Firth McEachern - Diversity Shock, Part 29
- On paper (i.e. the Constitution), Filipino is the national language. But what is Filipino? Is it the same as Pilipino or Tagalog? Does it even exist? If so, when did it form? What was its status in 1987, when the Philippines' most recent Constitution came out declaring it as the national language?
Well, if you read the records of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, these questions would not be clearly answered. You would be unsettled to discover how little agreement there was between the Constitutional Commissioners regarding Filipino. While all 43 votes cast in the Plenary Session of September 9th 1986 were in favor of the sentence "The national language of the Philippines is Filipino," their discussions in the lead up to this vote would suggest people had very different ideas of what Filipino is or should be.
Here are some direct quotes from their sessions:
"Yeah. Because Pilipino is not yet ready. I mean with `Tagalog' as the nucleus." ~Quesada
"When we listened to the experts all of them were agreed that the lingua franca is not Tagalog but something a little bit different, an expanded Tagalog which is Pilipino which includes words from other vernacular languages." ~Villacorta
"Filipino is different from Pilipino which is based on only one language, Tagalog. Filipino is based on different Philippine languages." ~Villacorta
"We cannot distinguish between Tagalog and Filipino, it's just because we are older. The children who go to school, they all say Pilipino, they don't say Tagalog." ~Tan
"It is now accepted, the more or less purist Tagalog. Because Pilipino has been accepted now, the Pilipino with the "P" is accepted as a mixture, you know. It is a modernized version " ~Brocka
"What I am saying is that the government should remind itself one more of its responsibility to use Pilipino " ~Bennagen
"Like in entertainment we definitely use the Filipino language, that is, Pilipino." ~Brocka
"Once that it is developed we [can] pass a law that our official language will only be Pilipino or Filipino." ~Rigos
"It was either referred to by some linguists as Filipino, others as Pilipino and others simply as national lingua franca." ~Bennagen
"May I start by saying that Filipino, with a capital `F,' is Spanish." ~ Concepcion
" there is a living franca which can be called Filipino." ~Villacorta
"The lingua franca in the Philippines is not Filipino, and I can challenge anyone on this. How could it be the lingua franca when only the University of the Philippines has offered the subject known as Filipino?" ~Davide
"In spite of all those proposals and intentions to develop a national language, not much was done." ~Bennagen
"These are scholars that are indeed active in the advancement of Filipino as a national language" ~Bennagen
"Is the language of Commissioner Tadeo Filipino? Were those phrases mentioned by Villacorta meant to be Filipino?" ~Bacani
"I am confused about the meaning of the two. What is `Pilipino' and what is `Filipino'?" ~Colayco
"And when we speak of Filipino, can it be a combination of Tagalog and the local dialect, and therefore, can it be `Taglish'?" ~De Castro
Confused yet? Well that beast is the Philippine's national language, whatever it's supposed to be. And it's not clear what that is. In conversation, the Commissioners frequently used the terms Filipino, Pilipino, and Tagalog interchangeably; some of them said they are all the same, others said they are different; to some, these are static entities; to others, they are evolving. Some were adamant that Filipino doesn't exist, and should not be declared as the national language because its present form is Tagalog in disguise. Some said Filipino should be strategically developed, some said it should evolve naturally, others claimed it had already evolved.
With such divergent interpretations of Filipino, why did they all vote in favour of its explicit declaration as the national language, and to be further enriched from other Philippine languages? My guess is that they were all voting for the concept that best suited them. The venerable Hilario Davide, who gave a convincing argument for the non-existence of Filipino, probably voted for the provision anyway because he fancied the idea that Filipino would one day not be the Tagalog clone it is. Meanwhile, the `Tagalistas' among the Commission probably voted for it knowing full well that in practice, Filipino would always be shackled to Tagalog. Given that nothing had been done to wean Pilipino off Tagalog over the previous decades, it was reasonable to assume that history would repeat itself. They could hence vote for an empty phrase like "shall be further developed and enriched " without undermining the security of Tagalog's dominance.
The unified vote, therefore, may not have been an endorsement of what the national language has become today, but rather a reflection of what it could have been, which was different for each Commissioner. Soon we ask: what vision of Filipino ultimately won out?
Firth McEachern - Diversity Shock, Part 28
- --- In DILA@yahoogroups.com, Firth wrote:
> I would only tolerate the premise of a national language---regardless of its nature or how it came to be---were it accompanied with balanced and sincere language planning that ensured the continuing, complementary flourishing of other native languages.Since the development and propagation of such a Frankenstein language has not met success throughout human history, Filipino would certainly remain a pipe dream orchestrated by Tagalog supremacists for the benefit of our naive countrymen. Firth is to be roundly commended for his honest research and impartial treatment of language politics in our country, this ought to come out as a printed volume.
I found the portion on the 1986 ConCom particularly impressive in its detail. The proponents got into a number of confrontations with me and I had always considered Villacorta to be in cahoots with Salazar et al. Everything was planned beforehand and in the end they had completely outwitted and fooled Davide. An added bonus for them was that the Aquino constitution would turn out to be intrinsically unamendable.