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Pinoys: Second-class citizens in our own land?

The month of August is dubbed Araw ng Wikang Pilipino or National Language Month by the Education Department. With a new Secretary of Education in place under former Congressman Jesli Lapus, I would like to find out how things would change under his leadership. For too long, the people of this archipelagic country have had their own distinct languages and cultures, which were never threatened for the simple reason that we resisted our colonizers from the time of the Spanish Expedition led by the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan.

One major reason for this resistance is the natural tendency of colonizers to impose its language on its subjects. As Italian Humanist Lorenzo Valla once quipped, "The yoke of arms is shaken off more readily by subject peoples than the yoke of language."

Just think back to the time when Magellan planted that cross now encased in a box along Magellan's St. When he stuck that cross on what used to be a beach he did so in the name of King Philip. I'm sure that what was racing in his mind was, in less than ten years, the people of this land would be speaking Spanish. That did not happen, for Lapu-Lapu snuffed out his life and his dreams of conquest on the beaches of Mactan.

I'm sure that by now you already know that the peoples living south of the North American border from Mexico all the way to Chile speak Spanish (with the exception of Brazilians who speak Portuguese). This is an example of colonizers subjecting its people to the yoke of their own languages forcing them to speak in tongues they were not born with. Mexico for instance had Nahuatl, Maya, Zoque, Zapotec, Lenca, Otomi, Mixtex Chichimeca, Totonac as its major languages before they embraced Spanish.

This never ever happened to the Philippines with our foreign colonizers. My group the Save our Languages through Federalism (Solfed) has vowed never to allow Tagalog, which is not so cleverly disguised as Pilipino to kill the Cebuano and other languages because we believe that if you kill a language, you kill a people! Cebuano was never threatened during Spanish times and we hope it would never die because of an ethnic colonizer.

I found a good book in PowerBooks entitled, "Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler". Ostler is an English scholar from Oxford with a working knowledge of 26 languages. The Washington Post reviews his work saying, "[A] wide-ranging history of the world's languages [Ostler] brilliantly raises questions and supplies answers or theories." In Ostler's book, there is an Arabic proverb that says, "The strength of a person is in his intelligence and his tongue."

Let me point out clearly that I believe that English is a great leveler. It is a language we can use to communicate with other people, locally and globally while allowing us to speak in our own ethnic tongues. To those who insist that speaking in English would make Filipinos second-class citizens in our own land, this is exactly what Tagalog is doing to us, making Cebuanos second-class citizens in our own native land. I dare say that we ought to stop this nonsense called National Language month as it serves no purpose for national unity but only promotes disunity amongst our peoples.

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Here's a letter in reaction to the headline news of The Freeman last Sunday. "Dear Bobit: Being a Cebuano, I am bothered by the article of Rene Borromeo (7/31/06) 'Central Visayas now most dangerous.' Is this another kind of exaggeration and sensationalization based on innuendo and gossip, speculation, Cebu in particular? What a crab mentality!

The article says, Central Visayas (Region 7) topped all 17 Regions in the country in murders, homicide, robberies, theft, etc. It didn't mention the total number of crimes and the period covered to substantiate the statement 'Central Visayas is now most dangerous.' It can be old statistical figures. Granting those were current figures, does it mean it's better to reside in Basilan, Lamitan, or Jolo rather than in CV? Do we have 17 regions in the country? Maybe I was absent in school or my teacher taught me wrong.

The article further mentioned that the index crime outpaces the non-index crime, which means according to Camp Crame, policemen in the region are not doing their best to curb criminality and are lax in the enforcement of laws. Then, what is Camp Crame doing to correct the deficiency? If Region 7 policemen are lax it is because Camp Crame is also lax! If this is the basis to consider as 'dangerous,' then, all the regions, not only Central Visayas. Respectfully yours, Joe B. Nacilla Alfon St. Las Pinas City."

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