Friday, August 15, 2008

linggo ng wika

Como esta?
Nanu buri mu? Mangan!
Usa, duha, tula...
Unsa nahitabo sa atong naanindot na yuta?
i saw an entertaining episode of 100% Pinoy (GMA7, Thursdays, midnightish) about Filipino , the language, just in time for our Linggo ng Wika, or National Language Week. Kara David and Joaqui Valdes featured gayspeak, cono vs tambay speak, callcenter english and American mormons who learned Filipino to preach here. I learned that we have 170 languages and that a version of our native writing, alibata, still exists among our mangyan tribes in Mindoro.

This made me recall a story (though I don't know if it's accurate) about our national hero Jose Rizal and how he was on a ship to Manila and sat beside a German and a French passenger. He was able to converse with them in their language. And then he sat beside a Bisaya and an Ilocano and he couldn't communicate with them.

It's a pity that we weren't taught Spanish by the colonizers, I once said to my Canadian cousin, we can't even read Rizal's masterpieces in the original language. And maybe we'd be united if we all spoke a common language...
My cousin , who's been around the world, said that while that may be unfortunate, at least we were able to preserve our various native languages that would otherwise have been obliterated the way the Aztec and Mayan languages have been forgotten...and when I think about it, lots of other countries speak the same language but they still have strife and disunity. And aside from our features, our language is one of the few links we still have with the rest of Southeast Asia.

And while decades later, the debate on Tagalog =Filipino as a national language still rages, I remember an older classmate in my Spanish 1 class. When asked if he agreed that Spanish should be taught in school again, contrary to what any grade-conscious freshman would answer, he said no(!) he said universities should instead offer courses in our rich native languages. UP, i believe, has one subject but it studies all of them. But who knows, maybe in the future, students will be having Bisaya 101 or Kapampangan 11. New Zealand even offers subjects like Filipino as a second language in their schools.

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