Tell It to SunStar: Language policy in the Philippines

By Joseph Solis Alcayde

I WOULD like to compliment the column of Publio Briones’ On The Go last Jan. 13 titled “Cebuano, please” with my perspective about the current language policy in our country.

Yes it is a fact that Tagalog has slowly encroached the Cebuano and other non-Tagalog Philippine languages like the usage of “po” and “opo.” This encroachment by the Tagalog language has had something to do with long-time imposition of Tagalog language on non-Tagalog throats since Manuel L. Quezon’s time under the mantra of “One People, One Language.”

The imposition of the Tagalog language has always been a deterrent to the development of other non-Tagalog Philippine languages like Cebuano because people would simply prefer a similar language, which is artificially imposed by society like Tagalog language.

The Philippines should take a lesson from diverse Sub-Saharan African and Latin American countries where these countries use the language of colonizers as their lingua franca for the sake of neutrality and equal treatment of indigenous languages under the eyes of the law.

The Philippines should also learn an example from Indonesia where a minority language, Malay, is used as the basis of Bahasa Indonesia, the lingua franca of Indonesia instead of adopting the most widely spoken indigenous language in Indonesia, Javanese.

To fix the problem or we say paradox of our language policy in our country is to stop the forceful imposition of Tagalog language in the guise of “Filipino” language in non-Tagalog areas in our country and adopt much neutral lingua francas that has been proven and tested for centuries which are English and Spanish.

By adopting English and Spanish as our inter-ethnic lingua francas in our country, we can finally remove the bias of the National Government towards a certain indigenous ethnic group with regards to language use and we can further broaden the competitiveness of Filipino workers abroad by speaking English and Spanish, the major Western languages spoken across the globe.


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