Educators, students form alliance to defend Filipino language, subject

“Ang wikang Filipino ay di lamang isang simbulo ng ating pagiging bansa. Ang wikang Filipino sa unibersidad ay kumakatawan sa ating pagpapahalaga na ang buhay natin bilang isang bansa ay nakasandig sa pagkakaroon ng isang wikang gagamitin para hubugin ang mga kaisipan ng mga kabataan at mga matatanda na nasa kapangyarihan sa sistema ng edukasyon.” – National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera

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By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – More than 300 professors and students from 43 universities and colleges, some as far as Pangasinan and Marinduque, vowed to support the fight against the removal of the Filipino subject in tertiary level. They also formed an alliance called, Alayansa ng mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino (Defenders of the Filipino Language Alliance) or Tanggol Wika (Defend Language) last Saturday, June 21.

Tanggol Wika’s objectives are: 1) Retain the teaching of Filipino subject in the General Education Curriculum in college; 2) Review the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) Memorandum Order 20 series of 2013; 3) Use the Filipino language as a medium in teaching different subjects; 4) Push for nationalistic education.

The Ched recently announced that the Filipino subject in college will be removed when the K to 12 program will be fully implemented in 2016. According to the Ched memo, the K to 12 has integrated GE or general education courses of higher education programs (which include Filipino) in the senior high school core courses. Ched Executive Director Julito Vitriolo also said in a television interview that only major subjects will be taught in college when the new curriculum is fully implemented.

National artist Bienvenido Lumbera signing Tanggol Wika's manifesto.(Photo courtesy of Aurora E. Batnag's Facebook account/ Bulatlat.com)
National artist Bienvenido Lumbera signing Tanggol Wika’s manifesto.(Photo courtesy of Aurora E. Batnag’s Facebook account/ Bulatlat.com)

The Filipino as a language is still young, said Dr. David Michael San Juan, coordinator of Community Engagement Filipino Department and associate professor at De La Salle University-Manila (DLSU).

San Juan said Filipino was adopted as a national language in 1935. “It is only 2014; the Filipino language has not even reached its 100th year and yet it will be removed from the curriculum.”

Dr. Rowell Madula, vice chairman of the Filipino Department at DLSU and chairman of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Private Schools said the Ched did not conduct a public consultation on changes in the old general education curriculum. “We have sent letters for a dialogue with Ched chairwoman Patricia Licuanan but we don’t get any reply. If we still don’t hear from her office, we will seek a dialogue with Malacañang.”

Colonial education

National artist Bienvenido Lumbera said the root cause of the problem why there are attempts to remove Filipino in college is colonial education. He said when the education system in the Philippines was established during the American colonial period, it used English as medium of instruction and not Filipino.

“Kaya’t ang mga nasa otoridad na nasa sistema ng edukasyon na gumagawa ng patakaran ay pawang mga produkto ng isang kolonyal na edukasyon. Ingles ang kanilang wika nang sila ay mag-aral, at hindi kataka taka na ang edukasyon sa Pilipinas na pinamamahalaan ng ating mga otoridad ay laging humahanay sa mga taga-kanluran ang sistema ng edukasyon na gusto nating pantayan.”

(Those in positions of authority who issue policies that affect the education system in the country are products of this colonial education. English was the language they used when they were still studying; thus, it is not surprising that the education system in the country is being geared to emulate the western system of education.”)

“Ang programang K to 12 ay itinulak ng isang globalized system of thinking na nagsasabi na hindi sapat ang kinukuhang edukasyon ng mga Pilipino dahil kulang ito ng dalawang taon ang kanilang pag-aaral. Napaniwala ang ating otoridad dahil sila ay galing sa sistemang kolonyal. Hindi na sila kailangang kumbinsihin na pantayan ang sistema ng edukasyon sa labas ng bansa.”

(The K to 12 program is being pushed by the globalized system of thinking that says that the education system in the Philippines is inadequate because it lacks two years. It was easy to convince authorities because they are products of a colonial system of education. It was no longer necessary to convince them to emulate the education system of western countries.)

More than 300 students and professors pledged to defend Filipino subject in tertiary level. (Photo courtesy of Rowie Madula/ Bulatlat.com)
More than 300 students and professors pledged to defend Filipino subject in tertiary level. (Photo courtesy of Rowie Madula/ Bulatlat.com)

Lumbera said it is unfortunate that using Filipino as a medium in teaching subjects in senior high school has been relegated to being an option. The Ched memo provides that: “General education courses may be taught in English or Filipino.”

