Is diskarte more important than good English as Marian Rivera says?

Don’t look now but Marian Rivera’s come out swinging at her detractors, presumably over the subject of her famous English language skills (or lack of it). I’ve always found Marian fascinating. Her face and physical stature does not match her style of speech. Perhaps this is what endears her to her fans — she physically looks sosyal but, once she opens her mouth, suddenly comes down to a level the masses can relate with. I suppose it’s sort of like how Pinoys are so fascinated with “foreigners” who speak Tagalog.

So I wonder why the sudden need to reaffirm herself now. According to Marian, how well someone speaks English is not good basis for judging a person’s intelligence.

“Sabi ko nga, ‘yon ba ang basehan ng mga tao sa pagiging matalino?” wika ni Marian sa umereng episode ng “Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho” nitong kamakalawa nang bisitahin niya ang pinagtapusang De La Salle University sa Dasmarinas, Cavite.

Marian Rivera's looks allow her to get away with palengke English.
Marian Rivera’s looks allow her to get away with palengke English.
I would’ve thought she owed nobody any explanations or apologies for a quirk of hers that made her famous and endeared her to her fans.

What she says is true, of course. Some of the smartest people I knew in college did not speak good English. In fact, a lot of them came from prestigious science high schools like Philippine Science and Manila Science. They were top-notch at science and math subjects and pretty much humbled us private school snobs who came out of high school thinking we were a cut above the rest. See, we pretty much dominated the social scene in college because of our private school swagger and loud and twanged English speaking. But engineering school is not kind to “social” people. It rewards the quiet achievers. And many of these achievers stayed quiet because they couldn’t speak English well. So while us “bratpackers” loudly took up space at prime campus tambayans, the non-English “underclass” on campus beavered away at libraries and second-tier hangouts.

That said, I still have a problem with the sort of message Marian is bringing across to the Filipino masses by downplaying the role of English skills. The thing is, Marian can afford to speak palengke because she is beautiful. When you are beautiful and fair-skinned in the Philippines, you can pretty much get away with anything. That, as a matter of fact, is what “Nasty” is saying in his famous tirade; that the elite-looking “but uneducated, aquiline-nosed and light-skinned ******** picked up from some gutter somewhere” could “just flash their capped-tooth smiles and policemen let them get away with traffic violations” or “bat their false eyelashes and customs officers impose no duty on their suspicious balikbayan boxes.”

But the majority of Filipinos do not look like Marian Rivera or, for that matter, her hubby DingDong Dantes. Most Filipinos are short and dark skinned. Even the most English-proficient folks of this sort have to work doubly hard to get noticed in a room of tall, fair-skinned people. So you can imagine what it would be like for short dark-skinned people who don’t speak English well. Story of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s life, right? Thing is, not everyone is as smart and politcally-savvy as the Vice President too.

All things being equal then, Filipinos who could speak English well have an edge. Only 1% of Filipinos look like Marian Rivera. So for a person who counts in the 99+ percentile of the elite in terms of looks to tell average Filipinos that not being good in English is “ok”, is borderline irresponsible, I dare say.

Not surprising then that you will see a lot of people who take perverse pride in speaking baroque English — which is why people like Erap Estrada win presidential elections. Beautiful and idolized celebs telling their fans that bad English is good give validation to a majority who were unfortunate enough not to have been raised to speak great English. It enforces an anti-intellectual attitude in Filipinos, because it stigmatizes English rather than make it a skill to aspire to master.

Inggles Inggles ka pa diyan, Tagalogin mo na lang.

That familiar admonition from Filipinos to demonize people who prefer to express themselves in English is really a symptom of that unsavory psyche of Filipinos that probably keeps them poor. Most books on science and math are written in English. Maybe there are some written in Filipino, but they are very rare. And even among those rare ones, most of them will probably just be translations from original English texts.

As far as I’ve also observed, in the corporate world, people who could speak and write English well are also looked upon favorably by employers. In the old days, it was even common for job ads to include warnings like “non-grads of Ateneo, La Salle, Assumption, and UP need not apply”. Sometimes they even leave out UP! Lol!

But people like Marian Rivera don’t need to speak great English to get ahead. In fact, she need not even speak.

