”Ang hindi nagmamahal sa sariling wika ay masahol pa sa malansang isda" - Dr. Jose Rizal
WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD KNOW: (Note: Bold,underlined words are HTML links. Click on them to see the linked postings/articles. Forwarding the postings to relatives and friends, especially in the homeland, is greatly appreciated).
I just got hold of the newly published book "LEARNING AND SPEAKING FILIPINO" by Renato Perdon, who was a former researcher and chief translator at the National Historical Institute (NHI -Philippines) and author of several books on the Filipino language, i.e. dictionary, phrases, conversational, etc., for adults and the young; and of the interesting book Brown Americans of Asia.
I attempt here to comment on Perdon's book with a different spin, that is, neither about its contents nor presentation since I do not have any qualification to do so from the standpoint of someone whose specialty is linguistics. Instead, I want to look at how the publication of such a book can contribute to our love for the homeland, to fostering Filipino nationalism. Thus, you may find my review as more generic rather than specific to this book.
Why the need for a national language, why learn one? To the truly informed or well-traveled person, language is a badge of nationality. Anyone who speaks his particular native tongue, i.e. French, Japanese, Italian, Arabic, etc, --of course a number of exceptions can come to mind-- can almost surely be said or identified to be a Frenchman, Japanese, Italian, Arab, etc. The ideal model of the nation, as derived from Western Europe, rested in considerable part upon the belief that each nation is a separate linguistic identity. And any citizen with national pride knows that national prestige demands that his national language take priority.
Nowadays (Y2008), even in the supposedly "globalized" world, governments of EU nations and/or opinion makers in the USA are demanding, with various reasons, the imposition of their own national language as a requirement for immigration/residency and citizenship.
For us Filipinos, it is long overdue and only proper that education on a mass scale be conducted in the language of the people concerned. Our so-called educated during the early 20th century till today seem to have worked and still continue to work against the attainment of mass education for our less fortunate fellow countrymen and consequently against the disappearance of the illiterate Filipino.
We educated Filipinos seem unable to appreciate what an Indian government commission decades ago (1955) stated about Indian society then and its use of English (we can easily substitute ourselves in lieu of the Indians): "Use of English as such divides our people into two nations, the few who govern and the many who are governed, the one unable to talk the language of the other and mutually uncomprehending. This is a negation of democracy."
With the westernized orientation in our homeland, the concerned and thinking Filipino knows or learns that the successful assertion of the claim to nationhood established the presumption of a distinct national language (which admittedly in turn --due to its national usage-- may tend to absorb and/or downgrade his local vernaculars or dialects).
Regardless, we know that language is the primary instrument of social communication. Those who speak the same language have a strong common bond, have common memories and easier interaction. Critical to that common bond and easier interaction is the role of that unifying and singular language. The ability to converse, interact, trade, and communicate in a common language is key to quickly assimilating into the nation's unique fabric and becoming active participants in—and valuable contributors to—society.
On the other hand, those who have linguistic diversity require their mass media, schools, other institutions, etc. to employ the various languages and/or dialects and thus make it far more difficult: to create such a common bond, to obtain the same influences on all the people. Thus, linguistic diversity leads to separatism; it is an impediment to national unity, to nationalism. And that is, in our instance, to Filipinism
In addition, the presence of foreign schools and the foreigners ability to use their own language as medium in these schools further lend to our national language problem. These have been going on for decades, I hope I am wrong today. Anyway, I just checked the website of the International School (formerly the American School) where its syllabus showed our Filipino language as an elective, mind you, in our own homeland! Why do our traitorous rulers allow such?
These attitudes and behaviors of not desiring/wanting our own national language in our own homeland are carried over by our fellow countrymen who emigrated to other countries, i.e. Australia, United States, Canada, etc. I think and believe such negation of our national language is the product of several unappreciated factors and realities, such as: geographical remoteness brought about by our islands, local dialects, historical tribalism untouched, and feudal society unchanged and colonial rule which reinforced the same.
Our resultant divisiveness has been much exploited by our foreign masters then and foreign businessmen now (who we should realize and remind ourselves are in our homeland for their own foreign, national interests - "benevolent assimilation" was pure BS and altruism does not come with whatever one wants to call it: capitalism, imperialism or neocolonialism/neoimperialism aka economic/cultural globalism [globalization], then and now).
With the more subtle American way of colonization - mainly via public education, it successfully molded the Filipino mind to be Americanized (using English as medium of instructions that overtly and covertly incorporated American culture and value system, in turn its imposition ensured by the American martial law or military rule then).
Within a generation, our Americanization was completed and effectively made us natives forget the brutality committed by the American forces during the Philippine-American War and the anti-Filipino nationalism decreed by American military rulers for almost three decades. Within a generation, the strong anti-Americanism borne out of this Philippine-American War almost completely disappeared. Ever since, the overall result in our homeland indicates that American cultural, economic, and military influence and dominance have been attained; and have been perpetuated in the past 100+ years (till the present, now via so-called globalization).
Even in countries where Filipino immigrants can afford to study and learn to speak (and read) our Filipino language, it is extremely rare to see them impart their native language to their descendants since by default their new milieu forces them to lose or forget their national language due to lack of usage -that's the reality. I have seen that this is the case for permanent emigrants and their children in the USA. (in my own family, our two children learned to speak and understand the Filipino language mainly by spending their grade and high school summer vacations -every other year- with their cousins in the homeland, which really helped a lot).
On deeper thought however, Renato Perdon already serves the Filipino nationalist cause by the mere act of publishing his book "Learning and Speaking Filipino." By presenting a venue for maintaining and/or learning our national language, Perdon helps foster our common bond as native Filipinos; and hopefully the adage "distance makes the heart grow fonder" for our homeland and people will come to fruition; and which in the long-run could help us native Filipinos towards Filipino unity abroad; towards national unity and national sovereignty in our Philippine homeland. I hope for and wish Perdon success in his endeavor.
Contacts for getting copies of the book:
“The true Filipino is a decolonized Filipino.” – Prof. Renato Constantino (1919-1999)