The largest ethnic group residing in the Philippines speaks Tagalog, the language upon which Filipino, the national language, is largely based. The Tagalog speakers descended from the ancient dwellers of the islands and now live mainly in southern Luxom. After the nation's independence, rapid population growth, in combination with a poor economy and resulting poverty, caused many to pursue better lives abroad. While many are scattered throughout twenty nations, 20,000,000 of the estimated 25,000,000 Tagalog speakers remain in the Philippines. Ninety-nine percent profess Christianity, 15% of whom claim to be evangelical. The literacy rate is 88%.
Baptist missionaries have actively ministered in the Philippines for almost 100 years. After a Baptist mission group contacted Bibles International in 1986 concerning their need for an accurate Tagalog New Testament translation, BI adopted the project and printed trial editions of the Gospel of John and the Epistle of James in 1991. Upon its completion in 1998, the Tagalog New Testament, Ang Salita Ng Diyos, sold out quickly due to its enthusiastic reception from the independent Baptists, necessitating multiple printings. This Scripture, derived not from an English translation but from the original Greek by native speakers, was the first Tagalog translation to do so, and greatly improved its accuracy and reliability.
In November 2010, Tagalog believers contacted BI with a desire for a new revision and reprinting of this New Testament, so work began with Pastors James Echon and Nel Guiang serving as the main translators. In 2015, the team printed a trial edition of John and Ephesians.
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