Use of Tagalog and other native dialects should be banned from Filipino political debates!

I watched Round 2 of the presidential debates (dubbed #PilipinasDebates2016) last night. It was really entertaining! Mar Roxas was clearly on the run, chased by the disarming wit and articulateness of Rodrigo Duterte and Grace Poe. Vice President Jojo Binay was also pretty sharp and, for a guy who prepared notes but wasn’t allowed to use them, he was able to come back with facts and put lawyerly order in the exchange of arguments.

Bottom line, I think, is that Roxas being some sort of conyo kid (even if he doesn’t look like he smells like one) was no match for the snappy street-style comebacks of streetsmart Binay and Duterte and was out-charmed by the showbiz aura of Grace Poe.

But that was the entertainment bit. I have to say, I struggled when I took stock of what real insights on the issues I actually gained from this debate. And then I saw Teddy Boy Locsin’s tweet

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Tagalog should be discouraged. So long, so bullshitty, so useless a tongue for debate.

…and then it hit me. There was so much time and verbage that was sunk into the intellectual blackhole that is the Tagalog dialect. I mean, hey, Tagalog is nice when you are watching a Vice Ganda standup act or a Kris Aquino kiriring talk-fest. But when you are doing a debate on important issues, Tagalog is not really an intellectualized enough dialect to do justice to such topics.

(As a side note, I’d also lose those idiotic theme songs that screech in every commercial break. What is this, a debate or a teleserye??)


I kinda found it ironic actually. Here is Wharton “grad” Roxas fixated on speaking in Tagalog trying to look maka-masa, while Duterte and Binay masterfully laced their rhetoric with English whenever the message became technical. What’s funny is that nobody really buys Roxas’s local-speaking pretensions. Not only does him speaking in Tagalog come across as fake, he has a track record of dumb displays of actually physically pandering to pang-masa sensibilities, what with photo ops of him carrying a sack of onions, directing traffic, and driving a nail into a public school desk.

What makes it doubly-difficult as well is that Roxas, like Duterte, is bisaya — which means he is as predisposed to coming across as bastos (rude) when speaking in Tagalog as most Bisaya people are wont to be. Maybe this is the reason why Roxas comes across as mayabang and condescending — because (1) he insists on speaking in Tagalog and (2) he is a Bisaya speaking in Tagalog.

That’s actually another credit to Duterte. He is also Bisaya, but he manages to piece together Tagalog sentences and deliver them with a bit more class. Of course, I don’t mean class in the sense of refinement. I mean class in that Duterte’s Tagalog is endearing rather than offensive like Roxas’s. You can see it in the audience’s warm response whenever Duterte speaks. When it is Roxas and his half-assed Tagalog, he tends to attract a chilly tentative reception.

As Locsin observed, this whole layer of Tagalog that weighs down our country’s political discourse like a sticky layer of lard is plain bullshittery. All the use of the Tagalog dialect by Filipino politicians achieves is wrap unnecessary overhead and noise around the already faint signal of substance political discourse in the Philippines delivers. Furthermore, Tagalog is a stark reminder to the conquered peoples of the Visayas and Mindanao of the shadow cast upon them by Imperial Manila and their Tagalog-speaking overlords. It is a divisive dialect that, as is becoming more evident as our politics evolves more diversity, no longer should have a place in polite and intelligent discussion.

40 Replies to “Use of Tagalog and other native dialects should be banned from Filipino political debates!”

    1. Classic case of crab mentality among us Filipinos. The majority does not understand English so instead of learning it, they would rather pull the others down to their level. Yeah right, make sponge bob speak tagalog, haha. Or even worse, dub oceans eleven in tagalog, idiots.

      Also, a typical pinoy bratty attitude. Instead of the pinoy adopting to the environment, demands his environment to adopt to him.

      And one more thing, please realize that many filipinos would rather express themselves in their local dialect and english than tagalog, applicable to those who are from the extreme north and extreme south far away form imperial manila.

