While being able to speak English is looked upon as being well educated, Tagalog is far from becoming "a thing of the past." Filipino, the national language based on Tagalog, is the primary language used in grade school and high school. Subjects like history, civics and culture are taught in Filipino, though Math and Science are primarily taught in English. Last I heard, amost 99% of Filipinos can now speak and understand the Filipino language.

In college, the University of the Philippines has many math and science courses taught in Filipino. Even the posh Ateneo de Manila University has some Philosophy classes taught in Filipino. In fact, what educators have been lamenting for many years now is that students have decreasing proficiency in English, not Tagalog.

update 19 December 2002 About the Tagalog/Filipino dichotomy: randir and udodan have a point in that, in most cases, Filipino and Tagalog are interchangeable. However, there is a distinction that has to be made: Filipino is the national language, not Tagalog.

In theory, Filipino is inclusive of other Philippine languages, but in practice, it is not as much, although there *are* words that come into Filipino (such as the use of "day" or "dong" when talking to women or men, respectively. Filipino is much more inclusive of foreign languages. Randir's example of telling time, for example is properly Filipino, not Tagalog.

3:30 p.m. in Filipino is: "a las tres y media ng hapon," though it should probably be spelled "alas tres imedia." The words are Spanish in origin, but spoken by Filipinos. In Tagalog, it will be "ikatatlo at tatlumpo ng hapon" instead.

Another illustration of this distinction is how udodan spells the language "Pilipino" instead of "Filipino". "Pilipino" is the Tagalog spelling, "Filipino" is the Filipino spelling. The Tagalog alphabet has no "f" sound. The Filipino alphabet, however, does.

One can think of Tagalog as a dialect of Filipino that is spoken in the Tagalog speaking provinces (i.e. Batangas). Again, this distinction is really mostly academic. In regular speech and informal writing, there should be no problem in interchanging the two words.

update 1/7/2001 I might be splitting hairs here, but in response to randir's writeup, Tagalog is not Filipino (the language). It can be said that Tagalog is a subset of Filipino, but Filipino also contains elements of other Filipino languages (such as Bisaya), and foreign languages as well.

The distinction is mostly artificial. Many academics wish to distinguish Tagalog which is a dialect spoken in the low-lying areas of Luzon (it is, after all derived from "taga-ilog", or "of the river") from Filipino, a modern, dynamic language that is inclusive of words, phrases, and even grammatical structures of the other main Filipino languages.