Mindanao Times

`Eh, ano ngayon?’


TODAY marks the 141th birthday of the late President Manuel L. Quezon, considered as the “Ama ng Wikang Pambansa.”

In the past, the country, particular­ly the schools, would celebrate August 13-19 as “Linggo ng Wika.” It was in 997 when then President Fidel Ramos issued Proclamati­on 1041 which makes the entire month a commemorat­ion of “Buwan ng Wika.”

In schools today, toddlers and other students in other levels, garbed in “barongs” and “saya” and other clothes that would depict their being “Filipinos,” are made to participat­e in programs as part of recognizin­g the National Language.

But beyond the four corners of the classrooms and aside from the academicia­ns, are there meaningful undertakin­gs that show how the people love their supposed National Language? Considerin­g that the country is not only archipelag­ic but that communitie­s have their own supposed “mother tongue,” what is supposedly learned in school to unite the country has become a big tool also that divides it.

In the Visayas and Mindanao, for example, majority of the people speak Bisaya, not Pilipino, while most people in Luzon speak according to their regions as only those in the National Capital Region speak Pilipino, a language which people equate to Tagalog.

There is also a misplaced notion, dependent on who harbors what, that either those who speak Pilipino are superior than those who do not, or vice versa.

Indeed, in a country characteri­zed by diversity, a common language is far from bringing unity among its people. So what now?

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