Fact check: ‘Filipino’ refers to both an identity and the national language of the Philippines

FACT CHECK

Claims that the term “Filipino” is not a language and solely refers to the identity and/or nationality of citizens of the Republic of the Philippines are false.

The allegations: On Oct. 14, NextShark published a story about Miss Universe Spain 2022 Alicia Faubel catching the attention of social media users — particularly Filipinos — for speaking fluently in Filipino. Its title, “Miss Universe Spain wins netizens’ hearts with fluency in Filipino,” sparked outrage among several social media users who claimed that NextShark misused the term “Filipino” by referring to it as a language, adding that the publication should “do better.”

  • One user wrote in a now-deleted comment: “Fluency in Filipino?! On an Asian American news source?!” followed by a skull emoji.
  • Another attempted to correct NextShark: “Fluency in TAGALOG. Not Filipino. One is a culture, the other is an actual language,” the user wrote, followed by a facepalm emoji.
  • Another tried to make a meme out of the headline, suggesting NextShark is “failing.” “Me when I’m an Asian American news outlet but I’m failing at being an Asian American news outlet,” the user wrote.
  • Similar comments remain live as of this writing. One even accused the NextShark story of racism, writing: “This entire post is so ignorant that it’s racist.”
  • Another user demanded, “NextShark. Do better. Tagalog. Respect our Filipino brethren enough to at least know that.”

 

The facts: “Filipino” is a language, and it is the national language of the Republic of the Philippines. Along with English, it is the Southeast Asian nation’s official language. Similarly, a citizen of the country is called a “Filipino.” The term, like in other countries, may also be used as a cultural identifier, such as in “Filipino food,” “Filipino products” and “Filipino values.”

  • Over 100 languages are spoken in the Philippines, but only eight of them are identified as “major languages”: Tagalog, Ilocano, Pangasinan, Pampango, Bicol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Waray-Samarnon. Filipino – the national language of the Philippines – is a standardized form of Tagalog, which also incorporates words from other languages such as Spanish, Sanskrit and Malay.
  • As stated in Section 6 of Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, “The national language of the Philippines is Filipino. As it evolves, it shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages.”
  • The designation is specified in government publications. For one, an article published by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) explicitly states it in the title “Development of Filipino, The National Language of the Philippines.”
  • The Institute of National Language (now the Commission on the Filipino Language), which was established in 1936, first endorsed Tagalog as the basis for the Philippines’ national language in November 1937. This was born out of expert opinion that Tagalog had the most number of speakers, and at the time, already had a rich literary tradition.
  • Still, the only time Tagalog was specifically designated as the Philippines’ national language was in the 1943 Constitution, while Imperial Japan was occupying the archipelago in World War II. Prior to this, the country’s official languages were Spanish and English, based on its previous Spanish and American colonizers.

Under the current Constitution, the Philippine government vows – subject to legal provisions – to “take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.” Filipino, alongside English, is taught as a subject from Grade 1 (with a focus on oral fluency); introduced as a language of instruction in Grades 4 to 6; and used as a primary language of instruction in Junior High School (JHS) and Senior High School (SHS).

“Miss Universe Spain wins netizens’ hearts with fluency in Filipino” remains live on NextShark. The article was written by a Filipino, copy-edited by a Filipino and published by a Filipino.

Read the full story here.

 

Featured Image via @alicia.faubel, NextShark

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