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Tag Archives: 1987 Philippine Constitution

Why Spanish?

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WHY SPANISH
Jorge Domecq

Señor Don Jorge Domecq, Spanish ambassador to the Philippines.

On Wednesday, November 23, language teachers and experts from all over the region will assemble in the Instituto Cervantes de Manila for the Second Conference of Spanish as a Foreign Language in Asia and the Pacific which will be inaugurated by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. Many will remember the common heritage and the historical bonds between our two countries but wonder why reviving the Spanish language is an issue of interest in the Philippines as we enter the second decade of the 21st century.

Way back in 1937, President Manuel L. Quezon, referring to Spanish, said that “the Latin-American people believe and feel that we Filipinos form part of that vast family, the children of Spain. Thus, although Spain ceased to govern those countries many years ago and although another nation is sovereign in the Philippines, those Latin-American peoples feel themselves as brothers to the people of the Philippines. It is the Spanish language that still binds us to those peoples eternally if we have the wisdom and patriotism of preserving it.”

However, the 1987 Philippine Constitution abolished Spanish as an official language of this country. Although this decision could have been avoided, the truth of the matter is that the majority of Filipinos then no longer used Spanish in their daily lives and therefore the constitutional reform only represented a statement of fact.

It makes no sense to look back on the Spanish language just as an element of our common past, which is no longer there in our efforts to enhance our bilateral relations, to get to know each other better and to better understand our history and culture. We must admit, and we would be foolish not to do so, that there is so much about the Filipino culture that can only be understood fully if we have knowledge of the Spanish language.

Without forgetting Rizal, we can affirm that the “Golden Age” of Philippine literature (which paradoxically coincided with the American period in the Philippines and as Spanish began to disappear from all official communications) produced first-class writers like Pedro Paterno, Isabelo de los Reyes, Apolinario Mabini, José Palma and Fernando Mª Guerrero, who wrote all their works in Spanish. We must note that more than 20 percent of Tagalog words are of Spanish origin, although many of the popular expressions have a slightly different meaning. The oldest and some of the most important documents found in the National Archives of the Philippines or in the archives of the University of Santo Tomás can only be best understood and interpreted if one is fluent in Spanish. I am happy to say that we are working closely with Filipino authorities and some private institutions in the country to reverse this situation, among other things, by providing language training to the archivist who will have to ensure that the history that is there will continue to benefit future generations. All these efforts are commendable and need to be continued.

However, that is not the real reason why we are obliged to preserve and promote Spanish among the young and future generations of Filipinos.

Spanish must not be viewed as some archaic and dead language like Latin, that most Filipinos above the age of 50 remember as a compulsory subject in school, which they did not like and which for them was just a waste of time. Spanish should not be regarded either as a language of the elite spoken among Spanish mestizo families or as a legacy of a past that no longer exists. Spanish, along with the English language, is one of the only two global means that exist for communication (even if Chinese is the largest spoken language in the world). Today, more than 500 million people speak Spanish. It is also the second most studied language and the third most used on the Internet.

Furthermore, as far as the Philippines is concerned, Spanish can be a fundamental tool for many young Filipinos seeking employment in call centers or BPO businesses in this country or trying to get a better employment abroad as seafarers, nurses, social workers, etc. The United States is the main land of promise for the citizens of this country, and there are nearly 50 million North Americans who speak Spanish as their mother tongue. In addition, many Latin-American countries are notably increasing their trade and investment relations with Southeast Asian countries, gradually shifting their economic focus toward the Pacific.

If only Spanish were commonly spoken in the Philippines, along with the English language, the Philippines would become the next unbeatable business hub in Asia.

Since I arrived in Manila less than a year ago, I have been constantly asked about the relevance of Spanish in the Philippines of today. I would always reply by saying that I am very confident that Spanish is under no threat of disappearing. Manila has the third biggest Instituto Cervantes in the world in terms of number of students (an annual enrolment of 6,500) and at present, it can hardly take in more students. The real issue is whether we are ready to face the challenge of providing the young generations of Filipinos with the necessary academic backing that will enable them to study Spanish as a language of choice that will open for them a wealth of opportunities in employment. To this end, I hope to work closely with the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education.

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This article was first published in Inquirer.net.

Republic Act 7941 and the party list which will promote the Spanish Language

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What are the chances of a party list group advocating for the return and conservation of the Spanish language to exist for the 13 May 2013 Philippine National Elections?

As I’ve written yesterday, the chances as of now are slim because, admittedly, I am not familiar with the processes on how to create such a party (I may need assistance from like-minded individuals who are also drawn to such political activities). I’m not even an influential person since I’m just an ordinary citizen, a wage slave struggling to survive the perils of a globalized world — and a neocolonized local economy.

