Tagalog, please?
VERBAL VARIETY - Annie Perez (The Freeman) - March 23, 2019 - 12:00am

I was irked when a journalist from another national network requested a source to speak in Tagalog in the middle of an ambush interview. The source, Mayor Sara Duterte, paused for a few seconds, looked at us and waved her hands in front of her face as if to change disposition. She then spoke in Tagalog, which made it all the more uncomfortable noting that we are all Cebuano-speaking persons from the media.

While I do acknowledge that Filipino (or more loosely known as Tagalog) is our national language, I found that incident to be a bit improper. We can’t blame somebody if they find it more comfortable to speak in their native tongue rather than force him or her to speak another language which is far from their heart. Heck, we even hire interpreters for foreign prominent individuals who visit our country. We never force them to speak in English even if they know how to.

My point is, we should love and let our own language flourish. It’s time that imperial Manila should accept that it is not at all times Tagalog. Even our President likes to speak in Visayan in front of a vast audience. I remember when Police Regional Office-7 director Debold Sinas scoffed at another journalist who requested him to speak in Tagalog. He reasoned out that we are in Cebu, so he must adjust. Use subtitles if necessary, he said, but nothing can change the way he speaks.

It is such a petty issue, I know, but it speaks so highly of ourselves. It speaks of how we still can’t remove the stigma that those Tagalog-speaking people have the authority and power to command us what to do. It’s time to break that thinking. Not everyone who knows Tagalog is schooled and has compassion for their fellowman. The Philippines is not at all just Metro Manila or Luzon for that matter. Those in Visayas and Mindanao can do so much too. Stop with the labeling of other provinces as rural, it isn’t as bad as you think it is.

I may meet that journalist again or not, but I hope she gets the point that if they visit a place, they must adjust and adhere to the language spoken. It has been a gem developed through time when the Spaniards first came here. It is like an heirloom passed on to generations. It is the sweetest speech ever heard as it is closest to our hearts. I love how we speak and the intonations we make towards each other, isn’t it beautiful?

Let’s hope we do get this. While we have a national language that we must also love equally, our dialects make up mostly who we are. Let nobody erase that from us. If they need to learn it, then do just like what we did, endure grueling hours to learn Filipino. I didn’t know how I survived all those years in school.

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