  1. Teddy boy is a stereotypical dipshit…even though I speak English here online, it didn’t prove to be intellictual or more classy. What matters is the sense of the statement either in Tagalog, Visaya, English…

    1. Says the imperial manileno who whines like a drama queen and wants every single non-imperial manila Filipinos to speak Tagalog and not their own native language.

  2. Tagalog–and all native dialects–should be banned from the Failipinos’ vernacular, to help breakdown the communication and social barriers among its people. English in its correct usage (not Tag-lish) should be the national language for the Failippines.

  3. “I’d also lose those idiotic theme songs that screech in every commercial break. What is this, a debate or a teleserye?”

    I already pointed that out after the first debate. It’s just corny as hell.

    Feb.22nd I said: “And what was that juvenile, moronic jingle they played all about? Holy shit!”

  4. Question, would you ask and other asian country to have its presidential debates in only English or to make it the official language? The problem here is that due to lack of education, laziness, and most of all a loss of country pride. Pinoys have lost their identity and again are failing to be something that they are not. Filipinos should be ashamed that you have lost so much of your history that you cannot speak, read, or write proper Tagalog. The local dialects need to go away, but you should embrace your national language and stop trying to sell your souls to be something you are not and be proud to say I am Filipino and that I know my country’s language.

    1. William E. Jackson,

      Being proud to be Failipino is not doing you or anybody any good if it doesn’t lift the country out of poverty and corruption; and, keeping Tagalog as the country’s national language is moot if it prevents the Failipinos from effectively communicating with one another for the good of the country. So this “Pride” thing is only personal, not practical.


      1. God knows the Failippines needs another revolution. This time against Failipino arrogance, selfishness, ignorance, and plain stupidity.

    2. English is part of our national identity just accept it. Millions of Filipinos speak it everyday. They think and love in that language. Their deepest thoughts, greatest fears and deepest emotions can only be expressed in that language. You can’t say that they are any less Filipino than an indigenous person who knows not a word of Filipino.

  5. Filipino is our national language. It is not just a dialect. As far as I know they are speaking Filipino language to communicate their points better for the benefit of the Filipino people.

    1. That’s because you’re forcing non-Tagalog Filipinos to speak your language that they only understand their own dialect. And no, Filipino is NOT a language. Tagalog is. You’re just being fooled by manual “i want this country run like hell by Filipinos” quezon.

      1. And look at Manuel Quezon. He and his family were safetly tucked away in the United States while his country and people suffered during World War 2. Well, that prophesy, “run like hell by Failipinos,” did come true decades later.

    2. jsl,

      Tagalog is the national language. Failipinos are the people who were forced to use the Tagalog dialect as the country’s primary language, even if the rest of the nation do not have a complete understanding of it. Thus, Tagalog is communicated haphazardly to the Failipino people.


    3. @jsl:

      “Filipino” as a language is an artificial construct of previous Constitutions: it’s an external force that is being imposed on people, when it should be the other way around.

      You have to awaken to the reality that “Filipino” is just legislated Tagalog.

    4. So long as other native languages continue to be referred to as a dialect, so shall Filipino. Indeed, the distinction is more accurate in the case of Filipino as it is technically an officially recognized dialect of the Tagalog language.

  6. You may have your point, but having this debate being crucial in communicating to their prospect voters, I understand why they had to speak in Filipino.

    If Duterte, for example, has everything we need but won’t communicate this to the majority, he will end up losing all his efforts. So, they have the voters’ ears (and eyes) ready to hear (and see) what they have to say (and show) in those number of minutes.

    Obviously they used tagalog for them (yes, the masses) to comprehend what they wanted to point out.

    – Sorry sir for repeating the obvious.

