OPINION: Our Redemptive Response to the Timeless Temptations of Tagalogism …(Continuation)

In sum, HB 3719 argues for a multicultural education for the Philippines, a template for education that values the basic human experiences of peoples, experiences that are mediated by their own languages and not by other people’s languages, and grow from that experience in keeping with the duty to relate to and with other people to form a community.

The educational template of the Philippines is one that does exactly the opposite: students are schooled in the language of other people’s languages, with their schooling basically a rote memorization afforded by Tagalog (well, for Constitutional reasons that some would like to read: P/Filipino) and English. Thus we have students who never learned who they are and yet are expected to learn other people’s sense of who they are through the second or third languages, Tagalog and English, languages that are constantly rammed into their throat as soon as they get into their classrooms, the ramming consistent and legal but never moral and culturally just, until they all become cultural and linguistic parrots.

It is something curious, thus, that while many of the nation-states of the world that followed the route of the fossilized view of ‘national’ language are revisiting the linguistic injustice and cultural tyranny that they systematically effected in order to glorify their nation-state a la Napoleon who had to deny his being Corsican in the name of the glorious French language, the Philippines is still going the route to ‘national’ language, a concept that valorizes, privileges, and gives entitlements to one and only one language.

We can grant here, tentatively, the virtue of ‘national’ language as defined by well-meaning scholars of Philippine languages as the imagined medium of communication among the peoples of the Philippines.

But we cannot close our eyes to the fact that in an effort to do so, taxpayers’ money and the scarce resources of the country have been used to promote, sustain, develop, and teach Tagalog (well, now, they call it with another name). Except for token support from some government agencies for token awards or grants for some token cultural programs, no support of the magnitude given to Tagalog has ever been given to other Philippine languages, major or minor. The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines provides for the its translation into the major languages. We do not know if, apart from Tagalog, that Constitution has ever been translated into the languages of all the peoples of the Philippines so that, like the claim to the Philippines as some kind of a working democracy, people could say, in their own language, that their basic human right to their own language is guaranteed by their own Constitution. This means that this failure is itself a proof of unconstitutional acts of the Philippine Government, its pertinent language and culture agencies included.  

There is nothing wrong with regionalism in the Philippines.

The territorial basis of Tagalogism and Tagalogization as unruly phenomena of Philippine collective life is a region as well.

The fact that at this time only a handful of urban centers are developed is a clear proof of the underdevelopment of the Philippines—or that more sinister fact of uneven development. This underdevelopment/uneven development is entwined in how we continue our political, economic, and cultural life—with Imperial Manila as the center of the Philippine universe, and thus with Tagalog as ‘the’ language of power.

When a country talks of democracy but has only one language to claim as a developed language, when it has only a few city centers as developed centers, and when it has only one place from which all political powers come from, then, that country has no business calling itself a democracy. Truth is: it is not. That country is a cultural tyrant; that country is a linguistic despot.

The genesis of our misery is that we believed in the lies of the past and we permitted these lies to frame and structure our political, cultural, and economic life. The currency of these lies is that this nation-state that we have built is made up of only one nation (one read from Imperial Manila) and that it is impossible to speak of various states that could make up that nation among nations. What goes with that currency is the dubious position we have accorded to Tagalog, a position that has made many our people fall into the trap that Tagalogism is the governing applied philosophy of all peoples of the Philippines and that Tagalogization is the only one true process we have to go through in the pursuit of the ends of the Philippine nation-state.

With HB 3719, we are going to put an end to the systemic and systematic miseducation of our people. And soon.

Our peoples of the Philippines have decided—and this decision is wrought in the language of their souls. And that language is their language.

(To be continued)