But for the millions of average Filipinos, communication skills are important. Look no further than the armies of unseen and invisible call center and BPO workers whose only puhunan is their language faculties.

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Post Author: Kate Natividad

Frustrated artist doing geek for a living.

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64 Comments on "Is diskarte more important than good English as Marian Rivera says?"

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Hehe
Guest

I wonder how Lucio Tan or Henry Sy speak English. Probably like Shakespeare? I doubt it but for sure they are smarter in one finger than 10,000+ English schoolteachers combined.

ChinoF
Member

Or luckier than the teachers. But they depend on English speaking employees to make their business grow. And perhaps the Sy children.

Mercury
Guest

This expression:

“NAKA-NOSEBLEED!”
“Spokening dollars ka na naman?”

Dick s. o'rosary
Guest

or how about “Don’t English me, I’m only poverty…”

ChinoF
Member

I’d say she’s wrong on that point. Skill in English denotes intelligence for language. And skill in English is our ticket to becoming world-class. Without this skill, how could have Lea Salonga have fared in Miss Saigon?

Anti-English sentiment is also hypocritical. Filipinos rail at fellow Filipinos who speak English well, but are “proud” of someone with Filipino blood who sings English songs in shows like American Idol.

Pallacertus
Guest
“Skill in English denotes intelligence for language.” So a guy with a harelip trying to speak English then hopping out all beet-faced is a dunce, then? In more ways than one? (English is pun!) Eh, biru-biruan lang. Pero sa totoo lang, iyong mga taong iisa lang ang alam na wika e limitado lang ang alam sa mundong ginagalawan natin. Pinoy man iyan o Amerikano o Tsino o kung ano pa man. If they are reasonably good in a second language or third or fourth language, they now have the chance if not the choice to tap into the intellectual reserves… Read more »
ChinoF
Member

I’d say, much of the literature telling us about multiple intelligence, modern views of language and such are disseminated in English. That’s one reason for holding on to that language.

ChinoF
Member

Maraming kaalaman na nakasulat sa Ingles. hehe

jameboy
Guest

And skill in English is our ticket to becoming world-class. Without this skill, how could have Lea Salonga have fared in Miss Saigon?
========
Nope! I’ve seen a lot of Filipinos who speaks good English and yet remain low-class.

Skills in English has nothing to do with world-class. Education and breeding is the key.

nurse_genie
Guest

I agree!

Tinee G
Guest
English is the medium language used in all the world. It’s used heavily in business, economics, more especially in academics and etc. Able to Learn and speak English can open doors to more oppurtunities worldwide, e.i to apply for visascreen either for work, studies abroad or business, one must the have a satisfactory band score to of 7 and up, and it is not that easy to reach a high score in English profiency test. The test is not even about grammar or technical knowledge of textbooks, it is about conversational english. A person’s ability to write, read, comprehend and… Read more »
yay!
Guest

Kaya nga kilala sya sa masa lalo na sa mga mahihirap kasi mas naiintindihan sya..di maarte, di sosyal at hindi hipokrita. Ano ba ang magagawa ninyo kung lumaki syang totoo at masaya..Di namna niya sinabi na hindi sya nakakapagsalita or di nya naiintindihan ang english sinabi lang nya may kahinaan sa english….Get real! Parang ang laki ng problema ninyo kay marian, lol..Ang english natututunan pero ang mukha at ugali mahirap po baguhin…kaya grow up!

domo
Guest

Speak for yourself you real life bimbo. Di maarte kamo? More like utak palengkera just like you. Huwag ka nang dumada pa dahil as long as your mindset is stuck in mediocrity, halatang inutil ka pa rin kahit nagtapos ka ng kolehiyo.

