Language

In the Philippines

Pilipino, or Tagalog, is the national language of the Philippines. English was introduced into the Philippines during the US colonial occupation and civil regime in the early 1900s and has now become the second official language. In fact, Tagalog and English compete in the various domains of Filipino society such as business, government, broadcast media, publications, and education. English words have been assimilated into Tagalog to create a blended hybrid, or slang, known as “Taglish”. The significant penetration of the English language into the Philippines has resulted in a strong similarity between the Philippine and American educational systems. This similarity has enabled Filipino Americans to transition easily and become absorbed seamlessly into the United States workforce.

Other Dialects

In addition to Tagalog, there are over 100 ethnic dialects spoken in the different parts of the Philippines. Of these, ten are considered major dialects. The Philippine National Statistics Office (Philippine Census, 2000) estimates that Tagalog is the predominant language spoken, followed by Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Chavacano, Northern Bicol, Pangasinan, and Southern Bicol respectively.

Though many Filipino American older adults can communicate in English, they typically prefer to speak their native language, particularly when ill or when in other high stress situations.

In the US

An estimated 42.6% of Filipino Americans speak only English at home, while the rest speak other Filipino dialects at home in conjunction with fluid English (57.4%) (US Census Bureau, 2008a). Though many Filipino American older adults can communicate in English, they typically prefer to speak their native language, particularly when ill or when in other high stress situations.