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I’ve always encountered questions pertaining to the official definition of Filipino, which is the national language of the Philippines. Filipinos, sadly, struggle with explaining what Filipino is, and how it is different from Tagalog, the former official language.

Well, Filipino is the official language of the Philippines by virtue of the 1987 Constitution. Before coming up with this term to call the national language, the official language of the Philippines was Tagalog being that it has the biggest number of speakers and many printed materials in Tagalog have been published and to this day are still used in schools.

There should be no long and complicated discussion between the two terms because the explanation is really simple. When former President Manuel L. Quezon declared that a national language will be formed and will be Tagalog-based, Quezon was thinking of a unifying language that will be used to also give us an identity as a nation and people.  This language is evolving, therefore what could be a more fitting term to that evolving language than Filipino?

How different is Filipino from Tagalog?  To those who used the Balarilang Tagalog material, you all know how many consonants and vowels were used in spelling and writing Tagalog words:  5 vowels and 16 consonants.   Each letter also has a distinct pronunciation and the letters are read in syllable form. Therefore the letter ‘b’ is read ‘ba’.  This system was really very awkward and mouthful, not to mention confusing.  In Filipino, the English pronunciation is used in naming letters and all letters and other phonological elements are accepted.  Some words are also even accepted as part of our ‘lingua franca’ already, while some have been Filipinized, meaning they are spelled the way locals use them like “laybrari,’ which is  used more often than its local counterpart which is the ‘silid-aklatan.’   Their differences go beyond these two major characteristics.  However, it is sufficient to say that whatever name is given to the local language, its main objective is to unify the country and its people.  Filipinos also have the responsibility in advocating the use of Filipino to call the national language.   Let”s not forget what Jose Rizal said about forsaking our national language.