As mandated in the 1935 Philippine
Constitution, a national language was to be adopted and developed based on
one of the existing native languages. In 1937, the Institute of National
Language (INL) which was created to direct the selection, propagation and
development of the national language, recommended that Tagalog be the basis
for the adoption of the national language of the country. In the same year,
then President Manuel Quezon signed Executive Order No. 134 declaring
Tagalog as basis of the national language.
On April 12, 1940, Executive Order No.
263 was issued ordering among others, the teaching of the national language
in all public and private schools in the country.
A Department Order was subsequently
issued by the Secretary of Public Instruction on April 8, 1940 to implement
the aforementioned Executive Order. Bureau Education Circular No. 26, s.
1940 provides that "... effective June 19, 1940, the national language shall
be taught forty minutes a day as a regular, required two-semester subject
"... The national language shall replace an elective in each semester of the
second year in normal schools and shall be an additional subject of all
secondary schools ..."
The national language, more popularly
known as Tagalog, was therefore, first introduced in the fourth year of all
public and private high schools and in the second year of all public and
private teacher-training institutions.
The inclusion of Tagalog in the
curriculum was viewed as a positive direction towards more effective
teaching and learning since, compared with English, Tagalog would be an
easier language to use as tool of learning. This significant move also
marked the beginning of the critical process of developing the national
language and disseminating it nationwide mainly through the schools.
Meanwhile, Tagalog was popularized
more widely when the Japanese forces invaded the country in 1942. The
Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Imperial Forces ordered the prohibition
of the use of English and the Filipino people's reliance upon Western
nations particularly the United States and Great Britain.
Besides being declared as the official
language, Tagalog was to become the medium of instruction in schools during
the Japanese regime. (Teachers who were used to using English, however,
were reportedly teaching secretly in English and not in Tagalog.)
In 1943, President Laurel issued
Executive Order No. 10 mandating educational reforms which included, among
other things, the teaching of the national language in all elementary
schools, public and private, and the training of national language teachers
on a massive scale effective at the beginning of the school year 1944-1945.
Major emphasis was given to the development of the national language. It
was during the Japanese regime, then that the teaching of the national
language became part of the curriculum at all levels. It was introduced as
a subject in all grades at the elementary and high school levels. In 1944,
non-Tagalog teachers started learning the language through the opening of a
Tagalog Institute to enable them to teach and use the language.
Executive Order No. 44 was issued by
President Laurel to lay down educational policies which included the
restoration of the University of the Philippines, which was tasked with the
promotion of Philippine nationalism, and the development of the national
language, among others. In line with this provision, the curricula of
higher education institutions had the national language as one of its
The school system was reorganized when
the Americans came to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese invasion.
English, again, became the principal medium of instruction with Tagalog
taught as a required subject in the elementary and secondary levels.
In 1957, a new language policy was
adopted in Philippine schools, following a period of intensive research and
experimentations on which language to use best as medium of instruction. In
an attempt to make the school system more relevant to the needs of the
times, the Board of National Education, a policy-making body in education,
decided that the "medium of instruction in the first two grades of the
elementary school shall be the local vernacular; that at the same time the
national language (named Pilipino in 1959) shall be taught informally
beginning in Grade I and given emphasis as a subject in the higher grades;
that English shall be taught as a subject in Grades I and II and used as
medium of instruction beginning in Grade III". The vernacular was used as
auxiliary medium in the the primary while Pilipino was used as an auxiliary
medium in the intermediate and high school levels.
This Revised Educational Program of
1957 was criticized strongly due to the observed weakness of the
multilingual policy which it promoted. The use of no less than four
languages (English, Pilipino, Spanish and the vernacular) did not prove
effective in educating the Filipino child.
Various surveys and language
experiments were undertaken two years after the implementation of the new
program in an attempt to formulate more workable and effective policies on
language use in schools. These included the classic Iloilo and Rixal
experiments (See Davis, 1967: Philippine Language Teaching Experiments.
PCLS Monograph Series No. 5 for details), and the 1968 Language Policy
Survey conducted by the Language Study Center of the Philippine Normal
The outcomes of these researches
provided valuable inputs in formulating a new policy on bilingual education
which was implemented beginning 1974 following the ratification of the
Philippine Constitution in 1973. The new program was disseminated through
DECS Order No. 25, series 1974.
