national language

National language of the Philippines

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According to the 1987 Constitution, Article XIV, Section 6 Filipino is the national language.

What is the national language of the Philippines?

In the 1899 Malolos Constitution of the of the first independent Philippine Republic, which lived only very short, no specific language was mentioned except for Spanish as the language for public and judicial affairs.
The complete text about this Title IX, Article 93 of the 1899 Constitution is:

The use of the languages spoken in the Philippines shall not be compulsory. It cannot be regulated except by virtue of law and only for acts of public authority and judicial affairs. On such occasions, the Spanish language shall temporarily be used.

The use of Spanish ended soon after that when the US started ruling the Philippines in 1901, and when the American educational system was implemented.

Commonwealth constitution of 1935

Wenceslao Vinzons, representative of Camarines Norte suggested the inclusion of adopting a national language. Article XIII, Section 3 of the 1935 Constitution directed the National Assembly to “take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages.” It also states that, until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall remain as the official languages of the Philippines. As a result, Commonwealth Act 184 established the Institute of National Language (INL) in 1936. It says: “To study existing Philippine native languages and dialects and select one of them to be the basis of the development of a Filipino national language”.
In 1937 the INL recommended Tagalog to be the basis for a national Language. Their reason was that Tagalog was already spoken by many Filipinos and there was a lot of literature in this language. In December 1937, then President Manuel Quezon issued Executive Order 134, which proclaimed that Tagalog shall be the basis of the country’s national language.
The Department of Education officially called Tagalog “Pilipino” to please non-native Tagalog speakers In 1959.



Constitution 1943

national language of the PhilippinesIn the 1943 Constitution, while the Japanese occupants tried to remove all western influences out of Asia, English and Spanish were removed as official languages and stated: “The government shall take steps toward the development and propagation of Tagalog as the national language.”
However, in 1945 the Constitution of 1935 was reinstated, but, with the constitution’s explicit mention of Tagalog, the 1943 Constitution continued with the idea of Tagalog as the basis of the country’s national language.

Constitution of 1973

In 1971, a Constitutional Convention began preparing for a new constitution. One big issue on this convention was the definition of the national language. Tagalog supporters remained firm on a Tagalog-based national language, while majority of the delegates voted for completely scrapping the notion of having a national language.
The debates got fired up and even the language used in this debate became a point, so many voted for English as the national language as a compromise.
The 1973 Constitution ended saying in Article XV, Section 3:

  • The Batasang Pambansa shall take steps towards the development and formal adoption of a common national language to be known as Filipino.
  • Until otherwise provided by law, English and Pilipino shall be the official languages.

It was a compromise, because it did not explicitly mention that Filipino was not to be based on Tagalog, nor did it state that a Tagalog-based national language was to be abandoned. Instead, it proposes the development of a language that shall be called “Filipino.”

The 1987 Constitution

The present working definition of the Philippines’ national language is found in Sections 6 and 7 of Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution:

  • Section 6 states: “The national language of the Philippines is Filipino. As it evolves, it shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages.”
  • Section 7, says: “For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English.”

This definition of the national language of the 1987 Constitution takes the notion of Filipino from the 1973 Constitution even further – by explicitly recognizing that the national language is subject to change through influence from local and foreign languages over time. And the definition gives due consideration to the role of the other Philippine languages in shaping the national language too. It further replaced “Pilipino” with “Filipino” as an official language.

In August 14, 1991 a commission was established which is known as the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (Commission on the Filipino Language). The most important task of this commission is to undertake, promote, and coordinate researches for the development, propagation, and preservation of Filipino and other languages.

national language of the PhilippinesSo Filipino is the national language, so is English. What English is, we all know. But what is Filipino? It has its basis in Tagalog (some will say it IS Tagalog). But the language is an active one. It is not a dead language like for example Latin. Although no new words are ‘introduced’, other than English, it still is a language ‘not dead’, because many people use it every day.
People of the Philippines use a lot of English in their daily language. Why? I do not know. Maybe because they do not know the proper words for it in Filipino, or these words are too complicated and long; and the English word or term is easier. This ‘street language’ is called ‘Taglish’, but it does not have rules, grammar or spelling. Therefore, I cannot say that Taglish is a language.

Above facts are found on different websites and composed/rewritten into 1 article

Sources: Rappler, Philippines Government, KWF and others.

The header image shows the famous Copperplate found in Laguna province.

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