As Rizal said before, “Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika, ay higit pa ang amoy sa mabahong isda.” It is actually funny to hear this line especially if one does not know what Rizal meant when he said it. As a matter of fact, we were already taught of what the line means even at an early age. As I ponder on the line, I asked myself, “Why is it so important to love our own language? How is it really important to us?”
We have a long history of struggles to free ourselves from our colonizers. It even took us more years before we actually have our own official language. To have an own language is a proof that we really are a free nation. However, we could never deny the fact that people from a free country could still have misunderstandings if that said “national language” is made up of different languages and dialects. The Philippines, although it is a single nation, is comprised of large and small islands. Because of the distance between the islands, different places use different languages. Eventually, there came an agreement to form a single language to serve as our national language. That is the Filipino language.
Even though we Filipinos have our national language, as time passes by and as our neighboring countries develop, we could not avoid neglecting the importance we give to our national language especially now that we are in the face of American imperialism. Being a Third World country, the Philippines is forced to be dictated by these imperial countries. Over the course of time until now, the English language is considered the universal language.
The English language covers a wide range of universality. As a matter of fact, English should be the medium used by an author if he wants the majority of the people from different places to understand his piece. As Ostler stated, the number of speakers of a nation determines the lifespan of language. As long as there are people who continuously speak the language, its scope gets bigger and its life gets longer. The constant use of English across the world makes it better, stronger and more powerful. In our country, there is an equal importance given to the Filipino language and the English language. In fact, these two are considered the official languages of the country. But since we are not so fluent with English and only few of our people know how to use and speak it, our government encourages us to study the language very well.
What good can this foreign language do to our nation? In my opinion, there are many advantages and disadvantages of its fluent use. Firstly, if every Filipino is equipped with the knowledge to speak English, we might be more proud of ourselves. Whether we admit it or deny it, a person who is fluent in English appears to have an edge to a person who speaks in Filipino fluently. There is a misconception that if one knows how to use a foreign language so well, then that person havs a very high intellectual capacity.
Secondly, it will now be easier for us to keep up with the developments in film making and songwriting in foreign countries. Imagine, every Filipino will now appreciate watching Hollywood films just because they now understand it. Songs will be felt by heart by the mass because they can now fully-understand its lyrics. Thirdly, Filipinos will have a better understanding of the world before them. Since most of the news, speeches and announcements given by the government to the public are stated in English, if English is better understood by each and everyone including those who were not able to get a good education it will now be easier to react and have a stand on these matters. Having considered all these, English may be an instrument to our country’s progress. Foreign settlers will stay and put up businesses in the country because there will be less misunderstandings with the people. Our fluency in English may attract a large number of immigrants from different English-speaking nations.
On the other hand, if this happens, there will be a bigger question attached to our nationalism. Our love for our own language will or can be diminished by the fact that we may prefer using English in every means there is. At a certain point, if this happens, it is not impossible to completely abolish Filipino and replace it with English. Thus, Filipino will be highly inferior to English or worse, we will no longer have a language of our own. This correlates with the fact that we cannot use Filipino as a binding language anymore. Unity will now be placed on the power of the English language and our future as a nation will be determined by it. Thus, we will be manipulated by the language that is not native to us and is not ours. Actually it is the same as saying that we are under America again.
However, these are just my judgments and no one can really tell what will or can happen to the Philippines and to its people if Filipino will be replaced by English. In fact, it will be ridiculous to think about being “colonized” again. I am not saying that there is a big chance for this to happen, but what I am saying is that there are consequences in every thing we do and so we have to prioritize the things that are closer to our hearts and of course, consider what may be practical for everyone rather than think of things that are just beneficial to a small percentage of the people.
Honestly, I agree with Ostler when he said that we are all bilingual. The power of the English language may be strong but our native tongue is much powerful because we grew up speaking the language we know best. It is actually safe to say that our language will stay for long. However, we have to love it and never think of abandoning it, because as long as there are people using it and fighting for its existence, it will stay for as long as we want it to.
Katrizia Anne Manto