The Sentence "If You Will Not Speak Tagalog You Are Not A Filipino" Is A Big Lie!
By Quirico M. Gorpido, Jr.
This is the sentence being propagated by some of our Tagalog-speaking friends. I do not know what prompted them to formulate such a big lie. Why a big lie? What is their proof or evidence that "if you do not speak Tagalog you are not a Filipino"? None.Nothing.This is discriminatory statement as long as our respective languages are concern. This is just a self-proclamation and self-declaration with no evidence to back them up. It's just a self-serving statement of arrogance and narrow-mindedness that only glorifies one group of Filipinos to the exclusion of the rest of millions and millions of other groups of Filipinos in this archipelagic country.
Did some of them read history? If they have read, do they not know that some of our national and war heroes are mixture of groups of Filipinos who speak in different languages like Boholano, Tagalog, Ilocano, Bicolano, Cebuano, Waray-Waray? How about those unmentioned heroes in Mindanao who speak in Cebuano, are they not Filipinos also? Our national and war heroes who speak in different languages have sacrificed their lives not only for a specific group of Filipinos but for all Filipinos in the entire archipelago. None of our heroes in the past have uttered such a degrading statement of arrogance and in exclusivistic fashion because they know from their innermost chamber of their hearts that we are all Filipinos regardless of what languages we have possessed to speak.
In the past when there was no national language yet and not even Tagalog and we speak in our own respective Mother Tongues, no-one or not a single Filipino or group of Filipinos have dared to say towards any group of Filipinos that you are not a Filipino because you did not speak in Cebuano or Hiligaynon or Ilocano or Bicolano language. How come that now some of our Tagalog friends have the gall to utter such a discriminatory, self-importance and self-serving statement of arrogance and narrow-mindedness in thinking?
If those who have uttered the abovementioned statement feel that the Tagalog language is superior than the other predominant languages in the Philippines, they are utterly wrong. Any language in this country is just as good and equal as the other languages.Repeatedly, some of our Tagalog friends must know, if they do not know yet that our archipelagic country has many languages. That Filipinos are composing of several groups who speak languages different from each other. Can they ignore or reject these existing languages? Of course not. It is only fortunate for the Tagalog language to be chosen as the national language because at that time the President who proclaimed it was a Tagalog-speaking man.
If the choice was based on numbers or the majority, our national language should be Cebuano and not Tagalog.The people in the huge islands of Visayas and Mindanao speak the Cebuano language. Nevertheless, the choice was not base on logical selection, but of the emotional, called "the nearness of the heart" nomination. But the choice does not mean that the Tagalog language is the superior language.Again, our respective languages or Mother Tongues are just as good as the other languages in the Philippines.
I would like to advise some of our Tagalog friends who dare made the aforesaid quoted statement to stop spreading and propagating this kind of misleading conception because their language is not superior compared to our own language or any other languages in this nation. To call the Tagalog language the Filipino language is a big misnomer. When we say Filipino language, it is a combination of many languages in the Philippines. The Filipino language (a mass noun in its usage here) is not a monopoly of one's language. It's always a combination of all existing languages and dialects spoken in our country. The Tagalog language is a Tagalog language, period. If the Cebuano language was chosen as our national language as a logical choice by the late President Manuel L. Quezon, we cannot also say that the Cebuano language is a Filipino language. It will also be a big misnomer to attach the word as a title. It is simply a Cebuano language chosen as the national language, period.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against the Tagalog-speaking people in general. In fact I have some Tagalog friends in Metro Manila when I was living there for several years. We are only against the quoted statement that some of them are propagating on the radio and TV stations. For instance, some Cebuano-speaking people will tell the Tagalogs,"If you will not speak Cebuano you are not Filipinos". Then a group of Bicolanos will interject, "If you will not speak Bicolano you are not Filipinos". Another group of Filipinos, the Ilocanos will also announce on the radio and TV stations saying, "If you will not speak Ilocano you are not Filipinos ".Still another group of Filipinos, the Ilonggos will burst, "If you will not speak Hiligaynon you are not Filipinos". Then the Waray-Waray people would say, "If you will not speak the Waray-Waray language you are not Filipinos".
How are these same statements of self-declaration and self-proclamation among other groups of Filipinos to the Tagalog ears? Of course they will hate it and feel it to be discriminating, irritating, ridiculous, absurd, disgusting and even weird! You see, you don't like these self-serving and self-importance statements of egoistic fancy. We have the same negative reactions. Right?
I repeat, kindly stop propagating this self-seving, self-declaration and self-proclamation statement with no meat and flesh to count as proof. To those non-Tagalog Filipinos: do not be deceived by this kind of self-importance and self-aggrandizement that pampers only the egos of the proclaimers.
