Tuesday, August 31, 2004

One Language to Rule Them All

One of the current topics circulating around (aside from the usual floods and storms) is whether the Philippines should adopt a Filipino-only policy (in comparison to the Filipino and English language we currently have implemented). There was even a news item the other day about having our courts use Filipino, and quite frankly, many lawyers *and* transcribers are not up to the task (the latter because not only are they not trained to encode in Filipino but it really is more difficult to transcribe in Filipino since there's no "real shorthand" for the language, especially considering Filipino is syllabic).

While I do recognize there are both pros and cons for adopting such a policy, I honestly think that's not exactly the best way to go. I mean overspecialization has been a Western concept. Why can't Filipinos learn both Filipino and English? Look at Canada, their road signs and language actually uses French and English rather than just either one. Why not the Philippines, who look for multiple traits in other people as well. I mean look at our actors: they're an example of multi-talented people. Filipinos don't just require them to act well, but to sing and dance as well. The same can be said for our politicians. And yes, our writers in the country are forced to adopt other "specializations" as well (so right now, most Filipinos are adept at several things rather than just specializing in one). As for whether which should be the "primary" language, I only hold that we be consistent. I mean for some time, it was English (i.e. Marcos era), then it was changed to Filipino by Cory Aquino. However, GMA during her term changed it back to English, and the problem I have with that is not that she chose English, but that she isn't being consistent with the policies of the previous presidents. While change is good, we do want to strengthen the country, and unfortunately, that kind of policy really widens the generation gap and places language barriers between Filipinos (i.e. the father can't really have a good conversation with the son since they can't understand each other), although probably not as much as adopting a single-language policy.

My other complaint is their reasons for deliberating such a stance. To increase love for country? I'll be the first one to admit that Filipinos do lack a certain love for their country (many Filipinos often want to migrate somewhere else, and think that anywhere except here is better) and something should be done about it. Addressing that via language, however, is not the real issue. Language is merely a scapegoat for those who don't know any better. I don't think Filipinos will signficantly love their country more if we suddenly adopt a Filipino-only policy (for commercial reasons, they might even loathe the country even more). If we want Filipinos to love the country more, there are other methods. I mean one problem in the country, for example, is that there aren't enough jobs. Do you think adopting a Filipino-only policy would address that? Or feed the unemployed? There's also the fact that many Filipinos have to go abroad in order to support their families here. Or the fact that whenever it's the wet season, there seems to be a natural disaster blown out of proportion (i.e. lost houses, deaths, tragedies) and it's not like it's totally unpredictable (of course houses built on low areas will get flooded!). If you can solve or at least alleviate those kinds of problems, that'll increase nationalism for sure! I'm sorry but when you make language your scapegoat, it'll only result in the detriment of all.

I'd also like to take a look at it from the business standpoint (because I'm Chinese, hehehe). Most of our exports arise from the fact that we can speak English (we're not that good at it, but we can speak it nonetheless). Take out English and you eliminate possible jobs. One does not not cut the hand that feeds you.


Blogger Allan said...

I doubt if we can ever get pass the one-unified language issue. We Filipinos are very regional and it would take a miracle to unite us all. I'm more worried about the quality of our English, its our ticket to more jobs and work abroad. We used to be fluent with the language, but now the students at school have difficulty with it.

5:45 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home