Commentary

‘One nation, many languages, cultures’

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(Editor’s Note: The writer is the representative of the second district of Valenzuela City in the House of Representatives.)

The designation of Tagalog/Pilipino/Filipino as wikang pambansa has led to a dangerous misconception that any work written in a language other than in the national language is not considered part of the national literature.

This “overprivileging” of one region’s language and literary imagination also affects the writing of our nation’s history. The struggles in the various regions for freedom and democracy have been ignored in favor of the political center’s narrative of the making of the nation.

Hence, the pantheon of heroism in the national struggle marginalizes the roles of Dagohoy of Bohol, Leon Quilat of Cebu and Sultan Kudarat of Mindanao, among many others in successive generations of Philippine heroes.

To correct these historical and cultural inequities, a kambyo sa pananaw—as some Bisayan friends call it—is very much in order, especially on how we value our linguistic and cultural diversity.

By this diversity, we shall be able to evolve an emancipatory education that teaches our people the collective virtue of a Philippine nation built upon the variety of the memories, experiences, dreams, aspirations and ambitions of our different ethno-linguistic communities.

Out of this “many-ness,” we are committed to be one national community.

Official versions

The country’s native languages, including the Filipino Sign Language, have been given official status through the institutionalization of mother tongue-based multilingual instruction in our education system.

Under Republic Act No. 10533 signed by President Aquino on

May 15, basic education shall be conducted in the learner’s native language throughout kindergarten and the elementary grades. English and Filipino shall be gradually introduced beginning Grade 4 until such time that these can become the primary languages of instruction in the secondary level.

However, these goals have been muddled by the very institution we have entrusted to take care of our languages. Recently, the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) announced that it was changing the official name of our country from “Pilipinas” to “Filipinas.”

The KWF obviously is not aware that there are two official versions of the 1987 Constitution, one in English and one in the national language. Each version was approved and signed by the members of the Constitutional Commission. In the national language version, we read that our country is officially referred to as Republika ng Pilipinas.

It is this same Constitution, notably Section 2, Article XVI, that gives Congress the authority to change the name of our country and only upon approval by the people in a plebiscite.

Creation of KWF

In 1991, RA 7104 created the KWF. Section 6 of this law states: “No one shall be appointed as commissioner unless he/she is a natural-born Filipino citizen, at least thirty (30) years old, morally upright and noted for his/her expertise in linguistics, the culture and the language of the ethno-linguistic region and the discipline he/she represents.”

Curiously, when the proponents of “Filipinas” took over the language agency, one of the first things they did was to promulgate a new set of implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on Feb. 13 that deleted this particular qualification.

We now find in the new IRR kadalubhasaan sa wika or “expertise in language,” instead of kadalubhasaan sa linggwistika, or “expertise in linguistics.” The former refers to the use of language; the latter to the scientific study of the nature of languages.

One may be good at using a language in writing and in speech, but may be completely ignorant of how languages are described in scientific terms, and hence, on how a language works.

KWF expertise

Many are asking: Are the new KWF officials not experts in linguistics? Were the new IRR of 2013 written to justify their appointment?

I think it is time to reinvent the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino into a Komisyon ng mga Wika sa Pilipinas, or a Commission on Philippine Languages.

“One nation, one language, one culture” is out. “One nation, many languages, many cultures” is in.

Bago ako magtapos, nais ko pong idulog sa inyo ang kaso ng tatlong estudyanteng na-expel sa isang pribadong paaralan sa Laoag City. Ang kasalanan po nila: Nag-Ilokano sila sa kampus at nilabag daw nila ang English-only policy ng eskuwelahan.

Kailangan nating wakasan at ipagbawal ang English-only policy sa lahat ng paaralan sa Pilipinas. Hindi lamang nito niyuyurakan ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag na ginagarantiyahan ng Saligang Batas. Nilalabag din nito ang karapatang pantao ng mga kabataan at pinipinsala ang kanilang edukasyon. Manalig po tayo sa kakayahan ng sarili nating mga wika at huwag nating bigyan ng sobrang pag-pi-pribilehiyo ang isa o dalawang wika, katutubo man o dayuhan.

Bilang pangwakas, nais ko pong isalaysay sa inyo ang isa pang matandang paniniwala na kailangan nating iwaksi. Kapag nagkaroon daw ng malubhang sakit ang isang bata ay kailangang palitan ang kanyang pangalan. Sa pamamagitan nito, maliligaw raw ang masasamang espiritu at hindi sila makapagdudulot ng sakit sa bata. Ang ganitong kaugalian ay walang iniba sa ginagawa nating pagpapalit ng pangalan ng ating mga maysakit na institusyon nang hindi naman ginagamot ang karamdaman ng mga ito. Walang katuturan ang pagpapalit ng pangalan kung hindi natin matukoy ang sakit at mahanapan ito ng mabisang lunas.

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  • pepito gwaps

    Dapat me standard tayo. Parang turnelyo kung metric ang ginagamit natin dito at wala namang problema ay bakit gagamit pa tayo ng imperial. Oo peding gamitin pero mahirap magmaintenance at nakakalito lang sa marami. Kung ano nakasanayang pamantayan ay yon na lamang gamitin. Tingnan nyo yong Traditional Mandarin, walang eksaktong standard english equivalent katulad ng khu, co, ko, … kaya yon nakakalito. Kaya kung P gamit natin sa Pilipinas ay iyon na lang kasi yon ang ating nakasanayan at hindi nakakalito.

