The Metamorphosis of Filipino as National Language (...continued)
by Jessie Grace U. Rubrico
Towards a Theory of Filipino
What do academicians say about Filipino? Dr. Ernesto A. Constantino,
a distinguished Filipino linguist says: "Ang pinili naming wika na idedebelop
bilang wikang pambansa natin, ang tinawag naming linggwa prangka o Filipino."
[We chose to develop as national language Filipino, that which we refer
to as the lingua franca] (Constantino, 1996:p.180). Atienza (1996)
describes it as "isang wikang kompromiso, o lingua franca." Flores(1996)
points out that Filipino is the language of the "kulturang popular na nagmula
sa Metro Manila at pinapalaganap sa buong kapuluan." Another view is that
of Isagani R. Cruz of DLSU who states that for him Filipino is the
English-Tagalog code switch. On the other hand, Alegre (1989) expresses
that "contemporary Manila Tagalog is the basis of Filipino." He claims
that Tagalog is developing into the national language as it is the lingua
franca of the non-Tagalog provinces.
Is the Tagalog-based Pilipino really Filipino? Dr. Constantino cites
the differences between Pilipino and Filipino, to wit: Filipino (1) has
more phonemes; (2) has a different system of orthography; (3) manifests
a heavy borrowing from English; (4) has a different grammatical construction.
Based on the trend of development of Filipino as manifested in the data
presented in this study, as well as the actual usage by the linguistic
trendsetters in Philippine society --newscasters (both in radio and television),
Filipino writers and some academicians, showbiz personalities--it would
appear that his theory is closest to reality.
There is a consensus, however, among the academicians above that Filipino
is the lingua franca in MetroManila which is inexorably pervading the regional
centers through the print and broadcast media, through the songs
that the local bands sing, through intellectual discussions among academicians,
etc. It is the language through which a prominent Filipino linguist communicates
(Exhibit D), as well as the medium of expression among academicians (Exhibit
A), and of the "caretakers" or "authority" of national language development
in the University of the Philippines System, namely, the writers and editors
in the Sentro ng Wikang Filipino(Exhibit B).
Even the leading Cebuano weekly, Bisaya (which has been around
for the past 68 years) has now printed in its pages loan words from English
which, more often than not, retain their original spelling despite their
being subjected to the Cebuano rules of grammar. One can safely
say that Cebuano, like Tagalog, is undergoing linguistic change through
lexical borrowing from English. Right now the Cebuanos adopt two alternate
forms --the original spelling and the modified. Soon only one form will
be retained, by theory of simplification as embodied in the universals
At the moment, it is very clear that English borrowing has a dominant
and pervading influence in the shaping of the lingua franca which is the
penultimate form of Filipino, the national language. But will this trend
continue? Language is dynamic. This researcher is of the opinion
that as long as English remains the official language of commerce, science,and
technology the trend will continue.
Unfortunately, there isn't much borrowing from other Philippine languages.
Maceda (1996) introduces some Cebuano words and phrases in her discourse.
So natural was the insertion, the reader can contextualize the meaning.
Atienza, in the same book included in his text "pakikipag- lakipan," the
rootword of which. "lakip", is also found in the Cebuano lexicon.
At the UP campus, one sees Cebuano signs like "Balay Kalinaw" and "Ugnayan
sa Pahinungod." Would a little bit more adoption of words from other Philippine
languages foster goodwill and unity among the etnolinguistic groups in
the country in the future? Being a Cebuano, the researcher feels proud
that some Cebuno terms are now significant in the national context. Probably
members of disparate ethnolinguistic groups would most likely feel the
On the other hand, there are expressed illusory hindrances to the concept
of a unifying language, to wit: (1) it is impossible to develop a national
language from one of the country's 100-plus languages; (2) the emergence
of a national language will wither the other languages; (3) it is equally
impossible to develop a national language based on two or more languages;
(4) regionalistic pride prevails over nationalistic aspiration --like the
Cebuano who insists on using his own language over Pilipino.
But considering the rapid linguistic development of both Cebuano and
the Metro Manila Filipino, there seems to be hope for Filipino. And this
is manifested in the perceived convergence of Pilipino and Cebuano
through their respective borrowings from English. A few examples are given
| English Terms
|| Pilipino Form
One is confident that the converging process will continue, not only
for Pilipino and Cebuano but likewise for other Philippine languages like
Hiligaynon,Bikol, Ilokano, Waray, Kapampangan, and so on. Language change
is, however, gradual and it will probably take several years before a substantive
convergence can occur.What is apparent for now is that the convergence
is already taking place.
Meanwhile, Almario (1997, p.9) gives an update on Filipino:
"Nasa kalooban ngayon ng Filipino ang paglinang
sa "sanyata" at "ranggay" ng Iloko sa "uswag"
at "bihud" ng Bisaya, sa "santing" ng Kapampangan,"laum"
at "magayon" ng Bikol at kahit sa "buntian" ng Butanon at "suyad" ng Manobo.
Samantalay hindi ito hadlang sa madaliang pagpasok
ng "shawarma" "shashimi," "glasnost," "perestroika,"
"shabu," "megabytes." "odd-even," at iba ang idadagsa ng satelayt
at FAX sa globalisasyon."
What does one make out of this assertion? Are we now to believe that the
process of borrowing from other Philippine and foreign languages is now
a linguistic reality? Judging from the data gathered and presented here,
perhaps this is only partially true. That is, borrowing is almost exclusively
from the English language. And why is this so? It is difficult to give
a substantive answer to this particular question, given the limited scope
of this study. Perhaps one indication why there is a lot of borrowing fro
English compared to other Philippine languages is the facility and
appropriateness or applicability of English terms to modern day-to-day
living of the average urban Filipino. More so because the urbanized Filipino
is constantly exposed to the trappings --high technology, media, etc.--
of modern society which adopts English as its medium of communication,
commerce, and education. As for Filipinos living in rural communities,
the far-reaching radio and television broadcasts bring to them the linguistic
trend emanating from the urban centers.
Thus is the metamorphosis of our national language, Filipino. Quick
to adapt and change with the times and the demands of its speakers' culture
and politics, it had initially lain quiescent beneath the controversies
and debates over its birth and composition. But now, thanks to globalization
and the rising quality of life of the average Filipino, it has, like the
moth, grown uncomfortable inside its cocoon prison and longed for freedom
of expression. Much may yet have to be done, but Filipino as national language
of unity has arrived.
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