Kudos to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for FINALLY junking Tagalog!

Long overdue! The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) memo directing the removal of Tagalog (a.k.a. “Filipino”) as a mandatory subject in the Philippines’ General Education Curriculum (GEC) effectively frees millions of Filipinos from wasting time on a dead-end field of learning. On implementation of the directive, the subject will be relegated to Grades 11 and 12 of the K-12 curriculum.

The CHED, it seems, applied the right thinking in making this move…

The CHED justified its removal of college-level Filipino by saying that the subject would be covered in Grades 11 and 12 under the new K-12 curriculum. “Hangga’t maari, pagdating mo sa college, mga major subjects na lang,” explained CHED Executive Director Julito Vitriolo.

[NB: Translation of Tagalog parts of the above excerpt: “As much as possible, time spent in college must be accounted for by major subjects.”]

The Philippines' Tagalog tribes' command over the national language is slipping.
The Philippines’ Tagalog tribes’ command over the national language is slipping.
Way back in 2000 in GRP’s infancy, I had already strongly advocated removal of Tagalog as a mandatory part of Filipinos’ education. The business case simply does not stack up. For the amount of scarce educational resources the imparting of Tagalog proficiency in the Filipino takes up, the language presents no added value to a person’s marketability in an increasingly competitive race for scarce employment. Suffice to say, most of the plum jobs are reserved for the best English communicators.

Much of the arguments against the CHED memo being fielded by various stakeholders revolve around an appeal to tradition, “national identity”, and the fate of the jobs of up to 30,000 professors who make a living teaching Tagalog.

These really are all non-issues disguised as, well, issues. With the jobs thing, it really just comes down to the same argument one would encounter if we were to replace the Philippines’ decrepit public transport infrastructure with modern public bus and train services. Hundreds of thousands of jeepney drivers will lose their jobs. But the benefit as a whole over the long run will far compensate for that minor hitch. Same banana. If you want to build a new building on a piece of land, you need to detonate the old structure standing on it.

As to the cultural heritage and “national identity” thing, well, both of those can’t really be served on a banana leaf to a hungry Filipino and her eight kids. Putting that in Tagalog will make that simple concept resonate more strongly:

Di yan nakakain.

There you go, Tagalog has its uses — mainly when one is communicating with other Tagalog speakers. The thing is, most of the people who comprise the organisations and entities that control the capital Filipinos are desperately dependent on for their daily bread aren’t Tagalog speakers. So the fate of Tagalog as a resource-guzzling part of the Philippines’ education system can be decided using simple business sense. The numbers simply don’t stack up.

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46 Comments on “Kudos to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for FINALLY junking Tagalog!”

  1. The analogy to the jeepney drivers is false, yes if they were replaced, then who will be the new drivers? these will be the old drivers, those that failed to learn and pass the driving tests, well lets hope they will start do that??? also the new vehicles will still need to be maintained, so their is plenty work.

    1. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a 1-1 replacement of drivers. Jeepneys and not-well-maintained public buses can be replaced by mass transit options such as trains or organized and professionally run organizations that actually cater to serve the public and not earn money for earnings sake.

  2. Dear Benign0,

    In almost all cases I do agree with your Blogs. But on this occassion I do not agree with you. I am just projecting your statement on my own country and it wont be accepted here for sure.

    If I translate your statement, it looks like I have to talk English in my own home with my own Dutch sisters, Dutch friends and who not. By itself that looks ridiculous & bizarre.

    On a bigger global scale, I am all for it to both educate one’s mother tongue (language) and at least one foreign language. In my country, pupils, students are taught English, German, French and Spanish (at least). But I guess we have good reasons for that. We are an open country and very dependent on import and export. So we are doing a lot of business with foreign companies. So the need to at least speak one foreign language is obvious and is compulsary/mandatory (as requirement) when applying for such a job. On the other hand, there are enough jobs without any need to speak any foreign language at all.
    The latest trend in my country is to speak English during all classes at university level (no matter what the major or minor subject is. e.g. Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Sociology, Econometrics, etc).

  3. But this means it still has to be taught at the elementary and secondary level, correct?

    I’ve read studies on that children who pack decent starting vernacular at young learning age tend to do better in learning and academics than those who were used to local vernacular than those who are made to outright jump into English without some competency in local vernacular by miles. They all had a conmon rationale: local language, like say, Tagalog, can be bridged by English to the higher learning fields. What can be translated sensibly from the fields for backwards compatibility with local languages can expose the not so well off part of a given community to bright ideas, thus leading to development.

