The Problem with Filipino views about English Speakers

Here’s a certain reaction I heard about English-Speaking Filipinos: “Ha? Bakit tayo nag-i-Ingles? Mayaman ba tayo? (Why should we be speaking English? Are we rich?)”

When I also noticed that people always assume I was rich and moneyed, I asked my mom about it and she said, “How could they not? You look white and you’re English-speaking.”

federal-tax-credit-416x312

From these, I surmised this form of dysfunctional thinking by Filipinos: that only rich people can speak English. So if you’re poor, but you speak English, you’re violating some sacred social tenet. But if one is rich, yet doesn’t speak English, there is no problem.

But the other observation I’ve had of Filipinos reacting to English speakers, as my mom said: if you speak English, then you should have lots of money… and you should give that money. Give it to us, specifically. And so if you refuse to give… we hate you. This is the complaint of some foreigners in the country; local Filipinos see them as walking ATMs.

I believe something similar happens in some family dynamics, wherein some members of the family (and I’m talking about adults) believe that they have the right to not work, and want only one member to provide for them. For example, if one sibling is already working (sometimes, the one who knows more English, like workers in call centers, although the more fitting example is the OFW), the other siblings will not look for work. They will instead insist that this working sibling will do all the work and will feed them and give them money. Then if the working person chides the others and tells them to work, they would recoil and retort, “Tumahimik ka! Magtrabaho na nalang para mapakain mo kami (Shut up! Just work so you can feed us)!” Thus, if charity starts in the family, so does mendicancy and the abuse of charity (though I’ll get into more of that in another article).

And thus, we go back to the problem of the nation that Get Real Philippines enshrines in its logo. Some Filipinos, instead of acting to improve their own situation, still believe they should receive things without work. And they will get it from those who work, or those they perceive as rich. This is why there are Filipinos willing to join rallies for pay. Instead of working to firm up the small business sector and present need competition for existing business, they would prefer to just play sycophant to the politicos and big business and receive some dole-outs. And instead of being upholders of truth, they would rather be paid hacks. Thus, a Filipino who overcomes all these and becomes an independent person, competent in work and fluent in English, a symbol of true working achievement, is the one they want money from. Otherwise, this person earns the Filipinos’ ire.

This is also evident in the sea region being squabbled over by several countries. Instead of being resupplied by their own people, the beached Sierra Madre is awaiting aid and supplies from the Americans. It’s as if, we are waiting for rich countries to save us rather than work to claim our own piece in the island group.

Of course, there are other myths about English-speaking to consider. For example, that other myth that contempt for English is considered “nationalism” and is a manifestation of appreciation for one’s culture, which I raised in a previous article. Sadly, there are even some foreigners who say this. But, as I maintain from that article, disdain for the English language helps keep the Philippines backward.

Thus, myths needs to be shattered and attitudes need to be changed. The Filipinos must collectively learn that resistance to English is analogous to unwillingness to accept responsibility and accountability, and improve themselves and work to improve their situation. Juan Tamad mendicancy in our backward culture is protected by this resistance to English.

I write this in English because there are still some ordinary people who are able to read English. Even some poorer Filipinos are likely to know some English – because it’s really needed for survival. Some people with anti-English attitudes also come from the middle and upper classes. They are in the position to influence attitudes of people, yet sadly, the influence they put out is the self-deprecating, self-defeating, harmful kind.

There was also a recent article where President B.S. Aquino’s choice of Tagalog for his speeches was slammed as a lame attempt at maintaining popularity. Instead of maintaining it in English, making it neutral to all tribes and factions in the country, he decided to enforce one tribe’s language on others. So if he speaks to the Cebuano crowd, he alienates them. If he spoke English, then that would actually mean that he is serious about unity. Opposition to English causes division.

Thus, I reiterate, condemnation of English and pushing of Tagalog only (and not Filipino, as shoehorned by Tagalog-dominated government) to all Filipinos keeps Philippine society backward. Since local mass media and popular culture would not cooperate with us, it is up to us “last-stand” English speakers to keep the language alive and keep it as a tool that empowers our fellow Filipinos to bring themselves out of the dysfunctions that hog their country. The ones who struggle to keep English competence a part of Philippine society are the ones who keep the good faith and fight the good fight.

print

About ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

Post Author: ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

Leave a Reply

56 Comments on "The Problem with Filipino views about English Speakers"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
MidwayHaven
Guest

I wonder how other people would react if me and my friends started speaking SPANISH in public. Would we get the same “oh-look-at-those-shitty-elitists” vibe as when we speak English?

Felicity Merriman
Guest

Considering how they drove that along with Chavacano to the brink of obscurity here…

‘Tis ironic that they view English as something reserved for snobs or elitists, yet they themselves exhibit an elitist mentality with pushing for “Tagalog Uber Alles”. For one, only the Tagalog version of Lupang Hinirang is recognised, even if singing it in English, Cebuano or even Klingon wouldn’t make it any less patriotic for as long as it’s sung with sincerity.