Honestly, I don’t have political proclivities. I’ve been apolitical ever since my activist days. I didn’t even register for this year’s coming elections due to disenchantment with what they did to FPJ during the controversial 2004 Philippine National Elections. In one way or another, however, my political apathy is improper (oh my, that rhymes — there’s still an ounce of poetry left in me!). Aside from possibly disappointing my friend Mayor Calixto Catáquiz of San Pedro, La Laguna who is running for reelection, it would appear hypocritical of me to join a democratic system which I am cynical of. It’s not a matter of “what’s done is done”. In a way, this will allow me to “test the waters” firsthand, to see if the system really works, to check if it’s worth it, and more importantly, to disprove my cynicism once and for all.

I received an astute query from a Facebook friend of mine asking me what are the chances that this party list which I’m planning to create will be approved by the COMELEC. He also asked if Spanish-speaking Filipinos or other individuals/groups who want to reinstate the Spanish language can be considered as “marginalized and underrepresented sectors”. He was obviously referring to Section 2 of Republic Act 7941, which is “An Act Providing For The Election Of Part-List Representatives Through The Party-List System, And Appropriating Funds Therefore”:

Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy. – The State shall promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible.

Yes, possibly this party list group that I (together with some nationalist friends of mine) am planning to organize may not be considered to champion the interests of the “marginalized and underrepresented sectors” of society. But our group is concerned heavily on the cultural and patrimonial side of things. Also, I am counting heavily on the statement “organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole”. The only thing is, somebody should explain what type of “organization and parties” are allowed because it appears vague to me and not that “well-defined”. And besides, what should really constitute a “marginalized” group?

In Section 5 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, it is stated that:

(1) The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.

(2) The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum of the total number of representatives including those under the party list. For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this Constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector.

Widely read constitutional author Héctor S. de León, in his monumental Textbook on the Philippine Constitution (1997 edition, Rex Book Store), explained the aim of the party-list system:

The basic aim of representative government is to attain the broadest possible representation of all interests in its law and policy-making body. It becomes necessary to give an opportunity to the various social, economic, cultural, geographical and other groups or sectors of our society to have their voices heard. And because they are usually without sufficient funding or political machinery, it becomes incumbent upon the government to extend such opportunity without the need to go through on expensive electoral contest.

For this reason, the party-list system has been adopted in the new Constitution to assure them of representation in the highest lawmaking body of the Republic.

De León further stressed the need for sectoral representation:

Sectoral representation is necessary because it is almost impossible for, say a farmer, laborer or public school teacher, to win in an election. It will foster the rise of non-traditional, political parties and greater participation for various interest groups, not to mention genuine grassroots consultation. After three (3) consecutive terms, it is expected that enough of the people organized sectorally (e.g. labor, farmer, and urban poor groups) will be able to win seats in the House of Representatives under the party-list system and those who are not organized but wish to be represented in the House of Representatives will be forced to organize and, may be, coalesce with other groups in order to have representation.

In view of the foregoing (man, I’m starting to sound like some law geek already), this Spanish Language party-list group that I’m planning to organize might stand a chance. Paragraph 2, Section 5 of our constitution mentioned “such other sectors as may be provided by law”. I’d like to consider this group of mine to be included in those “other sectors”. Besides, the clamor for the return of the Spanish language has been gaining strength over the years. Aside from other factors, it can be construed that the BPO sector has a lot to do with it since it offers a bigger salary to those who speak Castilian (and other foreign languages aside from English). Based on de León’s words, it can be surmised that a party list group which will rally the cause of Rizal’s beloved language can be included in those “various interest groups”.

But like what I said, I’m not a law guy. I need legal expertise here.

Will such a party be considered by the COMELEC?

Which organizations should convene to create a political party for the Spanish language?

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I hope that the humble blogpost I wrote yesterday will not be belittled nor ignored by those who are supposed to back it up. I am not forcing them to support my idea — I am actually begging them to do so.

Please do your country a favor by bringing back the Spanish language as a co-official language of this country, vis-à-vis Tagalog and English.

I have no personal political ambitions. And even if I have the political machinery and mindset to become a statesman, I will still not opt to do so. It’s simply not in my system. I’m content of just sitting on the sidelines to observe and comment. To echo what former PNP Director-General (and now Senator) Ping Lacson said many years ago during a TV interview, “I hate politics. And to put it more bluntly, I hate politicians”.

So why am I doing this? Why do I zealously put forward the idea of having a political party to achieve this nationalistic dream of restoring the Spanish language to where it rightfully belongs? Because like what I said yesterday, the political arena is currently our only chance of achieving this dream. I may not have been able to register for the upcoming 2010 Philippine National Elections, but that doesn’t mean that I have totally lost my faith in our country’s political system. That’s why I’d like to give our democratic functions one more chance. Not by exercising my right to suffrage but by creating a “minor” or small political party (or party list) with the noble aim of recognizing the Spanish language’s true worth and deserving status in this country.

