Make language part of our inclusive growth

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

So it’s the so-called “Buwan ng Wika” and as President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III officially observes the “National Language Month” he spoke before the National Congress for Language sponsored by the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino and said in his speech, “Language should unite us and should not be a cause for divisiveness.” While I fully agree that a national language should not be cause for division, however when the so-called Tagalog Nationalists insisted on Tagalog becoming our national language without holding any referendum to that effect, they unwittingly caused this division that whether they like it or not that continues to divide our nation today.

Mind you, P-Noy is not the first President to use our National Language as a tool for national unity. During the conjugal Marcos dictatorship, their slogan was “Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa” (One Nation, One Spirit), which was Jacobinism thought that President Marcos so wrongly used. So we ask once more, can language bring forth national unity? Just check the United States of America where they speak American English (rather than the British English). Yet in the mid 1800 they fought a vicious Civil War. Want to talk about Spain, Syria or Egypt? No sir, language doesn’t unite peoples.

So I think that we should ask ourselves again, who decided that Tagalog (which was later surreptitiously renamed Filipino) should be the national language? Incidentally I still have a copy of an article written by the late Vicente Albano Pacis in his Inquirer column Fastfood for Thought entitled “Conceived in Sin, Reared in Ignorance.” This was written a long time ago before he died and it is truly an eye opener on this language issue.

Vicente Albano Pacis (he wrote the biography of Pres. Sergio Osmeña, Sr. in two volumes) wrote, “After Linggo ng Wika, the truth must be told that the so-called National Language was conceived in unmitigated sin, reared in total ignorance, and maintained in style through constant constitutional dodging. According to official records and documents, the language provision approved by the Constitutional Convention of 1934-1935 was as follows:

‘The National Assembly shall take steps towards the development and adoption of a common national language based on existing native languages, (Concon record, Vol. IX, pp.470-471). When the Constitution was printed, this provision was tampered with to read, ‘Based on the one of the existing native languages.’ Somebody had inserted ‘one of the’ between the words ‘on” and ‘existing.’ The simplicity of the insertion of only three short words, one of only two letters and two of only three letters each, might have been additional temptation to the crime’s perpetrator. This was the unmitigated ‘Original Sin.’ But who was the original sinner? Abangan!”

This was a clear cut proof that someone tampered with the 1935 Constitution to make it appear that it should be Tagalog that should be the national language and no investigation has been conducted to get into the bottom of this lie…and today, this lie continues to be spread by our present and former Presidents who are clearly ignorant about the language issues.

Way back on Nov. 28, 2007, I wrote a column in The STAR entitled “Why National Unity is so Hard to Achieve?” and we gave several reasons that for as long as the ultra nationalists insist that Tagalog should be the national language it means that this nation was built exclusively for the Tagalog speaking people. What about the people in the Visayas and Mindanao who were not born speaking the Tagalog tongue? Whether they believe it or not, the Tagalog is just like English or Ilocano to us… a foreign language!

Last week during the Mandaue Business Summit, one of their speakers was Sen. Bam Aquino and almost every other statement he made he used the term “Inclusive Growth.” All the other speakers after him used “inclusive” this or that. Clearly ever since authors Dan Acemoglu and James Robinson wrote the book “Why Nations Fail” politicians have been using this term during their speeches in the hope that all Filipinos would feel a sense of belonging or nationhood. 

We know too well that whenever he makes his speeches, President Aquino always speaks in Tagalog… or Filipino because he strongly albeit unfortunately and wrongly believes that all the people that live in this motely archipelago can understand the Tagalog language.

This is why I have been batting for a federal form of government as a major change in our governance so that all languages spoken in this country will be given its due recognition. Canada in the ’80s almost broke into two nations because of language issues, the English and the French speaking Canada. So Mr. President if you want the nation to be united… then recognize all the other spoken languages of this country and we’ll all be part of that “Inclusive Growth” that everyone is talking about.

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