Aquino’s Tagalog speeches unmask parochial leader
During our 40 years of tutelage under the United States, English was taught in our private and public schools and used as the medium of instruction. During the Japanese occupation, Niponggo was introduced for a while, but the liberation years returned us once more to the use of English, the language most commonly and conveniently used to bind together the various languages and dialects spoken in the Philippines.
In our global interconnectedness today, English is the chosen language worldwide. Filipinos are able to find meaningful jobs abroad and can be understood because of English. Tourism has prospered in our country because of English, which is spoken and understood even in the remotest barrios. Our overseas contract workers, whose billions of dollar remittances actually support our economy and government, found their employment because of English. We owe them so much for their sacrifices.
It was during the time of President Cory Aquino and now under her son, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, that Tagalog is flauntily used even for the State of the Nation Address (Sona). I felt iffy listening to my president speak in Tagalog during the Sona.
Webster describes “Tagalog” as a member of Malayan people residing in the Philippines. Tagalog is not well understood in the Visayas and Mindanao provinces since we have several regional districts with their preferred dialects numbering over 30. This is who we are, a proud and resilient people, not parochial but global, respecting our cultural differences.
If the incumbent President Aquino were president of the Tagalog region alone of which Tarlac is but a part, then, he has every right to continuously speak in his very fluent and deep Tagalog. But I am a Bicolano and a lawyer and I don’t want to reinvent myself to Mr. Aquino’s preferred language. I am proud to be a global Filipino who is very comfortable with English.
As Ecclesiastes wisely advocates, there is a time for all seasons—a time to speak in Tagalog and a time to use English. This, President Aquino must learn to do as he is the president of the Republic of the Philippines. Otherwise, he is a retrogressive and parochial leader.
executive director, Social Policy Advocacy,
15 Charleyville St., White Plains, Quezon City
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