September 18, 2014 
 
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Language and Culture
Andres Cristobal Cruz
Articles
       In Republic Act 7356, the role of language in the promotion and development of Philippine culture and the arts is emphasized in the provision for a national committee on language and translation. This committee is tasked, among others,  to prepare a national translation program for notable works by Filipino author, including world classics, into the national language, Filipino, and in other major languages in the Philippines.

       The concept "culture" as cited in R. A. 7356, which has been translated in Filipino by the Committee on Language and Translation, has five characteristics that constitute its principles: 

(1) Culture is a right; 

(2) Culture expresses the national identity; 

(3) Culture is independent, dynamic, progressive and pro-people; 

(4) Culture is of the people and therefore the national cultural policies and programs to be formulated are pluralistic, democratic, free and liberative; and 

(5) That culture is for the people. 

       Section 7 of R. A. 7356 makes the Filipino citizen, responsible for the preservation of the national historical and cultural heritage and its indigenous traditions.

       The concept "culture" then as characterized in R. A. 7356, using the Bierstedt model (The Social Order, R. Bierstedt, 1970) has three main elements: 

(1) The ideas, beliefs, attitudes of the people as national community, which include their scientific knowledge and beliefs; their religious beliefs; their myth, legends, folk literature, superstitions, riddles, proverbs and sayings, literature, philosophy and such others;   

(2) Their norms or ways of doing, which include those as described by the Constitution; laws, rules and regulations, credo, customs, habits, rituals, ceremonies, and modes; 

(3) The material, or natural resources they have, which include natural resources, flora and fauna, material wealth, infrastractures, technology, artifacts, works of art, and the like. 

       The linguistic resources of the Philippines are a rich treasurehouse that hark back to at least 500,000 B.C. towards the Islamic beginnings in the 12th Century, the Hispanic elements of three hundred years (1565-1935), the Revolutionary era (1872-1901), the American Era (1901-1945), the Commonwealth Period (1935-1946), the Japanese Occupation (1941-1945), the era of Philippine Independence (1946), and from 1986, the beginning of a globalizing Republic.

       Philippine Culture is a humanizing culture, a culture of generally being for others such as indicated in terms like "Kapwa Tao" (fellow human being), "Tao po;" (introducing one's self at anothers house), "Tao ko" (my human being, husband, as the wife calls him), or  in the saying, "Madaling maging tao, mahirap magpakatao:"It is easy to become a person, it is difficult to become a human being."

       The various ethnolinguistic communities, numbering more than 76, through their folklores, riddles, proverbs, sayings, legends and myths, are enriching and enriched as the national language propagates them.

       The three main elements of culture--ideas, norm and resources--are also to be found in the 11 basic needs--food, water, shelter, clothing, livelihood, education, health, power, mobility, recreation and leisure, and ecological balance. These basic needs are articulated, acquired, sustained by processes of communication through languages.

       Filipino, the national language, is being developed and enriched as the social interaction of different ethnolinguistic communities (in terms of their respective 11 basic needs) become more frequent and deeper through the introduction of technology in education, in commerce, industry and business; their political and economic development.

       Filipino language is developing culture in its elements through the phenomenon and process of lingua franca simultaneously in different  urban and urbanizing centers throughout the country, Metro Manila, in particular.

       In the study and use or application of regional languages, including minor and major languages, culture is promoted and developed.

       The national and collective memory of the race which are in folklore, myths, legends, riddles, epics and the like, in a number of cases, are translated, transposed or inspire other artistic forms in the works of painters, writers, filmists, scultors, musicians, and composers, dance choreographers, dramatists, and other cultural animateurs and activists, within and outside of the academe. Traditional arts and crafts are propagated through commerce, just as traditional rituals or legends are incorporated in or influence performing arts.

       Language - the national language, Filipino, in particular - when culturally enriched by regional and sub-regional languages of various Filipino ethnolinguistic communities through its intellectualization, preserves national identity, even redeeming this from its inchoate political, economic and social environments. This national identity is strengthened by the national language as it continues to be developed and enriched by usage even as the Philippines aspires to have an active part in the process of globalization of the economies of the world. 

       Because both written and oral language(s) and culture do not develop in a vacuum. By a continuing process of acculturation through, among others, language planning, usage and through translations, the national community of artists are also strengthened as they learn from others through English and other languages.

       The potential enrichment of language, in this case, Filipino, begins, therefore, from an understanding of the concept culture in its various elements and manifestations. This is specially true in the context of Philippine historical and cultural heritage. Many more substantiation, confirmation and affirmation can be done by research, academic and otherwise - through the media of dissemination and communication and by social interaction.

       Republic Act 7356 calls for helping develop Philippine culture and the Arts in an atmosphere of unbridled creativity and artistic freedom. Language and culture - inseparable - are considered processes for national development.

       The National Commission for Culture and the Arts, as far as its National Committee on Language and Translation is concerned, by the spirit of the law--R.A. 7356, continues to assist in promoting a better understanding of the concept culture, its basic elements, through its consultation processes and other projects. Also, the Committee on Language and Translation has set upon itself the role of preparing a national translation program within a year. The National Committee for Language and Translation, also includes the advocacy that  government agencies become officially bilingual, through legislative and executive measures and mandates. This advocacy considers the necessity of formulating a program for promoting the concept of culture in its more comprehensive meaning. As suggested here, the advocacy program must have a system of a dynamic network, training, research, publications, and translation programs.

       The relation of Language and Culture assumes cogency as Filipinos continue to celebrate the Centennial of Philippine Independence and try to better their lives, their economic, political and social culture. This cogency is underscored by present moves to improve the education delivery system. As a national community, we are enriched by the overlays of western and other cultures in the fabric of our historical heritage, but because we indigenize these overlays, it might take sometime before the basic characteristics of Filipino culture concept are studied.

       Developing Filipino language and culture, when planned and implemented as a national program for inculcating a sense of national purpose and unity, can be a challenging project for strengthening the national identity. It can also make the advocacy for an understanding of the relationship of language to culture and vice-versa, a most relevant program.

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About the Author:
Andres Cristobal Cruz is a columnist for ISYU. His story, "The Quarrel" has earned him a Palanca. He has published several other books: "Estero Poems" (1962), "White Wall and Other Tundo Stories" (1965), "Panahon ng Aking Pag-ibig: Mga Kuwentong Tundo" (1965), "Tundo by Two" (1965), and "Ang Tundo Man ay Langit Din" (1985). His published translations include: "Gandhi, Ang Lahat ay Magkakapatid" (1962), "Mga Kuwentong Aleman" (1965), "Mga Tula ni Pope John Paul II" (1995), with work on "Irish Poets" in progress.
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