My sister and I have this lively discussion going on for several days. It’s about how we, Filipinos, can never really communicate in straight and native Filipino. This was triggered by the caption in a local news program. The word BOLUNTARYO was used. Yes, it is indeed in the native tongue but BOLUNTARYO is a direct literal translation of VOLUNTARY. Instead of using the term KUSANG LOOB which means the same, the term BOLUNTARYO was used.
This shows that the Filipino language is evolving and making itself distinct from the Tagalog dialect where it was hailed from. KUSANG LOOB would be Tagalog but BOLUNTARYO would be Filipino. A more ancient example would be ALAGAD NG BATAS which is Tagalog for POLICE (English) and PULIS (Filipino).
The Filipino language is indeed an interesting one – evolving as quickly as the English language perhaps. Language is after all dynamic and ever changing with all the word adaptations from other languages.
But the nuisance of language wasn’t what my sister and I were really intent on discussing. Rather it was more of the implications of a native language heavily reliant on a foreign one. Or how a nation with it’s own native language would deliver its notices and public memos in a foreign language.
Our dad just came home from Madagascar, a country poorer than the Philippines in terms of economic growth. However, their public forms and documents were in their native language (which is something close to French) and I must say that since that is what the whole populace speaks and understands then the language they use becomes a tool for unity and not otherwise. A more classic and wonderful example would be Korea. They were poorer than the Philippines after the war but now they had surpassed our country by all respects and means. All the while they stuck with their native language and their local culture and proceeded to revive their dying country through sheer guts and unity. Look where they are now. KPop, Koreanovelas – slowly they are the ones invading our country with their culture!
Recently, our local municipality issued a census document which we were expected to fill out. There were questions about various statistical stuff about our household – how many were kids, how many were malnourished between ages 0-5, what type of home dwelling do we have, etc. etc. It was quite shocking for us observe that the form was entirely in English! There was not even a Bicolano term anywhere much less a Bicolano translation of what was being asked from the form. I wonder how they expect the entire populace of our town to answer the form – much less understand it!
Even public notices are oftentimes posted in English! I read this notice in the jeepneys informing the public that the jeepney fare rates have increased. It was written purely in English – and constructed in a legal tone with legal words! It was hard to comprehend even for me.
I remember my GE subject teacher in college. She used to say that language is the tool for unity and unity is the tool for success. She promoted the use of the Filipino language, explained the importance in doing so. I was so convinced that I was even lamented my apparent inclination to the English language and did my very best to divert my path to the Filipino language. (I even wrote blogs in Filipino!) Sad to say, it was a short lived stint. Like most of my countrymen – as staunch nationalists as we may be – I still am deeply ingrained in this foreign language dubbed the international language. It is the sad reality which I must admit I may pass on even to the next generation.