Karl W. Braun
Guest

Isn’t Spanish the original language the Anthem was written in?

Marcos
Guest

Yes, it is.

Dave
Guest
Reactions are weird to foreigners speaking the local language too. I travelled over much of Asia before the Philippines, and I’d make the minimal effort to learn the basics like “thank you” and “how much is it?” when paying at stores and restaurants. I figured it was the least I could do. My accent might not have been any good, but they didn’t seem to mind. Here, it’s often a hilarious surprise when the foreigner uses entry-level phrases. It’s encouraged me to be a lazy English-speaking foreigner in public now, even though I’ve been here two years. I only mix… Read more »
mariamorena
Guest

We laugh because of the needless effort they have to make. Filipinos, even the uneducated, can understand bits of English. English-speaking foreigners, too, who like singing in the dialects become even more funny. They think singing one song in another language is so brilliant. They don’t realize Filipinos know most, if not all, of their English songs.

d_forsaken
Guest

A good all-in English conversation should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.

Robert Haighton
Member
Even when talking about a language it is not fair to compare 2 countries. In my country every pupil attended secondary school is taught in multiple foreign languages (German, English & Spanish). But no one will talk nor speak any of those foreign languages in public nor in private. The main and only langauge spoken is Dutch (unless of course someone is presnt who has a different tongue). And I can assure you that most Dutch politicians speak lousy English. However there is one exception and that is Frans Timmermans. Timmermans, a polyglot, speaks fluent English, German, French, Italian, and… Read more »
OnesimusUnbound
Guest

Spanish, really 🙂 ? I think French is a more viable language for Dutch than Spanish.

Robert Haighton
Member

One,
I should have included French as well.

Although I know nothing about what other European languages other European schools teach their pupils but I guess its for us very evident why we are taught foreign languages.
We almost solely exist on our export so we need to speak foreign languages for trade reasons.

OnesimusUnbound
Guest

Oh, I see, I’ve assumed the three language you’ve mentioned are the *only* language taught in Netherland.

Yeah, English, Spanish, German, and French are will get one far when working in a global set up, though I think English, German, and French are more useful in Europe (specifically in EU) while English and Spanish (French and Portuguese if I may add further) in North and South America.

Robert Haighton
Member
One, There is one other important reason (or at least a benefit) why pupils and students are taught foreign languages in school. We like to travel and most of us can afford to travel abroad. Among teenagers/youngsters, Spain is a very popular destination. Yes, teenagers go on vacation with friends and without their parents. Germany, France and England are also popular destinations. And when those youngsters find their first full time job (after graduating from university or college) their destination will be further away from home. Mind you, we have about 25 or more vacation days (that is 5 weeks… Read more »
Amir Al Bahr
Guest
Well, Robert, You said first what I wanted to say: that multilingualism is, more often than not, driven by necessity. I guess, in your country’s case, the Netherlands is not only surrounded by other European nations, but it may not be big enough for some Dutch. This kind of layout brings the sort of common sense that: 1) your neighbors will most likely not speak your language; 2) they might not be bothered to learn yours; 3) you need to learn a tongue which you both will be both comfortable in; 4) but if you’re the one going to them… Read more »
Robert Haighton
Member
Amir, The Netherlands is a small country and quite insignificant on global scale (when talking about the Dutch language). In overseas territories (like Curacao and Aruba) they speak Dutch and in the northern part of Belgium. My personal experiences is that when working in an international environment (especially in the banking trade) English is the predominantly spoken language. Regarding your 4th statement pls be aware that the other party also wants to do business (sell someting or buy something) so its also in his interest everything goes smoothly. So he also would like to speak a language that both understand.… Read more »
Robert Haighton
Member
Amir, just to add: We have 12 provinces and in each of them they speak a deviated form of Dutch: Dutch with a dialect. However there is one (1) real Dutch language and that is called ABN (Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands) = standard Dutch (Dutch without any dialect or without any accent). https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standaardnederlands. Those who speak this standard Dutch are mostly from a good background. So maybe this can be compared to what ChinoF is relating to in his article. I think in England you have almost the same with Posh English (Posh is an informal adjective for “upper class”) and… Read more »
Serge
Guest

Dutch is also spoken in Suriname and the Dutch East Indies. I believe South Africa also has their own form of Dutch. The language itself isn’t as insular as most people think.

Robert Haighton
Member

That is correct, Serge.

Ricardo_Diaz
Guest

Unfortunately true. There’s a saying back in Pampanga. “Spoken in Dollar” Which basically means if you speak English, you’re bound to get paid. Not far off considering alot of jobs outside the country require English.

However, what they fail to realize that language alone isn’t going to get them everywhere. You still need the proper qualifications. And considering how other countries are LESS LIKELY to hire a Filipino who graduated from a university, the language is no longer the key to success alone.

mrericx
Guest

Without English in our country, there’ll be no BPO/Call Centers here. You mad bro?

