“We should nei­ther be ham­pered by parochial­ism nor con­stantly en­gaged in this petty bick­er­ing be­tween Bisaya and Ta­ga­log.”

Northern Living - - FIXTURE -

Rea­son­able choice

In­cred­i­bly, English, the congress then be­lieved, would also qual­ify. How­ever, they also knew that it would take some time for English to take root among lo­cals. They then de­cided to make English one of the of­fi­cial lan­guages—a lan­guage that would be used in the gov­ern­ment, at least un­til a na­tional lan­guage has been sought and de­vel­oped. The vi­sion be­hind the procla­ma­tion has al­ways been in­clu­sive and re­flec­tive of the het­eroglos­sic na­ture and plu­ral­ity of our lives.

We can­not fault Ta­ga­log solely for its early de­vel­op­ment. Most likely, the law­mak­ers and the in­sti­tute ver­i­fied what had al­ready been ob­served about Ta­ga­log lan­guage. Fr. Pe­dro Chirino for in­stance, noted in Rela­cion de las Is­las Filip­inas Ta­ga­log’s adapt­abil­ity and affin­ity with the Span­ish lan­guage in terms of the mark­ers used to in­di­cate po­si­tion­al­ity or for­mal­ity—some­thing that he failed to see in other lan­guages. He com­pared the Ta­ga­log and Bisayan trans­la­tions of the Hail Mary prayer, and pointed out that Ta­ga­log has words for ex­al­ta­tion and for ad­dress­ing su­pe­ri­ors. In fact, even as he lauded Ta­ga­log for such ca­pa­bil­ity, he in­sisted as well that cer­tain words in Span­ish like Espir­itu Santo, or Dios should re­main as they were.

As a Ta­ga­log speaker my­self, I re­mem­ber how we were taught by our par­ents and teach­ers to use po and opo and the third per­son plu­ral pro­noun like sila or nila in ad­dress­ing the el­derly and au­thor­ity fig­ures. It was con­sid­ered dis­re­spect­ful to ad­dress even a stranger as ka or ikaw. In other words, there could be truth in the early ob­ser­va­tion of Ta­ga­log as hav­ing affin­ity with the for­mal and in­for­mal ac­cents of Ro­mance lan­guages.

And if we look at our ladino po­etry, from Fer­nando Bagong­banta to Gas­par Aquino de Be­len’s Pasyon, it is dif­fi­cult to ig­nore Ta­ga­log’s wide cir­cu­la­tion and trans­lata­bil­ity. Na­tional artist for lit­er­a­ture Bien­venido Lum­bera even noted how the de­vel­op­ment of Ta­ga­log po­etry cul­mi­nated in Fran­cisco Bal­tazar’s Flo­rante at Laura.

There­fore, the adop­tion of Ta­ga­log is not whim­si­cal. The law­mak­ers and the NLI found sim­ply that Ta­ga­log can be tapped to de­velop a na­tional lan­guage and iden­tity.

But of course, in­ten­tion is one thing; im­ple­men­ta­tion is an­other. As Ta­ga­log was adopted to be the na­tional lan­guage, the in­cor­po­ra­tion of other Filipino lan­guages into Ta­ga­log took a back­seat to the detri­ment of other lan­guages like Ilo­cano and Bisaya. Ta­ga­log tended to adopt more English words in the long run, which seem­ingly made it ex­clu­sive and di­vi­sive. The de­vel­op­ment of Ta­ga­log be­came ag­gres­sive enough that lin­guists and writ­ers in­vented a lot of words: salumpuwit for chair, salimpa­paw for air­plane, and port­man­teau words like ban­tayog or ban­tay-tayog for mon­u­ment and sip­nayan or isiphanayan for math­e­mat­ics. It was only re­cently when this move was cor­rected and a greater aware­ness for the in­clu­sion of lo­cal lan­guages was fos­tered to truly trans­form Ta­ga­log into “Filipino”—a lin­gua franca that bridges other lan­guages. The re­cent pub­li­ca­tion of trans­lated and re­searched works of Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino is a step in ful­fill­ing this vi­sion of an all-in­clu­sive na­tional lan­guage.

Call­ing Manila im­pe­ri­al­is­tic is not only anachro­nis­tic but also re­tards think­ing in gen­eral, sim­ply be­cause there is just so much work to be done in terms of trans­la­tion and the pro­duc­tion of lit­er­ary works as well as other me­dia projects in all th­ese other lan­guages. We should nei­ther be ham­pered by parochial­ism nor con­stantly en­gaged in this petty bick­er­ing be­tween Bisaya and Ta­ga­log. Ul­ti­mately, we should work for a lan­guage that en­cap­su­lates our thoughts and ex­pe­ri­ences. Only then can we truly tran­scend not just our phys­i­cal or ge­o­graph­i­cal bound­aries but also the hori­zon of our con­scious­ness.

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