This week we celebrate “Lingo ng Wika”. What many don’t know is that it was President Osmeña, a Cebuano, who gave the order to have one. Not President Quezon, the man we call “Ama ng Wikang Pambansa”. Pres. Magsaysay, changed the date from March 27-April 2 to the week of President Quezon’s birthday. Perhaps for sentimental or political reasons.
Having parents that speaks two different languange (Bisaya and Hiligaynon) and neighbors that spoke a pletora of diverse languages, I understood early in life that we are indeed, in need of a “national language”. How else can we communicate effectively?
However, I’m in opposition to the forceful imposition of language. We have to see to it that the national language education does not suppress and remove the local languages. Local languages must remain as the medium of instruction in the provinces.The “Pilipino” must only continue as a subject where students are expected to pass and complete.
Local languages are best kept for they have been cultivated for centuries. Perpetuated from generations to generations. Local languages are rich with customs, folklore and history. People tend to be more expressive and active using their local languages and this produce great literary works.
In Cebu, you’ll rarely hear a person get excited to speak “Tagalog”. They rather speak English. It’s not because they’re ignorant of the national language, most TV shows there are in “Tagalog”, they just prefer to speak in their native tongue. This is the reason that in just a year of my stay in that beautiful Southern island, I learned to speak their language. Come to think of it, they have the advantage of speaking three languages (Tagalog, English and Bisaya) compared to a Manileño who could only speak two. The loyalty of the Visayan’s to their local language is the reason why “Bisaya” is still the most widely spoken language in the country.
I was born in Sta. Ana, one of Manila’s historic suburbs, and spent the first 6 years of my life there before we transferred to Macati. I’m definitely proud of Tagalog as I consider myself to be one. It is my language. But this does not stop me from learning other local languages. I’ve been studying Spanish for more than a year now, although my progress has been slow, it made me aware that there exist an undeniable history that most of us haven’t read. When Spanish was removed from our schools, we got permanently cut off from a written Filipino history of more than 300 years. Somehow, we must find a way to rediscover Spanish as a historical and cultural language.
Tagalog is a rich language. A few months ago while I was in San Rafael, Bulacan I learned new words that I haven’t heard off in my years of existence.
I remember my Professor in college talking about the “richness” of Tagalog compared to English. He said that it have a word for just about everything. He gave this “rice” example:
Rice grain – Palay
Milled Rice – Bigas
Spoiled Rice – Panis
Cooked Rice – Sinaing
Rice that fell out of the table – Mumo
Rice for swines – Kanin Babuy
Rice for dogs – Kanin Aso
Burned rice – Tutong
Cold rice – Bahao
Toasted rice – Pinipig
Heated cooked rice – Sapao (or was it “inin”?)
Excess water during boiling rice – Am
Fried rice – Sangag
Well, I’m sure there are more.
Maligayang Lingo ng Wika sa lahat.