The Filipino Language, Part 1: Existing Filipino Language is still Tagalog


This post is about the Filipino language of the Philippines. There are still a lot of people who do not know the difference or similarity between Tagalog and Filipino, who insist that Filipino exists already as an independent language from Tagalog. I say that’s a hat trick and more like an illusion.

GOING BACK LESS THAN A CENTURY AGO

Perhaps a little bit of history will remind us the evolution of the basis of the Philippine national language. I will be relying heavily on the book “Language and language-in-education planning in the Pacific Basin”  by Robert B. Kaplan and Richard B. Baldauf (2003) for most of the details in this short history.

1. On May 17, 1935, the 1935 Constitution was ratified, which stated in Section 3 that “The Congress shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages. Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages.”.

Why did the then 1935 constitution mandated a national language based on one existing language, when the Philippines has several major languages at that time? Professional linguists of that period were divided into 2 camps: (a) the fusionist camp proposing that the various languages could be fused into a single national language, and (b) the Tagalog camp, proposing that Tagalog alone should be the national language. (Kaplan and Bildauf, p.69).

The basing of the national language on one language was something that a Tagalog President slyly orchestrated by urging changes to the draft Constitution, which originally had the following drafts in the Laurel Proceedings of the Constitution Convention kept at the Laurel Foundation Library, as Agcaoli wrote:

1st draft:  Article XIII, Sec. 2: "A national language being necessary to strengthen the solidarity of the Nation, the National Assembly shall take steps looking to the development and adoption of a language common to all the people on the basis of the existing native languages."

2nd draft:  Article XIII, Sec. 2.a: "The National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on the existing native languages, and until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish be the official languages."

3rd draft: no revision.

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