He said this favors English as medium of instruction.

“Hindi natin maiaalis na iyon ang piliing wika ng mga guro at estudyante kasi iyon ang wika na may prestihiyong pandaigdig. Dahil tayo ay pinalaki, tinuran na tayo ay isang bayang sinakop at sa pananakop na iyon tayo ay tinuruan na mas mababa ang ating lebel ng sibilisasyon, kung kaya’t laging maghahangad na makapanatay sa mga nasa ibang bansa.”

“Hindi maabot ng kuro kuro ng ating mga edukador na nagdaan sa colonial education na ang edukasyon ay higit na kailangan sa wikang katutubo gawin o ituro.”

(We could not remove the fact that English would be chosen by teachers and students as the medium of instruction because it has international prestige. This is because we were brought up and taught that we were occupied and our foreign colonizers instilled in us that we have a lower level of civilization, thus, we never stop aiming to be equal to other countries.)

(It never occurs to our educators, who were products of colonial education, that our education system needs to use our own language as medium of instruction.)

“Ang pagsabay ng mga Pilipino sa sistema ng edukasyon sa labas ng Pilipinas ay tulak ng inferiority complex na nilikha sa atin ng ating sistema ng edukasyon – colonial ang mga kaisipan at laging nakatingala sa mga sumakop sa atin. Laging nakayuko ang ating mga ulo dahil ipinatanggap sa atin na mas mababang klase ang mga Pilipino.”

(The desire of Filipinos to emulate the western system of education is brought about by our collective inferiority complex that, in turn, was shaped by our education system, which is colonial and always looks up to our colonizers. We always have our heads bowed because we were taught to accept that Filipinos are a lesser kind.)

“Kinakailangang kilalanin na ang malaking dahilan ng problema ay ang kolonyal na pinanggalingan. At yung kolonyal na pinanggalingan ay isang problema na hindi mabubura ng gayun gayun lamang. Kailangang ang kasalukuyang kabataan, henerasyon ng mga taong nasa larangan ng edukasyon ay kumilala na may malubhang naganap sa ating mga isipan bunga ng mga pananakop ng mga taga kanluran sa atin. At ang pananakop na yan ay kailangang kilalanin at iwaksi.”

(We need to accept that the deeper cause of our problem could be traced to our colonial past. And the problems resulting from this colonial past could not be removed easily. Our youth, the generation of people who are now part of this education system should recognize the problem that western colonization had dealt in our mode of thinking. We should recognize and repudiate it.)

“Ang wikang Filipino ay di lamang isang simbulo ng ating pagiging bansa. Ang wikang Filipino sa unibersidad ay kumakatawan sa ating pagpapahalaga na ang buhay natin bilang isang bansa ay nakasandig sa pagkakaroon ng isang wikang gagamitin para hubugin ang mga kaisipan ng mga kabataan at mga matatanda na nasa kapangyarihan sa sistema ng edukasyon.”

(The Filipino language is not just a symbol of our nationhood. The Filipino language that is being taught in universities shows the value that we give to our life as a nation, which is anchored on the use of our own language to shape the way of thinking of the youth, as well as adults who are responsible for running our education system.)

Why is Filipino subject important?

San Juan said the Filipino subject being taught in high school is different from that being taught in college. “For example, there is no translation of the different fields in the Filipino subject in senior high school, which is part of the Filipino 2 syllabus being taught at DLSU Manila, as well as other universities and colleges.”

(Photo courtesy of Rowie Madula/ Bulatlat.com)
(Photo courtesy of Rowie Madula/ Bulatlat.com)

He said Filipino 2 in senior high school is merely focused on writing. In college, Filipino is focused both on writing and reading. “It should be noted that there is a different approach in teaching Filipino in the general education curriculum in college against the track-based approach of Filipino in senior high school. In the general education curriculum in college, the students are like runners who run through different fields, while in senior high school, there is only one field and one direction.”

In college, Filipino culture, literature, the Filipino language and Philippine society are being discussed. “In college, the environment is more progressive and more conducive to discuss national issues using our own language. If the Filipino subject will be removed, there will be lesser time to discuss these issues, and in the long run, the students too will be socially conservative,” San Juan said in a separate interview with Bulatlat.com.

