The Philippines Has 187 Languages

The most popular ones are Filipino, Tagalog, Bisaya, Ilocano, Bikol, Kapampangan, Waray-Waray, and Pangasinan.

Bisaya is a language

When an Inquirer article posted this year mentioned Bisaya as a dialect, I wrote in the comments section that it was actually a language. Two people jumped in and corrected me saying, “Wrong. Visaya is a region. Bisaya is a dialect.” Well, I double-checked, and they’re wrong. Bisaya (I got the spelling wrong but the fact right) is indeed a language. That’s according to Ethnologue, the most authoritative resource on world languages.


“The number of individual languages listed for the Philippines is 187. Of these, 183 are living and 4 are extinct.” — Ethnologue

According to their site, “the number of individual languages listed for the Philippines is 187. Of these, 183 are living and 4 are extinct. Of the living languages, 175 are indigenous and 8 are non-indigenous. Furthermore, 41 are institutional, 72 are developing, 45 are vigorous, 14 are in trouble, and 11 are dying.” The popular languages are English (40+ million users), Filipino (45+ million users), Tagalog (24+ million users), Cebuano a.k.a. Bisaya or Visayan (15+ million users), Ilocano (7+ million users), Bikol (4.5+ million users), Waray-Waray (2.5+ million users), Pampangan a.k.a. Kapampangan (1.9+ million users), and Pangasinan (1.1+ million users). The nearly extinct ones include Ata (with only a few families of speakers left as of 1973), Arta (with only 35–45 people left who have some knowledge of the language), and Agta in Alabat Island (with only 30 speakers left).


Image by Soner Eker on Unsplash.

Ethnolinguistic diversity

If you think about it, it does make sense. The Philippines is an archipelago with more than 7,100 islands. We have a very rich history and culture; the nature of our geography has also made us diverse in the enthnolinguistic sense. This — as you can tell — is both an advantage and disadvantage. But that’s fodder for another post, hehe.

For more information about Cebuano a.k.a Bisaya or Visayan, check this link. For a brief description of all the Philippine languages, click this. (A heads up: you’ll only be allowed to view these links a few times, after which you’ll need a subscription to continue to access the data.)


I’m posting my reply here because the comments thread of the said article had already been closed.

Image by Soner Eker on Unsplash.


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