April 20, 2024

In our increasingly diverse society, encountering situations where not everyone appreciates diversity can be disheartening.
This reflection stems from a recent encounter with a colleague, an educator who criticized my use of Tagalog – my mother tongue – while communicating with a saleslady in Baguio.
The remark, “Agtaga-Tagalog ka nga,” brought attention to a concerning oversight in understanding the significance of linguistic diversity, even among educators.
This is particularly poignant given that I was born and partly raised in Pampanga, where neighbors are mostly either Tagalog-speaking or Kapampangan.
Tagalog, as the foundation of our national language and a medium of instruction in schools, is deeply ingrained in the Filipino identity.
Despite this, my colleague seemed to dismiss its importance, underestimating the linguistic understanding of those in Baguio City.
Baguio, as a melting pot of cultures, is home to individuals from diverse backgrounds. While Tagalog may be unfamiliar to some, it is by no means a foreign language here. Many locals, including Igorots, are proficient in Tagalog, making it a practical and inclusive choice for communication.
Characterizing my use of Tagalog in Baguio as an act of agi-agin given that I am also proficient in Kankanaey, if this is what my colleague was insinuating, is narrow-minded.
My ability to speak Kankanaey, my mother’s language from the Mountain Province, shouldn’t lead to criticism when I choose to use Tagalog.
I’ve acquired this additional linguistic skill, along with Ilokano and Ibaloy, over time to connect with the diverse dialects in the Cordillera.
Language preference doesn’t imply pretension, and everyone has his or her comfort zone when it comes to communication.
It’s unfortunate if someone perceives it negatively. Embracing various languages and choosing one for communication should be seen as a personal choice rather than a reflection of character.
Open-mindedness promotes understanding and harmony in diverse communities like Baguio.
The encounter serves as a reminder that, even with linguistic versatility, some may question language choices, highlighting the need for broader education on the richness of Baguio’s diverse linguistic landscape.
Recognizing the diverse backgrounds of individuals in Baguio is crucial, and assumptions about their ethnicity based on occupation should be avoided.
Using Tagalog is a neutral and inclusive choice in the city’s multicultural environment. Communication should foster understanding and connection, using a language that ensures everyone involved can participate comfortably.
Calling someone off for using Tagalog when they are fluent in various Cordillera dialects, is generally unnecessary.
Respecting and appreciating linguistic choices is key, fostering understanding and unity in a culturally rich place like Baguio.
In our professional and personal interactions, let’s celebrate the beauty of linguistic diversity. By embracing all the languages spoken in Baguio, we contribute to a community where everyone feels empowered to express themselves in the language that resonates with them.
After all, language respect is a two-way street that leads to a more harmonious and understanding society.