Sick_Amore
Guest
Pinoys kasi they see English speaking as status symbol instead of seeing it as a tool for communication, doing business and learning. If they use it for the latter three, one can be comfortable in speaking English as he is in speaking Filipino. About the Pinoy bread winners (a sibling, daughter/son, and parent) whether working locally or as an OFW, some of them kinakawawa sarili. They will speak to other people about their tiring situation but keep it from their family. Even if they are fed up of supporting the whole family, stressed and burdened with it and feel like… Read more »
andrew
Guest
“There was also a recent article where President B.S. Aquino’s choice of Tagalog for his speeches was slammed as a lame attempt at maintaining popularity. Instead of maintaining it in English, making it neutral to all tribes and factions in the country, he decided to enforce one tribe’s language on others. So if he speaks to the Cebuano crowd, he alienates them. If he spoke English, then that would actually mean that he is serious about unity. Opposition to English causes division.” i agree with this one. let me borrow a quote from a forbes article on Mr. Yew’s view… Read more »
David Dimalanta
Guest
This is why dad advised me this: “Speak English if a person (foreigner or not) spoke English.” A language is a part of expression on wisdom and smart. I really pissed and forsake those bias people and that is due to the “poor vs. rich” situation, where assumed that rich guys are the bad guys. Some where also assholes (level-headed but sensitive or not, mostly trashtalkers and trollers.) I wanna confront them…but my courage isn’t enough yet to fight back because of my shame. Now, I even question if I deserve that shame or that shame I have is wrong.… Read more »
twisky
Guest
I feel your article, while valid, is just promoting one side of the argument. What I find more troubling is that if it’s a national mindset to use Tagalog as a national language, why it’s not developed to a point that it can be used in various industries globally– ie. English, Spanish, German, Japanese, even Korean has developed to the point of including banking, science, maths, arts, etc. My problem with Tagalog is just that it doesn’t suit my industry— technical architecture and planning. If someone asked me to do the complicated items I’m doing in Filipino, I’m sure to… Read more »
vbac2u
Guest

“ENVY” is the first and foremost reason. Some kabayan uses this (English is to rich) mentality because either naiingit o ignorance na may ibang paraan para mag kausap o magkaunawaan sa Munro.

Aeta
Guest

vbac2u,

Here’s a little insight into human pyschology. “Envy” is the same emotion as ‘Admire.’ The latter is just more socially acceptable because it doesn’t arouse any suspicion.

Aeta

Athena
Guest
You highlighted several points there, bro. Personally, I haven’t had much experience with leaching relatives (my hubby grew up poor and he’s tightfisted with the money so he doesn’t tolerate leaches). What gets me is that people think you’re trying to be high and mighty when you speak in English. I’ve had so many experiences when people finally told me to “just say it in English” when I attempted not to appear high and mighty. Also, I’ve had experiences when I’ve been laughed at for speaking in Filipino because I couldn’t express myself well. At least, di pa naman ako… Read more »
Richard Noar ("Atila")
Guest
Richard Noar ("Atila")

…one thing I noticed while in the Philippines, was the practice of politicians explaining their shortcomings, always seemed to switch to English when they got to the damning parts of their confessions.

Atila
Guest

…one thing I noticed while in the Philippines, was the practice of politicians explaining their shortcomings, always seemed to switch to English when they got to the damning parts of their confessions.
-Atila-

Aeta
Guest

Atila,

I’ve noticed the same thing among politicians when they’re trying to sound apologetic. I guess they figure that if they use English, the masses wouldn’t be able to tell if they’re lying.

Aeta

mark
Guest

you’re write ups and contents are really good, the site just needs a make over to make it more appealing like rappler or spin.ph.

I Think, therefore, I am not Filipino
Guest
I Think, therefore, I am not Filipino

This site is sooo cluttered. HuffingtonPost is cluttered, too, but has controlled chaos.

Nicasio
Guest
LOL! If I am not mistaken, every commercial passenger jet airline pilot must speak or learn English. Whatever one thinks about English, while flying into a Russian, Iranian, or Philippine airport – the pilot to tower communication is English. My wife speaks Cebuano, Tagalog, Wari Wari (excuse if spelling is off), and she is just a High School graduate. Resistance to second languages is not unique around the globe. In the USA they have fought to keep Spanish from becoming a second language – what a pity. As a lazy senior citizen, it is the way words (vowels and such)… Read more »
Eterio Herrera
Guest

Well its nice to speak taglish like the words of Eraption English speaking mentality, as what our former President Erap said: there are lots of allegation this days, I like to know who are the alligators…

Willaim Jackson
Guest

Question, what is the official language of the USA? If you said English you are wrong. What are the two languages that you need to know in the USA to most jobs. The answer is English and Spanish. Next time someone speaks about the USA, ask them how long did they live there. If the answer is less than 10 years, do not listen to them.

OnesimusUnbound
Guest

To be precise, USA doesn’t have an official language at the national level but its states may have none, one or two state-level official language/s. However, English is the language used in the US national government.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States#endnote_engoffbox

Nonetheless, Spanish speakers are significant enough to be left unnoticed, especial for businesses who want to expand their market.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States#Language

wpDiscuz