The Filipino language has a somewhat complex history of development. In official terms it is the prestige version of the Tagalog language spoken in the Philippines. “Filipino” is also the name by which the language is noted as the national language of the country. There are two official languages of the Philippines, Filipino and English, which the majority of people having at least a workable speaking ability in both.
Though Filipino was in part developed on Tagalog the two languages differ in key areas. This is due to the fact that Filipino was actually built upon a blending of up to eight different variant languages of the country in an effort to establish a single national language. It is, however, extremely close to Tagalog in aspects such as sentence structure. In contemporary usage the main Filipino language is spoken at its greatest concentration near Manila, but it is truly spoken throughout the nation to differing degrees of statistical prevalence.
The Filipino language was created when the Spanish arrived at the Philippine archipelago in the 16th century. At the time there was no common language among the different regions of the chain of islands though there were three linguae francae to make communication simpler. These were Visayan, Ilocano, and Tagalog. There were, however, many regional languages and dialects as well, resulting in the inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago knowing a few of the smaller languages so they could move about and communicate effectively in comfortable terms.
It wasn’t until much later that the first national assembly established a law to create a National Language Institute. It was the purpose of this institute to research and study each of the native languages of the country and select the one that would be the basis for a standardized national language. The three that were deemed most likely to be chosen were the same three linguae francae.
After much consideration is was determined that Tagalog was the version on which they would build the national language. This was due to many factors, including the fact that it was the most widely spoken of the three, it was not further divided into smaller languages, it had always been the language of the political and economic center of the Philippines, Manila, and it had the richest and most impressive literary history.
Though it was first given the name Pilipino in order to differentiate it from the distinct Tagalog ethnic group, the name was later changed to Filipino when it was considered officially adopted.