In this current situation of portentous upheaval in the Philippines, any discussion of the “language question,” like the “woman question,” is bound to be imcendiary and contentious. The issue of language is always explosive, a crux of symptoms afflicting the body politic. It is like a fuse or trigger that ignites a whole bundle of inflammable issues, scandalously questioning the existence of God in front of an audience of believers. Or the immortality of souls among the faithful. Perhaps my saying outright that I am a partisan for a national language, Filipino, may outrage the postmodernists and cosmopolites among you—how can you say such a thing when you are speaking in English? Or, as Senator Diokno once said, “English of a sort.” How dare I infuriate the loyal speakers of Cebuano, Ilocano, Pampagueno, Ilonggo, Taglish, Filipino English, and a hundred or more languages used in these seven thousand islands. One gives up: it can’t be helped. Or we can help lift the ideological smog and draw more lucidly the lines of demarcation in the battleground of ideas and social practices.
One suspects that this is almost unavoidable, in a society where to raise the need for one national language, say “Filipino” (as mandated by the Constitution) is certain to arouse immediate opposition. Or, if not immediately, it is deferred and sublimated into other pretexts for debate and argumentation. Fortunately, we have not reached the point of armed skirmishes and violent confrontations for the sake of our mother/father tongue, as in India and other countries. My partisanship for Filipino (not Tagalog) is bound to inflame Cebuanos, Bicolanos, Ilocanos, and so on, including Filipino speakers-writers of English, or Filipino English. We probably try to defuse any brewing conflict quickly by using the colonizer’s tongue, or compromise babel-wise. My view is that only a continuing historical analysis can help explain the present contradictory conjuncture, and disclose the options it offers us. Only engagement in the current political struggles can resolve the linguistic aporia/antinomy and clarify the import and consequence of the controversy over the national language, over the fate of Filipino and English in our society. _______________
Sa kasalukuyang matinding sigalot sa bansa, anumang talakayan hinggil sa wika ay tiyak na magbubunsod sa isang away o maingay na pagtatalo. Kahawig nito ang usapin ng kababaihan. Laging matinik ang isyu ng pambansang wika, isang sintomas ng pinaglikom na mga sakit ng body politic. Tila ito isang mitsang magpapasabog sa pinakabuod na mga kontradiksiyong bumubuo sa istruktura ng lipunang siyang nakatanghal na larangan ng digmaan ng mga uri at iba’t ibang sektor.
Lalong masahol siguro kung sabihin kong nasa panig ako ng mga nagsususog sa isang pambansang wikang tinaguriang “Filipino.” Tiyak na tututol ang mga Sebuano, Ilokano, Ilonggo, mga alagad ng Taglish, o Ingles, o Filipino-Ingles. Ngunit hindi ito maiiwasan, kaya tuloy na tayong makipagbuno sa usaping ito upang mailinaw ang linya ng paghahati’t pamumukod, at sa gayo’y makarating sa antas ng pagtutuos at pagpapasiya. _______________
One would expect that this issue would have been resolved a long time ago. But, given the dire condition of the Philippine political economy in this epoch of globalized terrorism of the U.S. hegemon, a plight that is the product of more than a century of colonial/neocolonial domination, all the controversies surrounding this proposal of a national language since the time of the Philippine Commonwealth when Quezon convened the Institute of National Language under Jaime de Veyra, have risen again like ravenous ghouls. I believe this specter can never be properly laid to rest until we have acquired genuine sovereignty, until national self-determination has been fully exercised, and the Filipino people—three thousand everyday, more than a million every year--will no longer be leaving in droves as Overseas Contract Workers, the...
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