    • pepito gwaps

      @guest??

      anong mali na sinasabi mo? Eh ano kung galing kay haring Feilpe yong word na Pilipinas..Bakit kelangan natin sundin yon eh hindi naman tayo Spanish. Dahil nga sa pagpalit ng P sa F ay marami na ang nagkakamali. Nagbabago talaga ang salita sa isang lugar at me karapatan silang baguhin ng mga taga roon para sa kanilang kagalingan. Tingnan mo na lang yong “kain” sa tagalog at pagpunta sa bisaya ay “kaon” na. Isa pang halimbawa ang ” itlog” sa Tarlac pagtawid sa Pampanga ay “ibon” na. Ganon din sa Uk ang “colour” ay “color” sa US. Ang ” resister” ng UK ay naging “resistor” sa US.
      Sinong magsasabing mali iyon ay iyon ang nakasanayang tawag don.

  • tra6Gpeche

    Yes, the right way or the best way is to be “one nation, many languages and many cultures.” Those Tagalog-speaking Filipinos should be educated how to speak Ilocano, Bisaya, Kapampangan and other major spoken words in the Philippines. To us, Tagalog people, that would be necessary and fair!

    • AlzheimersC

      Tapos ang mga Bisaya mag-aral din ng kapampangan, Ilocano, Waray etc bukod sa Tagalog…what a waste of time! Kung plano nating magtayo ng rocket science laboratory, hindi pa ba uubra ang English or Tagalog natin? :)

      • tra6Gpeche

        That is not a waste of time kabayan. Admit it or not, we, Filipinos, have the brain for languages. We can easily learn and speak foreign languages. Our native language should be easier to handle. As long as we don’t force anybody to do it. Right?

      • AlzheimersC

        And how much “time” will you spend on learning this languages first before our people will work on something more “useful” in nation building or improving our economy? I hope it will not take you a lifetime to learn these dialects…. :) :) :)

      • tra6Gpeche

        Perhaps, you are correct. However, one does not have to speak like a native speaker. Learning a little bit of Ilokano, Bisaya, Kapampangan, and others will suffice. Don’t you think, it would make us a little closer to one another? Thereby, getting the elusive unity is possible.

  • MikeCrisologo

    Ang nakakalito ay epal thinking ng mga pulitika , tuwing may bagong administrasyon asahan mong may mababagong kung anu-ano . EVEN FOREIGN INVESTORS NALILITO SA SUDDEN CHANGES OF THE RULES AND REGULATIONS . SALAWAHAN NA PAG-IISIP. lol!

  • josh_alexei

    Mr Magtangol, try building an Arc with Carpenters speaking a 100 different languages instead of one or max of two OFFICIAL Languages and let us say if they can make an Arc that will float in the Flood everytime there is a 4 hours rain in metro Manila and elsewhere in the Phl…Now to give you a very good example, my very own place in this planet speaks more languages than the Phl perhaps…Just about every First Nation Tribe (most famous for its other name, the NA Indians) speaks a different language and every nationality from different part of the world speaks different languages by themselves and put together Every Nationality in one Nation and there are thousands of languages…Yet we only have TWO official Languages, the English and French and to speak either one is Good enough, to know and speak both is twice as good..and further Yet, we are the the First country in the world to adopt MULTICULTURALISM as a National Policy and it is a very successful…

  • boybakal

    Just like the saying….if you are in Rome and live in Rome, do what the Romans do…speak italians.
    Thats what the Filipinos are doing, they speak Italians too.

    If in Bisaya, we learn to speak Bisaya too and even Ilocano if we are in Ilocandia.
    What is wrong if Tagalog is the National Language.
    Indonesia has more than thousand dialects than us and yet they speak one language Bahasa….because it unites them as one.

    Si Marcos nga Ilocano pero presidente sa Katagalogan. Si Garcia naging presidente gayong Boholano.
    Ano pa ang inirereklamo ng ibang region. Lumang tugtugin na yan argumentong yan..
    Still there are jealous Filipinos….that’s why we can’t progress.

  • Darth2D2

    i struggled to find the “thesis statement” (with all due respect to mr. gunigundo). too much build-up, with some parts being unnecessary.
    anyhoo, i fully agree with creating a “komisyon ng mga wika sa pilipinas.” let’s celebrate diversity. i mean we as a small nation are already struggling for attention in this world, dapat ay naiintindihan natin ang laban para sa pantay-pantay na tingin at pagdinig sa boses ng mga iba’t ibang grupo dito. there should be a full-fledged support for “safeguarding” all other local languages. encourage literature written in those languages and publish them all over; disseminate government circulars, relevant laws, etc. in various languages; kahit siguro sa kamaynilaan, dahil naman marami nang mga migrant dito, maglagay na rin siguro ng mga announcement sa iba’t ibang major language (dati sa MRT, may narinig akong mga announcement sa ilocano at kapampangan. that’s good!).

    hanggang ngayon ba ay kailangan pa ring pag-usapan na pumili ng bagong pambansang wika? marami naman nang nakakasalita at nakaka-intindi ng tagalog a. we can’t pull an indonesia here kasi ‘yung bahasa indonesia ay matagal nang ginagamit sa buong kaupuluan nila. iba lang ang tawag nila noon.

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