COMMENTARY: Our Redemptive Response to the Timeless Temptations of Tagalogism and to the tyranny …

The powers-that-were that continue to incarnate and reincarnate as the
powers-that-are and the powers-that-be in our midst and wearing many
hats, entrenched as they are in the academia and in the corridors of
power are to be judged by our ethnolinguistic communities as Pharisees
and Sadducees of Philippine culture. Here come the conquered becoming
conquerors, the colonized becoming the new colonial masters.

These people come to us saying the same things against our languages and cultures—and even against our sense of selves. And these people have no new argument to offer against our claim to the language of our own selves, identities, and particular lives.

The discourse of these same people is the same discourse we have heard more than seven decades ago except that now, with the lobotomized agents of uniculturalism and monolingualism in Philippine education by their sleeves and pockets, they are more boisterous now, their loud noises their bluff to make us cower in fear and accept their illogicalities and bad because unproductive gospel of monolingualism in favor of the language of the center.

If we looked at their discourses, we can see the same rehashed arguments, some of them empty of content as they are self-serving: (a) the valuing of regional languages is ‘impractical’ and that (b) we have to give ‘Tagalog’ language—the basis, they say, of the national language—a chance. We gave Tagalog one fat chance for seven decades and it did not deliver the goods except to destroy millions and millions of us.

These arguments come from people who know no other Philippine languages, even if some of them, as one has said, that they can curse in other languages.

Even this admission of cursing in a language not really your own is an admission of guilt: that you have no respect for languages other than your own because you cannot see these languages as the dwelling place of a people’s soul owning these languages except as your language for cursing. This admission is itself an admission of failure in the unqualified respect that we all have to give to language and cultural rights as an expression of our respect for fundamental human rights. What we have therefore are culturally entrenched practitioners of Tagalogism and Tagalogization—cultural agents of injustice—who can only afford to tell us that Manila is the center of the Philippine world and that whatever Manila does is the truth.

The call for a ‘national’ language did not come as a pure and pristine call for nation building.

The motives, as history would tell us, are a mixed bag of personal defense against the charge of multilingual incompetence to the outright internal neocolonization agendum by the same people who were—are—announcing liberation to our people.

We go the route of Manuel Luis Quezon and his flawed preference for the Philippines ‘run like hell by Filipinos’ than by, say, ‘run like heaven by Americans.’ Using that and other language claims, he would argue for the process of decolonization by following the route of the nation-state model imported from Spain, Germany, England, and France. That was his template for the Philippine nation-state speaking a single language. In his own words, he went to Vigan, had the ‘misfortune’ of using an Ilokano interpreter so he could talk with the Ilokano people, and which experience humbled him so, and which, in many ways, prodded him to push for a ‘national’ language that he understood and he could use, to speak with the Filipino, who, in his imagination, would now be all parroting Tagalog words and phrases learned unimagi-natively in many unimagi-native Tagalog language classrooms. Read the subtext here—which subtext he also said in that speech in Letran College: imagine me a President speaking to my people using an Ilokano interpreter because I do not speak Ilokano. And so his imperial solution: let everyone speak Tagalog, the Tagalog of the President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.

Quezon, of course, conveniently forgot that for Spain and Germany and England and France to have become examples of modern-day European nation-states, they all had to suppress—and the operative word here is ‘suppress’—other legitimate languages and thus cultures of their territories, thus creating the questionable semblance—a dubious verisimilitude—that these countries had only one and only one ‘national’ language.

The history of the oppressive power of the French Academy, a powerful cabal of Francophiles that cannot see that there are other languages of France beside French, is a proof of the oppressive power of Tagalog, sometimes passed off as Pilipino, or if one were from the more esteemed universities in Imperial Manila, this Pilipino is now Filipino, in accord with the dictate—read: dictate—of the 1987 Constitution.

Quezon admitted this presidential dilemma—a classic dilemma of a ‘Tagalogistic’ mind, a mind that is content with the Tagalog view of the universe and that never tries harder to see other Philippine realities and Philippine worldviews afforded by other Philippine languages and cultures.

The Tagalogistic mindset, therefore, is ‘the’ implausible Philippine mindset.

          (To be continued)