Ilokano as a National Language-9: Marginalization and Its Methods

The debate on the National Language issue has begun.

Some people say that this debate will open a can of worms on the machinations that happened to pass off Tagalog as P/Filipino, and the kind of role language educators and linguists, not to mention the creative writers have in the perpetration of this gradual genocide against the other ethnolinguistic groups of the Philippines.

The congressman from the first district of Tarlac, the Hon. Gilberto Teodoro, has picked up this debate and has shown interest in looking at the political ramifications of the continued domination of Tagalog language in the political, economic, and cultural life of the people.

The congressman proposes the view that the Philippines should better be looked at not as a 'nation' but a 'state' to allow for the surfacing of the other 'nations' in this homeland of exile, with about 10 percent of the population that have gone away in search of some meanings elsewhere other than in the country, the meanings anchored on some translation of the 'good life' in strange places.

Somewhere, we have proposed the view, that the Philippines must be understood as a nation among nations, if we grant respect to the other ethnolinguistic groups, and if, in broad strokes, this 'nation' concept relates to these groups.

The United States, of course, in its federalist set-up, has adopted this view for a long time, with the states federating to form another bigger state, the 'united' in the name of the country.

All these political dynamics affect, in a broad view, how a language or languages would be adopted to mediate the desires and dreams of an imagined country. Many people have proposed for a repertoire--the amalgamation of the many languages of the homeland, the amalgamation of perspectives, philosophies, passions for a homeland that has yet to offer the real fruits of social justice and democracy.

But what happened in the Philippines is not a 'federated' view of the linguistic and the cultural but a homogenization of a homeland with multilingual and multicultural resources and gifts, and valorizing one and only one language and thus the culture in that language. For seven decades, this method to marginalize a people has gone on and on and no one, except those organization with enlightened view of what a language and culture is all about, is complaining, no one is protesting, no one is calling for a linguistic and cultural revolution. In a country conditioned to accept things as they are, conditioned to kowtow to the whims and caprices of those educated men and women in power and who present themselves as redeemers and masters, and conditioned to not to raise any whimper, and puts a premium on not rocking the boat, to see differently is to invite problems. And when you do not have enough of imagination, the problems that ensue from a more radicalized view of the world as mediated by language become real problems.

This conditioning has become methodic in the way Tagalogization has come about.

No one talked about the sinister effects of Tagalogization.

No one talked about the lobotomization of the non-Tagalog mind.

No one saw that pretty soon, the values of Tagalog as P/Filipino would become the value and non-Tagalogs would soon prefer the Tagalog ways to their non-Tagalog view of things.

No one saw that the colonizing effects of English is the same colonizing effects of Tagalog except that this time, the colonization is localized and that for the non-Tagalog people to have access to the world, they have to get out of the imprisonments of two linguistic colonizations: English and Tagalog.

I do not understand, therefore, why this is difficult to understand, why non-Tagalogs have to keep on asserting their right to exist, to name their experience in the best way they know how.

The methodic marginalization, this methodic deprivation of the mind of many of our people, the denial to own up, in their terms, the sense of country and nation in their own language--this is what this marginalization is all about.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/May 7-07

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