I strongly believe that putting forward the idea of making Spanish a co-official language together with Tagalog and English has a very big chance. In the first place, Spanish has long been an official language of this country until it was callously stripped of its status in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Most legal documents and statutes that we now have in the three branches of our government (namely the the executive, the legislative, and the judicial departments) were originally written in Spanish before it was decided to translate them into English (and sometimes in other native languages). I don’t even have to mention the Spanish language’s impact towards our multifarious cultures and languages (not excluding behavior and even spiritually) since it has already been discussed and debated before.

The Spanish language SIMPLY needs to be brought back to the Filipino cosmos. Not for the language’s sake, but for OUR SAKE. It shouldn’t have been taken away in the first place.

I would like to call on all major institutions in the Philippines (and perhaps those in Spain as well), which has a strong connection to the Spanish language and culture, to sit down and convene about the language’s future in our country. Will the Spanish language just remain a thing of the past, something that should just be treated as an interesting scholarly topic for future dissertations? Should it be considered merely as a stepping stone by BPO professionals to augment their salaries? Should the language be treated only as a school subject? What should be the treatment Filipinos of today should give to the language of their forefathers and heroes who had helped shaped this nation? Shall we content ourselves of merely treating the Spanish language as nothing but a cultural gem that is kept in a see-through vault for everybody to see and admire?

To the best of my knowledge, the organizations which have the answers to the foregoing questions are the following:

Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española
Commission on Higher Education
Cruzada Internacional por la Reivindicación del Español en Filipinas
Department of Education of the Philippines
Heritage Conservation Society
Instituto Cervantes de Manila
National Historical Institute
Spanish Embassy in Metro Manila
Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation
The Government of the Philippines
The Government of Spain (and concerned representatives of other Spanish-speaking nations)

And of course, the list should include the foremost online group in the country today which advocates the return, dissemination, and conservation of the Spanish language in the Philippines: the Círculo Hispanofilipino, of which I am a member since 2001. It was founded by –of all nationalities– a German!

It will also help if the powerful Zóbel de Ayala family revives the country’s oldest literary award-giving body, the prestigious and legendary Premio Zóbel which has been on a sabbatical since the year I joined the Círculo Hispanofilipino. Bringing back the Zóbel Award will not only spark the fiery zeal and interest to promote Spanish in the country’s sociopolitical landscape — it will also inspire writers who do not write in Spanish to explore a whole new linguistic world. It might even inspire the few remaining hispanoparlantes filipinos to bring out the literary genius in them (whatever happened to Marra Lánot?).

I may have missed some groups. But I believe that the abovementioned list should lead the advancement of the Spanish language in the country. A dialogue or convention should be brought forth. May this meeting be made a national event.

With the symbiosis of the groups mentioned above, this political party which will struggle for the advancement of the Spanish language in the 2013 Philippine General Election will not just be an ordinary party-list group.

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Today is the feast day of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

A party-list group for the Spanish language

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¿Qué amor no ha vuelto…? –Manuel Bernabé–

Let us not mince our words nor our time anymore. The Spanish language can never become a part of the modern national landscape if it is not advocated upon by a party-list group in the House of Representatives.

It is of course a far-fetched idea to create a major political bloc with the sole objective of bringing back a language that is no longer widely used in the country today. So let us just focus on the idea of having a party-list proportional representation to revive the language in question.

But then again, if the Spanish language is no longer widely used in the Philippines –without even having a compact community speaking it– why should we even waste our time to forward the language into the political mainstream and social consciousness of the modern Filipino world?

For one: Spanish is something that is already ours. It is us. It is part of our national patrimony. It defines our national identity. We can never be a complete and a compleat Filipino without the Spanish language.

The Spanish language is replete with all the attributes which delineate the very core of our being Filipinos. It is a fact that we use countless Spanish words every single day in our speech. It is a fact that our body language speaks the same way as how our Latino counterparts do. It is a fact that our country is the only country named after a Spanish royalty. It is a fact that our surnames and towns and provinces and cuisine are in Spanish. It is a fact that our national hero relayed his thoughts in Spanish. It is a fact that most of our heroes or bayani discoursed and wrote in this immortal language of Cervantes. It is a fact that the statutes of Asia’s first republic –the one established in Malolos, Bulacán– was written down in Spanish.

It is a much hotter fact that the Philippines is the only Latino country in Asia. Geographically speaking, we are a part of Asia. But when it comes to culture, we are outside of it. We’d rather be in Europe or in Latin America.

It is not enough for the Spanish language to be simply taught again in our schools whether public or private, whether in elementary or secondary or in tertiary. It is not enough for it to be disseminated through mass media, whether in print or telecommunication. It is not even enough for a whole community or two to use it as a means of communication. It is never enough.

It must be once again used as an official Filipino language.

