One of the greatest problems that the Philippines must solve is the question of language. An independent nation for which the Philippines is aspiring to be must have one and only one official language. Up to the present time, English and Spanish are used interchangeably or simultaneously. Assurances have been given that the English language will finally become the official language of the people of these islands, the promise having been made many years ago. However, that promise has not as yet been redeemed. It is, however, reassuring to know that while the promise has not yet been fulfilled, no backward step has been taken in this connection. The millions of children in the public schools will be more than glad to learn that Senate President Quezon favors no language other English as the official language for the Philippines as shown in the Speech he delivered before the Inter-Alumin Union on March 12 which partly reads:
“I have just read your constitution and found that one of the things for which you are working is to have the English language declared as the only official language in the Philippine Islands. I have been for the proposition long before I knew English, and I really think that this is not a debatable question. It has been settled long ago by our Government and by our own people. When it has been decided that the English language should be the language to be taught in the public schools, that was tantamount to a definite declaration on the part of the Government that English will ultimately be adopted as the only official language of the Philippine Islands. For it would have been a waste of money to teach a language that could not be used by the men and women who have to go through many years of schooling to learn it. It would not have been only a waste of money but unjust to these young men and women. Of course, the English language has to be the official language of the Philippine Islands. It is out of the question to think of any of our native dialects for this purpose because we could not come to an agreement as to which one would be adopted. As a Tagalog I will fight to the end of my life for the adoption of the Tagalog, and Mr. De Leon, your President, will try to have the Ilocano as the official language. Besides, our native dialects have not the literature necessary for the education and intellectual training of our youths: If we have to pick up a foreign language English is the only language. It is the international language in the Far East. I remember when I first left the Philippine Islands in my trip to Russia — that was in 1909 and at the time I could only speak the Spanish language — from the time I landed in Hongkong until I met the first Filipino in Paris I could not understand anybody whom I met. And that trip made me learn English.
“On one occasion I sat on a table and intended to order for some eggs. I picked up the menu and pointed at something in it. I thought it was eggs but they gave me fish. So I was right there and then convinced that if I want to eat eggs and not fish I had to learn English.
“But there are some more important reasons. One of the aims of this society, as I learn it tonight, is to preserve democratic institutions, and, my friends, the English language is the best means of preserving democratic institutions in the Philippine Islands. I do not want to be more unpopular than I am now with the Spaniards and therefore I am not going to say what could be learned thru the Spanish language of liberty. I shall simply say that if you want to have a clear notion and conception of liberty and freedom you have to get it through English literature.
“But there is another reason which at this juncture is much more important from our point of view than all the others. You know that we are having a very hard time in convincing some Americans that we should have an independent Government. Those who are opposed to Philippine independence, as I have said on various occasions, may be divided into two or three classes. I am not going to describe now these different classes but I simply want to say that I think we can meet all of them through some kind of argument. When they see already that the hands of ate are pointing to the day when the separation must take place they will at least want to see that something permanent has been left here by the American people. And that should appeal to the pride of the American nation, to their sentiment — which according to Professor De Joya governs the world.
It would be a source of satisfaction and pride on the part of the American people to know that the time spent here by the United states has not been lost, that something has remained and will remain in the Islands forever. It would appeal to the American nation to know that even after their flag has been pulled down that American institutions and American ideals have become the heritage of the Filipino people. They will be assured of this when they know that the English language has been adopted by the people of the Philippine Islands as their official language. This is important that when I was a Resident Commissioner in the United states, in my travels I met people who discussed with me Philippine independence and generally at the end of the discussion they would ask: “What would be your language? What would be taught in your schools when we leave you?”. They of course know that English is now being taught in the schools. I invariably answered that it would be the English language. So I say, that the adoption of English as the official language of the Philippine Islands is a good means of securing Philippine independence.