    Personally, then, I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to outright discard Filipino as a course in College, as much as CHED and you guys have a point.

    1. It still can be taken as an elective, but considering the need to improve skills that would benefit the country the most (or kids, later in their professional lives), I think we need to put more emphasis on fields such as science and technology in which Pilipino or Tagalog are not the most effective in conveying their key ideas.

      There are languages that put one at an advantage over the rest when it comes to learning certain fields or bodies of knowledge—Learning in these areas become easier, when proficiency in their specialized terminology, etymological origins, etc. are also learned (e.g. Latin in medicine and life sciences as well as law and philosophy, Italian in reading music, English in international trade and commerce, etc.)

      “Pilipino” is sadly getting to be some kind of lingua franca among domestic helpers around the world. Maybe if you really want to pursue that as your career choice, then go ahead and master Pilipino.

      1. Not a career choice, it was mostly an attempt of encouragement from my English professor to join an essay contest for the UN languages competition. We had to write an essay regarding language and how it helps in fulfilling the UN’s goals, but we are not allowed to write it in any of the six UN languages.

        Schoolwork ate my time, but the readings I took up helped me think of this.

        Funnily enough, last election, I remember reading Teddy Casiño’s platform on edycation, focusing on nationalist elements and scientific endeavor, and encouragement of using the mother tongue as a medium of instruction. Not sure how GRP interpreted that part, but I’m sure they have other matters to discuss rather, due to their points presented here.

  4. I’ve never attempted to learn either of the Filipino languages. They seemed as if made up by children.I mean, WTF does UMMA-LAY-LAY even mean? and,OMG, why wouldn’t any person who says that word not feel like an idiot?
    Make Spanish or English the national language and it would be a step up internationally.

  5. Actually, they should make it so that Pilipino, English, Algebra, Trigonometry, Chemistry, English,and Theology (when applicable) should be done when you finish high school. Along with Spanish, these are time consuming general subjects we had to take in college which we should have been taught already beforehand.

  6. Tagalog can be taught in Elementary ang high School. On the College level; foreign languages should be offered as Electives, like: Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, German, Italian, Arabic, etc…

    It is good to learn and know several foreign languages…it is a plus on your resume…

  7. While I’m not sure the language should totally go the way Latin did, one can’t deny the limiting use of Tagalog. As it is now, a sentence can’t be done without two or three borrowed words in English which makes it redundant in academia. Somehow you gotta address the technical jargon but there really is no equivalent to it in Tagalog so the English term just ends up jammed in between the local vernacular. Nevermind the fact that reading tagalog online is cringey no matter who wrote it.

    Add the fact that it just doesn’t sound pleasing to the ear. Normal conversation with Tagalog is like chickens and hens cackling in unison to the uninitiated. It’s the peasants’ language through and through.

  8. Finally! If only I was still a student. Back then in grade school they had us study Philippine history in Tagalog and I didn’t get it. One day I gave up and just read Agoncillo’s History of the Filipino People and I finally understood it.

  9. How about next they dump the general, irrelevant subjects from university courses so students have more time to devote to their actual majors? Not having to waste time on art or Filipino literature units when you’re studying a science, for example.

    College here looks more like high school and doesn’t seem designed to produce specialists, but rather uncompetitive all-rounders.

  10. I’m not happy about this but as long as they still teach Tagalog, or any of the local dialects, in elementary and high school then sure.

    Though still Taglish isn’t really Tagalog so there.

    and dang, all the hate I’m seeing from the comments is just bothersome. Guess it never matter to a country with no sense of identity as long as ends meet.

  11. It’s just so pathetic to assume that to be globally competitive, we need to be fluent in English.

    Philippines has too many English-speakers & can’t speak Tagalog fluently but are so stupid.

    1. That seems to be the idea they’re going into. It’s like so you speak great English what else can you do?

      and doesn’t it get to people when we brag about how skillful and talented our people are and yet our home country isn’t doing so well? Sure blame the government and all but it’s not like they got there by their own.

      1. Our English curriculum is enough. We don’t need more. But I think we need more for our native language, to preserve our culture.

        For sure, only a handful of Filipinos now can compose essay written in Tagalog. There will always be English mixed w/ it. I confess.

        Taglish is a sign of lost identity.

