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In Re: Betraying the Filipino language June 18, 2014

Posted by Janjan in Uncategorized.
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I write in response to the eloquent and well argued opinion proferred by Antonio P. Contreras in the Opinion section of the GMA Website. While it does state the case for the protection of the Filipino language, it likewise acknowledges, and I quote:

“Cebuanos are in fact very vocal about their assertions of their own language and culture, with them even attempting to draw their own adaptations of national symbols and discourses such as the National Anthem. The hurt felt by Cebuanos, and of other regions, of being forced to speak a language not their own, and to further inflict on them a national language that for all intents and purposes is an imposition from imperial Manila, is a highly charged discourse. It is a highly emotional issue that even enlightened academics I know who are non-Tagalog speakers and are based in their regions would gravitate towards a hostile attitude at the Filipino language.”

I will refrain from substituting Tagalog with the word “Filipino”, for indeed, I am one of the very vocal and assertive Cebuanos who refuse to acknowledge Tagalog as our national language. To call it “Filipino” would be to vest importance and officiousness on the language and declare that it has primacy over the other regional languages in the Philippines. Our languages are also Filipino. By declaring Tagalog as Filipino, you are in fact stating that our languages are mere second-class “regional” dialects.

The blog goes on to argue how we are losing our national heritage by removing Tagalog as a medium of instruction in education. Perhaps now, the Tagalog policy makers will have a better understanding of how we “regional Filipinos” feel about the primacy granted to Tagalog over that of our native tongues. We are likewise in the fight to preserve Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray and other regional languages, and because Tagalog was given more importance in our national education, the sad fact is that our languages are likewise slowly dying. I myself could no longer speak nor write fluent Cebuano. Reading a complete text of Cebuano is a painful exercise to me because I lack the reading fluidity and practice which I have for English.

In the metropolis of Cebu, rare is the person who can speak fluent and formal Cebuano, the “ludabi“. By enforcing Tagalog on us, the ordinary Cebuano lost knowledge on the proper syntax and grammar of the Cebuano language. An American friend was asking me to teach him our language but I cannot do so. I cannot explain why and when to use the words “gayud“, “og“, “man” and other Cebuano words because I never understood how to use it. But ask me to teach you Tagalog and I can tell you the difference between a “salitang-ugat” and a “pantukoy“, and why a “tayutay” is comparable to the English omnomatopeia.

The Philippine government’s enforcement of the Tagalog language on my childhood years has robbed me of the opportunity to learn my heritage, the Cebuano language, in favor of the Tagalog tongue. So please do not fault us for seeing you as Imperial Manila. A study of our government and its workings will show how much is skewed in favor of the Luzon region, to the detriment of Filipinos living in other parts of the country.

The opinion espoused by Mr. Contreras goes on to insist that Tagalog should continue to be taught nationwide. I do not contest that. I find it useful to know Tagalog. The only thing I oppose about it is again, what is it about Tagalog that gives it primacy over Cebuano, Hiligaynon and the other Filipino languages? Why is it that the survival of the Tagalog language is given primary importance over the survival of the other tongues? It is good that we acknowledge our mutual divisiveness on this matter, but until Tagalog speakers see the other languages as co-equal and as important as their native tongue, then we could never talk eye to eye.  You will always speak on a pedestal placed higher than the rest of us on the ground.

Let’s not remove English as a medium of instruction. While it is not our country’s tongue, it is, however, a language better suited for instruction in subjects such as Science, Math, Social Studies, and the like. Teach Literature, Arts and Music in a Filipino language, if you wish, but technical subjects should and must be taught in English.

Finally, the opinion implies that we “regionals” betray the language by giving a foreign tongue, English, primacy over a Filipino tongue, Tagalog. The betrayal over the Filipino language is real, in that, I agree with you. But your opinion is that such betrayal started when the Department of Education started implementing the new K to 12 system. We “regionals” think otherwise. The betrayal started when President Manuel L. Quezon issued Executive order No. 134, on December 13, 1937, approving the adoption of Tagalog as the national language of the Philippines.

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