On the Evils of a National Language II

On the Evils of a National Language II

Recently, the Malacanang communications group commissioned a module designed for the orientation of teachers in Filipino Language education apart from justifying the government’s language policies. The work is inherently trilingualist and pursued a dangerously naitonalist agenda. It used four very simple and painfully simplistic justifications in the form of two questions and two statements;

What is a National Language for?

Why Filipino?

Filipinos Speak Filipino

Filipinos Also Speak Other Languages and Dialects

Even from the structure of the module it’s already quite apparent how bigoted and alienating Philipine Language policies are. First, it asserts a need for a National Language; second, it asserts the need for Filipino(might as well ask “Why Tagalog?”); third, Filipino takes precedence for Filipinos; and finally, all the other languages are “also” spoken as if they were mere appendices to an artificially constructed variant of the Tagalog language.

This practically establishes Filipino, a dialect of Tagalog, as the line by which all other heritages must toe.

This is unacceptable and must be reversed. Every claim this module makes must be dissected and rejected. In four parts, I shall dissent on every justification this module has proffered. In doing so, I expect to spark discussion and draw the line on the sand. Now is not the time for half-measures, ladies and gentleman. This piece of dangerous nationalist propaganda threatens every non-Tagalog heritage in these islands. It is overly simplistic, which reflects its target audience, and rewards conformity over individuality.

It subscribes to the very essence of Filipino Nationalism: Filipinos colonizing other Filipinos.

For this, it must be rejected, it must be countered, it must be met wherever it is found and stopped.

This is the second installment of a four-part series.

PART II: Why Filipino?

Filipino was conceived to supplant every other language in this country. Otherwise, why would its stalwarts impose its use so fiercely; why would every other Philippine language be relegated auxiliary status if not to trivialize their existance; and why would every other Philippine language be made to represent the inferior? That has been the image of the non-Tagalog since the 1950s; what Quezon established, the media solidified; non-Tagalogs are provincianos–second class.

Filipino language policy was designed to butress everything the Tagalista understands about statecraft and serves as the foundation of how everything should be run in the Philippines; mediocre, haphazard, shallow, collectivist, and elitest. Make no mistake, the collectivist is an elitist by default. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be so keen on constructing a system that appoints him the collective master. That’s the irony with collectivism, it expresses the equality of all yet cannot survive without heirarchy.

And Filipino was meant to be at the very top of that heirarchy, singling out one native tongue as superior among evrey other:

“After serious deliberations on the studies that they conducted, the National

Language Institute selected Tagalog as the basis of the national language. The

reasons why Tagalog was chosen were the following:

1. Tagalog is widely spoken and is the most understood language in all the

regions of the Philippines. It is spoken in Manila, central and

south-central Luzon, the islands of Marinduque and Mindoro, and some

parts of Mindanao.

2. It is not divided into dialects, like Visayan for example.

3. Tagalog literature is the richest. More books are written in Tagalog than

in any other native language.

4. Tagalog has always been the language of Manila, the capital city, even

before the Spaniards came.

5. Tagalog was the language of the Revolution and the Katipunan – two

events in our history that we can truly be proud of.

The poet Francisco Baltazar Balagtas wrote the epic poem Florante at Laura,

one of the greatest literary treasures of the Philippines, in Tagalog.

So yes, I would have to agree with the Institute’s findings.

Nevertheless, I believe the national language should only be lightly based on

Tagalog, and should contain many elements from the other languages spoken

around the country.”

— from the module

Who is this “I”? And how could a language that created Florante at Laura be better than a language that gave birth to the Hinilawod and the Lam-Ang epic? These are digressions, however, since the meat of the problem is on how arbitrary and bigoted the criteria were in designing the Filipino language. It was, as if, the significance of a language could be measured in statistics, demographics, and sheer bulk of product.

And Tagalog doesn’t have any dialects? Really? Then what do you call Marinduque and Batangas Tagalog? More books are written in Tagalog? Just as many literature was produced outside of Manila, especially in the other trade and cultural centers of the country.

The problem is that Philippine Language policy always places the other languages at the backseat of any priority list. It is as if Tagalog-Filipino must always be stronger politically than the other languages. That is the very essence of this policy, isn’t? Political dominance.

For starters, the method was simplistic. It had no respect for culture or even the very idea of culture and how organic a culture should be to be legitimate. What this policy tried to do was construct a culture out of bits and pieces it thought could be useful rather than letting culture steer its own course. This is ignorant meddling. This is corrupt by design.

The crux of it all was that the criteria all favored Tagalog which, incidentally, was the language of Manila. In several of these reasons given to rationalize the choice of Tagalog, Manila never fails to appear.

Manila, it seems, should be the center of the Philippine Universe. This is unfair.

Two points deserve special attention.

Tagalog has always been the language of Manila, the capital city, even before the Spaniards came.

This is interesting and insulting. It basically posits that the ruling datu of Manila ruled the whole of the Philippines, as if the emperor of his own little empire. If that were truly the case, shouldn’t the pre-colonial islands be of a single society rather than societies with sovereignty unto themselves? Even the very geography of the islands discouraged centralization, so how could Manila ever be the capital city of a Nation-State that never existed?

All this proves that the design of the Filipino Language was meant to butress the centralization power rather than the development of culture. Culture, in the Philippines has always been, and must always be, diverse to truly represent the spirit of its people. The Philippines is multiculturism, and reasoning to the contrary endangers the right of several, distinct, cultures to exist. Centralization of power also does one other thing; it curbs the right of a people to self-determination. That is the very crux of Filipino Nationalism; to monopolize power.

Equality, Liberty, Individuality are all anathema to nationalism and a nationalist never fails to find each and kill it.

Tagalog was the language of the Revolution and the Katipunan.

The language of the Philippine Revolution was and shall always be Spanish! Juan Araneta and Martin Delgado began their own revolutions in the Visayas and operated apart from Aguinaldo’s Katipunan and were the only revolutionaries able to pressure the representatives of Spain in the Philippines to surrender. This, effectively, made the Visayas independent from Luzon and Mindanao and should have excluded it from the Treaty of Paris since when Spain ceded the Philipines to the USA, it was no longer in control of the Visayas.

Proud Visayans that they were, not single word of Tagalog would have escaped their lips. As among the elite Ilustrados, to converse with their contemporaries from Manila was to converse in Spanish. Spanish was the great leveler of their time. For one from Iloilo to speak Spanish to one from Manila made them equals to each other. To speak Tagalog would have made the Ilonggo subservient.

To this day, that is the image of the provinciano, subservient–often the sidekicks to their Tagalog counterparts.

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