Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Medium Is The Mess

ducational controversy makes an early appearance this season...The Supreme Court is about to receive a Pleading from various parties including Isagani R. Cruz (DLSU), Randy David (University of the Philippines) and Patricia B. Licuanan (Ateneo de Manila) involving the use of the Filipino national language. (Hat tip to MLQ3 for his blog post Language Wars.)

Petitioners quote Art XIV Section 6 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution--
"Section 6: The national language of the Philippines is Filipino. As it evolves, it shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages. Subject to provisions of law and as the Congress may deem appropriate, the Government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system."
and then assail as unconstitutional on that basis EO 210 and DepEd Order 36 as follows:
8.2. The provision of the EO that the English language shall be used as a primary medium of instruction for English, Mathematics and Science from at least the Third Grade level is a clear violation of the constitutional duty of Respondents “to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as language of instruction in the educational system.
Well, to oblige Petitioners and decertify the orders of Respondents President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Education Secretary Jesli Lapus promoting English as a second language, the Supreme Court would have to bring patent absurdity down upon itself, since Respondents might well ask, "How many Decisions of the Supreme Court itself, which are surely as official as official communications of the government can get, are rendered in the Filipino national language? Answer: NONE! How many have been translated into Filipino? Answer: NONE. And what of the Congress, which issues those laws it deems necessary to implement the Constitution? How much of its official communication in the form of written legislation are written in the language Petitioners claim must be sustained as the official medium of communication? NONE!

And, what of the Petitioners themselves and their official Pleading to the High Court? Does its fluent and eloquent English language rendering also follow the spirit and letter of the Constitution?? NYET!

Not only are the available math and science books in English, but 99.9% of all new science is being done in English. (Or choose any other large percentage). Therefore, we are asking to lame ourselves by demanding a translation-based education in math and science. IN the first place you need linguists good enough to be scientists and mathematicians to both understand the subjects and still be able to render it into Filipino. That is crazy given the speed and volume at which science and math developments are occurring.

The harder and more seriously you look at this petition, the sillier and more absurd it gets. Unless they can get the Supreme Court to start with itself, as the protector and interpreter of the constitution, it hardly stands to reason, or even humor, to demand that the education system do the same.

I don't know what the Supreme Court will do, but I predict either perpetual (embarrassed) silence, or a Minute Resolution throwing up "Separation of Powers" or something like that!

MLQ3 also links to speeches by Randy David (Pulitika ng Wika, Wika ng Pulitika) and Conrado de Quiros (Ang Kapangyarihan ng Wika, Wika ng Kapangyarihan) (no dear reader, you aren't hallucinating, those really ARE the titles they used!) in which the two columnists of the Philippine Daily Innuendo valiantly pour forth on this subject and in largely the same vein (with just a touch more Whitmanesque lyricism by CDQ than Randy) using a strangely familiar formal Filipino in which one can literally hear them translating from their more familiar idioms in English. Here is an excerpt from Randy David, for example:
Depende sa reglamento ng laro, kung ganon, ang wika ay kagyat na nagpapalakas o nagpapahina. [Depending on the rules of the game then, language weakens or strengthens.]
I don't think the National Institute of Language in Diliman which maintains the official parameters of Pilipino as an amalgam of Tagalog, Ilokano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, etc, would consider this "correct" Filipino. But Randy makes his points well enough, though I am sure he would be much more comfortable writing it all out in English, as he does his weekly columns for PDI. Likewise de Quiros writes about five times more English verbiage than Randy. Both however, must've been profoundly conscious of the irony of writing this stuff out in anything but the formal if cumbersome Filipino that they attempt in these speeches.

When the Spanish Taliban made it official government and church policy NOT to teach Spanish to the indios, I always thought it was an historically selfish act, for which we have never forgiven them in the coin of sentimentality towards Spain--none of which exists in the Archipelago or the Filipino. This Pleading to the Supreme Court really is just a bunch of elitists working off their guilty consciences, isn't it?

At least, Patricia B. Licuanan makes no such pretenses, and in the link to her from MLQ3, she does indeed, in her own picturesque English expression, "cut to the chase." But it is a beguilingly puzzling claim she makes as follows among the reasons why using English would "damage" the studentry--
English as medium of instruction will widen the gap between the rich and poor in our country.
That's funny. Almost all the rich people I know speak English as a matter of course, though they are naturally, bilingual or even trilingual. But almost all the involuntarily poor people I know (there are distinctive exceptions) can only speak a vernacular or dialect.

But I must transmit the following message to Ms. Licuanan: You are my absolute idol for having written the book, The Love Hate Relationship Between America and the Philippines (A History of the Baguio Country Club), which is perhaps the most superb and enjoyable account of those second colonial times in my possession. So forgive my French, Madame, but how have you come to this pass?? Is it the pressure of Academe, the need to conform, the need to justify a National Artists Award--that system of official recognition we learnt from the old Soviet Union? {Please see MLQ3's correction to this paragraph in the comment thread. Turns out it was the mother of Patricia Licuanan, Virginia Licuanan I've been praising for this lovely book...oh well...explains my puzzlement...}

Petitioners appear to be deliberately misreading or misinterpreting the Constitution when they claim in Section 8.3 as follows:
8.3. The provision of the EO that the English language shall be used as the primary medium of instruction in all public and private institutions of learning in the secondary level, and the provision that encourages the use of English as the primary medium in the tertiary level, undermine both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution on the national language, which has prescribed Filipino as the medium of instruction on pedagogical grounds.
Yet look at the exact provision of the Constitution that Petitioners quote a few paragraphs up:
Section 7 Art. XIV For the purpose of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English.
It appears to be the Petitioners who are violating the explicit letter and spirit of the Constitution.


mlq3 said...

djb, the book you're referring to is by virginia benitez licuanan, daughter of don conrado benitez the great educator, and who is the mother, i believe, of patricia licuanan. p. licuanan, before becoming head honcho at miriam, was a bigshot at the ateneo.

