DESPITE the many arguments on Filipino as the national language—whether it unites or divides the Philippines—Dr. Bayani Santos Jr. believes that it is indeed the Filipino people’s “intellectual language.”
According to Santos, a “Gawad Sanaysay 2015” awardee of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, Filipino language can solve this nation’s many problems such as poverty.
This is the third time Santos has won in the national essay competition where he landed first in 2008 for his paper on Linguistic Enfranchisement, and third in 2011 on his refutation of the rhetoric on Imperial Manila as Tagalog domination.
Santos, also a professor of literature, language, history, and law and media ethics at The Manila Times College (TMTC), recently received the second prize for his essay titled “Ang Wika sa Kalayaang Pangkabuhayan at Pangkaunlaran ng Bansa,” and entered under the competition’s theme, “Wikang Filipino: Wika ng Pambansang Kaunlaran.”
The other 2015 winners were: Mark Anthony Reyes for “Malapit sa Bituka: Kaliwaang Kawing ng Filipino at ng Tunay na Pambansang Kaunlaran” and Dorothy Javier of De La Salle University for her piece, “Sa Gitna ng mga Unos, at Pagsubok ng Bayang Filipinas, Nananatiling Susi ng Pambansang Kaunlaran ang Wikang Filipino.”
In his 25-page essay, Santos explained how the intellectualization of the Filipino language and its use in the teaching of economics can improve the literacy of Filipinos in micro-economic analysis.
By using Filipino as the language of finance, for example, Santos said business and the academe can catalyze true participatory democracy in the Philippines where everyone, even a farmer and street peddler, can understand where scarce resources are spent.
Everything thus becomes transparent. The English-speaking intelligentsia cannot take control of the national discourse only for and among themselves, he said.
Santos also teaches in other schools like Manuel Luis Quezon University, Holy Angels Graduate School, Emilio Aguinaldo College, and Central Colleges of the Philippines.
Love for Filipino runs in the blood
The high regard for the Filipino language runs in the blood of Santos. He is, after all, a direct grandson of Lope K. Santos who is revered as the “Ama ng Balarila ng Wikang Pambansa.”
Lope K. Santos, fondly called Mang Openg, was a poet, novelist, journalist, union leader, public servant, and a senator.
National Artist Bienvenido Lumbrera said Santos is a singular hero in the pre-eminence stature of Tagalog among the languages of the country. “If Tagalog has become the pre-eminent local language, one of the major reasons was that it had a Lope K. Santos,” Lumbrera extolled.
In 1940, he grammatically codified Tagalog through the “Balarila ng Wikang Pambansa” as the basis for Filipino grammar. He is also popular for Banaag at Sikat (Dawn and Sunrise), the first Tagalog sociological novel he wrote in 1903, universally held as a Tagalog classic and masterpiece.
As a public servant, the elder Santos was appointed director of Surian ng Wikang Pambansa (National Language Institute) during the time of then President Manuel Quezon. After a congressional mandate, the President declared the national language as one of the country’s official languages, with English and Spanish, in 1939.
Mang Openg cherished the national language so much that he preferred to use the letter K from the Filipino alphabet in place of C in Canseco derived from the Spanish alphabet.
Since then, his descendants have named themselves with Filipino/Tagalog words: Bayani, Adhika, Bituin, Butihin, Dalisay, Lakambini, Ligaya, Liwanag, Luningning, Lualhati, Maka-Araw, Pangarap, and Paraluman.
One can know a Santos descendant with a self-respecting Filipino name. (“If Thais and Japanese answer to names in their own language, why should Filipinos be named Justines and Peters?” the younger Santos rhetorically asked.)
He grew up in an environment where Filipino was spoken elegantly and respectfully, with Spanish serving as the other family language of his elders. English was only occasionally used, and only in very exceptional school-related situations.
“It was an affectation for me to speak Spanish to my grandmother and to our most respected elders. We did not speak English in the household. If we did, that was for academic arguments only. We had always regarded the Filipino language as our language of price,” Santos said in Filipino.
Carrying on the torch lighted by his grandfather, Dr. Bayani Santos Jr. serves the country in his own way through journalism and the academe.
“My father would say that success is about serving your country well. You are not necessarily successful by just becoming an engineer. That success is only for yourself,” he recalled
The journalist becomes a professor
In his prime years, Santos took the noble duty to tell the truth for public’s sake. He was hired right away as the editor of the martial law-era opposition and militant WHO Magazine after receiving the cum laude distinction in AB Mass Communication at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman in 1977.
“In UP, I became a scholar by the second semester of year one, while working. I managed to clinch the cum laude distinction even while I had worked as a waiter at the then Rino’s Restaurant on Roxas Boulevard. By my senior year, I worked as a reporter with the Economic Monitor under Willie Baun. Right there after the graduation ceremony, someone was someone was already waiting downstage to offer me a job at a magazine owned by the Manila Bulletin,” he said with understandable and apologetic price.
From then on, Santos had been a senior reporter, editor, and publisher to corporate and independent publications, including The Manila Times, Philippine Daily Inquirer, SunStar Manila and Agencia EFE-Manila, the Spanish news agency, and publisher of the Manila Out.
He also was editor of the best corporate publications in the early 80s, with three Anvil Awards of Excellence and three Quills, for Far East Bank and National Steel Corp..
While working as a journalist, he took up MBA units at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business in 1992, graduate studies in sector technology management at the Netherlands International Institute of Management in 1991, Master of Arts in English (Thesis with distinction) in 2009 at Manuel L. Quezon University (MLQU), and Doctor of Philosophy in 2012 at the same university. He is now finishing a law degree at the MLQU/Escuela de Derecho Manila Law College.
After over 25 years in journalism, Santos realigned his time and energy to teaching mass communications, journalism, communications theory, politics and governance, Rizal course, and Philippine history in TMTC and MLQU. Lately, he has occupied himself with research papers.
“On your question on what inspires me: I think, family and racial and national lore. I am thankful for the basic decencies we learned from our elders, the values, the respect for our roots, which we inherited from my grandfather Lope down to our parents and elders,” he said as a parting shot.
In his own ways, Santos believes he has already made some modest contributions to the country.