Today is the first day of National Book Week. It is also the first day of the Librarians' Licensure Examination.From "English and the nation’s memory" by Jonathan Best (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 26 November 2007):
Sitting at my desk at the Ortigas Foundation Library in Pasig, surrounded by 16,000 books and periodicals relating to Philippine history, culture and the arts, I realize over 90 percent are in English, with maybe another 500 vintage titles in Spanish and very few in Filipino. This breakdown is probably not unlike many other major reference libraries in Manila.What Best fails to mention is that the Ortigas Foundation Library (OFL), which has a new website, is primarily a Filipiniana library. This means that, compared to other reference libraries, the percentage of books written in Philippine languages in the OFL collection is probably higher. And that other libraries very likely have even smaller percentages of books written in languages indigenous to the Philippines.
So? Put this reality together with the fact that English is the language most often used in official functions by members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, and what we have is a de facto national language. Never mind that we're supposed to have a Buwan ng Wika that celebrates our many languages, but very few of which can be understood by Filipinos across the nation. Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories might even think that those pushing for the adoption of Filipino as the medium of instruction just want to make it even more difficult for the poor to understand what's going on in our government right now, and even what happened in the past.
Best is right. We need English.