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Home Sections Literature and Fourth Estate Tagalog Is Not the Mother Language of 70-% of All Filipinos
Tagalog Is Not the Mother Language of 70-% of All Filipinos PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Literature and Fourth Estate
Tuesday, 03 February 2009 01:01

I was rather surprised by the contradiction in William M. Esposo’s words in his recent column in The Philippine Star. Mr. Esposo said: “The language of instruction must be the language you are most familiar with." He continued to write: "Some of those whom oppose this (tenet) express parochial mindsets, especially those in the Visayas."

 

This writer sent a note to Mr. Esposo that reminded him that Tagalog (even disguised as Filipino) is not the mother language of near 70% of the people of the Philippines. Tagalog is not the language we and our children are most familiar with. We are most familiar with our own languages.

Tagalog is as foreign to us as English. If a choice has to be made between Tagalog and English, many Visayans and, indeed, many Ilocanos, Kapampangans, Pangasinenses will choose English. Tagalog is a foreign language imposed upon the near 70% of the population because in our country language decisions are based on politics and ideology, not on pedagogical principles. Tagalog is a language being forced upon us by the Jacobinist ideology of our powers that be.

 

Editor’s Note: Atty. Faelnar is the chairman for Language and Culture, Federalist Forum of the Philippines. He is also a director of the DILA Philippines Foundation, Inc. (Defenders of the Indigenous Languages of the Archipelago). He is one of the founding directors of the Lubas sa Dagang Bisaya, Inc. (LUDABI). Readers may contact the author this address: manuelfaelnar@gmail.com

The concept of a single national language comes from Jacobinism of the French Revolution. This concept has remained one of the pillars of French political  life and this has some features such as attempts to control language (an enduring project of the French Revolution which persist today. The French Revolution adopted language policy very different from those of other democratic nations.

In the French revolution indigenous languages other than French (were) disenfranchised and to use them was counterrevolutionary. – Harold Schiffman, 'Dirigisme and Jacobinisme', a section in his paper "French Language Policy: Centrism, Orwellian Dirigisme, or Economic Determinism?" (Department of South Asian Studies,
University of Pennsylvania, 11/20/2000).

  
This Jacobinist thinking dominated the modern nation-builders of the 19th and 20th centuries. This was also the thinking of Manuel L. Quezon and others. But times have changed. Even France has been forced to adapt to the policy of the European Union on the languages of the ethnic minorities and regional languages.


The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino now promotes the “On- nation, many-Languages idea.” The Komisyon has recognized that we are a country of many nations, and multiculturalism – recognizing and respecting our different cultures and languages is the way to unify and strengthen our country.

 

To force people to use only one language can break a country apart.

Pakistan learned this the hard way. When super nationalists in Islamabad declared that only Urdu would be used, Bengalis did not agree and Bangladesh was born.

The Civil war in Sri Lanka was initially caused by language. Tamils did not agree that only Sinhalese would be used (Sri Lanka has indigenous Tamils as well as Tamils from Madras).

Belgium also almost broke up. To prevent partition Belgium became  federal, gave respect to the two other indigenous languages of parts of the Belgian people – Flemish and German. Spain after Franco's death, recognized multiculturalism, made the regional languages official languages.


The same thing was done in the
United Kingdom.

Welsh was made official and steps are being made to promote Scottish Gaelic, as established in the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act of 2005.

 

Here in our country, non-Tagalogs are even belittled, as in the movie “Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo” that “those who do not speak Tagalog are not Pinoy.”

 

Editor’s Note: To read more about the controversial movie, please click on these links:

 

Senator Pimentel Leads Protests Against 'Ethnic Slur' in a Filipino Movie  and

 

ABS-CBN Replies to MabuhayRadio.com’s E-mail About Racial Slur in the Movie, “Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo

 

We can only have unity if there is mutual respect. The act of belittling can never foster unity because "it is motivated by a sense of superiority and domination" (Charlie Serapio).

