Filipino language

Published November 15, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



In a Cebu radio interview over Bombo Radyo, host Jun Salde sought my take on a Department of Education plan to teach the Korean language as an elective for high school students in 10 selected schools as pilot project. I got local attention for citing the Cebu City Council back July as in continuing violation of the National Flag, Anthem, & Heraldic Code under RA 8491, for singing the National Anthem in Cebuano, and secondly, breaking the law prescribing the official version of Julian Felipe, when two cannons burst in-between the singing, disturbing the marshal tempo with 2 pauses towards the end of the anthem. The Department of Interior and Local Government Legal Section has not responded regarding this situation, after query was sent to Manila.

A long foreword to Salde’s question is required to predicate my answer. Notably obvious during the 1500s, tribal identities were more preponderant, due to archipelagic islands divided by seas and rivers. Colonial invaders found facility in pitting one group versus another in their strategic campaign for conquest. From 1521 to 1897, over 376 plus years evolved under the Spanish Crown before, in Rizal’s words, “we embraced as brothers.” Although Rizal was lettered in Spanish, he gave clear admonition on failing to love one’s native tongue. The present hurdle of eight major Philippine dialects, compounded with 170 other local languages, remains one hurdle to national identity. It is key to national unity, transcribed into cohesiveness and a settled consensus.

The 1987 Constitution, Art. 14, Sec 6 prescribes Filipino as the national language as it evolves — developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages.” Interestingly, under Sec. 7, mention is made of, “Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on voluntary and optional basis.” The real issue here is, how a Commission on Filipino Language (RA 7104) is remiss on its aforementioned constitutional mandate. For example, the Commission may adopt the Cebuano terms “bana” and “asawa” to mean husband and wife, which in Tagalog is simply “asawa.” Sadly, Filipino today is predominantly Tagalog. Before we even begin our youth to learn foreign languages, we must be first proficient with ours.