On the Evils of a National Language

On the Evils of a National Language

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.

PART I: What is the national language for?

“Every free country has its own Naitonal Language. A national language is a symbol of a people’s freedom, independence, and unity. It represents what we have gone through as a people (our history), and who we are at present.”

–from the module.

Exploring this blatantly Tagalog Triumphalist sentiment, we come to three basic claims of the National Language agenda;

A national language can help us achieve political unity and strength.

A naitonal language can help a lot in our country’s economic development.

A national language can promote social and cultural development.

This is a ominous echo of Ferdinand Marcos’s own motto for his New Society, “Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa,” which roughly translates to One Nation, One Spirit. Very few manage to make this connection, but do recall Adolf Hitler’s own mantra for his Third Reich, “Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Fuhrer!” This makes Marcos’s New Society a direct descendant of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party. Hitler saw the German people as a single nation at the expense of every non-Aryan ethnicity unfortunate enough to be in Germany or even just adjacent to it at the rise of his Reich. Hitler’s genocide wasn’t very subtle, fine, but the genocide every non-Tagalista faces now is just as dangerous and effective.

Whereas Hitler engages in spreading murder, the Tagalista engages in spreading blight. Through a thoroughly estalished cultural hegemony rooted in Manila, the Tagalista hopes to linguistically breed the non-tagalog languages out of existence.

Is it working? According to this university, it is. The local languages are rapidly being supplanted, rapidly fallen into disfavor.

“A study was undertaken by Xavier University on which Philippine language was most widely used by Filipinos thorught the years. It clearly indicates that from 1960 to 1990, the number of those who were using Filipino as a language increased more than that of those using other Philippine languages.”

–from the module.

This is all because of one distinct form of miseducation which the Tagalista continues to spread; the idea that we are a “single nation” and as a single nation we need a “singular language” to bind us all together. Very well then, let us explore this idea towards its logical conclusion. Let us take a very close look at what the word “nation” implies. Let us take a very close look at Gaelic, Basque, and Tamil. Let us take a very close look at what people are willing to do after years of pent of resentment and hatred locked away and waiting to explode.

On Nations

The problem with Filipino Nationalism is that it demonizes any alternative apart from ideas it imposes. Its unifying assertion is that there is only one form of everything. This includes the concept of not only nationality but also of nations. Historically speaking, Filipinos were Spaniards (mostly Basque) who were born in the Philippines. Those without Spanish blood were either Indios or Mestizos (Indios with Chinese blood and the complexion to match).

It was only after the Americans came that they generalized everyone under this nomenclature while completely and ignorantly disregarding ethnicity, language, and even heritage. To them, the natives all sounded alike, all looked alike, and all acted alike.

This is the very same concept of nationality and nationhood which defines Filipino Nationalism. Unfortunately, it failed to account for the simple fact that we do not at all look alike, sound alike, or act alike; but it certainly wants us too. This is why it vigourously pursues a One Nation agenda at the expense of everything else. As far as Filipino Nationalism is concerned, there is only one desirable concept of nationality; the one defined by a Tagalog Hegemony.

It ignores that fact that nationhood and nationality not only reflects membership to a sovereign state but also defines a person’s connection to heritage, ethnicity, and often: language. This is why stateless nations exist.

The Stateless Nation

“Every free country has its own National Language. A national language is a symbol of a people’s freedom, independence, and unity. It represents what we have gone through as a people (our history), and who we are at present.”

–from the module.

This statement deserves our special attention on discussing the stateless nation. Its claims are very simple, very easy to understand, and defines Filipino Language policy. Good, this makes my job easier. Let’s start with Spain.

Spain is a free country, but it doesn’t have a National Language. Why should it? The moment it institutes one is the moment it insults the speakers of Basque, Occitan, Catalan, and the Gallician apart from the fact that of the 27 autonomous communities that exist in Spain, one of them holds Barcelona, the second largest contributor to Spains GDP. The mere fact that Catalan, Occitan, Gallician, and Basque appears as optional languages on Spanish ATMs speaks much of the country’s cultural sensitivity. On the other hand, the Philippines has only two options to choos from English and Filipino.

