Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today called on the government to save the ethnic languages of the Filipino nation from the danger of extinction by allowing them to be used as a medium of instruction in elementary schools in the respective regions where they are widely spoken.CAVEAT: Ironically, Senator Pimentel's privilege speech was written and delivered in the English language, not in Tagalog, Pampango, Cebuano, Ilokano, Agta-Aeta or any of the other 171 living and 4 extinct recognized languages in the Philippine Archipelago, just like the Press Release proclaiming the pious desire prevent the extinction of these tongues by having the Dept. of Education use those languages as media of instruction! So it seems to be okay for the Senate to use English for its "verbal and written communications," but now we should pass laws and make Deped teach its curriculum of Math, Science, English, Filipino and Makabayan in "our own indigenous languages." Hmmm...Maybe Nene should talk the talk.
Pimentel expressed alarm that the ethnic languages are dying except Tagalog which has been mandated by law and by the Constitution as the basis of the country's national language.
"Many of us who were not born in Tagalog-speaking areas believe that unless we take pains to protect our own indigenous languages, they would eventually disappear completely from our consciousness and from use in our verbal and written communications," the senator from Misamis Oriental said in a privilege speech at the Senate.
He made it clear that he is in favor of having a national language because Filipinos need it so that they do not speak the language of foreigners (English) to communicate with one another.CAVEAT: Well, who are those bad, bad Filipinos who insist on speaking the language of foreigners (English)? I guess Nene is referring to the darn Supreme Court, which for a century has issued virtually every decision, resolution and ruling in a foreign language (0.001% Spanish and 99.999% English); and to the treasonous Congress which has done the same and still does, including Senators: write, debate and promulgate laws, resolutions, orders in English; and of course every single Constitution after Malolos was written in English, so the Founding Fathers are also evidently responsible for the extinction from non-use of "our own indigenous languages."
However, he held the view that forcing the language of one ethnic group upon other ethnic groups is "divisive and disruptive of the national fabric.".... The minority leader mentioned several major languages of the Filipino people that should be preserved:
1. Iloko in the Ilocos and in adjoining provinces, 2. Pangalatok in Pangasinan, 3. Kapampangan in Pampanga, 4. Tagalog in Manila and in Southern Luzon provinces, 5. Bikolano in Bicol region, 6. Hiligaynon in Panay and Negros islands, 7. Binisaya in Cebu, Bohol and many parts of Mindanao, 8. Waray in Samar and Leyte, 9. and the languages of the Maranaos in the Lanao provinces, the Maguindanao in Cotabato and adjoining provinces and Tausug in Sulu and nearby areas.
CAVEAT: Ah, but didn't Nene just say it would be "divisive and disruptive of the national fabric" forcing one ethnic group's language on another? Well what makes him think that forcing eight languages out of extinction by forcing the Deped to use them in books, tests and classroom teaching of the curricular subjects would be any less divisive and disruptive? For one thing there are many more than nine languages in use in the country, in fact 175 that are enumerated here, the overwhelming majority of which are not on his "endangered languages" list for saving. As for the Deped itself, they will only chuckle at the Tower of Babel Nene Pimentel is here, insanely, urging, as follows...
He proposed two courses of action to arrest the deterioration of the vernacular languages - 1. a change in the school curriculum to allow the use of dominant languages in various regions as medium of instruction from grades 1 to 6; and 2. the adoption of a federal system in which 10 federal states will be created based mainly on linguistic preferences of the citizens.CAVEAT: Senator Pimentel thinks that the medium of instruction is just the language the teacher uses to communicate with students. He doesn't realize that much more is involved than that. A medium of instruction must be not only universally comprehensible or at least accessible to the students, it must also be a WRITTEN language so that textbooks, tests, homework and other educational activities other than listening and having knowledge poured into your ears can be undertaken. That means we need experts and authorities to tell us whether the material taught is correctly rendered and does not miseducate the students, these experts having to be adept in the medium of instruction AND the material content of the curricular subjects. The Minority Leader does not understand that the Medium of Instruction is much more than the sounds emitted by the spoken tongue, but the sense of things they must convey. The Medium must be able to deliver the Message which are reading writing and 'rithmetic, and the Deped has to be able to deliver an integrated 10 year package of such knowledge.
Pimentel said the first proposal makes sense because concepts would be more easily understandable to grade schoolers if states in the language of their homes.
He said he is not aware that this change in the medium of instruction needs legislation to implement it.
"All it probably needs is a policy adopted by the Department of Education that may immediately be implemented for the entire six grades or staggered over a few years as may be necessary in accordance with the decision of our education officials in the DepEd," he said.
But if a law is necessary, Pimentel said he believes that enough support from the lawmakers can be easily mobilized to implement the proposal.
"Now is the time to make the first move to revise the curriculum of our educational system so that we can allow the use of the local languages as the medium of instruction in our grade schools. Our other major languages are dying. We have to save them now."
It is utterly naive to think that just because a young student understands his home language better than any other, that therefore that language should be the Medium of Instruction from Grades One to Six. I might agree for the first six days of school, but after that, we must choose the best medium of instruction we can find. The criteria are simple:
(1) widely comprehensible by the students; (2) comprehensive written and spoken forms; (3) widely supported by existing linguistic and content experts; (4) consistent with the social, economic and political realities for which the students are being prepared.
There are many linguistic, legal, practical and pedagogical reasons why most of the 160 languages we are talking about do not qualify. In most cases it is because there are no written forms of these languages that are not inventions of one or two experts, and no authorities to decide what is right or wrong, because these languages have never been applied to so weighty a task as public education. They are boutique subjects for language doctoral ethnic studies courses.
The choice has always boiled down to English or Tagalog...and I think both Nene and I express our strongest preference by example.
One thing for sure though you cannot use the Medium of Instruction for the purpose Nene piously proposes--no matter how eloquent and perfervid is his English.
President Quezon and King Canute's Lesson