The Issue of Language
|Above copied from Decolonization of the Philippines|
On one hand, there are those who equate one language to a sense of nationalism. Filipino, which is really a dialect of Tagalog, a language spoken in Manila and its surrounding provinces, is imposed as a national language. Growing up in Manila, it is easy to see the world through a very narrow scope. Philippine history was all about Tagalogs. I did not hear any lessons in history regarding people from the Visayas and Mindanao. Although I spent more than twenty years of my life in the Philippines, I did not really get to see the Philippines. Most of those twenty years were spent in Metro Manila. The rest of the Philippines simply did not exist and was as foreign as the United States of America. It is therefore understandable why some would still equate being Filipino with being Tagalog. It is difficult for a Tagalog to see such equating as degrading and offensive to other Filipinos who are not Tagalogs. Requiring Tagalog courses in college does not register as unjust acts simply because Tagalogs had been indoctrinated for so long that their language and history sum up the Philippine nation. Nothing could be further than the truth yet one finds national artists and even professors from universities espousing such a disgraceful position.
The other regions of the Philippines speak other languages that are distinct and different from Tagalog. Unlike Tagalog, these languages have not received due attention from institutions of higher learning. Yet, the ambitious DepEd K+12 curriculum is now implementing a mother tongue based multilingual education in the early elementary years. There is a lot to be done in terms of bringing the various Philippine languages into the academic realm. It is a lot of work, yet people seem to be more preoccupied in imposing requirements on schools. What is needed are not requirements, but enablers. These languages certainly must be part of higher education in the Philippines if we are to preserve and nurture them. And students must be able to choose. Students, however, cannot choose something that still has to exist first.
Science has embraced a language and it is English. There are scientists from the Orient who are still working hard to translate science textbooks into their native tongues. In the Philippines, there is no such effort. Perhaps, there is no worth in even trying. Independence means one thing - one should be able to make choices. One should be able to make decisions.
Not all choices made are necessarily the good ones to make. There is of course room for error, but one must learn through the decades and not keep repeating the same mistakes. One also must avoid getting trapped in indecision. The Philippines lies near the bottom when it comes to basic education. Its institutions of higher learning are likewise being left behind, and yet, here we are, still arguing about what language to use and instruct. Here we are, remaining completely clueless about academic freedom and what genuine nationalism entails.