        1. Why not let the true tagalog speakers compose those things. Besides, not all Filipinos are true Tagalog speakers. You can’t force an Ilocano speaker to write a Tagalog piece. He’d rather write something in Ilocano which can contribute more to him and his people when self-identity and preservation of culture are concerned.

        2. “Taglish is a sign of lost identity.”

          I’d never thought I see this here and kudos to you sir.

  12. Sir, in terms of profession and economic advantages, I’m all in for proficiency in English. We need to, it is a life-skill, a necessity to compete in the global stage. But to say that we Filipinos no longer need to study OUR OWN LANGUAGE because it doesn’t stack up is tantamount to belligerence to being Filipino. It is not only a spoken language, it represents our very identity, our pedigree: the culture, literature, our history, our humble beginning as a nation, of familial ties and pride rooted in being particularly someone in this world. We have to perceive our own language as a PART, not a DETRIMENT to our over-all growth as a nation. Studying Filipino instigates a learning to be Filipino, how can we do this if this won’t be incorporated in school?

    The language, sirs, is not the problem, it is our pessimistic & capitalistic mentality that somehow hinders us from truly living up to our immense potential as a country. In the end, it is all about establishing the moral & social grounds to really kickstart progress. We want a country of competent, disciplined, and devoted Filipinos, not simply a nation of English speakers.

    1. I got to say I agree with you there about the unecessities of learning the language due to that it barely exist now..taglish ain’t Tagalog no matter how we look at it. It’s not like Katakana in Japanese where loaned words is still Japanese..I could hope that scholars would improve Tagalog being taught to elementary and high school so that it improves the language..Leave the study of Filipino to the scholars but that doesn’t mean we should avoid and hate it…so yeah I agree.

      I’d really worry more if they remove it altogether. Going with the last statement you can’t have devoted people if they don’t care and had nothing worth caring for.

      Still leave the question though Is English all we’re good for?

  13. This is good news. When I was still studying, Pilipino subject is where we waste time writing on the notebooks while copying from any Tagalog books. Meaning, just to get the time pass by. Tagalog subjects are really not that important. Our teachers will just let us sit on our desk and pretend she is teaching and pretend that we are reading.

  14. hindi naman siguro dapat alisin ang Filipino subject sa kolehiyo dahil hindi naman lahat ayaw nito.. kung tatanggalin ito para narin tinaggal ang karapatan ng lahat ng Pilipino na namulat at nakagisnan na ang pag gamit nito. para narin tinanggal nito ang karapatan ng Pilipino na matuto at i.preserba ang sariling atin.. dapat parin itong ituro sa kolehiyo dahil kung tutuusin mas tinatangkilik na ng mga Pilipino ang Ingles at iba pang akademikong aralin. kaya hindi dapit tanggalin ang pagtuturo ng Pilipino sa Kolehiyo.

    1. And what is said “sariling atin” isn’t sariling atin? I, for example, am a Cebuano with English as his mother tongue. By your logic, that would make me a traitor, amirite?

  15. From what I understood way back my teacher in grade school once said, “Filipino is a subject that deals with the local dialect.” Now I wonder why it was always “Tagalog” Now what about Kapangpangan, Bisaya, Ilongo, Ilocano and all sorts of dialects why aren’t those guys who are talking about cultural identity not even mentioning about learning them? Where’s your national pride? What I am just saying is there is enough time to learn all that crap in high school. College should prepare students for real life.

  16. I was born, raised, and trained in the Philippines. I speak Cebuano and English but not Tagalog. By the definition of these “nationalists” I’m not Filipino enough. WTF?

  17. what makes Filipino difficult for non-tagalogs is that, it disguised as “Filipino” when in fact it is Tagalog. What if we require Tagalogs to take Bicol language in college? What would they do? what would they feel? Regionalism is an issue in building a true national language.

  18. Fact: The Failippines is the most ethnolinguistically homogenous country in the world. It has only 1 indigenous ethnolinguistic group, and only 1 indigenous language.

    “I am a Tangalogista Fliptard. The K.W.F. is my favourite God. I migrated here so I could linguicide your language.”

  19. if you don’t learn tagalog it’s no big deal, but if you don’t learn english you’re screwed for life.

  20. The N.S.O. declares “the Philippines’ demographic map is wrong. the Philippines has only 1 indigenous ethnolinguistic group.”

    The K.W.F. declares “the Philippines’ linguistic map is wrong. the Philippines has only 1 indigenous language.”

