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.]
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