Should Filipinos Go Back to Pursuing Excellence in English?

Through the years, I have witnessed the steady decline of Filipinos in about almost everything they used to be good at, and one area is in their command of the English language.

While neighboring countries like Korea and Japan have only recently realized the great value of this de-facto language of choice in today’s highly interconnected world of global trade, business and media; and have been working hard to catch up to our level (like coming over to learn English here), here we are as Pinoys (true to stupid form) going in the direction of the dodo bird in finding new ways to achieve self-destruction and eventual extinction towards obscurity. Is this really our fate?

Our degradation in English competency has recently been aggravated by our becoming the texting capital of the world (cge c u ltr ha) – further bastardizing and perverting the hardly respectable FUBR level of Taglish we are left using in classrooms to teach the next generation. What a big blow on Filipino pupils’ capacity to spell correctly.


People! English is about the only clear leverage we have in this region of the world even as we struggle to advertise the Philippines to be a major tourist destination and a location foreign investors would consider setting up shop in and here we are flushing this pearl of a competitive advantage we’ve been blessed with down our stinking clogged sewers.

Every now and then, we get some clamor for the use of Tagalog on this blog site. One commenter Mr. Salamat in the midst of our discussion on a previous article respectfully questioned us on why we were using a foreign language here if our objective was to reach the masses. And recall that Mr. Grimwald some time ago even went to great lengths writing articles in Tagalog for this large but rather marginalized audience. This gave me the impetus to think deeper about what we stand to gain or lose in keeping English as our primary medium of formal communication. Let me air my views (to mention a few):

1. Personally, I prefer to use English to communicate in and outside this site owing to its far richer and superior depth of vocabulary. Tagalog doesn’t even have words for “cute”, “convenient”, “precision” and “quantum electrodynamics”. How am I supposed to express myself effectively and accurately?

2. I don’t know about my fellow citizens (like in U.P. where they are translating entire science courses into Tagalog – looks like a waste of time/effort to me; focus on fixing your research instead guys), but I am a proponent of bringing back Filipinos’ level of English to that in the glory days of our parents a generation ago (Marcos’s era) – boy, were they good grammarians back then (subject-verb agreement, appropriate use of articles, etc.). Wouldn’t that be beneficial for our Call Center industry and for fuelling the competence of our OFWs, sectors through which we rake in billions to keep this domestic-consumption-driven economy largely afloat?

3. Lastly Tagalog has its place. It is a beautiful language suited for singing and poetry with the softly rolling “…ang”, “…hay” and “nga…” sounds not present in rigid-sounding languages like German or Japanese and that just blends perfectly with the beautiful intonations of Filipino singers/poets gifted with so much innate emotional firepower. However, Tagalog is not a language designed for written text. I mean – what a chore to write all those repeating syllables like “sa pamamagitan ng” – when you can simply and compactly say “by” in English. Sa totoo lang nakakaduling at nakakahilong basahin ang Tagagagagalogogogogog. By its sheer overall efficiency, we just have to concede that English is simply more concise and loaded on a per letter basis. Time (for typing) is gold; paper is expensive – so why use a slower medium that occupies more space when a faster one exists.

Hey don’t accuse me of being pro-colonial-imperialism – I’m just following the national hero’s example: Noli and Fili were in Spanish right? I still love Tagalog and use it extensively for casual verbal communication with loved ones and friends. So Filipinos who simply have the practical common sense to use English shouldn’t be categorized as the “stinking fish” Rizal was talking about.

Singapore being a society composed of a mixture of Chinese, Malays and Indians adopted a very smart policy we ought to consider following: to make English the official language for business, government and education, and to keep it that way rather than vacillating like a woman’s mood in her monthly cycle attack. Let’s make a stand.

And that policy didn’t keep Singaporeans from maintaining their sense of national pride and patriotism. It’s about time we Filipinos wake up by emulating our smart neighbor if we want to follow its tested and proven path of success, unless of course we are simply content on continually eating the dust of every other country that has zoomed past us.

Mabuhay ang wikang Ingles!

[Photo courtesy New York Times.]


Post Author: zaxx

Zealous revolutionary advocate of bringing back common sense for the common good in a land of dysfunctional and delusional zombies.

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272 Comments on "Should Filipinos Go Back to Pursuing Excellence in English?"

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Yes, English is a lingua franca, but there are times that using Filipino is better. However, what language to use in different situations is a case to case basis. Dipende sa kausap kasi eh. So rather than pursuing excellence in English or Filipino, why not both? Why choose one over the other kung pwede naman parehas? Makakabuti naman di ba? And just my two cents, since this blog is about Filipinos and for Filipinos, wala naman problema kung mix ng English at Filipino yung articles di ba? Wag lang naman yung sobrang bastardized na mix. Buysit yun. Pero basta ang… Read more »

English is my first language. I use also Tagalog. I can speak and write, several foreign languages.

