Filipino, or Tagalog, is an Austronesian language originally spoken in the vicinity of the capital of the Philippines, Manila, but among the approximately one hundred languages of the country it has the oldest and most extensive literature, dating from the sixteenth century.
It became the national language of the Philippines in 1937. In the 1990 census, Tagalog was listed as their first language by about a quarter of the population of the Philippines. If one includes second language speakers and speakers outside the Philippines (including substantial populations in the US), the total comes to almost sixty million. In terms of grammar, Tagalog and Filipino are very similar, but the Filipino alphabet has twenty-eight letters compared to Tagalog’s twenty and is better able to integrate loanwords.
The University of Michigan switched from teaching Tagalog to Filipino in 1998. Tagalog had its own script before the Spanish conquest, but it and Filipino have long been written with the Roman alphabet. Because of their colonial presences, the Spanish and English languages have had a pervasive influence on Tagalog and Filipino, which contain many loanwords from these two languages.