  7. To Ms. Natividad:
    The official languages of the Philippines today is Filipino, (aka Tagalog), and English. At the turn of the 19th century, it was English and Spanish. So, I can’t see why we have endeavored to gradually erase English from our schools and from our daily lives. ‘English’ whether the ‘Queen’s’ or that of the ‘Americans’, like the USDollar, has been legal tender all over the world for over a century now. The Americans, from the time they took over from the Spaniards in 1898 up until their granting of independence, to us, in 1946, accomplished an arduous but crucial job. They made all high school graduates so proficient in the English language, that they were good enough to teach it. Then, the Philippines was the only country outside of the UK, the USA (and India, maybe), that was proficient in speaking and writing in proper ‘English’.
    Over the years.. since shortly after ‘Philippine Independence, (the 1946 one).. ‘English’ was steadily eroded in its daily usage and, sadly, in school instructions as well. “Philippine Nationalism” and “Filipino First” became the popular buzz words. Schools slowly switched to ‘Filipino’, and the various local dialects as the medium of instruction; so much so that today, quite a number of ‘college graduates’ could hardly speak or write intelligibly, never mind coherently. A bastardized pidgin ‘mishmash’… ‘Taglish’…which is understood only by Filipinos, is now, sadly, in vogue. Are we not interested in matters beyond our borders? Those responsible for the ‘switch-over’ must have had a totally myopic, parochial and insular view for the country.
    We should take a serious look at where we are today.. both in English proficiency, and in today’s global trade requirements.. with a view to regaining our erstwhile advantage. We seem to be discovering now, the value of that which we have foolishly discarded. We must pull ourselves back to reality.
    There is no other option.”
    I posted this comment a few weeks ago. It might be more applicable here.

  8. Keep English as an official language, bring back Spanish and get rid of Filipino. Keeping Filipino as an official language has done little to unite the country in any real sense and is completely worthless on an international level. Preserve all local dialects but none of them should have national monopoly of official status.

    1. It’s like saying that American’s language is called American or Canadian’s language is Canadian when in fact they’re just English. failipinos are just too fed up with their dysfunctional pinoy prayd.

  9. Here in VisMin, when you say bisaya, it means the cebuano speaking people. The other dialects like waray, antiquenyo, capiznon and ilonggo ( Roxas dialect ) are called as they are but not bisaya. The cebuanos in cebu, cagayan de oro and misamis occ can barely understand and speak tagalog. Same is true for the guys in iloilo and bacolod. Davao city, cotabato and gensan are the only places where tagalog can be spoken and understood by the locals.

    1. Sancho Alconce,

      Since Failipinos from various regions do not speak Tagalog, we should adopt a national language that everyone can learn to speak, read, and write, and can be used in the internatioanal arena. English is the only language that comes to mind.


  10. Tagalog is a derivative of the Malay languages as Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasia Malaysia are. They are languages of experiences and emotions. They are NOT languages of the MIND as English, Spanish, German, French, etc, which are derivatives of Latin, are. Latin, in turn, derives its concept from Ancient Greek, which of course found its development through philosophy. Here, one can already see why Tagalog can’t be used efficiently to develop concepts and ideas. It falters miserably the moment it tries; the reason why Teddy Locsin says Tagalog is circular.

    Just listen to Chiz Escudero, who uses a lot of Tagalog words. He appears to say many things, but in the end really says nothing. See, we don’t even have words for idea and concept. We translate them as idea (which we pronounce as ee-de-ya, just to make it sound Tagalog) and konsepto.

    When the “nationalists”, the stupid kind, started pushing Tagalog in the academe, and we gave in, we started the mass bobo-zation of Filipinos. Not only have we cut out the students from the body of knowledge, which we used to have in Spanish and English, we removed from them a subconscious that is philosophical. Thus, emotion took precedence over intellect and thinking.

    We see a PNoy who exemplifies the bobo-zation. As Sen Osmeña says, he is so hard-headed. People who closely work with him says he can’t understand things unless it is put to him in graphics. It is the experience and emotion that counts with him, not the hard work that is needed when one needs to think. He is comfortable with Tagalog in his speeches because it is the experience he needs, not the mind. And in an environment that is inside a bubble as that living in a Palace, of course, that experience is detached from reality. Naturally, he is delusional. He made this worse when he has been exclusively using a speechwriter who was just a fresh graduate in 2010. He can’t use older speechwriters with depth and sense of history because that won’t be him; he is a fifty year old man with a brain of a teen-ager.

