chabacano or Chavacano (cbk) – 293K speakers,
- Hiligaynon (hil) 5.8 mil. speakers,
- Iloko or Ilokano (ilo) – 7 mil. speakers,
- Kapampangan (pam) – 1.9 mil. speakers,
- Maranao (mrw) – 776K speakers,
- Maguindanaoan or Maguindanao (mdh) – 1 mil. speakers,
- Pangasinense or Pangasinan (pag) – 1.2 mil. speakers
- Tagalog (tgl) – 21.5 mil. speakers,
- Tausug (tsg) – 1.1 mil. speakers, and
- Waray or Waray-Waray (war) – 2.8 mil speakers.
The hope is that implementation of this program will be successful and lead to implementation in more languages.