We need a more-enlightened approach to assure the continued existence of our indigenous languages and cultures.

 

We can take heart from the examples of Post- Franco Spain, the United Kingdom. And Belgium.

Section 143 of the Spanish constitution provides: "1. In the exercise of the right to self-government recognized in section 2 of the Constitution, bordering provinces with common historic, cultural and economic characteristics, insular territories and provinces with a historic regional status may accede to self-government and form Self-governing Communities (Comunidades Autónomas) in conformity with the provisions contained in this Part and in the respective Statutes.


“2. The right to initiate the process towards self-government lies with all the Provincial Councils concerned or with the corresponding inter-island body and with two thirds of the municipalities whose population represents at least the majority of the electorate of each province or island."

Filipinos need a more-enlightened approach to assure the continued existence of their indigenous languages and cultures.

The Spanish constitution also gives the exclusive powers of the self-governing communities as well as the exclusive powers of the national government.

 

How does language come into the picture in Spain? Article 3 of the Spanish Constitution provides in relevant parts:

 

"The other Spanish languages shall also be official in the respective Self-governing Communities in accordance with their Statutes.

“The richness of the different linguistic modalities of Spain is a cultural heritage which shall be specially respected and protected."

 

Let me share with you an elaboration of this which I got from Google:

   
"The evolution of Spain after Franco is a thought-provoking case in point. Catalan, Basque, and Galician have been co-officialised and are now used side by side with Spanish in their respective regions. A conscious and systematic language policy favouring the elaboration and social implementation of minority languages in all fields of social life (‘normalización’) has led to spectacular results...

 

 “... Although Spanish is a world language, spoken by 400-million people in 24 countries, its role has been greatly diminished in its own country of origin. The affirmation of one's own linguistic identity is felt as a stronger need than the need of far-reaching communicative efficiency...  

 

“...Spain is often considered as a model of linguistic development and the peaceful solution of ethnic and linguistic conflicts in the process of nation building, especially in Latin America, but also e.g. in Central Asia. In the framework of this project, the evolution of the language situation in the Spanish speaking world is closely followed up."

The Example of Wales (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)The United Kingdom has no written constitution. But with devolution of powers to Wales and Scotland, the UK has effectively become federalized.
 
The Welsh Language Act of 1993 and the Government of Wales Act of 1998 provide that the Welsh and English languages should be treated on a basis of equality. Public bodies are required to prepare and implement a Welsh Language Scheme.

 

Thus the Welsh Assembly, local councils, police forces, fire services and the health sector use Welsh as an official language, issuing official literature and publicity in Welsh versions (e.g., letters to parents from schools, library information, and council information).


The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2005 is the first piece of legislation to give formal recognition to the Scottish Gaelic language.

 

The Gaelic Language Act aims to secure Gaelic as an official language of Scotland, commanding "equal respect" with English, by establishing Bòrd na Gàidhlig as part of the framework of government in Scotland and also requiring the creation of a national plan for Gaelic to provide strategic direction for the development of the Gaelic language.

 

The Act also gives Bòrd na Gàidhlig a key role in promoting Gaelic in Scotland, advising Scottish Ministers on Gaelic issues, driving forward Gaelic planning and preparing guidance on Gaelic education. The Act also provides a framework for the creation of Gaelic language plans by Scottish public authorities.


The Example of Belgium
In 1993, Belgium became a fully-fledged federal state when the communities and regions received full powers and federalism was officially enshrined in the Constitution. There are now three levels of government (federal, regional and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities.


To conclude, the Visayans, Ilocanos, Kampangans, Pangasinenses and others who oppose and resist Tagalization are no more parochial than the Scottish, Welsh, Catalans, Galicians, Basques and Flemish who struggled for centuries against an oppressive Jacobinist ideology. Eternal vigilance is the price. In the end these peoples succeeded. We, the non-Tagalog-speaking Filipinos, hope to emulate them and their successes. # # #



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Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 February 2009 01:07
 

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