    English foundationally depends on the verb “is”, which is the expression of “to be”. That comes from the Latin, “ens” and “esse”. “To be”, or the act of being, is the center of reality of Greek philosophy. “To exist”, one has “to be” first; that is the reality. The impact of recognizing “to be” on the subconscious assures one is operating profoundly in a reality that is real. Something was lost in the translation from Greek to “esse”, and somewhat further lost when translated to ” to be”. The confusion today is that there is no consensus on the certainty of reality. Some say reality depends on one what thinks (Individualism); a product of Cartesian’s: Cogito, Ergo Sum (I think, therefore I am). Some say reality is what I will (Islam). Some say reality is what I feel (Aldub Nation). Some say reality is what I can use (Utilitarianism). Some say reality is where the money is (Materialism). Yet, deep inside us, we know we possess truth when we conform our mind to what is real, which is normally outside of us individually.

    Yet, somewhere English has not totally lost that reality based on the “act of being”. When we use English, “to be” remains embedded in the subconscious. Nothing like that can be said about Tagalog. How do we even translate: to be or not to be, that is the question? Ang pagiging o hindi pagiging, yan ang tanong? Hahaha. Even our word “ay”, is it the best translation of “is”? But we also use “ay” in say, “ay naku”. So, are we embedding some reality in our mind when we use “ay”, or are we just confirming we are simply emotional creatures, and not intellectual. So, how can we even know our identity, if our “ay” has a hazy proposition with regards to reality.

    We have to decide whether we want to continue thinking with our emotions, or not. Singapore has long ago decided. They had Malay, but they chose English because Malay is inefficient with its long, repetitive words, as Locsin says, circular. They even could have opted for Chinese, but chose English. They would have been okay with Chinese, as Chinese, even if it is just a sound language, is a very intellectual language in written form; the reason why Koreans and Japanese had to find a way to simplify the Chinese characters.

    But, of course, we will never decide, because the oligarchs want a populace that is bobo-cized. See, they even use Kris Aquino to popularize a Taglish, which is really gay talk. No wonder, the Philippines is all chuvaness: Filipinos that are all charot, and no balls. They eat like pigs because somehow they think they are just brutes with emotions; they live to eat, not eat to live. There was a time when Filipinos still spoke Spanish and English, that table manners and etiquette were quite important for them. Now, that too is gone. It is the most savage thing this ultra-nationalist inflicted the country. In their paranoia and rush for uniqueness in the world, a search for self identity and dignity, they in the end attacked savagely the very identity and dignity they wanted to elevate. Why? Because Tagalog cannot be a national language. It is inherently a dialect of emotion, and that is all it is, and remains as such. Proud to be Filipino?????

    1. To Add..
      Great commentary. Insightful and educational all at once. While it might just sail overhead to a lot of us, all we have to do to grasp the points you make is to watch our ‘tele-siryes’, a lot of which are scripted in English but acted out in Tagalog. You couldn’t miss the incongruity. One other way, is to listen to the English lyrics of songs composed by Tagalog songwriters. You would also catch the same discordance and awkwardness.
      In matters of resolving conflicts, the inadequacy of our dialects, (Tagalog being one of them), looms even more conspicuously. We try to imitate the ‘West’s’ manner of civil discourse, as in debates, but unfortunately in many cases, end up acting out our disagreements. Our dialects, (once again), fall far too short of the thoughts we want to put across. We seem to really have a language problem.

  11. The debate is like a showcase of Failed EDSA Revolution.

    EDSA is against Mananakaw sa kaban ng Bayan but ironically last night the Mananakaw is a man who led against against Marcos. Appointed by Cory

    EDSA is against Military summary execution, kidnapping and salvaging. Sounds familiar to Duterte as per Mar.. Killer.

    EDSA is about clean and Honest election. But how could we have a clean election when Pnoy appointed Bautista who was previously Mar senior Political adviser. Is that Daan na Matuwid.

    EDSA is about Nepotism but what we have right now is POLITICAL Dynasty.

    EDSA is against Corruption in the Government. While the government is running after corrupt politicians, it is only for the opposition and PNOy protected his Kaibigan, Kabarilan, Ka uri. He stopped Napoles investigation just because his friend are next in line including

    EDSA is against Military abuse, but after EDSA we have Mendiola Massacre, Hacienda Luisita Massacre.