  21. To begin with, Tagalog is not equal to Filipino. It’s ironic how you push for it to be abolished yet you, yourself, aren’t well educated on this. In Filipino, “ang kapal ng mukha mo na i-push ito eh hindi mo nga ma-distinguish na hindi magkatulad ang Filipino at Tagalog. Ibalik sa kolehiyo bago pa alisin ang mandatory Filipino units sa kolehiyo.”

  22. Why do you take “being globally competitive” as an automatic good? If you are truly critical, you would analyze these things and not simply assume. Sir, when Filipinos become more “globally competitive” because they know English, it means more Filipinos are sent abroad to work with meager pay. It means more professionals migrate abroad to work at the expense of the improvement of lives of the people. It means call center companies flocking int he Philippines to hire VERY CHEAP labor. If we can construct an economy that is not highly dependent on the global market, we can protect the rights of more Filipinos and shield our economy from global economic shocks. If abolishing the study of Tagalog altogether is your key to being globally competitive, think again. Masyadong mababaw ang pag-iisip mo. Magagandang obserbasyon pero kulang na kulang sa pagpapalagom. Aral ka muna.

  23. The action of ched regarding this matter is not an application of the “right thinking”. ched is not being critical on its proposal in terms of its implication for the continuance of the Filipino identity. Language is culture and culture is language, imagine once this army of tertiary young adults graduated and fill in every space of our land but with no interest in learning the mother toungue? What country do we live in again? Language doesn’t define social status, nor educational achievement. It is your discriminatory attitude and misunderstanding that flamed your despisement of the Filipino language. If this hatred multiply, We will just become pieces of lands in the pacific where shits of other nations meet. Language learning is crucial in developing and knowing who you are. Identity is a concept that must be respected in order to promote intercultural understanding. If you are a PILIPINO and already infected with this “stop learning your mother language” disease, you’re already a fake product of other nation. I think you need to re-educate yourself, please read Noli and Fili.

  24. Ano? the language has no value sa race for scarce unemployment? wala ako plano makisakay sa rat race na yan!!!

  25. A very stupid blog entry. The study of Filipino has many purposes. You can’t reduce the study of language to employment marketability.

  26. Hindi ko alam kung bakit andami-daming nagrereklamo eh ang linaw naman ng purpose kung bakit inalis bilang “mandatory subject” ang “Filipino” sa college. Basahin natin ule ang sabi ng CHED, “Hangga’t maari, pagdating mo sa college, mga major subjects na lang” and for that reason it “effectively frees millions of Filipinos from wasting time on a dead-end field of learning” and sabi pa nga sa article “On implementation of the directive, the subject will be relegated to Grades 11 and 12 of the K-12 curriculum” katumbas lang din ng pagtalakay sa Filipino subjects sa 1st and 2nd year college. Hay naku mga taong ‘to puro reak ayaw muna mag-isip at i-absorb ang sinasabi.

  27. i take it the defenders of filipino 101 liked the subject when they were in college. i saw it as a deadweight on my semestral average, especially after a fight with my instructor.
    Me: bakit pa kasi kelangan ang filipino 1? i fail to see how this subject will be of use in my field of study.
    Her: Bakit, alam mo ba kung ano ang pang-uri, pang-abay, pandiwa?
    Me: No, and i really dont care because di ko magagamit yan when i program in c++.
    End result: final grade of 2.5. dean’s list mark missed by: 0.02.

    I have yet to use the knowledge of pang-uris, pang-abays and pandiwas while working as a software developer here in the middle east.

    1. I feel you bro. I am a freelance illustrator myself and I only use English. It’s been years since I speak one Tagalog language, it’s not even for applying job but just to please a teacher in his class. Truth is KWF is so blatantly lazy to compile all of the languages in this country to form a universal one. They fail horribly in their job, heck even their so called diksyunaryo (a bastardized version of the english word) would rather put new english words rather than what is in some region of ours. Just so their so called National Language or Taglish can be seen as evolving. YUCK!

  28. what a big loss 🙂 nagagamit pa naman yan pagpunta ng saudi, tigtan nyo mga ibang lahi na natuto ng tagalog, like kamusta ka, mabutit…i, p.i. mu, etc. Bwahahaha

    1. Yeah right imperial manileno like the Arabs can understand your Tagalog language. With that retarded laugh of yours, I bet you love stereotyping non-imperial manilenos like Cebuanos.

  29. I am a girl who loves Filipino/Tagalog, and the girl who also loves English. It calls me…

    …Makes me want to watch Moana again XD

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