The Philippines is known to be one of the countries in the world with such great diversity because it, as we all know, is an archipelago. With its number of islands which are more or less 7 500 that is further divided to 17 regions. Varying cultures, practices, rituals, and a lot more are exhibited on each region. Some of those may be a native thing , some may be of foreign influence as foreign traders and colonizers have been in and out of our country for the past centuries, but one can never deny the fact that amidst all of these, the Filipino identity is still imprinted within each and every Filipino as one of the sign is in the form of their National Language.
Whenever language is brought up, I always remember that meme that has been circulating in the web at one point. It was about a conversation in the elevator with the operator and and an employee.
Elevator Operator: “Going down?”
Employee: “Yes. Down please”
Elevator Operator: “Bababa ba?”
Employee: “Oo. Bababa.”
And that according to the foreigners is the irony of the Filipino language. Foreigners don’t seem to understand why Filipinos were able to understand each other with just using a one or two repetitive syllables. Even though the words used in that Filipino conversation is somehow colloquial. Still it has a great impact on me. That may sound funny but the implication brought was something a few would immediately realize.
Language is the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other meanwhile the dialect is a form of a language that is spoken in a particular area and that uses some of its own word, grammar, and pronunciations. Here in the Philippines, there are roughly about 120-170 languages. Although the other dialects are somehow related or may sound almost the same but they still have differences in terms of pronunciation and grammar. I can’t really imagine if the Filipinos are still speaking such varied languages.
All thanks to the late President Manuel Quezon for dreaming of uniting the country through a realization that setting a National Language would ignite the fire of unity and progress as it is the start of easily understanding each other and harmonious living. Dating back to the year 1935 where it all started up to date, Filipino, as the national language has been the medium of communication in the country.
Furthermore, the country has only 8 major dialects which are Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligyanon, Ilocano, Kapampangan, Pangasinanense, Tagalog and Waray. Tagalog (which the Filipino language was based on) and Bikol remains to be the dialect that is predominantly spoken in the country. Followed by the Cebuano dialect which originated in Cebu in Visayas and the Ilocano dialect which is spread out from its origin in the Western Coast. (Ilocandia)
The use of the English language is also given such importance in the Philippines. In fact, the country is one of the places which has the most number of english-speaking population in the world. As it, together with the national language, is the medium of instruction in the schools and universities in the country regardless of the institution being public or private. I think one of the reasons besides the fact that it is a lingua franca, is that the current educational system in the country is outlined from the system brought by the Americans in the country during their colonizing period here.
Going back to that meme that I have mentioned earlier, the implication of unity can be achieved through language. In what sense? If you’ll ask me, it is the gift of understanding for the Filipinos in terms of communication. We, the citizens of the Philippines, may have a lot of differences. Different practices and beliefs in each region. We still have been brought by a many other things. And one of those is our National Language, FILIPINO.
We are many but one, indeed. Unity in diversity in the truest sense of the phrase.
WATCH: COMMON LANGUAGES AND DIALECTS IN THE PHILIPPINES