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Laguna museum features language history forum

by Saul Pa-a
August 17, 2019
LECTURE SERIES. Dr. Victor Emmanuel Carmelo “Vim” Nadera Jr., of the University of the Philippines holds a lecture on “Uicain Mo, Naquiquinig Aco (You Talk, I Listen): A Lecture on 19th Century Tagalog” at the Museo ni Jose Rizal sa Calamba in Laguna. The lecture series is hosted by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines for the twin observance of August as history and national language month. (Photo by Saul E. Pa-a)

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna – The observance of August as both “History Month” and “National Language Month” in Calabarzon -- a historic region and cradle of heroes -- took a deeper meaning on Thursday with a lecture series on the evolution of Tagalog.

The series is hosted by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) at the Rizal Museum and Shrine here.

In his lecture “Uicain Mo, Naquiquinig Aco (You Talk, I Listen): A Lecture on 19th Century Tagalog,” Dr. Victor Emmanuel Carmelo “Vim” Nadera Jr., a professor at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, delved into the Tagalog dialect orthography and the evolution of “babayin” or ancient alphabet and syllabic dialects of the Filipino indigenous peoples and ethnic groups.

“Researches on Filipino ancient writings are still up for further scrutiny and debate. Is the Filipino Language Commission or several universities correct? That’s why we expect to have a language policy,” Nadera said in Filipino.

Nadera announced that a Filipino dictionary containing new words would be launched next month, as well as further studies and research and archeological findings to decipher the “baybayin” for the discovery of more words out of some 186 dialects spoken throughout the country.

He said indigenous peoples, local folks and early Filipino reformists and Katipuneros had a vital role in shaping the Tagalog orthography, its spelling, and phonetic alphabet.

During the lecture series, Nadera presented photos of artifacts, relics of ancient Filipino writings like the Laguna Copperplate Inscription claimed to be the country’s earliest legal document relic circa 900 CE (common era) which proved early Filipinos' writings with Sri-Vijayan and Sanskrit influenced letters.

“Conquest has a huge influence in the evolution of the Filipino language,” Nadera said.

He said 70 percent of the Filipino words were mostly derived from the Spanish language, as the Tagalog dialect evolved, including the assimilation, correct spelling and the sounds associated with the formed words.

Nadera said the Tagalog-speaking Maynila language advocates wanted to impose Tagalog as the official language.


But various ethnic groups opposed this as they have their own terms and spelling for words that are unique to their areas and distinct names for places, animals, traditions and customs.

He said the Spanish colonizers took the opportunity to introduce the first book in the country “Doctrina Cristiana” in 1593, containing prayers and religious chants, although early dialects were already developed in Batangas, Tondo, Maynila, Bulakan, Visayas, Kapampangan, Bikol, Pangasinan.

Through “Doctrina Cristiana,” the early Filipinos’ "baybayin" dialects underwent assimilation with the Spanish language that signaled the Romanization of both oral and written language.

Historical accounts also revealed that Lope K. Santos and Francisco Balagtas further enriched Filipino language through the standardization of the Tagalog language using proper grammar and the use of “ng” and “nang”, the use of “r” or “d” and “u” to “o” for repeated words.

In an interview, Zarah Escueta, senior curator of the NHCP-managed Museo ni Jose Rizal sa Calamba (MJRC) said Calabarzon region puts importance on the lecture, especially for their Tagalog-speaking inhabitants.

“It is not surprising that Calabarzon hosts nine of the 25 NHCP-managed museums of the country, as repository of data, artifacts and collections from heroes and historical figures who played vital roles in the country’s independence and their enrichment of the Tagalog dialect,” Escueta said.

She said the lecture series aimed to inspire the young millennials, mostly students and members of the academe and historical societies, on the use of the Filipino language, not only in the school curriculum but also in day-to-day communications and conversations. (PNA)


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