Is there still hope of turning the Tagalog dialect into a modern intellectual medium of communication?

Back in the old days, televised news reporting used to be mostly done in English. The EDSA “revolution” changed all that. Practically overnight, Tagalog news shows such as pioneer shock “news” caster Noli de Castro’s TV Patrol turned what was once a public service into mass entertainment.

Key to this was the pivoting of telejournalism to Tagalog as its medium of verbal delivery — something that the ABS-CBN network took lead of. Soon, TV “news reporting” devolved into an outlandish perversion — replacing the once-sober themes of many news programmes into the industry equivalent of jeepneys. News shows like ABS-CBN’s Bandila were assaults on the senses with news readers acting more like horse race barkers and studio sets awash with colourful digital animations.

Can one really argue that news reporting in the Philippines evolved for the better after it had been Tagalog-ized and jeepney-ized? It’s a hard sell. Trust in mainstream media is at an all-time low today. To be fair, it is not all accounted for by its Tagalog content which effectively points the “service” towards the market’s lowest common denominator. The Internet and the democratisation of self-publishing also contributed to mainstream media’s slide to irrelevance. However, in the Philippines, this already-dismal downward trajectory was made even steeper by the use of a dialect that further dumbed it down.

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Indeed, using Tagalog in an intellectual discussion is like joining a gunfight armed with a knife. It does not help too that many Tagalog speakers who are uncomfortable with English suffer a deep insecurity to begin with. After all, how often do the most plum jobs on offer cite “proficiency in the Tagalog dialect” as a critical highly-regarded skill? As a result, Filipinos who are uncomfortable with the use of English (perhaps because it wasn’t taught well in the Philippines’ public schools) consistently find it difficult to compete with exclusive private school graduates who were enrolled in said schools (despite the back-breaking fees their parents had to fork out) precisely because they promised an ingraining of that much-coveted Arrrneeow twang (if it still exists, that is).

Most important of all, most useful media products are delivered in English; or, for that matter, delivered with the languages of societies that boast strong traditions of scientific, technological, and engineering achievement.

Sounds like a chicken-and-egg conundrum, doesn’t it? How can the Tagalog dialect be intellectualised if its speakers lack a strong intellectual tradition? This brings to question the amount of public resources invested in the continued sustaining of Tagalog’s place in the country’s education system. Does this dialect enhance the marketability of its speakers? Ask the same question about the English language and it becomes easy to see where precious scarce capital needs to be allocated towards the enhancement of Filipinos’ collective intellect.

15 Replies to “Is there still hope of turning the Tagalog dialect into a modern intellectual medium of communication?”

  1. Before you continue moaning and groaning about the Tagalog “dialect”, can you please tell us what language Tagalog is a “dialect” of.

  2. Also I have no idea what’s with Benign0’s fascination with “Bababa ba”. I’ve seen it three times in his articles about Tagalog and other Philippine languages.

  3. There is nothing “intelligent” about the Philippines. Filipinos never criticize their country but it is plagued with corruption and greed. I have met very few nice Filipinos. The majority are extremely ignorant, arrogant and have brains of a 3 year old. The laws are vague and worthless. Nepotism is destroying businesses and the government. Foreigners go there seeking a partner and end up losing everything they have from these scamming, heartless girls. The only thing they want is an ATM machine to support their lazy, stupid family.
    Tagalog is the least of what you should be concerned about. The Philippines is in extreme danger since they voted in Marcos. You have no idea what is about to happen. Filipinos do not think of tomorrow. They make no preparations for disaster. Many will soon perish under the hands of Marcos and I must say I feel no pity.

    1. What do you expect? Philippines is a country of arrogance and disrespect. Respect, humility, discipline and good manners in Philippines are rarer than diamonds, that’s why that country doesn’t deserve my respect. My friends who are fellow Filipinos also hate that country. That country’s pride is cringe. Proud of what, proud to be undisciplined and disobedient to laws? The senate is a good proof of arrogance, look how they conduct hearings, especially one famous neophyte senator, he never lets resource persons finish talking, he relentlessly interrupts whenever a resource person is saying something he doesn’t like whether that person is right or wrong. One neophyte senator even wanted to ban Plane 2023 movie. Is Philippines a dictatorship like North Korea for that movie to be banned?

      1. Hey what’s with ad hominem No Data, I thought that’s not allowed in this site?

        Or is does it only apply to people you don’t like?

        1. I’m just speaking the truth, the gov’t officials are just reflections of the people and the culture of the country. Can’t handle the truth without getting offended? Deal with it, not my problem.

        2. @No Data Every time you comment on this website you always find a way to disparage the country even when you don’t have to or even if your claims are outright false. It’s like you can’t live a day without saying anything bad about Philippines/Filipinos.

          It’s unhealthy and kind of sad really.

        3. Jose how can you say that my claim is false? Have you seen how many motorists drive in your country? Do you know that one senator’s arrogance is applauded by his supporters? Oh, and by the way, crab mentality is a sign of arrogance which is prevalent in Philippine culture.

        4. @No Data I’m not just referring to your claims in the comments on this post, I’m referring to the things you say in general.

          You keep saying that there should be no ad hominem on this website, and yet you do it every time you comment.

    2. Oh, I forgot to say that those neophytes don’t even have the proper credentials to be senators, they’re not even experts in law yet people still support them while the late Miriam Santiago was criticized for being smart, even called her insane, Gibo Teodoro was also criticized for being smart. It shows how smart shaming is prevalent yet many people there deny it.

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