Dr. Antonio Contreras, full professor of Political Science also at DLSU, teaches political science in Filipino since he started teaching at the university in 2000. After he graduated at the University of the Philippines, he said he practiced teaching in Filipino after former UP President Jose Abueva implemented Filipino as a medium of instruction in the university from 1987 to 1993. “The students learn more because they understand the language,” told Bulatlat.com in an interview.

“Filipino cannot be removed from the tertiary level because graduates still communicate in Filipino,” said Dr. Ernesto Carandang III, chairman of the Filipino Department in DLSU. He also said that even outside the country, English is not being used as medium of communication. “Whether they are domestic helpers or professionals, they study the language of the country such as in Korea, Russia, Japan, and Italy among others.”

Filipino as an identity

“Removing the Filipino subject in the tertiary level is like removing the Filipino people’s identity as well,” said Marvin Lai, chairman of the Department of Filipinology at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), in an interview with Bulatlat.com.

Lai also said, “Naniniwala ang mga guro sa Filipino, na ang wikang Filipino ay wika ng mga intelektwal. Kapag hindi naipapahayag ng mga kolehiyo o ng propesyunal na nililikha ng unibersidad, hindi nila makikita na ang wikang Filipino ang magiging instrumento ng kanilang pagkatao.”

(Teachers of the Filipino subject believe that Filipino is also a language of intellectuals. If our students and graduates who become professionals could not express themselves in Filipino, they would not realize that the Filipino language is instrumental in shaping them as persons.)

Lai further explained, “It is in Filipino subjects at the tertiary level where concepts of being a Filipino begin. It is in Filipino subjects where students can express their points of view creatively and intellectually whether in writing or through speaking. And from there they can develop more using the Filipino language.”

“Can you imagine our professionals having no sense of nationalism and not giving importance to culture and identity?”

Madula said “We see no problem in teaching the Filipino subject in senior high school. Our call is to retain the Filipino subject in college.”

“This is not only about us, Filipino teachers, losing our jobs. Some of us can teach other subjects. This is about our nationality, our being Filipinos and our love for our language. If we let the Filipino subject be removed from the curriculum, it is also like removing our own identity,” Madula said.

The fight continues

Quoting the first President of Mozambique, Samora Machel, San Juan said the “A luta continua!’ the fight to defend the Filipino subject continues.

ACT Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio, also a former lecturer of Filipino at UP Diliman said Filipino is being slowly removed in the education system during the height of neo-liberal globalization. He said when Francisco Nemenzo, Jr. became president of the University of the Philippines, the Filipino language was not used as a medium of instruction. Under the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the 2002 basic education curriculum was introduced.

“The time for learning the Filipino subject was reduced, as well as other subjects taught in Filipino like Makabayan. Arroyo issued an Executive Order making English as the medium of instruction. Universities and colleges even penalized students speaking in Filipino. And now there is Ched memo no. 20 and the K to 12 program. Is this the end of the Filipino language and Filipino teachers? No. That is why we are here to fight,” said Rep. Tinio.

“The Filipino as a language has not yet even reached the point where it is being used as a medium of instruction in all levels and now Ched wants to remove it from the curriculum. We are more than willing to defend the teaching of Filipino as a subject in college,” said Tinio.

Quoting Chapter 7 of El Filibusterismo, San Juan said, a country that does not have its own language is a slave country. “In Chapter 7, Simon and Basilio were talking about what language should be used as a medium of instruction during that period. The youth wants to use Spanish as a medium. Simon opposed the idea saying that they have their own language. He said: ‘Ang wika ay repleksyon ng sarili nating paraan ng pag-iisip, hanggat meron tayong sariling paraan ng pag-iisip hindi tayo magiging alipin.’”

(Our language is a reflection of our own mode of thinking. For as long as we have our own mode of thinking, we would never be slaves.) ()

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  1. Kaisa ako sa hangarin ng mga gurong Filipino sa kolehiyo. Kailangang labanan natin ang walang saysay na memo ng ched. tahasan nitong nilabag ang karapatan sa edukasyon at akadamiya. Bakit hindi idinaan ng ched sa konsultatibong pagpupulong bago ipinalabas ang memo..

    ANG MEMO NA IYAN AY WALANG KWENTA.

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