National language: Filipino or Pilipino?
(First of a series)
Is the national language called Filipino or Pilipino?
The answer to this question is perhaps worth at least the smallest lotto prize, especially during the celebration of Buwan ng Wika (National Language Month) this August.
But even before we attempt to answer it, as important perhaps is what to expect from what appears to be a jam-packed schedule of activities that the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) has lined up for the celebrations.
After an early flag-raising ceremony at Malacañang on Aug. 4 with Communications Secretary Heminio Coloma, the KWF and its contingent of employees and guests hied off to Batangas City to conduct the first of a series of seminars on Korespondensiya Opisyal (Official Correspondence).
Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos opened the seminar on how to write letters, memos and other forms of communication in the Filipino language. Batangas is the pilot area as an all-Filipino-speaking and -writing provincial government.
The other highlights of National Language Month will be the three-day Kongreso ng Salin (Translation Congress) at the University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas in Iloilo City on Aug. 7-9; the launch of 18 books under the KWF Aklat ng Bayan program at the National Museum on Aug. 15, and the awarding of winners of the Dangal ng Wika, Ulirang Guro (Model Teacher in Filipino) and Salin Na! (translation contest) on Aug. 19.
The celebrations culminate on Aug. 28-30 with the National Writers Congress of Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas at the UP College of Mass Communication in Diliman, with KWF as one of the sponsors. The congress will feature forums on regional literature as national literature and the Adrian Cristobal lecture, to be delivered by leading Filipino historian and scholar Dr. Reynaldo Ileto,
author of the pioneering book of Philippine cultural history, “Pasyon and Revolution.”
In the middle of this flurry of activities, the average Filipino—
the person on the street; the elementary, high school or college student; the corporate employee or the government worker, or just about anyone—will probably ask our lotto-sized question: Filipino or Pilipino?
If you ask KWF Chair Virgilio S. Almario, who is also a national artist for literature, he will surely refer to the Philippine Constitution of 1987, which calls, defines and spells the national language as Filipino. If you have more time and are willing to listen, he will probably explain its difference from either Pilipino or Tagalog, and narrate, however briefly, the unique history of the Filipino language and its struggles and triumphs throughout the history of the nation itself.
But for mainly practical reasons, the KWF chair will certainly direct you to the newly published “Madalas Itanong Hinggil sa Wikang Pambansa” (Frequently Asked Questions on the National Language), which intends to be the most basic and exhaustive briefer with quite detailed answers to the 25 most important questions about the Filipino national language.
We will not attempt to feature all 25 questions and answers in this space—and a big thank you, first of all, goes to the Philippine Daily Inquirer—but will consider and discuss as much as possible in this series during National Language Month.
(To be continued)
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