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CHEd ignoring significance of Filipino

12:16 AM July 04, 2014

In general, the Filipino language reflects the culture of our people. For example, as a rice-eating (and -loving) people, we have numerous words that refer to rice, like palay, bigas, sinaing, am, tutong, mumu, sinangag, suman, puto, bibingka and sapinsapin.

Unique among Filipinos is the use of the word “kwan,” which often implies something verbally censorable. For example: “…ang ikli ng damit, kita na ang kwan nya.”  Perhaps we got this from the puritanical Spanish colonialists who taught us that sex is inherently evil and invites divine punishment. But then, why is it okay to publicly use the English word “vagina” but not its Filipino equivalent? This is proof that the English language is alien to our national psyche.

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In 1892, upon its founding, the Katipunan declared Tagalog (the dialect from which Filipino is mainly built from) its official language. The language was made a weapon of the revolution to defy the language of the colonialists and upper classes, which was Spanish, and to assert our own rich and original heritage. But this initiative suffered a setback when, as the Spanish colonialists retreated, American troops forced their way into our political and economic system. Part of America’s imperial conquest design was cultural, including imposing the use of English in schools, government and courts—not in the name of “civilization” as the American government claimed their occupation of the Philippines was meant to be; the strategy made it easy for American products to be appreciated by the Philippine market.

To this day, English-speaking Filipinos regarded as “sosyal,” whereas Filipino speakers are looked down as “bakya,” or “baduy,” even as broken Filipino-speaking foreigners are “cute.”  Moreover, Filipinos who speak English with a twang are regarded as more “educated” than those who speak English with a Filipino accent, regardless of content.

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It is often said that English is an economic tool. True, a working knowledge of English is a plus factor for overseas employment. True, a good command of the English language is necessary for employment at the business process outsourcing sector or call centers. But should overseas and call center employment be our vision for the Filipino workforce? This is not to say that we should stop learning English.  It’s okay, but emphasis should be given to developing, and propagating the use of, Filipino, our national language.  Through this, we can deepen the appreciation of our culture.

Not only that, spoken Filipino has been proven to hold very promising political and economic results. Politicians use it in campaign sorties because they know it is language that connects them with the masses, the majority of Filipino voters. Filipino soap operas get good viewership rates because their language base is Filipino. Most TV advertisements are in Filipino. Even FM radio announcers use Filipino because they know that Filipino is the effective language of communication among Filipinos.

Now, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) is thinking of removing Filipino from the college curriculum?!

—JULIE L. PO,

Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino,

[email protected]

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TAGS: CHEd, Commission on Higher Education, English Language, Filipino language, Katipunan, Tagalog
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