Do you speak a Philippine language? Whether you do or don’t that fact plays a role in your identity. I got to thinking about it again recently while reading one of those books that I’ve always had on my “to read” list…
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“Spanish will never be the national language because the people will never speak of it. That tongue cannot express their ideas and their emotions. Each people has its own way of speaking just as it has its own way of feeling. What will you do with Spanish, the few of you who will get to speak it? You will only kill your individual personality and subject your thoughts to other minds. Instead of making yourselves free, you will only make yourselves truly slaves. Nine out of ten among you who presume to be educated are renegades to your own country.
Whoever among you speaks Spanish is so indifferent to his own language that he can neither write nor understand it. How many have I seen who pretend not to know a single word of their native tongue!
Fortunately you have a stupid Government. While Russia compels the Poles to study Russian in order to enslave them, while Germany prohibits the use of French in the provinces she has conquered from France, your Government fights to keep alive your native languages, while you, on the other hand, an extraordinary people under an incredible government, struggle to get rid of your national identity.
…as long as a people keeps its own language, it keeps a pledge of liberty, just as a man is free as long as he can think for himself. Language is a people’s way of thinking." -J.Rizal, El Filibusterismo
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Wow. That really hits hard in my view. Just replace “Spanish” with “English” and it works for 2008.
That quote also really drove to mind why Rizal is so well regarded--though the irony that this was originally written in Spanish never left my mind, nor did the fact that Rizal fought for the teaching of Spanish to Filipinos, and that was against independence from Spain.
So what do you all think? How important is language to identity and culture? What does it mean to be Filipino when one’s thoughts are in English? Does it really matter, or is one language as good as the next?
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And of course, if any of you are interested in learning Tagalog, KPC has regular cycles of classes! Holla at us if you’re interested in the next round!
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Graphic Design on top panel by Toronto designer J.P. Gomez.