The Spanish language must be guarded, spread, and ennobled. In the first place, that is the mandate of the country’s oldest state institiution, the Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española of which the current government leader, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is a member. But the Academia failed when Spanish was stricken out by the Supreme Court during the promulgation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

It is not enough that Ms. Arroyo signed a directive in Spain two years ago to renew the teaching of the Spanish language in our country’s school system. No. It must be brought back nationally by giving it at the very least a co-official status together with English and Tagalog (yes, Tagalog, and not the vague term “Pilipino”). And once the language is brought back into the political mainstream, another important aspect will follow: culture, true Filipino culture which is originally based in Spanish. Actually, we already have it in our daily routine — Filipino culture rooted in Spanish can be seen in our dances, in our food, in the manner we act and enunciate, and in the manner we communicate with our Maker. But through language and culture, it will make us realize that without Spanish, our identity as a people would have been nothing. And with such realization, it will spur in us the imperative to be more watchful of any untoward action against our identity.

We also have to come to terms with our past. Enough with the silly notions about the “evils of Spanish colonization” and all that blah. It is time that we give our past a fresher appraisal by using the Spanish language in our everyday lives. Once the Filipino youth learns the language, there would be no more need for those loose, indifferent, poor, and (sometimes) almost inexact English translations of historical books written in Spanish; the true context, essence, and meaning of Spanish texts read in their original form shall remain intact. The Filipino youth will then realize that almost everything learned inside the classroom about our nation’s history was either forged or grossly inaccurate. The myth of the so-called Leyenda Negra shall finally be extinguished.

If Spanish is returned, it will also prove to be a boon to the local economy, particularly to foreign trade, because Spanish is spoken in more than 20 countries. According to a recent research, Spanish speakers all over the world is estimated to be almost at half a billion as of March 2008. And that’s one huge Hispanic/Latino market. Potential profits from exports to Spanish-speaking countries are highly foreseeable. And aside from the Latino countries, Spanish is also the second largest language in the United States (whose government, ironically, was the culprit behind the subtle annihilation of Spanish in the Philippines since the time they invaded our islands). So it is clear that forging links through language will eventually be beneficial for both parties concerned.

Lastly, by making Spanish as an official (or co-official) language again, it only means that we give due respect to our country’s history, thereby we learn how to respect ourselves in the process. For why should we totally forget a language that has been here for more than three centuries? We haven’t even surpassed that monumental epoch in terms of years. And worse, we haven’t progressed as a nation with the removal of Spanish (unlike in the days of the Galleon, arguably the precursor to what is now known as “globalization”). Our pantheon of heroes may have risen against Mother Spain, but they eloquently (and ironically) wrote their protests in beautiful Spanish prose and nonfiction; in fiery speeches, they spoke the language with much candor, fluency, and aptness. Why such bitterness and resentment towards our Spanish past? The Spaniards aren’t even here anymore. And what they bequeathed to us –the innumerable concepts and tools that we now use to enjoy life– have never been proven to be a curse to us. Why such condemnation while it is us who seem to act so vile by being so ungrateful everytime we nod to what lies or inaccuracies we hear against our Spanish past which is our very own history? To repeat: it is not the Spanish era – it is our very own history.

To all concerned groups and individuals, hispanistas, and the few remaining Spanish-speaking Filipinos, we must all unite to help move forward the language which united the whole archipelago into forcing itself into self-governance more than a century ago. Ya es hora para custodiar, difundir, y enaltecer verdaderamente el idioma verdadero de nuestra patria. A political party must be organized to realize our cause. This system may not be perfect, but let’s try to work it out and go with the flow. I say, enough with useless discussions and online forums. So much has been tackled regarding the topic, but nothing substantial has materialized save for a couple of related websites and a struggling Filipino blog in Spanish. Everything has already been debated and clarified. It’s time to take the debate to a much higher level: inside the august halls of Congress where the Spanish language used to have a stronghold. Besides, we already know what we want. I couldn’t make it any more simpler than this: Spanish is an official language of the Philippines. It is time to take action to “relegalize” it. Active solidarity and participation is the key. Get organized! Action speaks louder, words are lame. It is too late to plan for the 2010 Philippine National Elections. But we still have plenty of time to organize and mobilize this party-list group for the 2013 Philippine General Election (tentatively on 13 May 2013) wherein all 240 seats in the House of Representatives will be contested.

If there is a need to reorganize the Propaganda Movement, so be it. But this time around, the struggle is different. The atmosphere is more politically hostile than before. But the cause nobler; the advocacy much bolder. We are going up against a fortified wall built with hatred and fear and ignorance. But with our collective will –and with prayers– we can all do it. And this we do not only for ourselves but for future generations…

It is time we go back to our roots.

