Embracing language diversity in the Philippines

(Note: The post should have been published during the Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa last August 2016 as part of a two or three-part series. Apologies for the delay.)

The Philippines at present uses Filipino and English as official languages. However since then, it has become the topic of various debates, on whether Filipino is just another branch of the Tagalog language instead of being a amalgamation of all Filipino languages as originally intended, and why the use of English is more prominent than the use Filipino in various discourses, and the never-ending stigma of calling non-Tagalog languages as dialects, which earns the ire of non-Tagalog people especially the Cebuanos. (We have already debunked that in the first part of the supposed series.)

Now, how should we correct this? 

It’s time for us to enact a new policy in embracing this reality, that is declaring the most common languages as co-equals (Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Ilokano, Pangalatok, Kapampangan, Bikol, Tausug, Chavacano) and recognizing and protecting the rights of the minority languages (Akeanon, Kinaray-a, Ibaloi, Kankana-ey, Maranao, others). We must also protect them by having a national language institute regulating and protecting them.

There should also be a promotion of the use and proficiency in English (promotion of global competitiveness) and Spanish (to rekindle ties with our cultural cousins in Latin America).

We should also encourage our children to know at least 3-5 languages aside from their mother tongues.

Filipino languages must also be taught since elementary with the option of further studies in college.

Lastly, we must also launch a campaign promoting and encouraging multilingualism to end the still-lingering stigma that all Filipino languages are “dialects” (through schools, media, others).

For us to have a true sense of unity, we have to embrace diversity. We are one nation of many distinct cultues and tongues. 

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