DILA stands for Defenders of the Indigenous Languages of the Archipelago [Philippines]. 

    "DILA is . . . devoted to the study, preservation, and promotion of Philippine languages and the di- verse cultures they represent. [It] strives to bring you the best information about Philippine lang- uages, and to fairly and thoroughly discuss the issues that are shaping the fate of Philippine langu- ages. [It] is dedicated to native speakers, scholars, teachers, students, and language advocates . . . .

    "DILA is the outgrowth of a Yahoo exchange started by Ernesto C. Turla, author of 
Classic Ka- pampangan Dictionary . . .  The exchange rapidly attracted other people that shared Ernie's concern and interest in Philippine languages, including a number of noted linguists and language advocates. 
The name DILA . . . was proposed by Palanca award winning writer David Martinez and accepted by the group. The word "dila" is common to many Philip-pine languages and it means "tongue" as in "lang-uage." It best represents the interest of the group and our cause. DILA was born to bring the work of this group to others who share an interest in Philip-pine languages, and to help bring about an informed, public discussion about the fate of these languages and the cultures they represent."
Thoughts on Language, Identity, and Nationalism 

A DILA Essay by David C. Martinez

There is no universal agreement on precisely what constitutes a nation, but even by the terms of its broadest definition, there is no "Philippine" nation, in contrast, for instance, to Japan, where 99% of its population are [and speak] Japanese. In the Republic of the Philippines, its largest nation, the Cebuanos, constitute less than a quarter of the total population. What is ironic is that we are not the country's dominant nation, either polit- ically or culturally. 

Nations are distinguished from each other by at least one or more "separators," which include ancestry, culture, and religion. Historically, however, language has served to differentiate one nation from other nations more than anything else. Like Papua New Guinea and many Third World countries that inherited their borders from colonial pow- ers, the Philippines is a fabricated state which required resort to nationalism in order to create a "nation," an experiment which has failed, and failed grandly. 

Nationalism possesses two components. 
Political nationalism is perhaps best exempli- fied by Manuel L. Quezon's delusional exhortation, "I would rather have a government run like hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by the Americans." One of its more recent manifestations: the removal of foreign military installations from the country. Its other component is cultural, and involves, among others, the imposition of a "national" language by means fair or foul. In our country, both components have been used [more accurately, abused] in order to fashion a synthetic "Filipino" culture at the expense of our authentic national and regional identities. 

Nation-building requires nationalism; the sole purpose of nationalism is to build a nation. But nationalism can be 
intelligent -- as with America's self-image as a nation vis-à-vis her European roots. Or nationalism can be blind as with Napoleon's, and later Hitler's, belief that their respective nations possessed the right to govern Europe, if not the world. 

Both political and cultural nationalism in the Philippines have not simply been blind; they have been oppressive. Their ramifications are such that they cannot be called anything less than 
internal colonization. Instances: I can no longer remember how many times my inability to speak Tagalog fluently has been equated with a lack of patriotism. To which I retort that Lapu-Lapu and his men slew Magellan without learning a word of Tagalog. 

Many in Manila, when they say, 
"Mayroon ka bang Bisaya?" mean, "Do you have house help?" To act "Bisaya" is to behave like someone from the boondocks. The premise is that the "true" Filipino not only speaks perfect Tagalog -- which, ironically, has evolved into Taglish, to the dismay of linguistic nationalists  --  but behaves like a Tagalog as well. [Remember Lynch's discredited "Filipino traits"?] 

India has refused to elevate one national language over others. Singapore chose English as both its medium of instruction and official language, without sacrificing Chinese and Malay, in spite of English's having been their "language of oppression." They preferred the rational to the "national." And there is no evidence to indicate that the Indian and Singaporean love their countries less. 

If we have become "Tagalized," it is because we have allowed ourselves to be "Filipi- nized." We cannot isolate the slow and painful death of our indigenous tongues from the continuing erosion of our authentic national identities as Cebuanos, Ilocanos, Kapam- pangans, Ilonggos, and so on. If it is true that language is the 
soul of culture -- which I happen to believe -- then we can preserve and promote them only by remaining true to our indigenous identities, a daunting challenge of rediscovery by itself. 

Philippine history as currently written, for instance, is by and large a history of the Tagalog nation, with the rest of us serving as rare if necessary footnotes. Alongside the effort to protect our native tongues must be a sustained endeavor to recall and extol our respective myths and legends, our prose and poetry, our heritages and histories. For as long as cultural imperialism remains ignored and/or unchallenged, the continuing crea- tion of the mythic "Filipino" at the expense of our historical and linguistic identities will proceed, resulting not only in a mongrel language, but a mongrel people with mongrel values as well. 

The Tagalog template has been rammed down our diverse nations fundamentally be- cause the powers-that-be since the 1570s have possessed a monopoly on the instru- ments of coercion: government, the educational sytem, and the media. Given these powerful, self-seeking forces, I see no hope whatsoever of protecting our national identities -- which necessarily includes our languages -- without radical political change. 

The Catalans of Spain and the Quebecois of Canada, as did native speakers of India's diverse language populations, utilized a wide variety of weapons in the arsenal of polit- ical tools available to them to win extravagant cultural concessions from their respective governments. Spain, Canada, and India accommodated their demands. When the same type of conflict occurred in Pakistan, that government's insensitivity and intransigience led to the bloody creation of Bangladesh. We cannot ignore the possibility [I personally view it as the inevitability] that the Philippine central government will violently resist any effort to erode its vast political and cultural powers. They have as much to lose as we have to gain. 

Perhaps because people innately realize that the death of language is the death of iden- tity, just as many wars have been fought over language as there have been over reli- gion. If we truly care for our true and dying nations, the bottom line is whether we are
as devoted to our tongues and cultures are we are to our faiths. 

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