Sunday, August 28, 2011


There was an article published on Manila Bulletin, probably around August 24, that brought up commotion on social media. A friend tweeted about it few days ago, but didn’t get the chance to even take a glimpse of the link. It’s long weekend so I decided to browse the net, for about, um, whole day? Was about to sleep since it is 4am already, until I stumbled upon the said article, the article of James Soriano. Whoever that guy is. 

The article entitled “Language, learning, identity, privilege” deliberately insulted the Filipino language. I was shocked to read that from a Filipino, who was raised in the Philippines, and is still in the Philippines. Aside from the obvious reason on how a Filipino can insult his own language, what really surprised me is how one can actually be too polluted with what we call colonial mentality. Too polluted that it can actually betray its own identity.

I have to admit, I hate the Filipino subject. I am sure many hated it as well: it’s boring, difficult and downright confusing. But the Filipino subject isn’t just about the technicalities of speaking Filipino, it is not just for practicality, or even for formality’s sake. Studying Filipino is like reaping our culture. It is not just about ‘pang-abay, parirala, or pangngalan’, Filipino subject is also about ‘bugtong, alamat, nobela’. Those riddles, tales and novels that our Filipino writers wrote and is shared from one generation to another. Could you English “eto na si kaka, bubuka-bukaka” and still find it amusing? The Filipino subject introduced Florante at Laura, Ibong Adarna, and how can one disregard Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Have you read any of Francisco Baltazar and Jose Rizal’s writings? In the whole world, very few can understand and feel the sentiments written on those magnificent novels. But bring out any of the Twilight series, and prepare to share the same mediocre emotions among the rest of the readers. That’s something for them to envy about. Just imagine the French, having their romantic language, no need for any cheesy Twilight verses (sorry for being bitter about Twilight though, haha).

Filipino subject is boring, difficult, confusing: a picture of intelligence indeed.

Filipino as the language of the streets. Filipino as the language for tinderos, maids, manongs. THIS BECAME QUITE HARD TO GRASP. C’mon, they all have one thing in common, well 90% of them I guess… they didn’t finish school, primarily because they lack funds. So does that mean that Filipino is for the unlearned and poor? Or that the English language is the embodiment of cleverness and wealth? I can’t blame you if that’s how you see it. Somehow I would blame society, for the apparent line between the rich and the poor. Never thought though that this line dictates how one speaks from another. You came from a good school, heard you’re an Atenean, a place where you breathe in the smell of money, of cars, of businesses, of intelligence… and of the English language. Most probably you were brought up by your parents in a world where in you get to mingle only to those of the same perception of life as yours, and so your only discernment of middle and lower class are your helpers, and of those in the streets. Can I not blame you for that?

I would have to agree that the English language is very important in one’s career: Thesis, essays, interviews, client meetings, just few of our English combats.  But as a Filipino, our own language is also very important in one’s life, yes life in general. May it be in your career, family, friends, partner, the Filipino language will be your salvation. For no matter how articulate you have spoken the English language, at the end of the day, the words “Salamat”, “Mahal kita”, “Pasensya”, would still mean more than the overrated ‘I Love You”. What I am trying to say is, though I would want my future kids to practice the English language well, it is because I want them to have an extra gear for confidence, but I won’t disregard our own language. My future kids will learn how to say “Po” and “Opo”, and would consider our language, not as a basis of social status, but as a country’s medium for unity, communication, and pride. Ironically he preferred to use it as a means of discriminating one class from another.

I could raise all my eyebrows up when he said that the Filipino language is not the language of the learned. This is one of the most superficial judgments ever. Without all hypocrisy, I would want this article to be in Filipino, but I have always been frustrated for not being able to write fluently in that language. And that for me is ignorance. Not being able to speak the language of your own is ignorance. And pushing that the language of another land is but the best… is betrayal. I would still understand how you were able to write those things about the English language, you have been a product of western dominance. But what I don’t understand is why you have to write such things about the Filipino language, it’s like stabbing the Filipinos themselves, and you’re a Filipino too, that’s what made it more painful.   

On the other hand, I would like to thank you. Your article opened up my eyes on the effect of the years’ past to the present generation. Your article made me love my language more, I never imagined I would defend the Filipino subject, I won’t be surprised now if I ever would defend Mathematics someday! Your article has been very timely to actually contemplate on this month’s preservation of our native language.

Lastly, thank you for admitting that you are worse than a stinking fish… but sir James, you live here, in the Philippines, and the least you can do is to not let us smell it too.