yay!
Guest
I’m currently living and working abroad. I’ve been to many places and have worked in 2 countries of Arabian Peninsula, Brazil and currently Germany. Sa mga lugar na nabanggit ko nasanay akong magsalita ng tinatawag nilang “barok” english. Pagkat hirap silang makaintindi pag aayusin mo ang pagsasalita. Though I believe that english should be acquired as a second language,para sa akin depende padin sa klase ng trabaho mo o lugar kung saan ka nagtatrabaho…Para nga akong tanga eh nagsasalita ng english kahit pa slow mo pa wala namang nakakaintindi. Lalo na mga Germans are fond of saying they don’t speak… Read more »
Tinee G
Guest
But take note, if Brazillian, Germans, or Arabs, wants to study or work abroad they will still have to take a english proficiency exam. It’s a requirement to know standard english. E.i how to write business e-mails, formal letters, write academic thesis and research, where to put comma in a sentence, how to write an article, and more. It is known that the standard english we know right now borrowed it’s words from different languages, such as latin, greek, german, french, hebrew, spanish and a little bit from this and that combined. In that sense, we all contributed to a… Read more »
tomas
Guest

she’s an actress. it’s all an act to endear her to the masses.=)

Jane Doe
Guest

You never know, she might be a smart woman in real life, she probably had to put on this act in order to relate to the Philippine masses.

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[…] article in getrealphilippines.com entitled “Is diskarte more important that good english as marian rivera says?”  points out that if a person has good looks they are treated better, in reality, sad to say that […]

Pallacertus
Guest

My name is not Pallacertus and I agree with the gist of this article.

Thing is, learning English has relevance beyond just looking for a job in the BPO industry or the like or abroad — vast reserves of great intellectual value lie locked within the English language. Whether or not someone who has to learn it wants to tap into said reserves and thereby enrich his perspective is his decision to make, pero kung ayaw nila e huwag nilang ipasa ang ayaw nila sa iba. Baka kasi may makuhang makabuluhan para sa kanila.

jameboy
Guest
I’m on the same page with the writer on the general idea of the article. I just missed the ‘diskarte’ part of the story. Anyway, it would be boring just to agree and not share some ideas to liven up the discussion. So here goes. I think speaking in English is not a matter that you can categorize as a serious problem in the country like the perennial gov’t corruption does. We all know that we’re better off in that category than other countries if we’re going to base on the demand for Filipino workers abroad based on our skills… Read more »
maria
Guest

Chinese, Koreans and Japanese are known to be nationalists and do not speak the English language well and their economies are thriving. Europeans and Americans are considered classy and first-world, but guess what is happening to their educational system and economy right now.. read the papers from time to time. So yea I agree with Mrs. Marian Dantes.

Jane Doe
Guest

Actually, Koreans can speak English well, it’s the Japanese who has broken English. Why is their economy better than the Philippines?

Filipinos brag about being good in English but their grammar is, for the most part, wrong.

saelynne
Guest

@Jane Doe WRONG. I teach English to Koreans and their grammar is ATROCIOUS.

Tinee G
Guest

Grammar does not matter that anyway in conversational english, it can only benefit if one is into english studies, or english major courses, writing or journalism courses.
Japanese as a whole are disciplined people. That is how they compensated their lack of english skills, but notice they are willing to learn english, hence the online tutorial companies growing here in the Philippines.

Jane Doe
Guest

Koreans can actually speak English well, it’s the Japanese who has broken English. Why is their economy doing better than the Philippines?

loraine
Guest

Not fair to compare Japan or Korea to US or Western Europe because of the diversity of the population. The US has a lot of immigrants and most of these immigrants are poor. Also, most innovations still start in the west. It’s not only being good in school. Now they found out that creativity and ability to express you thoughts and ideas are more important. Proficiency in English language is still important as it is the language of business and science.

Ronnie
Guest
“The ability to speak English is not a measure of your knowledge, breeding, values, character, self-worth and intellect”. I cannot understand why these bunch of hypocrites and pretentious Filipinos are so obsessed with people who can speak “senseless English”, especially those with the “twang” and look down upon those who are not good with the language; worse, they laugh at these people and mock them, as if they themselves have a perfect command of the language. After living in a country, which developed very rapidly despite the difficulty of the people to speak English, or even to pronounce and enunciate… Read more »
panda_pocky
Guest

Sad to say na pinagtatawanan ng mga Filipinos ang kapwa nila kapag wrong grammar. Heck even they make fun in other country’s english accents.

Vice Ganda
Guest

“I am Psychology.” – Marian Rivera.

Marie
Guest

mga Pilipino nga naman. Mahilig mangcriticize ng kapwa Pilipino.

