Mabuhay! Kumusta Ka Po! Tagalog is the language most widely spoken in Manila and surrounding provinces and is a lot of fun to learn. Ideally you should have a teacher, a Tagalog speaking native, to correct your punctuation and make sure your grammar is up to scratch. Even if you don’t have a teacher handy, you can still learn a great deal and lay the foundations for quick and easy assimilation when you arrive in the Philippines.
Learning a language is always easier if you adopt the ‘total immersion’ method. Go to the Philippines and keep well away from other foreigners and try and get the locals to only speak to you in Tagalog. You will make mistakes but in time you will start to grasp the language because you have no choice!
This site will help you find teachers, textbooks, audio programs and other resources and opportunities to practice your Tagalog, no matter where in the world you live.
Even though the official language of the country is Pilipino (Filipino) the reality is most of it is Tagalog, the native dialect from the Manila region. The claim is that since that is the largest single group of speakers and it is the nation’s capital, that is the most widely spoken language. The reality is there are as many speakers of Visayan as there are of Tagalog, and these are native speakers. Many of the millions living in Manila come from other provinces and have other dialects as their native tongue, or L1 (Language 1). For centuries Cebu City was the main city in the islands but that was changed late in the Spanish occupation period (1564-1898).
Whatever the reality of how many speak which dialect, the national language is over 90% Tagalog and 90% or more of all television, movies and songs are in Tagalog. If you plan to live deep in the province somewhere else then learn that local language but you won’t be able to follow much on TV. Additionally, everybody speaks some Tagalog/Filipino so if you can only learn one language, there is a good argument for making it Tagalog and not Bicolano, Cebuano, Illongo, Pampanga, Waray-Waray and any one of a couple of dozen other dialects.