Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Uyboco: Much ado about Filipino

Freethinking Me

THE Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold the constitutionality of the K to 12 program resulted in Filipino and Panitikan (Philippine Literature) no longer being required core subjects in college. Of course, as expected, there were many howls of protest -- those whose jobs and livelihood were affected, and those who feel that this will further erode our children’s sense of nationalism and love for country.

I am, however, not among those.

Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the language and some aspects of culture. I watch some Filipino films, the few good ones we get anyway. I enjoy Filipino music and am an advocate of Filipino Martial Arts. Oh and yes, I read Bob Ong’s books and if you haven’t done so yet, go pick up a copy of A B N K K B S N P L A Ko. No, this isn’t a paid endorsement. There is so much fun and learning in that book -- more than 14 years of Filipino classes from elementary to college.

More than any other subject, Filipino (which is really mostly Tagalog) traumatized me. Growing up, the only place I spoke it was in school. At home, I spoke Fookien Chinese to my parents and siblings. I spoke Bisaya to almost everyone else. I read English books and comics and watched English shows and movies. There was virtually no practical use for me to learn Filipino except to pass the subject, and I struggled with the grammar and vocabulary of a language I hardly spoke. Even in school, using Filipino was limited because we had a “Speak English” rule and in many instances, you could be fined for “speaking in dialect.”

I don’t believe that forcing a language down one’s throat will result in any sort of appreciation nor produce nationalism or love for country. What I felt was resentment, then outright hatred for the subject. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the language or refused to speak it. In fact, I believe I speak it quite well and there was a time I liked reading comics like Zuma and even Darna.

But the structured approach didn’t work for me, and of course, the low grades I got didn’t help and simply contributed to the downward spiral.

Nationalism and love for country does not have to be rooted in language. In the decades that we have been teaching the Filipino subject to millions who have passed through the school system, what do we have to show by way of nationalism and love for country? We can’t even be bothered to walk a few more steps to cross at pedestrian lanes. We throw trash anywhere instead of looking for a garbage can or just putting the trash in our pockets for proper disposal later. We smoke in no smoking areas and park in no parking zones. We beat red lights and many still beat their wives and kids. We cheat on anything we can get away with -- taxes, work hours, allowances, or our spouses.

Love for country is about respecting and caring enough for your fellow human, and that language is universal.

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