Martin: Harvard recognition of Filipino notable
House Speaker Martin Romualdez on Sunday urged the public to be proud that the prestigious Harvard University had recognized the Filipino language as the fourth most-spoken language in the United States.
Romualdez issued the statement over reports he donated money so that Harvard can offer a course on the Filipino language, alongside Thai and Bahasa Indonesia, for the first time in the institution’s 400-year history.
In March, Harvard, which produced eight US presidents, including Barack Obama, announced it would start offering the three languages to its students.
“This is a remarkable acknowledgment of our culture and heritage on a global platform,” the Speaker said. He then quoted Jose Marco Antonio II, co-president of the Harvard Undergraduate Philippine Forum, saying, “Our focus should be on celebrating this achievement.”
Romualdez said he firmly believes “in promoting and preserving our Filipino identity, and this step by Harvard is a testament to that effort.” There are an estimated 4.2 million Filipino-Americans in the United States.
The House leader brushed aside the reports on the donation as mere “speculations.” One report said a donation of $1 million was made to Harvard, while another claimed it was $2 million.
“In light of recent speculations regarding my alleged donation to Harvard University, I choose to respect the institution’s gift policy,” he said in a Viber message to House reporters.
The Filipino or Tagalog course will be part of the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard. It announced in March that it would hire three preceptors to teach Thai, Bahasa Indonesia, and Filipino in the academic year 2023-2024.
It said it received $1 million from the Asia Center for the new positions.
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