Friday, March 17, 2006


Tagalog is the "national language" in the Philippines, spoken by over 80 million people. It remains my principal language and I am strongly tempted every so often to shift to writing in Tagalog if only to better express myself. Not too many in this venue will understand me however.

Thirty years ago, there was a well-meaning albeit misguided attempt to establish Tagalog as the medium of instruction in the Philippines. Instead of facilitating learning, it only made matters worse. Concepts like "atom" and "gravity" became translated into unwieldy 6-syllable German-type compound phrases. Especially in the sciences, there must be very little room for waste.

In order to become competitive in this increasingly shrinking world, the Philippines needs to regain its fluency in English. This was the principal advantage conferred upon us in our fifty years as an American colony. Why and how we lost this advantage is not important. We only have to look at our neighbors and see the great strides being made in China, Korea and Japan to increase fluency in English.

Language is experience. Words and ideas and feelings are slowly added into the national tongue proportional to time and the number of speakers. There is a lot of romance and gentle beauty in Tagalog, not to mention the other major dialects in the Philippines and this is the reason why it is important to preserve our rich literary heritage but we must stay off from Math and science and physics and chemistry


Anonymous said...

It is disheartening that know that although we are the third largest English speaking country in the world, we are still required to take English exams in order to work in English speaking countries. We were even surpassed by South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago in getting the English language exam waiver from CGFNS. How ironic! On the other hand, I still prefer to call our national language as Filipino/Pilipino vs. Tagalog. It avoids regionalism and gives a sense of unity. Also, looking back in our history, learning Spanish would be an asset,too. We can renew our ties with our friends in Latin America (we have so much in common with them)and create a new market for our economy. Kinda reviving the glory days of the manila-acapulco trade. well..just a thought. :)

-Francis, RN
Washington, DC

Anonymous said...

i remember when i was still in college at UP Diliman, there was this physics class that was being taught using Pilipino. They used the words 'tulin', 'bilis' and 'arangkada' for speed, velocity (or was it acceleration).

andre calizo