English and Spanish were the official languages throughout the country in 1935, the year when President Manuel Quezon first professed the need for a national language. Two years later, President Quezon declared and proclaimed a national language based on Tagalog, which was called Pilipino in 1959, and Filipino in 1973 and 1987 to pacify non-Tagalogs.
Seventy six years since the Philippines adopted a national language, the Filipino language is still a subject of so much disagreement. The language of business is still English while discussions about the national language always end in an impasse. The debate over the recent proposal of the Commission on the Filipino Language to change the spelling of the country’s name from Pilipinas to Filipinas is just one of the interesting sidelights of language “politics.”
In observance of the annual Buwan ng Wika, “Cheche Lazaro Presents: Ang Wika Ko” takes an incisive look at the language that was envisioned to unify a nation of more than 7,100 islands and more than 170 living languages. At the heart of the two-hour documentary is the question: Has the Filipino truly transformed into a Philippine national language?
Drawing from her own experience as a broadcast journalist whose first investigative show “Probe” shifted from English to Filipino, Cheche Lazaro traces the bumpy journey of the national language with the help of experts and academicians who talk about the use — and misuse — of Filipino as well as the influences and different schools of thought behind the language debate.
Singer Noel Cabangon, rapper Gloc 9, and Bekimon, the face of gay lingo, enrich the discussion with their own views about language and preference for Filipino in communicating and reaching out to their audience.
At the core of every culture, language is both a rallying point and a tool to help people understand human experience and behavior. It is supposed to inspire and promote communication and tolerance, if not unity, amongst people.
How successful is Filipino in reaching these goals? What must Filipinos do to enrich the national language? A timely critique, the documentary tries to answer these questions and more.
“Ang Wika Ko” is every Filipino’s business. Don’t miss “Cheche Lazaro Presents: Ang Wika Ko” this Sunday (Agosto 18), after “Gandang Gabi Vice” on ABS-CBN’s Sunday’s Best.