Philippines Language & Culture


A total of 182 native languages are spoken in the country and four languages have been classified as extinct. There are 13 indigenous languages with at least one million native speakers: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Coastal Bikol, Pangasinan, Maranao, Maguindanao, Kinaray-a, and Tausug.

One or more is spoken natively by more than 90% of the population. The good news for visitors is that English is also very widely spoken. So communication in the Philippines is normally very easy. Menus are in English at restaurants and hotels and stores have English signage and English-speaking staff. Thus, the Philippines is considered one of the most visitor-friendly countries in Asia.


The Philippine culture is famous worldwide for its colorful dances, songs, and tasty cuisine. The culture of the Philippines has been heavily influenced by both Asian and Western cultures. The Philippines was first settled by Melanesians.

Today, few in number, they preserve the traditional way of life and culture. After them, Austronesians, or Malayo-Polynesian, arrived on the islands. Today the Austronesian culture is very evident in the ethnicity, language, food, dance, and almost every aspect of the culture. While dance, cinema, music, and indigenous art are strong, travelers are most likely to encounter the many Filipino food dishes.

Rice is a staple. Popular dishes such as adobo (a meat stew made from either pork or chicken), lumpia (meat or vegetable rolls), pancit (a noodle dish), and lechón (roasted pig) are popularly served and should be experienced. Also, some spicy dishes, like the ceviche called the “Bicol Express” are not to be missed by seafood lovers. The lively culture and cuisine of the Philippines add to any holiday visit

The People

According to the 2010 Census, there were 92,337,852 in the Philippines and about 10 million living outside the Philippines. The Filipino identity, with its Austronesian roots, was developed with Malay, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and American influences. Today, this very eclectic culture creates welcoming and friendly people. Over 80% of the Philippines is Catholic.

The name Filipino was derived from the term “las Islas Filipinas” (“the Philippine Islands”). Many Filipinos refer to themselves as “Pinoy” for a man or “Pinay” for a lady. This is slang formed by taking the last four letters of “Filipino” and adding the Y. For visitors, Filipinos offer a very interesting and proud culture that they are happy, even eager, to share.

This natural hospitality makes visitors return frequently, whether it be for diving or just for a pleasant holiday. Visitors will find a great range of education and wealth in this country. Education is becoming a priority in order to stem poverty and improve the standard of living of all Filipinos.

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