Lingo Ng Wika 2011 Essays


ADDENDUM: The original Manila Bulletin article has been taken down but a copy of the article exists here and here.  This is also Google’s cache of the piece. Further, I have decided to also repost the article at the end of this post.

James Soriano is being criticized in the social media for his article in Manila Bulletin about his perception regarding the national language. James wrote about how the English language is his primary language, about how it is the language of the learned, the language of the classroom and laboratories, the language of the courtroom, boardroom, operating room etc. and how the Filipino language is the language of the streets, that even with the capacity for learning it is not the language of the learned.

Much of what he said about the Filipino language as he perceived it growing up hurts. It cuts a hole deep in our nationalistic hearts and really wounds our pride as a nation. For that he has been criticized, but I believe it is criticism he can be proud of because he has exposed the truth and indeed the truth hurts and can be hard to swallow.

As much as he has been criticized over and over for his untimely article during the Buwan ng Wika – my UP group and Twitter timeline criticizes his article – I beg to differ with their opinion.

Like him, I must say that I grew up with the English language. Although my household spoke Filipino primarily, I was taught how to read in English. Back at school, we were taught in English. Filipino indeed was a special subject of itself, which we all grew to loathe. It was a chore learning of the pandiwa, parirala, pangungusap etc. etc. We had clubs promoting English as not just a way of language but a way of thinking. During break times, people who spoke in Tagalog or the vernacular would be fined for every word spoken. English was promoted and glorified when we were in primary school. And thus I learned to speak, think, even dream, in English.

Of course I knew the vernacular, I could speak Tagalog and Bicol (my dialect) fluently though sadly not as fluent as English. When I was mad, I expressed myself in English. When I discovered my flair for writing, it was in English. I became more comfortable expressing myself in English.

Yes, the Filipino language is beautiful. Growing up and being exposed equally to Filipino literary works made me appreciate the language even more. But I cannot deny that it was English I was comfortable with.

In college, I had to take a subject in Filipino out of desperation. I needed Philippine units to graduate and the course about Philippine culture I wanted were all full. It was the course on Filipino language that was severely lacking in takers. I had no choice but to take it lest I do not graduate. I faced the subject with trepidation. I viewed it as a course wherein I wouldn’t really learn anything but merely enter the class for the sake of attendance.

But I was wrong. In the subject, I learned about the Filipino identity as defined by the Filipino language. I learned that much of the progress our nation lacks now is tied up with the lack of identity we have as a nation primarily because of our adaptation of a culture and a language that is not entirely ours. I learned that to fully solve the problems of our society, we would need to embrace our Filipino language entirely because it would connect to our sense of identity.

However, it cannot be denied that English has indeed become the language of the learned in the country. This is said in the paradigm that our courtrooms, our hospitals, even our government institutions uses English. I posted earlier this year about an incident wherein our municipality released a census survey written in English. And they expected the constituents to fill it out entirely! How can the greater population do so then if they are not taught about English?

And so I agree with James Soriano when he said that:

For while Filipino may be the language of identity, it is the language of the streets. It might have the capacity to be the language of learning, but it is not the language of the learned.

It is neither the language of the classroom and the laboratory, nor the language of the boardroom, the court room, or the operating room. It is not the language of privilege.

For me, his article is a timely article during this month of the Buwan ng Wika. For more than insulting the national language, he has actually exposed the reality of the state of our language now. We are hypocrites trying to glorify the Filipino language in a month when in reality, the way we speak and conduct ourselves is in English.

How many interviews have you attended wherein the language used was English? How many presentations have you made wherein you presented in English? How many forms – even official public forms – have you filled out wherein everything was written in English? What medium is now used in our educational institutions to teach lessons in Science and Math? How many families do you know whose kids learn to speak English first before learning to speak Filipino? How many commercial establishments have you entered where they greet their customers in English instead of Filipino?

I gave credit to our President for delivering his recent SONA in Filipino. I wonder then why all previous presidents delivered theirs in English when delivering one in Filipino is possible and just as effective – if not more so? Is it really because English is the language of the learned?

To all of James’ critics, I say that before actually criticizing the guy who was honest enough to admit who he is, why don’t we examine first what is really happening in our society, as he said, of rotten beef and stinking fish. Maybe we will see that what he said is really something worth pondering about, that it is the reality engulfing us, and that perhaps we are just too full of pride to admit that indeed he is right.

Continue reading “The Language that is Filipino”

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Стратмор знал, что, если он сейчас достанет мобильник и позвонит в службу безопасности, Сьюзан будет жить. Он готов был спорить на что угодно, хоть на собственную жизнь, потому что ясно представлял себе весь сценарий. Этот звонок будет для Хейла полной неожиданностью. Он запаникует и в конце концов, столкнувшись с группой вооруженных людей, ничего не сможет поделать.

После минутного упорства ему придется уступить.


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