Never Lost

[Oh Bathala, I just defiled a twenty-peso bill.]

August 19, 1878, Manuel L. Quezon was born.

Go ahead and question my opinions, but MQ was my favorite Philippine President of them all. He properly structured the city of Quezon, being the first and perhaps the only city to date that had actual mapping and planning to be developed. He wanted to prepare the country to transition into autonomy from the Westerners, just as the vision of the national hero, Rizal. His efforts of heightening the standards and strengthening the foundation of quality education in the country, the infrastructures, everything–all pointed towards the development of the country as a stand-alone nation. And of course, the most important out of all these efforts for total independence: the development of a national language.

Language is the primary reflection of identity in any nation. It’s what sets us apart, and what reminds us who we are: Filipinos. Without our own language, we could not hold on to that sense of Nationalism, that sense of unity with our fellow countrymen. And without those values, how could we ever move forward–and move forward together–towards a fully developed nation?

Yesterday, August 19, 2011, was the anniversary of Quezon City. And, in time with this, the 133rd Birthday Celebration of the Father of the Filipino Language, Manuel Quezon.

I know that slang seems to have slandered the pristine, regal status of the Mother Tongue. We’ve all had our fair share of exposure to the JeJeMons jH0O sP3hLL lyhK dHi3Zs pH30wz, and the Bekimons who seem to have crafted an entire sublanguage all on their own, charot ever chenes dela chuva mami! But I honestly think it’s just part of the growth of our language. Filipino isn’t dead. Far from it. It’s being used on a daily basis, even by the conyow‘s who make kwento because it’s so nakakaloka to have two languages always and have to make palit-palit just to be able to convey their ideas as accurately as possible. Our language grows every day. Never believe that it’s dead. There are still so many beautiful literary pieces produced in Filipino on a daily basis. There are still so many wonderful songs and phenomenal films in Filipino. (Which reminds me, Cinemalaya Film Fest 7 successfully showcased the true Filipino film industry. Congratulations to Babae sa Septic Tank, Amok, and my personal favorite, Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa!)

The only thing killing our language is the horrible mindset that has been instilled in us. And that mindset tells us that speaking in Filipino is for the poor people.

Children are raised, speaking in English, watching Playhouse Disney, being read Hans Christian Andersen books, and listening to Mother Goose nursery rhymes, because parents think that raising kids to be English speakers will set the foundation for their education and consequently land them a better job and get them a better lifestyle. We live in a Philippines where people think English = rich people; Filipino = poor locals. And to an extent, we have molded a mindset that the only way to live prosperously and the only way to attain progress in life is to become everything except be Filipino, to leave the country and work in a richer state. We were raised to think that we study, get a degree, and leave the country for a better life.

But I see the richest people speak Filipino every day.

I see the most educated and the smartest and greatest minds are those who were raised speaking Filipino, being Filipino, living Filipino. See, the only progress you get in leaving this country is a little bit more pay than what you’ll get here. But as you’ve thrown your very identity to become a slave to the development of the opposite nation, you’d have left the Mother country in ruins, without anyone to fuel its advancements. And yet you complain, and complain endlessly, about the lack of development in this country, when in fact, you’re doing nothing about it. I know, I know. There are barely any job opportunities in this country so you have to look for better ones elsewhere. You’re just being heroes; you need to support your families. That is false, by the way. There are, in fact, jobs in this country–jobs most of us aren’t qualified for, because we didn’t have the required educational attainment, because we didn’t study hard enough. And we didn’t study hard enough because we were too enclosed on the mindset of becoming nurses or call center agents, because all we wanted was better pay. The scientific research in this country are oftentimes still headed by foreigners, by the way, because barely anyone decided to take up the challenge of becoming scientists.

(Okay. In that last paragraph, I was just miffed. Excuse my immaturity.)

Stop thinking about what you can do for yourself, and start thinking about what you can do for this nation. Start paying your taxes honestly. Start working for the country. Start being involved with national development. Read the newspaper. Follow through with the government officials. Join Gawad Kalinga. Something. Anything! Do something real. Speak more Filipino each day. Buy Filipino products. Eat Filipino food. Be proud of your cultural heritage. Support the Philippine media industry. Listen to Filipino artists. Watch Filipino movies. Be Filipino. That’s all it takes.

Doing all this is an investment in the progress of our nation. And as an investor, you will get everything back, and more, because you deserve it. And because every Filipino deserves a better Philippines.

I’m losing my topic.

Invest in the Philippines. And progress is exactly what you’ll get.

We just have to do it together. We just have to bring our sense of national identity with us with everything that we do, and remember that all that we do is for our country. Every little thing is for the country. Everything.

Just like how Manuel Quezon, Jose Rizal, Raul Manglapus and so many other great Filipinos did every small thing for the development of this country, for the sake of their countrymen. Let us remember the centuries our ancestors fought for. We are here to continue the fight for a better Philippines. Let us continue believing that this fight–the fight against oppression, against injustice, against, even, stagnancy–this fight is never lost.

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