We can live in peace and unity despite our diversity of cultures and languages by respecting and equally treating each other's languages with equality and fairness. In deed what does it mean? This means that if you are a Tagalog whose interest in business is in the Cebuano-speaking regions, you must prepare yourself by learning Cebuano in your place. Let somebody who knows the language teach you to speak the language. Read regularly materials written in the Cebuano language. Listen always to speakers of this particular language. So that when you set foot in the place you can already speak in their language. A Tagalog-speaking individual should not get angry if a man he has met in the Visayas or Mindanao will not answer or talk to him in Tagalog. If somebody would respond to him in Tagalog, well and good. But if not, just keep your cool. Yu have no right to get angry with anybody in a place where the people speak a language different from yours. If you are an Ilocano or a Bicolano in a group of Cebuanos who speak in their language during their conversation, avoid interrupting them to stop speaking in their Mother Tongue. Instead listen to their conversation even if you do not understand what they are talking about. Respect them and have good manners. If you are interested in their language ask them to teach you their language. The same attitude and respect should be adopted by other group of Filipinos towards his fellow Filipinos who speak in different languages.
What I say here was what I did before I have decided to go to Manila during the late 1970s. I read Tagalog materials and listen to Tagalog speakers and watch Tagalog films. At the time I arrived in MetroManila, marunong na akong magsalita ng Tagalog. You see! You should do what I did. You can do it. Why not?
To other groups of Filipinos like the Ilonggos,the Bicolanos,the Wary-Warays,the Ilocanos,the Kapangpangan,Cebuanos and others, do what a Tagalog is going to do if you have plans to conduct your businesses or visit in other parts of the country as tourists or visitors. You should adopt yourselves to the languages of the locals by learning and knowing to speak it while you are still in your respective places. It would be better also to learn the languages of our respective grandfathers or grandmothers whatever maybe are their languages. Like me my late father hails from Northern Samar while my deceased maternal grandmother is from Ilocos Norte.
Now, how can we, each group of Filipinos preserve, improve and sustain our respective Mother Tongues (languages)?
First, speak and write always in your respective languages to your fellow provincemates.Talk and speak only in either Tagalog or English to other groups of Filipinos who could not understand your Mother Tongue. Read always some materials written in your respective tongues, not only Tagalog and English. Even if you choose to live outside the Philippines in the future, always speak in your mother tongue to your fellow Filipinos who can understand your language. Never! Never! Never abandon your own language because it is part of your culture and identity. If you abandon your language you lose your culture and you have no identity. Can you live with that? Of course you can acculturate yourself in a country of your choice, but you should not abandon your inherent language. Pass it on to your children even if they were born outside the Philippines. This is also important that they know how to speak the languages of their respective parents
Second, languages that are predominant in different provinces and regions in the country should be taught as subject in schools, from grade one up to college. Some may ask: why should we have to have a subject in our own languages? Because we need to improve our ways of writing and speaking in our respective Mother Tongues. We also need to refresh our knowledge of our languages. To know more on its syntax and sentence constructions, correct pronounciation, proper usage, grammar and other things that we need to know to familiarize and get acquainted with our respective languages. If the Tagalogs and the English people are studying their own respective languages as subject in schools, why can't ours also? The Tagalogs already know their language but they still study it in school. The English people already know their language but they still study it in school .If these people are still studying their languages which they know already, why can't we? We must study our respective languages in schools like what the Tagalog and the English people are doing. This is a must now. We have also the legal basis in our1987 Constitution to anchor our intense desire to make our respective Mother Tongues as subjects in schools from grade one up to college in provinces and regions where it has the jurisdictional dominance. Article XIV, Sec.7 on 1987 Constitution states the teaching of Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education (MLE).Atty.Manuel Lino Faelnar suggested that the word auxiliary in auxiliary language as part of the provision in Article XIV, Sec.7 should be erased as part of its amendment. I'm wondering why our lawmakers used the word "auxiliary" when what is appropriate and proper word to use should be main language or Mother Tongue
For instance, the Binisayang Sinugboanon or simply Cebuano should be taught as subject in the Cebuano-speaking provinces and regions. In the Ilonggo provinces or regions, the Hiligaynon language should be taught as subject in schools. The Waray-Waray should also be taught as subject in Waray-Waray speaking places in Leyte and Samar.Although there are places in Leyte and Samar whose inhabitants speak in Cebuanos.In these places, the Cebuano language should be taught as subject as well. The same also in the Bicol provinces, Ilocano subject in the Ilocandia regions, Pampango subject in the Kapangpangan provinces, Pangasinan language in Pangasinan, others If the Tagalog language is being taught as subject in the elementary up to college in the whole country, why can't our respective Mother Tongue also? The inclusion of our respective languages (Mother Tongue) as subject in the elementary up to college in various places where it has its palpable dominance should equally be granted. If there's a need for our respective Representatives to lobby it in Congress, then they should do it now. Each of them should enact separate laws for their respective jurisdictions making the predominant languages be taught as subjects in places of its dominance. The teaching of the Mother Tongue in its area of dominance should perpetuate from generations to generations, just like what we have observed with the Tagalog and English subjects.