Deany Bocobo said...

Haha! How embarrassing. to the mother goes the praise then!

manuelbuencamino said...

Let's revive the statehood movement

Deany Bocobo said...

Good idea, MB, except they won't have us any more. Too many people on welfare as it is!

engineerOFW said...

DJB... you're a tough nut showing that Randy David first thought in English, then did a literal-translation to Tagalog. Equally rough : "... the need to justify a National Artists Award".

Unknown said...

marangal na adhikain ng mga nag-aadhikaing mararangal...

isinalin man lamang sana nila ang kanilang dalangin (sa Kataas-taasang Hukuman) sa wikang kanilang ipinaglalaban...


Deany Bocobo said...

mahal ko rin ang sariling wika,
upang itaguyod ang makatang diwa.

Ben Vallejo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben Vallejo said...

Hindi naman kung dapat isapantabi ang wikang Ingles o ang Filipino. Ang puno't dulo ng debate ay kung mas epektibo ang pagtuturo ng siyensya at matematika kung Ingles or Filipino or anumang wikang pangrehiyon ang gagamitin.

Ang ebidensya ng mga saliksik sa edukasyon ay nagpapakita na kung ang patuturo ay nasa unang wika ng isang bata, mas matututunan nito ang base ng agham at simulain ng matematika.

Ang pagsasanay sa Ingles ay marahil mas makakabuti kung ang isang bata ay ganap na ang kasanayan sa mga base ng agham at matematika. Kung nais natin umunlad sa agham at matematika ang kailangan ay panganatuwiran at pagiisip na akma sa agham.

Magaral tayo ng wikang Ingles at iba't ibang wika ng ibang bayan at kultura. Okey? Ang dulot nito ay ang pag-disiplina sa pagiisip.

Brian Brotarlo said...

English should be taught as a second language, emphasizing fluency first over grammar, structure and syntax. I lke the idea of Teaching kids in the vernacular even if your references are books in english. Easier for the teachers. Easier for students. It's time for Filipinos to be original. Imagine test papers in social studies or histroy with answers like. " Rizal is my favorite hero. Sya ay matalino, sinserong tao at tapat sa bayan. He proved his worth as a Filipino hero, kaya lang pinatay sya sa batang edad. It's a tragedy." Sounds better than the most grammatical answers from the best colleges.

Unknown said...

Batid nitong abang makata
Layon n’yo, gino’ng rizalist(a)
Gaya nila, nagmamahal sa Wikang Pambansa kata
Nguni’t ating wika’y may hangganan ang pagpaparating ng diwa

Ako man ay naniniwala
Ingles na pangalawang wika
Nasubukan nang mabuting panturo sa mga bata
Lalo sa asignaturang gaya ng agham at matematika

Tiki Music said...

From what I remember, the current research in linguistics reveals that the best way is to use the local language for the first four years of primary school, with the second language introduced during the next four. This is not a new idea because S.P. Lopez proposed this more than seventy years ago.

By "local language," one can mean Cebuano, Kapampangan, or others. The other side of that debate is the argument that at least 70 percent of Filipinos are sufficiently knowledgeable in Filipino.

Finally, we should consider the following points:

1. Science and math are done worldwide in several languages. From what I know, the other international language besides English is French. And at least for chemistry and probably other sciences, French and German are as prominent as English. Finally, I am not sure what language in used in countries like India, China, and Japan for the sciences, but I'm guessing local languages are employed.

2. There is certainly much development in math and science, but probably not taught to grade schoolers.

3. We have enough linguists, given DJB's claim that even non-academicians from the middle class can speak two or more languages. On top of that, the same point given by DJB may speak in favor of David, de Quiros, and Licuanan! Since Filipinos are so bright that they can learn two or more languages, then it won't matter which languages are learned in school, right?

On the other hand, there is not much assurance that wealth leads to fluency, as seen in increasing remediation among top students entering university for English and Math subjects. I'm guessing that the cause of this problem isn't favoring one language over another in school but too much time spent watching television and not enough time reading. It's not surprising, then, that they don't do very well in their local language.

I also recall articles about UP classes where students did much better when science classes were taught in local languages, given the same teachers and tests.

In the end, since there are too many things to consider, then the best thing to do is to follow the advice given in my first paragraph.

Jason Paul Laxamana said...

The petitioners are hypocrites.

If they want "mother tongue" to be used, then let Kapampangans use Kapampangan, Cebuanos Cebuano, Warays Waray-Waray, Pangasinenses Panagalatok, etc.

Not Filipino.

RIZAL said: "Ang di magmahal ng sariling wika mas masahol pa sa malansang isda"

The time Rizal mentioned this, the concept of FILIPINO "LANGUAGE" (highly Tagalog-based) was not yet existing.

So I logically guess he was referring to our regional tongues.

Tiki Music said...

We cannot have different regional languages as "mother tongues" because people from one region will not understand those from another. There has to be only one language for a mother tongue.

If most Filipinos will not accept Filipino as a mother tongue, then English has to be used. Otherwise, the most widely spoken local language should be used. And from what I remember, it's Filipino (spoken by at least 70 percent of the population).