No es, ciertamente por motivos sentimentales o por deferencia a la gran nación española que dio a medio mundo su religión, su lenguaje y su cultura, que profesamos devoción a este idioma y mostramos firme empeño en conservarlo y propagarlo, sino por egoísmo nacional y por imperativos del patriotismo, porque el español ya es cosa nuestra propia, sangre de nuestra sangre, y carne de nuestra carne, porque así lo quisieron nuestros mártires, héroes y estadistas del pasado, y sin él será trunco el inventario de nuestro patrimonio cultural; porque si bien es verdad que la Revolución y la República de Malolos y la presente República fueron obra del pueblo, también lo es que los que prepararon y encauzaron eran intelectuales que escribieron en castellano sus libros, sus discursos, sus panfletos y sus ensayos, para realizar obra de doctrina y labor de propaganda; porque seria trágico que llegase el día que para leer a Rizal, a del Pilar, a Mabini, a Adriático, a Palma, a Arellano y a Osmeña, los filipinos tuviéramos que hacerlo a través de traducciones bastardas, en fin, porque el español es una tradición patria que si tiene raíces en nuestra historia también las tiene en las entrañas de nuestra alma, y porque el español es el “ábrete, Sésamo” de la cueva encantada que guarda, como tesoros imperecederos, los más altos pensares y los más altos sentires de que ha sido capaz el hombre desde la mañana de la civilización. –Claro M. Recto–

A Gibberish Language Month

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MULA BALER HANGGANG BUONG PILIPINAS

MULA BALER HANGGANG BUONG PILIPINAS

August is the Philippines’ Buwan ng Wika (Language Month, formerly known as the week-long Linggo ng Wika), but which among the more than 170 languages should we really consider as our mother tongue? What is really our wikang pambansâ?

These questions have been wading like a lost fish within the convoluted sea of thoughts of concerned linguists and scholars for almost a century now. But regardless of legal pronouncements and declarations, the matter over our national language hasn’t been officially resolved yet. And with the series of unfortunate events that have been pounding us like ferocious typhoons all these years, it might even be impossible for our generation to witness our country to finally obtain an undisputed national language.

The controversial 1987 Constitution unclearly states that “the national language of the Philippines is Filipino.” However, in a historical sense, the term Filipino pertains not to a language but to a group of Spaniards who were born in the Philippines at the height of Spanish rule (they were introduced to us in our elementary school days as insulares). In a nationalistic sense, and as politically defined, the term Filipino means the native inhabitants of the Republic of the Philippines. Thus, this vague statement that Filipino is the national language is just that — simply vague. And the authors of this confusing constitutional passage chose Tagalog as the basis of our national language. Anyway, from Aparri to Joló, it’s unthinkable nowadays to encounter someone who doesn’t know how to speak or understand it. Mass media, which utilizes Tagalog exclusively, is the main disseminator of the language. Thus, is it safe to assume that the constitution is right after all, that we should all concede to Tagalog as the nation’s lingua franca?

But that’s beside the point of all this.

A la tagale

The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) recently declared that this month’s theme is Mula Baler Hanggang Buong Pilipinas, implying that Tagalog is indeed the national language, with Baler being the birthplace of the Father of the National Language, Manuel L. Quezon (who ironically thought, wrote, and spoke more in Spanish).

But just a few years ago, the KWF celebrated this theme — Ang Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa ay Buwan ng mga Wika sa Pilipinas — the language month is the month of all Philippine languages. With this theme, it seems that the Komisyon is putting more confusion into the minds of Filipinos, especially the studentry. Are they now telling us that all Philippine languages are considered and accepted as the national language in lieu of Tagalog? If they were just speaking metaphorically, then the simple, impoverished, and half-starved Pinoy pitifully missed their point. Fortunately, the Filipino studentry do not seem to care about the Komisyon’s confusing theme; they’re more concerned over Lady Gaga, The Pussycat Dolls, Korean soaps, personalized shirts, fruit-flavored condoms, and the like.

But at the rate this language crisis is going, I think I’d rather have the Filipino youth’s eyes be ensconced in Scarlett Johansson’s cleavage and Hugh Jackman’s six-pack.

Pinoy tower of babel

The Philippines is an archipelagic Babylon, a maelström of tongues. This issue over our country’s national language has been an ageless controversy that has not been given much limelight in national issues and public fora. Anyway, the Philippines has so much laundry to do, so why should it bother with a “harmless” little critter in the form of a pesky language turmoil?

For one: language is a national and social phenomenon. It’s more important than one’s daily Kapamilya or Kapuso schedule.

A long time ago, a mighty language from the West (ever since the advent of our neocolonized patrimony, Spanish has been maligned and taught to us by a neocolonial education as nothing but a foreign atrocity) united the more than a hundred tongues (and united the more than a thousand islands, as well as hundreds of tribal kingdoms) in the Philippines which resulted in the country’s short-lived independence in 1898 (sorrowfully, since the American invasion, we were never able to look back to that glorious and legendary self-governance with impartiality and kindness). But this 1898 event served as the impetus for a very few well-intentioned politicians of the Commonwealth of the Philippines to continuously disturb the US colonizers for our country’s complete freedom (which up to now seems to be futile).