Dick S O' Rosary
Guest
You know, I hate that word “diskarte”, it always seems to imply that you are getting away with something wrong or law breaking. Or that you have to step on someone’s foot to get ahead. To me it means, cheating in exams, ‘landian’ to get your way, beating red lights, illegal U-turns, speeding, cutting lines, stealing, “mangang(c)arolling” (i saw this in an episode of investigative documentaries some streetkids trying to “diskarte” a few coins), not giving of exact change by public utility drivers. The list of “diskarte” goes on and on. And thats the reason why the justice system in… Read more »
Jan Jan
Guest
Hate the word “diskarte”? Kung hindi ba naman dumiskarte ung tatay mu sa nanay mu, e papanganak kaba dito sa mundo? Kung hindi didiskarte yung mga bata na yan sa kalye meron ba silang makakain sa pang araw2 nila? kasalanan ba nila na pinanganak silang mahirap? kaya kailangan nilang dumiskarte, kasi tayung mga tao is meron tayong tinatawag na Mental Discrimination na example pag sa binyag my bisita kang mahirap pag marami ung kinuha sa lamesa kasi gutom, napapa isip na parang nakaka hiya yang mahirap na taong yan, pero pag mayaman yung bisita at maraming kinain na galing sa… Read more »
ChinoF
Member

Marian can say what she did because she doesn’t work in a call center. Kawawa naman mga nag ca-call center if they apply what she said to themselves.

ChinoF
Member
Also (with a little repost), I don’t mind people being a bit bad in language if they can get their message across, like this one: ‘we filipinos are so hypocrete. we live on lies and half truth. when I was a kid (am now 40 [years old]) our elders never give us straight answer. one day while playing to my female friend, we were both taking a bath (nude and I was 5 [years old]) I shout “ay pepe” [and] my aunt scolded me for saying bad words. another was, when I ask my aunt again how did I come… Read more »
Mr. Palengke
Guest
The Medium is the Massage! The purpose of any language as a tool of communication is best used to express and not to impress! Just as those visiting foreigners struggling to communicate with their broken Filipino as a gesture of amity and respect! Is Kate Natividad angry, confused, frustrated or just plain mayabang and more palengkera than Marian Rivera?! Kate in her own words: “…I still have a problem with the sort of message Marian is bringing across to the Filipino masses by downplaying the role of English skills. The thing is, Marian can afford to speak palengke because she… Read more »
Tinee G
Guest

Now, That is a myth! Dr. Jose Rizal’s native language was not tagalog though he knows a little bit, nor did he wrote the poem “Ang hindì marunong magmahal sa sariling wikà, masahol pa sa hayop at malansang isdâ!” Please go search it in the internet. He even said to his brother-in-law in his later life he almost forgot how to speak tagalog laguange, for the obvious reason that he’s always out of the country. Noli me tangere and el filibusterismo is not even tagalog itself.

Peter
Guest
There is a point here. I grew up during the Martial Law era when “free TV” would air programmes from the US and the UK in the English language. Upon reaching high school, it was imperative that I had to brush up on my Filipino skills, so I watched old Sampaguita/LVN movies as well as John & Marsha to catch up. I had no regrets speaking and expressing myself in English owing to my early exposure; this had led me to a flourishing career in the BPO industry. What I am concerned though about are current generations’ ability to pick… Read more »
Staycool
Guest
First of all, she didn’t have to explain nor offer any apologies for not speaking in english. Yon ang tinanong sa kanya eh di yon ang sinasagot niya. Bakit hindi si jessica soho ang topic mo? She was the one who asked that question. Totoo naman yong sinabi ni marian. It’s not fair na pag hindi ka nag-e-english, hindi ka na matalino. Start talking to me, you can speak english and i’ll speak tagalog. But you can’t claim na mas matalino ka sa kin. I just like to speak in tagalog. Period. End of story. Hindi sa pagsasalita ng english… Read more »
saelynne
Guest

@Staycool I sense the butthurt 🙂

Willyn T Trabajador
Guest

“Is diskarte more important than good english as Marian Rivera says?”

Just one question, Ms. Natividad:
How do you define a ‘good english’?

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