Election season in the Philippines is often described by many to be akin to a circus. With all the colorful campaign paraphernalia, the flamboyant attire of candidates and supporters going about earning the confidence of voters, and all the lively exchanges between political bets on the media, one can easily gather an assessment of vibrant atmosphere the country and its people often find themselves every three years.
While it is difficult to find fault on which group is responsible for the sad state that politics, particularly the elections, have become in the country, how it is now perceived by the average Filipino, as being rowdy, full of hypocrisy, and even as a source of amusement, is shaped by how it is seen on television, reported on the radio and written on the newspapers. Continue reading →
The glory of saving a country is not for him who has contributed to its ruin. You have believed that what crime and iniquity have defiled and deformed, another crime and another iniquity can purify and redeem. Wrong! Hate never produces anything but monsters and crime criminals! Love alone realizes wonderful works, virtue alone can save! No, if our country has ever to be free, it will not be through vice and crime, it will not be so by corrupting its sons, deceiving some and bribing others, no! Redemption presupposes virtue, virtue sacrifice, and sacrifice love!
The Philippines celebrated its 115th Independence Day last June 12. And as expected, there were the usual pronouncements of doubt and mockery whether country was really free or not. Some even went on to entertain revisionist views on the actual date of independence saying that the date is meaningless since the country was only left on its own by the Americans on July 4, 1946.
As someone old enough to have lived at a time when the two biggest American military bases outside the United States were in the country, I find it both odd and funny, that the question on the country’s independence are being noisily raised online by those born after the US bases were booted out of the country.
While I cannot blame these younger Filipinos’ having a revisionist view of history, I cannot understand why they are capable of raising issues on the independence day’s verity and yet they are incapable of understanding the significance of June 12 in the continuing struggle for the country’s independence.
I am of the opinion that those who constantly raise the question whether the country today is independent or not are under the influence of those who fail to understand and appreciate the sacrifices made by those who died in the battles against the Spanish, the Americans, the Japanese and even against fellow Filipinos belonging to various sides of political persuasions. And I do think that those who latch on to this view relied only on the perspective of their cynical Philippine history teachers without even trying to understand the country’s history on their own.
A country’s independence day is remembered because it was the day when the people of that territory declared themselves free from oppression of a foreign power. It is a characteristic of state which is reserved only for colonized, enslaved or oppressed nations. But more often than not, that day of declaration of independence marks not the end of the struggle for freedom, but only the beginning. As such it is misleading, as it is wrong to view independence day as the day when freedom from oppression was achieved. Continue reading →
A few days ago, I posted a story from Al Jazeera on endangered languages in the Philippines and I still can’t get it off my head. A couple of weeks before that I was in a meeting where during the break, there was a discussion on how the Ilocano or Iloko language was slowly eating up non-Ilocano-speaking areas in some parts of Luzon. One of those present said that areas in Pangasinan which then predominantly spoke Pangasinense, were now speaking Ilocano. While he spoke Ilocano, he regretted that he has lost his knowledge of Pangasinense, which he knew back then as a child.
This phenomenon of widely-used or more popular languages eating up community-based languages is not actually new in the Philippines. But it is only recently that the dangers posed by this phenomenon to local languages are seen and taken into account by the national government. Back then, the emphasis was more on having a single common language called Filipino – which in reality was Tagalog, with supposedly some words from the other major languages.
Reality though was very different. In the enforcement of Filipino, the other major languages were ridiculed by some who come from Manila as German, Greek or Latin. Cebuano was viewed as the language of the house maid or the uncivilized. The singsong tune of the Bacolod Hiligaynon was joked at quite often. And the accents that Filipinos coming from different regions trying to speak “Filipino” had, would be the subject of scrutiny by native Tagalog speakers in the national capital and its neighboring provinces. The idea of a single Filipino language had become a tool of oppression of other Filipino languages. Continue reading →
I grew up to a Philippines which was Filipino on the outside but American on the inside. How Filipinos then thought of themselves can best be described by paraphrasing a line from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, that inside every Filipino, there’s an American trying to get out. Yes, the country was like that.
Back then, if one opened the television set, majority of the programs would be syndicated shows from the US which were presented in English, the advertisements were in English and even the newscasts by Filipino anchors of Philippine news was in English. Everything which came from the states was considered top of the line, the best, sought for, a must have.
Of course, it was not difficult to see why. It was the middle of the Cold War and the country, being a former US colony, was locked in step with the US in both its cultural and military offensive against communism and its agents. The country also had two of the biggest US military bases outside the United States with several smaller facilities maintained in other parts of the country. The war against student activists, farmers, teachers, community organizers and labor leaders was in full swing, being that Marcos’ Bagong Lipunanwas an ally in the global war against communism.
The Philippines has started a new programme to try to save its dying languages. The archipelago is home to more than 170 dialects, but some of them have only a few speakers left and there’s concern many of the indigenous languages could be lost forever. Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan reports on what’s being done to keep them alive.
I wonder how those Tagalog language-centric “nationalists” will react to this. This is what happens when a government enforces a national tongue without regard for local or indigenous tongues in other parts of the country.
As a country, we had this coming. But I guess centuries of colonial acculturation and Manila-centric governance left a deep mark in our national psyche that languages, other than that of the Capital, are viewed as belonging to second class citizens.