Rizal wrote the original version of this poem in Tagalog when he was just eight years old. Rizal’s most famous quote, “Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika, daig pa ang hayop at malansang isda.” is from this poem.
To read the original Tagalog version of this poem, see Sa Aking Mga Kababata.
If truly a people dearly love
The tongue to them by Heaven sent,
They’ll surely yearn for liberty
Like a bird above in the firmament.
Because by its language one can judge
A town, a barrio, and kingdom;
And like any other created thing
Every human being loves his freedom.
One who doesn’t love his native tongue,
Is worse than putrid fish and beast;
And like a truly precious thing
It therefore deserves to be cherished.
The Tagalog language’s akin to Latin,
To English, Spanish, angelical tongue;
For God who knows how to look after us
This language He bestowed us upon.
As others, our language is the same
With alphabet and letters of its own,
It was lost because a storm did destroy
On the lake the bangka 1 in years bygone.