The Lies of the 1934-1935 Constitutional Convention (Last of Two Parts)

As I write this, it is Thanksgiving in this land of our exile, and I have a lot to thank for– such as this discovery of the triple cancer, the tripod of a C that continues to gnaw at our mind as a people, depriving us of that collective memory that should have been history's gift to us who try to keep on remembering.

But no, there are criminals of the Constitution, as the esteemed Vicente Albano Pacis declared for at least three times in his commentary on the national language situation, on the state of English language teaching in the country, and the ramming into our throat of the Tagalog language that, like the chameleon, continues to change color depending on the political, epistemic, and cultural ecology of the homeland.

First, the Gonzalez account of someone’s account that there were three drafts that led to the ‘framing’ of the national language provision of the 1935 Constitution is lacking in perspective. The technical development of all the provisions of that constitution went through four ‘drafts’, with the fourth draft considered as the final draft and which was approved by the delegates of the convention, to wit, the title of that Fourth Draft as appended in the 1965 Proceedings of the 1934-1935 Constitutional Convention put together by Jose P. Laurel and published by Lyceum: ‘Appendix K-4: Final Draft of the Constitution of the Philippines, as approved by the Constitutional Convention on February 8, 1935.’

Second, here is what is found in the Laurel Proceedings, which is not found in the version published by the House of Representatives: a first, second, third, and fourth draft of the Constitution.

Third, I must take note here that there are two accounts of the convention, one kept at the Supreme Court Library, and another that is put together by Laurel and is kept at the Laurel Foundation Library. The Supreme Court version, published by the House of Representatives between 1965 and 1966, does not contain the other drafts of the Constitution but only the final fourth draft and the proceedings beginning 1934 and ending in 1935.

Fourth, in terms of ‘completeness’ of the records therefore, the Laurel Proceedings contains a wealth of materials that reveals to us the kind of manipulation that happened during the convention. (I will continue to expose these manipulations by presenting documentary evidences and conjectures.)

It is not therefore true to say that the crowning of Tagalog as the glorified language of the land came as a logical choice of the people as represented by their delegates. This myth has to be unraveled for what it is: a myth that contains all the contradictions to our claims to linguistic justice and cultural democracy. In some of the accounts of  Pacis, first at the Daily Express and then at the Inquirer, he recalled that right after the work of the convention was completed, many people who were in the know had been clamoring for the publication of the proceedings. This was an honorable way to check of the veracity of the proceedings and of the provisions of the 1935 Constitution.

That request was never granted.

The publication of the 1934-35 ConCon Proceedings happened only 30 years after when many of the delegates were long gone, senile, or had lapses in memory and judgment. Think of the kind of reaction and counter-reaction if these lies and manipulation were exposed as soon as the 1935 Constitution was approved.

The dishonesty of those involved was something.

The continuing linguistic injustice committed against the peoples of the Philippines at this time is an addendum to that dishonesty that became the basis for Tagalog as P/Filipino, that schizophrenic language of the center of power, commerce, education, and now media.

Think of academics schooled in this monolingual mindset, as is the case of  many of the Tagalog teachers in the United States, many of them ignorant Ilokanos passing themselves off as Tagalog, or academics who cannot afford to have some intellectual breadth and depth, and resonance. One even had the temerity to say that we need to drumbeat Tagalog, a.k.a. P/Filipino as a ‘global language’ to, among others, avoid ‘regionalism’. In cases like this, we need to pray to the anitos and ask for patience so that these linguistic idiots will come to their senses.

Fifth, let these drafts from the Laurel Proceedings tell you of the ruses that happened.

First draft: Article XIII, Sec. 2: “A national language being necessary to strengthen the solidarity of the Nation, the National Assembly shall take steps looking to the development and adoption of a language common to all the people on the basis of the existing native languages.”

Second draft: Article XIII, Sec. 2.a: “The National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on the existing native languages, and until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish be the official languages.”

Third draft: Nothing on Article XIII. Other parts of the draft of the Constitution had provisions. We must note here that the second draft was to be ‘polished’ for style, but not for substance! by the Committee on Style chaired by Claro M. Recto. We note here that in the third draft, only those provision that have revisions for stylistic reasons were to be reviewed so that these provisions could be incorporated as part of the final, fourth draft. In the case of the provision on the national language, that was not mentioned, there was nothing, and thus, logically, the second draft is deemed that which was to move to the final, fourth draft.

But, here is what we have got:

Fourth draft: Article XIII, Sec. 3: “The National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages. Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages.”

Now, we see a hand, or some hands.

The sleuthing continues.#