I have the belief and perception that a wide reader and broad-minded President who is open to ideas, whether he or she is a Tagalog- speaking or not, will approve this novel idea if he/she knows that such provisions in the teaching of our respective Mother Tongues have existed in the 1987 Constitution for the great improvement and the intellectualization of our respective Mother Tongues in this country of diverse cultures and languages. If in case we would fail, the children of the members of the Akademiyang Bisaya and the children of these similar organizations in other regions and provinces of the country who are concern in the preservation, patronization and intellectualization of our respective languages should relentlessly continue to pursue this goal until such time that we will reach our great desire for this purpose. There's the need also for other predominant languages in the entire country that I have mentioned here to form and organize their own respective Academy. Like the Akademiyang Ilocano,Akademiyang Bicolano,Akademiyang Pampango,Akademiyang Hiligaynon,Akademiyang Waray-Waray and others with similar function to that of the Akademiyang Bisaya who is in charged in the monitoring and control, preservation, patronization, improvement, sustainability and intellectualization of each of our respective languages.
Third, thru the initiative of the members of the Akademiyang Bisaya and the rest of the other Akademiyas mentioned here, a powerful TV music stations with nationwide coverages should be established in regions or provinces where various Mother Tongues are predominant. The musical programming in these music TVs must give more emphasize on playing 60%Cebuano songs(5% only for yagayaga songs of the new breed of bisrock bands),20% English songs and 20% Tagalog songs. To the other Akademiyas in other regions of the country they could pattern their musical programming after the former in terms of percentage in the playing of various songs. Good that we are playing Tagalog songs in our FM/AM radios in our places in VisMin area. But the Manila-based music TV never gives a room in playing Cebuano songs. You can just imagine that.
In these music TV stations, like in the common programming of TV Channels, the Binisayang Sinugboanon must be required as the medium in the inner circle among its employees in written communication and in speaking. They can also use the English language in written communication. As we understand, the English language is no longer a foreign language to the educated Filipinos. It should be the second language to them. It is a universal language. It is the language use in global communication, commerce, business transactions, in Medicine, Science, Math and Technology. It is also the language use in the computer-internet links. Every educated person in every country worldwide should have English as his/her second language If the self-proclaimed nationalists who criticize those who speak and use the English language in their writings still consider it as a foreign language, they just want to create for themselves an isolation and a vacuum of…and want to remain in the state of stagnation. But are they? To be frank most of them are just pretending to be as such but like other Filipinos, they are conscientiously studying the language they seem to dislike and use it as their medium in criticizing fellow Filipinos who openly speak and write in the English language. Some of them are even taking up their Masters Degree in the US and in other countries. Isn't it? They are just great pretenders! Besides, to be a true nationalist is in the heart, regardless of what other language or languages he/she has learned to speak aside from his/her, and not just on the tip of ones tongue.
Similar implementation of the rules in playing the percentages of songs in the three languages be also adopted in all FM and AM stations in the Visayas and Mindanao. Our disc jockeys should promote more of our songs in the VisMin areas-love songs, ballad, country, folk songs, jazz, rock, others. Let our airlanes/airwaves be filled with beautiful Cebuano songs. Disc jockeys ought to be the promoters of our very own songs, by giving more concern in playing Cebuano songs during the day and not only during the dead of night or as opening music program at dawn when most of the people are still sleeping.
The three measures that we have discussed here are part of the effective ways to devotedly patronize, nurture, cherish, improve, love and intellectualize our respective Mother Tongues in the Philippines.
We hope that our concerned educators, scholars, the academe and our language experts will apply and implement the aforementioned ways to really achieve our goal of preserving, improving, sustaining and intellectualizing our respective Mother Tongues in this archipelagic country. The members of the Akademiyang Bisaya and other Akademiya organizations in the whole country should tap now their famous writers in their Mother Tongues in writing grammar books. This is now the right time for grammarians in our respective Mother Tongues to start writing books on grammars, because writing books of any kind is not easy. It takes months to finish it.(Quirico M. Gorpido,Jr.)