    EDSA is about FM Cronies, now we have Cory Cronies.

    EDSA is against political appointees in government. Fat bonuses to Pnoy friends in government COC, like SSS.

    EDSA is against the government funds used in political campaign, but they allowed political candidate using PHIL Health. Now phil health is going Bankrupt.

    American Poe represent USA that was in EDSA, US intervention on Philippine affair.

    Mar represent the nanghahari uri, na pinagtatangol lamang ang interest na mga negosyante at hindi ng taong Bayan.

    Kung buhay ang tatay ko, mumurahin kayong lahat, You failed us,

  12. gusto ko sana yung point ng article mo miss kate pero parang wrong title or hindi ko alam paano ka nag arrive sa conclusion mo.. the recent debate was substantial enough for the majority.

    i cannot see any problem on the way the candidates spoke. kahit ikaw, by describing them in your article, you already have an understanding of the sincerity of the candidates

    kaso sa title and conclusion mo, parang gusto mo lang i bash ang tagalog.. i mean, nangyayari ang political debate sa mga pier, sa barberya, sa carinderia, kahit sa mga inuman. and tagalog sila.. ang lagay e, kayo lang ang pwede mag debate?.. gusto nyo rin ba i limit ang audience nyo?

    isipin mo, heto kami, weighing the candidates capability to lead based on the debate, tapos ikaw (and mr teddy boy), analyzing the way nagsalita sila.. yeah yeah, maybe gusto mo lang ma improve ang debate.. but we already get it, so ano pa.

    wag nyo na ipangalandakan na another level ang pagka intellectual nyo ni teddy boy.

    sorry but whatever your point is, your point is meant to be misinterpreted

    1. When the head of state is using “e di wow” as part of his public address, then you know something is not right.

      Let me tell you, Jong, the Philippines has lots of other dialects aside from tagalog, so what is your point?

      FYI, NCR is not the only region making up the Philippines…..

      1. Yes. That “e di wow” definitely does not suit the head of state. On simpler terms, even your grade school teacher would not use that if they want to maintain the respect he/she wants.. Did somebody use that in the debate? Is there a candidate that can risk saying that?

        And citing “e di wow” as an example does not prove anything. That came just last year (feels like “so last year”) while Tagalog has been there for as long as you can remember.. So why it it significant to the Tagalog discussion this article is trying to make? Why would Tagalog own the “pang-bara” phrases. Is that the definition of Tagalog?

        Are we defining what are the words/phrases we do not want to hear so we have enough reason not to vote for him/her? And if we have a list, can you really classify them as tagalog? And if you classify them, would you really present them to the voters? Publish it? Just like a Miriam hugot or Erap jokebook.. Where are you going with this? What is your end game? Or aptly when? Why are we comparing dialects when we should be comparing the candidates?

        Do you know that the election is this May and you might not have enough time to prove your point?

        My point is the candidates presented themselves as they are. can you really see their faults on the manner they spoke? instead of what they have stand for?

        NCR is not the only region making up the Philippines? Well, i can argue to that just like you want to discuss dialects but i do not have time.

  13. Let’s make the Philippines great again. Here’s how: a fine of 1 peso for every Tagalog word uttered in all classrooms nationwide (Filipino should be the only subject where Tagalog is allowed).

  14. Whatever language, they use…English or Tagalog. If they are laced with substances. I could live with them.

    We must have at the Debates, including the Vice Presidents.

  15. This has strong undertones of advocating linguicide against Tagalog.

    The problem here is the thoughts and ideas being expressed using Tagalog, not the language itself. Granted, English is the lingua franca of the world, but Jose Rizal told us: “They who don’t look back from whence they came from will not reach their destination” (a rough translation in my part, but hopefully it gets the point).

    But hey, I love it when you conflate both; keep up the confusion.

    1. Don’t hold out much faith on any improvements. They will just claim that they are correct and you are wrong because you do not understand the “whole point” of the blogpost.

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