Considered to be the largest of the Philippine ethnic groups, the Tagalog are concentrated about the metropolitan area of Manila and spread out as the major population of provinces like Rizal (812,713), Laguna (1,290,278), Cavite (1,026,657), Batangas (1,445,509), Bulacan (1,384,270), and Nueva Ecija (986,248). The population now stands at some 16,054,430 (NSO 1990). The Tagalog language has very strong affinity with Malay languages (Bahasa Indonesia/Malay). However, due to more than 300 years of Spanish colonial rule over the Philippines, the language has incorporated a significant number of Spanish words and expressions. The language also includes words and phrases that are rooted in English and Chinese.
The national nanguage is actually being built around Tagalog which is now practically understood and spoken in other parts of the country. The people are identified with all kinds of agricultural production, silviculture, animal husbandry, and industrial production. They are also engaged in international marketing, politics, and foreign relations.
The kinship structure is essentially bilateral with offspring related equally to both parents, with inheritance following the same pattern although in practice, it is more cognatic in nature. In the urban areas and where large properties are concerned there is a tendency for the lineal distribution of wealth and property in the manner of corporations. Members of the group are involved in all sectors of government practice and in private institutions that are national and international in scope. Being in the midst of the government structure, the people are the most immediate beneficiaries of the benefits of services. Such an advantage is mirrored in the development of the Tagalog in contrast to the experience of other ethnic groups.
According to the 1990 and 2000 United States Census, Tagalog is the second most commonly-spoken Asian language (after Chinese) in the United States, and the sixth non-English language spoken in America. Tagalog is the lingua franca of Filipinos anywhere in the world. Most Southeast Asian scholars use Tagalog as the tool for research in the Philippines. It is also the language of major works in literature and that of Philippine films and songs.