While the Constitution (Article XIV, section 7) declares English as an official language of the country, there are still smart-alecks who believe Filipinos should not speak English. For example, there was this troll in a group that tries to say he is more “Filipino” because he doesn’t know English much.
Such things are really stupid. Lack of knowledge on English doesn’t make you more Filipino than anyone. Besides, is there such as thing as “more” or “less” Filipino?
But that troll sadly isn’t the only one believing this. There are those commenters who insist that we write our articles in Tagalog. You’ve probably known of some weirdos coming up to you and say something like, “bakit ka nag-iingles? Pilipino ka a! (Why are you speaking English? You are a Filipino)” Or there is this idea that if you speak English, you are rich or should belong to the upper class. Or that English-speakers are arrogant or devious (citing former President Marcos… wrongly… as an example).
There was even this funny pic being passed around lately:
But sometimes, not only the weirdos say this. Even our dads or moms, grandparents or grandmas, friends or other people (likely the commies) have this idea that English must be excised from the Filipino culture. Even our mass media ridicules speaking English, with movies like “English Only” that put the language under a bad light. Not to mention popular celebrities who try to put down people who speak English. But I object and will say, anti-English sentiment is actually anti-Filipino.
So why is this so? Firstly, it goes against the law of the land, as mentioned above. If it’s an official language, so there’s nothing wrong or anti-patriotic in using it. In fact, it seems that if you try to cut down English, you might even be opposing the law!
Secondly, anti-English sentiment deprives people of chances to educate themselves and get better jobs. Most of international media makes use of English, since U.S. media has dominated most of the free world’s media networks, and thus English is widely used. It is highly likely that English will never be replaced for a long time. English is our connection to the world.
English is also important for education since most important lessons on modern principles, science, information, literature and other things are in English. Ideas about freedom and ethical societies are mostly found in English works. So if people are not able to read these things, they may be deprived of ideas they sorely need. So I wonder – is discouragement of English really done to help cripple the economy and the freedoms of others?
If learning English is unpatriotic for Asians, then the Koreans in the Philippines are very unpatriotic for learning English aside from their native Korean. But wait a minute, the Korean government isn’t complaining… it is in fact encouraging that! And it is because Korean companies pay more to employees who know English, one of the main reasons for the deluge of Koreans in this country. But even if companies in our countries do not give such rewards, many jobs depend on good English skills – most especially the call center and business-process outsourcing (BPO) industry. If you keep telling people to stop speaking English, then how can they handle the job of talking to foreign clients? If they can’t, they might as well be kargardors at the pier (wait a minute – is that what you want anti-English people want? For Filipinos to remain at the menial level?). There are just some jobs you can’t do without English.
Because of call centers and BPO, Filipinos have the term “nosebleed.” This means difficulty in understanding or using English. It probably exists because Filipinos have a hatred of learning English. But Nosebleed may actually be a sign of problems in our cultural attitudes, as well as the dumbing down of people through mass media. So it’s a sign of something wrong with our society. I daresay, Filipinos are not entitled to their nosebleed, and it’s perhaps something we should strive to eliminate.
Did Rizal Really Liken English Speakers to Smelly Fish?
Another argument anti-Englishers use is that Rizal supposedly said ““Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika/masahol pa sa hayop at malansang isda (He who loves not his own language/is worse than a beast and a stinking fish)” in a poem attributed to him, Sa Aking Mga Kabata. But research into the matter by historian Ambeth Ocampo has found this attribution questionable. It is more likely that Rizal never wrote it and someone else did. But even if Rizal did, the fact that English is part of the official languages of the country makes it one of the languages that we must love.
Yes, Filipino is still the national language. But there are problems with what “Filipino” is. In fact, Manuel Quezon simply make his “tribe’s” language, Tagalog, as Filipino. Which may imply one thing: are Hiligaynon, Bisaya, Waray, Cebuano, Panggalatok, Ilocano and other languages not Filipino? So there’s a problem with the current concept of a “Filipino” language. But Filipino actually being Tagalog in disguise is not acceptable to some, and it actually smacks of favoritism for the Tagalog parts of the country – something at times called Tagalog or Manila Imperialism.
English Builds Bridges
And as I have often repeated, a co-worker back then recalled how she communicates with her grandmother in Mindanao, who does not know Tagalog and knows the local language. The former co-worker was raised mostly in Manila, so she knows Tagalog but not her grandmother’s language. But they are able to communicate in English since they both underwent education for it. Thus, English can solve local language barriers.
Despite what honest intentions may be present in people who believe in the anti-English sentiment, it will do more harm than good. English opens doors, so trying to eradicate English will close them. Thus, efforts to cut down or eliminate English may be deemed anti-patriotic, because closing doors does harm to people, keeping them away from opportunities and leading to people being less educated than they should.
And certainly, there is nothing wrong with Filipinos learning other languages, such as Swahili, Spanish, Dutch, Esperanto, Arabic and many others, as this opens even more doors. Yet there is much justification for keeping English as a part of the Filipino heritage.
And to those who say, English is submission to American colonialism, just think of this: the language is called English, not American.
The Philippines needs a revival, or at least a revitalization, of its English culture.