Abellanosa: Removing Filipino

Fringes and frontiers

THE recent decision of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of K to 12 has, once again, surfaced the issue of national language. The high court’s decision tackled, among others, the validity of the exclusion of Filipino and Panitikan subjects from the tertiary curriculum.

In 2015, SC issued a TRO that temporarily stopped the implementation of Commission on Higher Education or Ched Memo No. 20. Of the 36 units of General Education Courses identified by the said CMO, Filipino as a stand-alone course is excluded. Precisely, the consolidated petition before the SC argued that Kto12 is unconstitutional because it violates existing laws and most importantly the Philippine Constitution. The petitioners cited the Constitution’s provision:

“The national language of the Philippines is Filipino... Subject to provisions of law and as the Congress may deem appropriate, the Government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.”

Moreover, the petitioners argued that CMO 20 also violates existing laws on Filipino. Notably mentioned are RA No. 7104 or the Commission on the Filipino Language Act and RA No. 7356 or the Law Creating the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

The reactions of the public on the issue are passionate. However, just like any expression of passion, our take on the matter may be comparable to that of a blind man madly striking his sword in darkness. It would be good to ask how many of those who reacted in social media has read the Supreme Court’s decision. Truth to tell, Filipino is not totally banned or removed from college because it may still be offered as an elective by universities. Moreover, certain General Education subjects may also be taught in Filipino.

Yet, and assuming that one has read the SC decision, it is equally important to ask: through what lens are we reading the issue? Let us then consider a few arguments against the SC’s decision.

First argument: Filipino is no longer given importance. This is not true. It is a mandated subject in Basic Education. Araling Panlipunan is also taught in Filipino (except perhaps in a few Basic Ed schools). So is it true that we are no longer teaching Filipino, or that we are not giving importance to it? Apparently, the answer is no! If Filipino teachers are really serious in their crusade to make their students love Filipino, then they should make sure that the subject is well taught and thus well loved by their students from Grade School to Senior High.

Second argument: It is a scandal that Filipino is not taught in college but DepEd has approved the teaching of Korean. A corollary argument to this: we are killing our own language but ironically we are bringing in other languages. My take: Aren’t we using English, a foreign language, in our schools? It is in fact the language of a country that has colonized us for more or less 50 years. Except for Filipino and Araling Panlipunan, the other major and minor subjects from Basic Ed up to University or even post-graduate level (like law and medicine) are taught in English. Activists know very well that this language is the very medium of the most imperialist countries. But what language is used when students write researches and thesis? What language do we use with our school forms and memos? What is our medium in our Commencement Exercises? Is it Filipino?

Finally, one more argument: People will become less nationalistic because of the removal of Filipino from college. I value the importance of nationalism but in the very first place what nationalism are we talking about? Haven’t we through the years abandoned nationalism step by step? Let’s have a simple run through. What clothes are Filipina women wearing? Are they made in the Philippines? What movies do we prefer to watch? Are we not fans of Marvel and DC? So whose movie industry are we promoting? And even those who are protesting, where do their philosophies come from? Wasn’t Karl Marx German of Jewish descent? Even the name of our country, the Philippines, was even given by a foreigner and named after the king of our colonizer. Aren’t all the aforementioned foreign?

It is high time to abandon our purist views. Nationalism is, yes, the love for country but not necessarily the fear of anything foreign.


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