Bilingual education, as defined in the
DECS Order mentioned refers to the separate use of Pilipino and English as
media of instruction in specific subject areas from grade I in all schools.
Pilipino was allocated to Social Studies/Social Science, Work Education,
Character Education, Music, Health and Physical Education. All other
subjects were taught in English. As the guidelines provided, Pilipino and
English were taught as subjects in elementary and secondary schools to
achieve the goals of bilingualism.
The first phase of implementation
provided for a four-year transition period (1974-1978). This was done to
allow schools in non-Tagalog areas to prepare for a gradual shift to
Pilipino as medium of instruction by preparing needed teaching materials and
training teachers to teach in Pilipino. The use of Pilipino in the subjects
mentioned was to become mandatory in both elementary and secondary schools
beginning school year 1978-1979.
The DECS Order did not give specific
guidelines regarding the implementation of the bilingual program at the
tertiary level. The Institute of National Language took notice and
recommended to the National Board of Education that implementing guidelines
be formulated for the higher education institutions. Consequently,
Department Order No. 50, s. 1975 was issued by the Board prescribing the
offering of English and Pilipino courses as part of the curricula of
tertiary institutions. Further, the Order states that by school year 1984,
all graduates of tertiary institutions should be able to pass examinations
in English and/or Pilipino for the practice of their professions.
The 1974 Bilingual Education Program
was revised in 1987 following the ratification of the 1986 Philippine
Constitution. Article XIV, Sec. 6 of said Constitution resolved all
controversies regarding the national language, when it categorically stated
that "the national language of the Philippines is Filipino ..." Sec. 7 of
the same document further supported the bilingual policy as it stated, " ...
for purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the
Philippines are Filipino, and until otherwise provided by law, English..."
The regional languages are mandated as auxiliary official languages and
media of instruction in the region.
In the revised policy on bilingual
education (DECS Order No. 52, s. 1987), "Filipino and English shall be used
as media of instruction, the use allocated to specific subjects in the
curriculum as indicated in DECS Order No. 25, s. 1974". The two languages
shall also be taught as subjects in all levels to achieve bilingual
The continuing intellectualization of
Filipino to be led by higher education institution is also one of the
guidelines articulated by the aforementioned DECS Order.
Studies conducted on the evaluation of
the bilingual education program revealed that the program is not seriously
being implemented especially by private schools. At the tertiary level, it
appeared that the policy is not a priority. Many institutions seemed to
have put more premium on the use and teaching of English, the main language
aspiration of many Filipinos. Studies also showed the very low level
proficiency in the two languages of both the teachers and students.
In 1990, a Congressional Commission
was created to survey Philippine education. The Commission, more popularly
known as EDCOM, recommended among other things the use of Filipino as
language of instruction at all levels by the year 2000. The language
recommendation has not been acted upon by Congress up till now because of
strong oppositions raised by various sectors.
Meanwhile, in 1994, the Commission on
Higher Education (CHED) was created by virtue of Republic Act No. 7722,
otherwise known as the Higher Education Act of 7722, otherwise known as the
"Higher Education Act of 1994". One of the first things CHED did was to
revise the curriculum.
In 1996, Commission on Higher
Education issued a CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 59 titled New General
Education Curriculum (GEC) which was implemented, beginning school year
1997-1998 as part of all baccalaureate degree programs in all Higher
Education Instructions (HEI's) in the Philippines.
The minimum requirements for this
mandatory GEC, include 9 units in Filipino, and 9 units in English. For the
first time in so many years, Filipino and English are given equal treatment
in the curriculum. Literature, which used to be studied as language, is now
treated as an art form under Humanities and has been allocated 6 units.
To accommodate the needs of HEI's
offering technology and non-HUSOCOM (humanities, social science and
communication) courses, CHED issued Memorandum Number 04, s. 1997),
superceding CMO No. 59, s. 1996. This memo differentiates the Filipino
language requirements for HUSOCOM and non-HUSOCOM courses' i.e., 9 units for
the former and 6 for the latter.
As regards medium/media of
instruction, CHED Memo 59 states that:
"Language courses whether Filipino or
English should be taught in that language.
At the discretion of the HEI's,
Literature subjects may be taught in Filipino, English or any other
language as long as there are enough instructional materials for the
same and both students and instructors/professors are competent in the
- Courses in the humanities and social
sciences should preferably be taught in Filipino. "