Russia is also a free country, also very strong. Instead of Russian as the National Languages, it is merely an offical language along with 27 others. This makes Russia a true multinational state; a federation, so to speak, of more than a hundred and sixty ethinic groups and indegenous peoples reflecting extreme cultural and national diversity, with Russian ethnicity itself being split into three groups, the Slavs, the Tatars, and the Bashkirs.

The United Kingdom and the United States of America also reflect this. The United States itself recognizes the North American Indian Nations apart from the multitude of ethincities that constitute its multicultural society. The United Kingdom takes this to a whole new level with no less than four countries, referred to as national teams, constituting the United Kingdom. These are Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In these countries, languages other than English hold official favor, this includes Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Norn, and Welsh.

This makes stateless nations ethnic groups deprived of self-determination and sometimes even their own heritage. In the Philippines these are represented by the secessionist movements of the Cordillera People’s Alliance and the Moro Naitonal Liberation Front apart from the political parties and militant groups that branch out from these movements. Stateless nations often resort to violent seperatism when deprived of their rights to exist and self determination. These, of course, are only natural as resentment often comes when an Imperialist majority either subtly or directly imposes itself on the minority. Subtlety comes in the form of assimilation, which is what Filipino Naitonalism is tyring to do through trilingualism; while direct oppression comes in the form of genocide as Stalin was almost successful at in engineering the Ukrainian famine.

This is interesting as the very same countries I have mentioned have had a taste of violent seperatism too that rages on into modernity simply because they had the courage to resist and act on their dissent.

On Resentment and Rebellion

For Spain, they were the ETA who fought for the Basque Country. For Russia, they are the Chechens. For the United Kingdom, they are the Irish Republican Army who were successful in seceding the southern half of Ireland. Each of these groups resorted to violence for a cause that truly represented their people. I don’t condone it, but I do see it as one response when all other means have continued to fail.

Besides, as the module has said, “A national language is a symbol of a people’s freedom, independence, and unity. It represents what we have gone through as a people (our history), and who we are at present,” and the ETA was there to make sure that the Basque did not lose their freedom, their independence, their unity, their history, and who they are. This only makes the Filipino Languages existing ethos all the more superficial.

How can a language foreign to a Cebuano, an Ilonggo, a Tausug, and a Butuanon represent them? When the Spaniards surrendered to the Visayan provisional governments (political entities which existed apart from the Tagalog revolution) was the experience Filipino? When an Ilonggo buys bread from another Ilonggo does Filipino ever truly fit the picture? From experience, whenever a non-Tagalog talks in Tagalog to another non-Tagalog the experience is always disturbingly fake. How can Filipino ever be real, ever be native, when it isn’t? All it ever does is breed resentment, breed alienation, and worst of all: makes a second class citizen of every non-Tagalog in this country.

If there’s one thing a second class citizen has in droves it’s resentment. It knows it’s second class. It knows it’s looked down upon. It knows that “it” might be the very pronoun the ruling majority ascribe to it. No one has unlimited patience. Even now this country is deeply entrenched in a civil war on several fronts which it cannot sustain for long.

The Cordillera people have been docile in the north for quite some time, but that hasn’t robbed them of their fervor. Their groups are still en masse, are still organized, are still able and willing to walk their talk. The Bangsomoro in the south, on the other hand, have been walking their talk ever since the Jabidah massacre exploded. They continue to cut heads, set bombs, and pay in just as much blood as they are willing to shed of the other side.

That is the problem with Tagalistas. They call separatists ingrates, selfish, reigonalistic chauvanists, divisive, and criminals yet they will never admit to why separatists exist. When you rob a people of their identity, of their rights, of their heritage, and especially of their identity, how exactly do you expect them to react?

We are not doormats. That is why we are not nationalists.


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