Cat got your tongue?

Sira-sira store

ONE morning, my precocious young nephew, Pannon, approached me with a worried look. He spoke in Tagalog or Filipino, the national language.

Let us take a brief travel back in time. On Nov. 9, 1937, the Institute of National Language embraced a resolution that lifted Tagalog as the basis of the national language, known as Filipino. As such, it has been taught in schools as part of the curriculum.

I am writing this food for thought because of what my nephew Pannon said:

“Uncle, balang araw, ako’y papasok sa unibersidad. Nalulungkot ako dahil naririnig ko sa balita na tatanggalin na ang pagtuturo ng Filipino at Panitikan sa lahat ng koleheyo at unibersidad sa bansa.” (One day, he would be at university. He felt sad because he heard the news that Filipino and Literature would be scrapped from college curriculum.)

He said he knows K-Pop culture, Japanese anime, Korean songs and words, but he wants to be a master of Cebuano and Filipino, too.

He continued. “Ang kinatatakutan ko ay baka darating ang araw na hindi ko na alam kung sino ako o ano ang tawag ng buwan sa sarili kong wika.” (He said he feared the day might come when he would not know who he is or what the word for ‘moon’ is in his own language.)

Back in my high school days, I learned in Literature and Language classes on how idioms enrich one’s writings and speech. (I am obviously a pre-K to 12 education program product.)

The idiom “cat got your tongue” means “someone who has nothing to say.” The Commission on Higher Education (Ched) ordered the removal of the Filipino and Panitikan or Literature curriculum in higher education. So far, the Supreme Court has backed up Ched.

I am as afraid as Pannon that the nation might raise a new generation that does not know their own soul or what moon is in their own language.

I dread that the new generation might have no heart for nationalism because they despise their own panitikan (from titik or words, and panitik or ability to write). I dread the day when the nation has nothing to say about its own culture, language, history and literature.


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