During the Commonwealth wherein Manuel L. Quezon was then president, the creation of a national language was naturally inevitable. On 31 December 1937, Tagalog was chosen as the country’s national language (this became the basis as to why the current constitution still uses Tagalog for our national language), eventually earning Quezon the title Ama ng Wikang Pambansa (Father of the National Language).

This is when the controversy actually began. And it worsened when, in 1959, Tagalog was renamed Pilipino. But it reverted back to Tagalog under the 1973 Constitution.

It’s not only the terminology that’s in question here but the orthography of the language as well. It is well known that Tagalog, including all the rest of the native languages, used an ancient alphabet (from a vague Arab influence) called alíbata (some say that it should be called baybayin). Propagandistas and literate indios used this alphabet, as well.

During the US occupation, the Americans were able to murder, bit by bit, almost all traces of our Spanish heritage. One of the victims was the abecedario, already part and parcel of the Filipino soul for more than three decades. The change of alphabet took ominous form when, in 1937, the Commonwealth created the National Language Institute which made a study and survey on which national language should be used. Tagalog won amidst the chagrin of other natives who spoke other languages. But US desecration of our country’s language never stopped there.

The Santos Debacle

On 18 June 1938, the Commonwealth’s National Assembly created the Institute of National Language (not to be confused with the National Language Institute). This new language body was tasked to prepare a dictionary and grammar. Thus was born the erroneous, faulty, and clumsy Balarila ng Wikang Pambansa authored by none other than the great Filipino lexicon and writer, Lope K. Santos. He was the J.R.R. Tolkien of his time in terms of inventing words. But Santos’ work was of no great help in the development of a national language. It only made things worse. It virtually murdered the Filipino alphabet, killing many Filipino words in the process.

And I suspect that he knew that.

Santos was a journalist who was entangled in the celebrated libel case of the newspaper he was working with during the early 1900s. On 30 October 1908, his newspaper El Renacimiento (The Rebirth) published an editorial entitled Aves de Rapiña (Birds of Prey). It was a “blind item” meant for then Secretary of the Interior Dean C. Worcester, but the American diplomat immediately felt that he was the one being alluded to by the attacks mentioned in the editorial, e.g., that he was economically exploiting certain parts of the Philippines (particularly Benguet and Mindanáo). He filed a lawsuit against the newspaper’s owner and men, which included Santos. The trial lasted for several years. Worcester won the case.

During the course of the trial, it wasn’t impossible that Santos may have been under duress from a Worcester payback…

The composition of the Balarila must have began during those years. Most probably, during the younger years of the 1900s, the US government in the Philippines, under the auspices of Worcester, have been plotting all along on how to destroy the foundation of our language: the abecedario. It should be noted that even during the final years of Spanish rule, Worcester was already in the Philippines. So I won’t be surprised if, in a future historical discovery, he was acting as a spy for the US. Therefore, plotting out the destruction of our language must have begun several years before the Commonwealth.

Now, many scholars say that the decision to choose Tagalog over other languages in the country is that the said language is the language of the nation’s capital, Manila. Furthermore, alongside Spanish, it was the language of the 1896 Revolution and the violent Katipunan. And again, the center of action during the Revolution was in Tagalog Manila. Another reason is that Tagalog has a vast treasure trove of literary works. Tagalog has published more books compared to other native languages. But for all we know, another factor could be president Quezon’s Tagalog origin.

But if we are to look closely into this matter, then one would find out that something fishy is going on.

It’s not easy to convince the Filipinos to accept Tagalog as the national language since we have several languages to consider. So the plotters have found a very reliable weapon in the persona of National Hero José Rizal.

A Dubious Poem

Pepe Rizal was already a legend, an icon even before the Commonwealth. And what better way to convince the Filipinos to accept Tagalog as the mother tongue by using a poem that was allegedly authored by him: the dubious Sa Aking Mga Kabata (To My Fellow Youth).

Take into account this passage from the said poem (with an English translation).

Ang hindi magmahal sa kanyang salita
Mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda,
Kaya ang marapat pagyamaning kusa
Na tulad sa inang tunay na nagpala.

One who doesn’t love his native tongue,
Is worse than putrid fish and beast;
And like a truly precious thing
It therefore deserves to be cherished.

Nobody at that time would had ever wanted to go against the ghost of Rizal. Unlike now (what with iconoclast historians such as Ambeth Ocampo and Pío Andrade, Jr. challenging already established historical knowledge), he was almost considered a god. Everything he said in his writings can transform doubtful things into golden truth. So, why not follow his advice? Since he “postulated” that you’re but a stinkin’ blowfish if you don’t love your language, which is the language he “used” in writing Sa Aking Mga Kabata, why not believe in “his wisdom”?

But this is all hogwash. Our “educators” are very proud to say that Pepe Rizal wrote this poem at a very young age of eight.

