By Abner Galino
At the Historic Filipinotown (HFT) in Los Angeles, this year’s Buwan ng Wika did not lapse so silently.
Thanks to some kindred souls who, at the close of the month of August, managed to put up a modest presentation that highlighted the significance of the BuwanngWika even among expatriates.
At the start of the program, Art Garcia, one of the organizers, notified the audience of another historic event worth celebrating on that day. Garcia said aside from the closing of the Buwan ng Wika, August 31 was also the birthday of President Ramon Magsaysay.
Magsaysay is the seventh president of the Republic of the Philippines. He was well-lovedby Filipinos because of the pro-poor policies of his administration. He was the first Philippine president to wear a Barong Tagalog during inauguration.
Unfortunately, eight months before the end of his term, Magsaysay died on March 16, 1957 when his plane crashed on Mt. Manunggal in Cebu while on his way to Manila.
Going back to Buwan ng Wika celebration in HFT, the event was jointly put up by the Philippine Institute of Language, Arts and Culture (PILAC), the Knights of Rizal and the Filipino American Service Group Inc. (FASGI).
It was held at the Silver Lake Medical Center Cafeteria at Temple St.
PILAC has been organizing this event for the Filipino-American community for the past four years, holding the last three celebrations at the Los Angeles-Philippine Consulate General. However, due to a recent change of command at the consulate, the group was not able to hold the program there.
Consul Rea Oreta and Cultural Officer Wilma Bautista represented the Philippine consulate office.
Oreta commended PILAC for painstakingly promoting national language, culture and arts even if they were away from the homeland. She added that aside from the national language, Filipino-Americans should also continue to use and pass on the other Filipino dialects to the next generation.
But perhaps the most meaningful talk was delivered by FASGI Executive Director Yey Coronel Alcid at the closing of the program.
Coronel-Alcid pointed out first that the national language is called Filipino not Tagalog. Contrary to popular assumption, Tagalog is not the national language but only the base dialect on which Filipino was formed.
But Coronel-Alcid’s more important message was: “Kung tinatangkilik po natin ang ating wika, tangkilikin din po natin ang ating kapwa Pilipino.”
PILAC’s CEO Emily Roberts delivered the opening remarks.
A traditional dance called “Tiklos” was performed byseniors of the Silver Lake CBAS. It was followedby a performance of the Bicol group led by Bernie and Rey Ganon through their rendition of the traditional Bicol dance “Pantomina.”
Poet Tony Bernago of the Knights of Rizal (KOR) recited a poem while UCLA Prof. Tita Domingo sang a capella nationalistic songs.
The celebrants share a modest dinner after the program.
Before there was Buwan ng Wika, there was only Linggo ng Wika, which was originally celebrated during the months of March and April.
In 1955, President Ramon Magsaysay signed Proclamation 186, which set Linggo ng Wika every August 13 up to August 19, which was the birth date of President Manuel Quezon (in 1878). He moved the dates because the original celebration dates did not fall within the school year and schools cannot participate in its celebration.
Buwan ng Wikacame to bewhen President Fidel Ramos signed Proclamation 1041 in 1997.
Quezon is known as the Amang Wika ng Pambansa, for decreeing the mandatory teaching of the national language in schools.