English made me, be educated in good Universities in the U.S. It gave me higher education. With higher education; I was able to be employed in a good company.I need the English language ; because, my field of work is in the Technical/Scientific field. Most of the advanced books, literature, and articles in my field are written in English language.

Besides, I am married to a British girl. She cannot understand Tagalog. But, with English, we understand each other. My children all speak English.

I do agree with the article overall but there are few things that don’t ring true to me. For an example, even if tagalog is written quite longer, it’s more phonetical than English. In English there’s a spelling bee, in Tagalog, none. why b in “doubt” silent? To be fair, English has one of the easiest grammar in indo-european languages? Do you know how to conjugate a Spanish verb? Do you know how German adjective changes? English is far easier than these two languages, but its orthography is a huge mess. Without a speller checker, mine will br littered with… Read more »
Vagoneto Rieles
I had written a piece related to the myself..earlier. I check this ‘column’ now-and-then, and,  sure enough, something about ‘English’ comes on. “Singapore and India have two remarkable things in common. They, both, have  ‘tiger economies’ and have ‘English’ as their official language. Japan, China and South Korea have a similar kinship themselves. They are industrialized and aggressive economies; and, all three are pursuing programs that would install English as their second language. All these Asian countries accept the fact that English is the ‘lingua franca’ of today’s world. The Philippines, for her part, seems to be going the… Read more »

Competency in English is essential. I am sorry but tagalog is not worth learning and my children will be English only. Coupled with the removal of the foreign investment restrictions would lead to a much more vibrant ecomony

I agree with your article and would state that it is because of the English Language in the Philippines that many foreign nationals opt to retire here and to many visit as tourist for that reason. Presently it is one of the easiest countries in Asia to communicate in. It seems that the younger Filipino’s are not as willing as the Filipina’s to learn & to communicate in English. Being in the Tourism Business I would like to stress the importance of being proficient in English if you wish to work in Tourism, the Colleges teaching Tourism need to stress… Read more »
To misquote Bones from Star Trek “It’s English Jim, but not as we know it”. As far as I can see, the standard of English teaching here is very poor. I have had to correct the text in my step-son’s English book and also the answers in tests. His English teachers cannot differentiate he/she, come/go, bring/take, on/to and the use of salvage to mean murder. Their use of English has a lot of slang in it, and they are surprised when I correct my step-son. Their view is that English is a foreign language and as such we should accept… Read more »

Tagalog, as a national language only served to inhibit, to be divisive, of this country instead of unifying it.

Decades ago, you can communicate with anybody even in the remotest places of the Philippines in english. Might not be textbook perfect, but it works.

With regards to tagalogizing this site, well, there you again with the bobopinoy attitude, the world should adopt to pinoys and not the other way around. Bobopinoy! And oh, to add, tagalog is not the only dialect in the Philippines.

Proud Pinoy

“Ang Di Magmahal Sa Sariling Wika Daig Pa Ang Hayop At Malansang Isda” — Jose Rizal

Paul Jeremiah

I agree with the author all the way.


I’m bilingual, speaking English and body language. I prefer the latter, because I can speak it silently and without listening and while my back is turned.


Yes. Yes! At all costs, yes! Even that of our national identity!

Presidente Emilio

Not just English. It’s also high time to bring back Spanish. Let’s rectify the mistakes of the 1987 constitution and reclaim our lost heritage.

I’m sure Rizal and others would be happy with that move.


It’s one thing to get Filipinos to pursue excellence in English. It’s another thing to get Filipinos to pursue excellence at all. Many Filipinos just want a free ride to sarap ng buhay.

“Should Filipinos Go Back to Pursuing Excellence in English?” YES!!! But not at the expense of the Unlearning of our own Filipino Language! GRP’s MidwayHaven kind of sums it up better! “I believe that Tagalog is a beautiful language, but its full beauty is hidden underneath the barrage of “Taglish” that comes to us everyday. The local languages can culturally connect us to each other, while English can connect us to the rest of the world.” I don’t subscribe into other people’s thinking that learning our own language is unimportant and therefore irrelevant: “I am sorry but tagalog is not… Read more »
Angela Markel

To answer the question: NO, keep speaking Tagalog and Cebuana, a language that no one outside the Philippines speaks and wants to learn to speak even less.

An idiotic question for sure. Keep being ignorant of English and see how far it gets you, both inside or outside the country.


Bakit mo ikahihiya na magtagalog?

The answer is ridiculously simple if you want the common Filipino to be masters of English. It’s to stop tagalizing everything. Back in the 90s, everyone to some point has a grasp of English. Because all of the media was in English. You either learn it or get left behind. You want to watch a cool Hollywood movie or show? YOU BETTER LEARN ENGLISH! However, thanks to the people up in the food chain, tagalogization became a standard. Thus robbing the local Pinoy of their desire to learn the language. I know their reason behind it is for a wider… Read more »