I say, they’re high on crack.

JOSÉ RIZAL NEVER WROTE SA AKING MGA KABATA! It’s a brazen lie! Even popular historian Ambeth Ocampo himself doesn’t believe that this was written by Rizal.

To prove my point, let us again take a closer look, this time by examining two curious lines from this doubtful verse:

THE Tagalog language’s akin to Latin,
To English, Spanish, angelical tongue

The Tagalog original goes this way:

Ang wikang Tagalog tulad din sa Latin
Sa Ingles, Kastila at salitang anghel

No Meralco, no problemo.

No Meralco, no problemo.

Boys and girls, if you still remember your school days, this poem was allegedly written by Rizal when he was only eight years old. However, at that age, he wasn’t studying Latin yet (his Latin lessons began in 1872 at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila; he was then 11) Although it is known that his Spanish is superb compared to his Tagalog, he wasn’t that confident with the Castilian language during his younger years (remember the “un poco, señor” incident he had with maestro Justiniano Cruz during his early studies in Biñán, Laguna?) since he was just a freakin’ kid. And most of all, English was almost unknown in the country (or at least in Calambâ where he grew up) at that time. When he was eight years old, Rizal never knew the difference between the English language from the Spanish word puta. He never engaged in Tagalog literature. He did attempt to write a novel in Tagalog during his later years (Makamisa), but he wasn’t even able to finish it due to his poor mastery of the language. When Rizal wrote personal letters to his family members and friends, he wrote mostly in Spanish, not Tagalog. His diary was written in the language of Miguel de Cervantes. And most of all, AN EIGHT YEAR OLD DOESN’T HAVE THE INTELLECTUAL CAPACITY YET TO MAKE A CRITICAL ANALYSIS ON COMPARING VARIOUS LANGUAGES.

In addition, the Rizal home was a Spanish-speaking home. The Rizal kids are today’s equivalent of English-speaking Filipino children. During young Pepe Rizal’s naughty fits, he was scolded not in Tagalog but in Spanish.

Yes, he may have been a prodigy. But please, let us not treat Rizal as though he’s some omniscient heavenly deity that was sent back to earth as punishment for whatever shit he did up there.

So there you have it, a brief overview of the lies tucked in neatly by those who handle the language situation in the Philippines. They have masterfully erected Tagalog as the national language. Afterwards, the butchering began. We no longer have the correct and polite and respectable Tagalog. We now have an abomination of the language, a freak of linguistics called Taglish (or Engalog). And according to some friends of mine who speak other native Filipino languages, theirs too are slowly being eaten up by this unholy mixture of English, which is an unphonetic language, to that of their native languages. All Filipino languages are phonetic. Mix these two up (phonetic+unphonetic), then what do you get?

I won’t bother answer that. Let some cheap starlet dish out her language on national TV then you’ll get the picture. In the meantime, the US is basking in economic security since they have captured a permanent market in the Philippines due to the fact that almost all Pinoys have embraced English, whether or not they could understand it wholly.

So from Baler to other Philippine dominions, the wikang pambansâ is Taglish.

Filipinas, when will you ever wake up?

*****

NOTE: I originally published the foregoing blogpost here (that was three years ago today!). I just did some minor editing to help this blogpost keep up with the times. And today’s Manuel L. Quezon’s natal day, as well.

Happy language month!… is such a greeting even necessary?

Without Spanish, What Is A Filipino?

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España y Filipinas (Juan Luna, 1886)

España y Filipinas (Juan Luna, 1886)

The late President Cory Aquino always reminds me of what she did to the Spanish language (its status as a co-official language was abolished in the 1987 Constitution). But I’ve already forgiven her for that. Anyway, as what I’ve written in my last blog post, I am quite certain that Tita Cory would have regretted what she did if she was only given ample time to research about the gravity of degrading the Spanish language from our patrimony, exactly the way she regretted having supported Mrs. Arroyo and her gang. She’s that humble.

Now, since the topic about the Spanish language has again been raised –especially now that it was recently brought back in selected public schools, thanks to the laudable efforts of Department of Education Secretary Jesli A. Lapus–, let me share to you this brief humorous dialogue which I wrote a few years ago (first published in Skirmisher, with minor editing). This skit is based on Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera’s philosophy on local languages.

Have fun reading it! And I hope that you learn something from it. =)

A PILIPINO is convincing a FILIPINO to become patriotic…

PILIPINO: We must get rid of Spanish words from our native languages!

FILIPINO: And why is that?

PILIPINO: “Why” is a stupid question. Haven’t you learned anything from your history class? It is but a folly to retain Spanish loan words in our languages when it was Spain who destroyed our identity!!!

FILIPINO: Oh. Really.

PILIPINO: Really!!! And not only that! We should not cherish any Spanish legacy at all! Aside from Spanish tyranny, Spanish culture is not Philippine culture!

