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 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. This Scripture, derived not from an English translation but from the original Greek by native speakers, was the first Tagalog translation to do so, which greatly improved its accuracy and reliability. Upon its completion in 1998, the Tagalog New Testament, Ang Salita ng Diyos, sold out quickly due to its enthusiastic reception, necessitating its reprinting several times.
Precipitated by the lack of available copies, the Tagalog churches contacted BI in 2010 with a desire for a new edition of this New Testament. Work began, and in 2015, the team printed a trial edition of John and Ephesians. When the revision work was finished and the New Testaments were printed, the delivery shipment was split between the churches on the mainland and those on the island of Palawan. On March 28, 2021, the churches on Palawan had their celebration services, and on May 26, the second edition of Ang Salita ng Diyos was dedicated in Manila, with BI personnel attending via Zoom.
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