What experts are saying: Role of Filipino language, literature in nationhood

May 31, 2019 - 4:51 PM
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Important figures in Philippine arts and literature discussed the importance of Filipino and Panitikan subjects in college. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

A department of the University of the Philippines appealed to the public online to help call for Filipino and Panitikan or Philippine literature to be retained as part of higher education curriculum.

The Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas made the petition via Change.org to the Commission on Higher Education Chair Prospero de Vera.

As of press time, it has earned more than 25,000 signatures.

The Supreme Court en banc rejected earlier this week the petition of the Alyansa ng Mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino to change the decision of the justices on excluding Filipino and Philippine Literature as core subjects in college.

The top tribunal ruled on Oct. 9, 2018 to lift the temporary restraining order on CHED Memorandum Order 20 series of 2013 that reduces the minimum core or required subjects in colleges to 36, thereby making Filipino, Panitikan and Constitution optional.

The premier state university’s Filipino department explained the importance of the Filipino language and Philippine literature in fostering the students’ awareness of heritage and identity that shapes how they value democracy and citizenship.

Part of the petition read:

“Naniniwala kami na napakahalaga ng wikang Filipino at panitikan sa pagpapalalim ng mapanuri, malikhain, malaya, at mapagpalayang kakayahan ng mga mag-aaral at mamamayan, anuman ang kanilang kurso, disiplina at larangan ng pagpapakadalubhasa. Hindi pag-uulit ang pag-aaral ng wika at panitikan sa kolehiyo, bagkus ay pagpapalawig sa teorya, praktika, at silbi nito sa pamantasan, bansa, at buhay.

“Mataas ang pagpapahalaga ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (UP) – Diliman sa wikang Filipino at panitikan bilang kapwa mga asignatura at disiplina na humuhubog sa makabayan, makatao, at demokratikong aspirasyon ng pamantasan at bansa.”

However, the court and CHED perceived that Filipino and Philippine literature should have already been taught before college.

“It does not limit the academic freedom of universities and colleges to require additional courses in Filipino, Panitikan and the Constitution in their respective curricula,” the SC said.

Nurturing nationalism and patriotism is similarly cited by the government as the reason for proposing to make the ROTC program mandatory among grade 11 and 12 students via Senate Bill 2232.

While both words refer to love of country, patriotism implies a positive sentiment while it’s the opposite for nationalism.

Nationalism versus patriotism

In correcting the interchanging use of “patriotism” and “nationalism” in texts, the Grammarist explains that patriotism is based on the notion of the “goodness” of the government and its people.

“The feeling of patriotism is based on the values a country espouses and the way it strives to improve. Patriotism is based on the belief in the inherent goodness of the system of government in a country, and the goodness of its people,” the article said.

Meanwhile, nationalism suggests the domination of other countries.

“Nationalism is rooted in the belief that one’s country is superior to all others, and carries the connotation of disapproval of other nations or a rivalry with other nations. While patriotism does not disparage other countries, nationalism builds up one’s own country by tearing other countries down,” Grammarist explained.

Nationalism, moreover, has been attached to illiberalism, which denounces the principle that all men, regardless of country, race and background are created equal. Harvard University historian Jill Lepore explains in an op-ed for the New York Times:

“Nationalism is an abdication of liberalism. It is also the opposite of patriotism. To confuse nationalism with patriotism is to mistake contempt for love and fear for valor.”

Nationalism, moreover, should not be confused with nationhood.

“What is the liberal case for the nation? Nation-states are people with a common past, half-history, half-myth, who live under the rule of a government in the form of a state. Liberal nation-states are collections of individuals whose rights as citizens are guaranteed by the government.”

Importance of Filipino language

Critics argued that the most effective way to instill nationhood among Filipinos is through language and not forcing students to undergo military training.

The Concerned Artists of the Philippines shared statements from important figures in Philippine arts and literature about it.

“Ang wika ay hindi lang salita. Kamalayan din iyon at sensibilidad. Nasa panitikan at kasaysayan ang dangal ng bawat bayan. Sambayanang walang alam sa sarili? Iyon ang gusto ng manlulupig,” celebrated author Jun Cruz Reyes said.

 

The Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino similarly said that Filipino language should be promoted rather than downgraded.

“Naninindigan ang KWF na hindi dapat bawasan, kundi dapat dagdagan pa at pag-ibayuhin ang paggamit ng Filipino bilang wikang panturo sa iba’t ibang larang: mula sa batas at agham panlipunan, hanggang sa matematika at agham. Kaugnay nito, mahigpit na inirerekomenda ng KWF ang retooling ng mga guro para magkaroon ng kakayahang magturo ng ibang larang at disipilina,” the KWF said.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines questioned the timing of pushing for the mandatory ROTC program and upholding CHED’s memorandum.

“Habang nais tanggalin ng gobyernong ito ang pag-aaral ng Filipino at panitikan sa kolehiyo, niratsada naman nila sa kongreso ang pagpapasa ng Mandatory ROTC. Kitang-kita natin na huwad ang klase ng nasyunalismo na gusto nilang matutunan ng mga kabataan,” CEGP head Daryl Angelo Baybado said.

Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos