Filipino Patriotism: ‘Watch your language’

In Celebration of the Philippine Independence Day
By: Noriel E. Banes

Speaking and doing-- these are the reflections of our identity. They mirror our attitude, emotions, culture, and roots that defined who we are. As my lolo used to say, we are what we say and do. He was talking about how Ilonggos love cooking for their loved ones and how we speak our dialect dearly, thus the tag “malambing” for us. In contrast, I remember hearing my Antiqueno friends talking to each other in pure Kinaray-a and thought they were in a heated conversation because of their strong intonation and accent. Their dialect would have been the reason they are known to be aggressive and brave people. We Filipinos would want to speak to foreigners in their language or in English because we want to be accommodating, and this is the reason we are known to be hospitable citizens. This “hospitable” characteristic has become the reason why Filipinos are preferred social workers in many countries. But this same characteristic has raised issues on our being patriotic. Can one’s patriotism be questioned through his ability or inability to speak the Filipino language? Patriotism, ahhh -- there is so much meaning behind this 10-letter word.

“Ang mamatay nang dahil sa’yo…” The last line from our national anthem speaks it all. It summarizes the patriotism which led to independence as dreamed by our heroes. It is now a high time for us to uphold their legacy in everything that we do because these heroes died for the love of our country. Their death serves as a reminder that every Filipino citizen should take along whichever part of the world you may be in. We live and work in a foreign land and that is something that is quite a controversy when it comes to defending and advocating the meaning of patriotism. The real question is, do we truly understand the true definition of it? I am sure that some of us would scan the dictionary or google the word to check its definition. But I know that deep within the word itself lies the heart of its truest meaning. I managed to talk to my friends here in the UAE and to my friends back in the Philippines to know how they define the word “patriotism” and how they advocate it in their jobs.

As an OFW, patriotism for me is being loyal to my country and defending it regardless of where I am. Moreover, promoting my country and all that is good to others and supporting the causes that I believe in which I feel are important to my countrymen [is patriotism enough],” says Bleisha Macoy, a Front Office Executive here in Dubai.

This is one of the many reasons Filipinos can still bequest the love for one’s country even if it means being away from their own. We are proud to be Pinoy and we carry our “patriotism” wherever we are and whoever we are with. We are expected to live up the spirit of being a Filipino in everything that we do despite the fact that we are not in the Philippines while we earn a living.

While it is a challenge for OFWs to show patriotism, does it mean that it is easier for Filipinos who are based in the Philippines to advocate it? With the boom of social media, millennials have easy access to the trends and practices of other cultures in other nations. While it is a good thing to know about our neighboring countries’ culture, our very own culture may be slowly dying and being set aside. But whose role is it to instill the Filipino patriotism to the young ones? This has automatically become the role of the Filipinos who are in the country, primarily of the parents and teachers. What about those who have OFW parents? Does the parental role to instill the Filipino values be passed on to the teachers? How will teachers teach patriotism while the force of social media is on the rise?

“The role of teachers in the current generation of learners become so challenging that they compete with social media in terms of influencing the students. But I believe that it shouldn’t be the case.

Teachers can take advantage of social media to help shape the students for them to become humane, patriotic, and Christ-like citizens. Patriotism is abstract, which makes it even harder to teach to students. You need to be consistent in showing it. Making students understand that everything they do, from simple things such as following school rules, or cleaning the surroundings are acts of showing love to the country.” – Computer Teacher, Philippines

Just like he said, our simple acts of being disciplined shows the love for our country. The younger generation must understand that they can make a huge difference in our country as they are truly the hope of our motherland.
There are some people who still believe that speaking the Filipino language is the way we show our respect and love for our country but in this modern world where almost everything has been revolutionized, learning to speak a foreign language is not an impediment to our loyalty.

“One's patriotism won't be entirely defined by the language that he or she uses. Yes, English is considered to be a foreign language but as long as you don't degrade or disvalue your own language, I don't see anything wrong with it.” Darlie Borlado, English Teacher, Philippines.

We live in a place where the culture has evolved and our customs are way different from what it used to. But this does not necessarily mean that the Filipino culture, tradition, and beliefs have long been forgotten. This statement gives us an idea that no language is a measurement on how well we love our country. It is in our heart and our ways when we can be patriotic.

So much more to say and so much more to do. These are some of the ideas in which we could be proud of who we are to bring glory to our land. Patriotism is perhaps the common feeling we all share that reflects our heritage and ambitions to be recognized as great people. No matter where we are, what we do, and how we speak, we cannot forget the fact that we all proudly sing the same national anthem.