Filipinos and the English Language

Languages are passports to another world. With it, you get to create instant connections. In the Philippines, upon landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, one of the questions you will first hear is: “Sir/Ma’am, taxi?” From these two words, connections are already made. Welcoming thousands of tourists every day is no easy task. Thankfully, most Filipinos can speak English. In fact, the Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. But what made Filipinos so interested in the English language?

For most Filipinos, English is not an alien tongue. In school, subjects except Filipino, our national language, are taught in English. This may be the reason why there are locals outside the Philippine capital who find it difficult to learn Filipino and find it more useful to learn English.

When Filipino was declared our national language 79 years ago, it was the first time that the country’s president, Manuel L. Quezon, spoke on air using Filipino. Language is considered a prized possession of any nation. Here, laws have been made to preserve our more than 175 languages. One example is Executive Order No. 225 signed on July 25, 1987, requiring radio stations to play at least four Original Pilipino Music (OPM) songs every hour.

In celebrating Filipino, the Language of Wisdom this August 2016, let us be wise in remembering our role in keeping our culture, through our individual words, alive. Let us not forget that we are a multilingual country responsible for enriching our colorful heritage.