FILIPINO: Does that mean we have to throw away the culture that Spain bequeathed to us?

PILIPINO: Yes, of course! Don’t you remember what Señor Simoun told Basilio? “If they are unwilling to teach you their language, cultivate your own.” In a larger sense, we should cultivate our own culture.

FILIPINO: Hmmm, you have reason. So, throw everything away?

PILIPINO: EVERYTHING! The language, the culture, the concepts, the religious superstition… EVERYTHING!!! Our national heroes have already set an example by revolting against Spanish tyranny! Leadership by example! We should follow the great Filipinos of yore!

FILIPINO: Oh, OK. I might agree. But first, you have to begin this Castilian purging from our “culture” yourself. Just like what you said, “leadership by example…”

PILIPINO: Exactly. I’d be happy to take the lead. Now, what do you want me to do?

FILIPINO: First of all, take off your sombrero my friend. It’s Spanish.

PILIPINO: (stumped). That would be easy.

FILIPINO: And throw away that corbata, too. Of course you know it’s Spanish.

PILIPINO: (thinking) Well… I think I’d still look fine without a tie.

FILIPINO: And your passionate “nationalism” would look good on you if you take off your chaleco, camisa, vestido, zapatos, cinturón, and pantalón as well.

PILIPINO: Now wait a minute there…!

FILIPINO: No, you wait a minute there!!! You’re PILIPINIZATION is not yet reflecting on you. You’re still wearing a relój.

PILIPINO: Fool! This wrist watch is from the US, not from Spain.

FILIPINO: You’re the one who’s loco. We’re not talking about brand names. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing GUESS? or HILFIGER or whatever stuff which came out from another country that is not Spain. We’re not only talking about Spanish words now but concepts also. Before the arrival here of ROLEX and SWATCH and TIMEX, Filipinos already have watches and grandiose grandfather clocks. Of course you should already know that.

PILIPINO: (hesitant) Oh, all right! (mumbles and grumbles, but throws watch away) There! Gone! Now what’s next my Filipino friend?

FILIPINO: You can always tell the time by just looking at the sun, moon, and the stars, My Pinoy friend! That’s the true PILIPINO way! Cultivate our own!

PILIPINO: (sigh of exhaustion) Cultivate our own…

FILIPINO: Uh, sir. you still have your medias and calzoncillo on…

PILIPINO: (raising his voice) Are you mad?!

FILIPINO: Nope. But I think you are if you’re still donning Spanish concepts. Leadership by example?

PILIPINO: (groans)

FILIPINO: Don’t worry! You can always search our forests –or whatever the neocolonizers might have left of it– for tree barks and any natural material for your clothing. Now that’s true PILIPINO culture. Am I right? Or am I right?

PILIPINO: …

FILIPINO: Good! Leadership by example.

PILIPINO: Leadership by example.

FILIPINO: Cultivate our own?

PILIPINO: Cultivate…

FILIPINO: (inspects PILIPINO) Say, you’ve got false teeth.

PILIPINO: (embarrased) Yeah, so what?

FILIPINO: Throw that postizo away, dude. That’s demeaning to our “true” culture. But let’s save your peluca just for this month’s Halloween party.

PILIPINO: Egad…

FILIPINO: Here, wear these in the meantime so you won’t grow cold (hands over strips of banana leaves for the PILIPINO to wear).

PILIPINO: Are you doing this to mortify me?

FILIPINO: How ’bout saying “thank you for giving me something to wear” instead?

PILIPINO: (grumpy) Thank You!!!

FILIPINO: You’re very much welcome. Now where were we? Oh, yes, and don’t use all utensils that the Spaniards brought here.

PILIPINO: ?

FILIPINO: OK. Let me make it clearer. “Throw everything away?” That’s perhaps the most patriotic idea I’ve ever heard in my life. Friend, dispose of your cubiertos, aparador, cama, silla, balde, pozo, lápiz, papel, plato, cepillo, florera, la mesa, ventilador, todo todo TODO! And do I even have to mention the food?

PILIPINO: Friend, I think you should…

FILIPINO: Go on? By all means. Don’t even think of continuing your educación. Those libros at school will poison your mind. Stop going to church, too. Remember how María Clara was screwed! And your ancestral home, man, your bahay na bató is getting to be an eyesore. Better demolish it.

PILIPINO: (panting) That house is my family’s house! It is the history and the soul of my family and ancestors!!!

FILIPINO: Which is, unforunately, español. Enough talk. I’m your convert, dude. You woke me up from the “bitter” truth. You make me proud! And without anything to wear now except for those leaves, sonuvagun, you look very fine! Very respectable! Very great when you’re naked, y’know. Very PILIPINO.

PILIPINO: Oh please stop…

FILIPINO: Indeed, without Spanish, our “true” identity will emerge. Thank you, friend, for this “awakening.”

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