Since language is once again on the topic table, I’ll put out this piece that had been waiting for the right time. Filipino hostility towards English and foreign languages, as well as towards intellectualism, is not hard to see. People with such attitudes say it is a “patriotic duty” or more nationalistic action to be so hostile (ethnocentrism), while being sadly ignorant or not accepting that our own law accepts it as part of our culture. Why they behave so is not hard to understand in light of basic human motivations and human nature, and from this, we can further explain why such behavior is detrimental.
The mysteries of human motivation aren’t complicated: everyone wants a comfortable life. For some, this involves receiving all pleasures and removing all pain. It’s safe to say many Filipinos seek a literal hand-to-mouth existence (meaning, only hand moves food to mouth, and little or no more) that is comfortable and painless. Language to them is a tool for obtaining what they want, and if they don’t get it, a tool for retaliation.
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I connect that to my observation of Filipinos as seemingly clumsy in the way they deliver English. For us who are well-versed in a language, it’s painful to watch others stumble on it. Many Filipinos often learn English as part of a jargon in school and work, and often stick with that, not willing to go further. In places where Filipinos are not intellectually-skilled workers, they often learn enough English just to communicate basic things related to work and needs. But they wish they didn’t need to. It’s not only because of the stiff and formal European orientation, but also because Filipinos see it as an obstacle. Learning and using English is seen as inconvenient and ridiculous when you want to say something like “I need food” or “give me this.” This reveals that the greatest concerns of Filipinos, even when more affluent, are still basic needs and creature comforts.
As for the retaliation part, that’s why, in an ironic and self-contradictory twist, even “educated” people who know English attack others who know and support English, with that delusion of grandeur of being “patriotic.” They look only like people with nothing to do, so the best “trip” for them is attacking people, and being trolls. This is also probably why their impression of intellectualism is being “switik” or cunning; basically, tricking or defrauding people, because they see no other use for thinking. And it thus becomes a premise behind anti-intellectualism. Also, because Filipino freeloaders believe the English-speakers are rich, and therefore should be their “providers,” they shame those perceived to be “madamot” (stingy).
I also note how Filipinos seem clumsy in language at all, and have devolved into poor communicators. When they ask for something, they sometimes stumble over the words, such as saying, yung ano, yung kwan, ganito (Hello, Mang Ernie?). Sometimes, they don’t bother to know the right words to call something, such as toothpaste, instead using the brand name Colgate or what they know. A friend of mine who’s a teacher lamented that when she gives the basic exercise “describe yourself” in composition class, the students couldn’t write anything. Even in Tagalog, I believe. Many children also just follow jeje-speak without question, using “tas,” “don’t me,” and all those trendy mindless buzzwords. This also goes with esteemed webmaster Benign0’s idea that “maka-masa” language dumbs people down.
One other thing: many have noted the Philippines is disunited, but along what borders? What I’ve observed is that Filipinos identify more with language groups, such as Bisaya, Bicolano, Kampampangan, Ilocano and more (yes, I see them as languages, not dialects). They are less associated with names of tribes, such as Igorot, Bagobo, and more. So what does this mean? It’s not just, “hey, you don’t know Bisaya, you’re not my brother!” For example, people knowing Kampangangan could hide something from Tagalogs. If they have a plan, they could hide from others who know the language. Thus, language represents a desire for utility to serve vested interests. It’s easier to whisper favors to a person who knows your local language, while opponents don’t. That’s why I believe the major political cadres seeking power over the country are associated with language groups, such as Bicolano, Cebuano, Bisaya, etc.
Learning a new language or a foreign one, as well as studying new concepts and technology, is seen as an obstruction because of the perceived extra work needed. Defense mechanisms start operating, such as complaints of “nosebleed,” or ridiculing people who know another language. Even the comment of calling English speakers as “conyo” or “elitist” is part of this. Aside from a defense mechanism, it is also an outlet of frustration for people who believe that life should be easier. Easier as in, going outside, lying under a tree and waiting for its fruit to fall (or have someone else pick things off of trees and bring it to you – metaphor for maximum avoidance of work).
Just because something is easier doesn’t mean we deserve it. We often don’t deserve the things we want. Often, the way to a better life is more complicated and takes more work. This is an attitude Filipinos need to further accept and inculcate into habits and culture. It’s especially needed in a world where globalization has necessitated that countries pull their weight and work together to make resources available all over the world. That’s why even a sherpa in the Himalayan mountains could own a cellphone. To be an old-school farmer country without machines is why we’re still not a prosperous country. Being closed off from other countries, cultures and languages, and not trading internationally isn’t going to help make things easier.
This issue is among many signs that Philippine society has yet to graduate from prehistory. The struggle for Filipinos is real to do so. But that departure remains a vital solution. Ditch the modern revisionist support for stone age mentalities, including that propagandic nonsense that stone age people are “purer” or “less sullied” than modern ones. Whatever made people do wrong in the modern age are the same as in the stone age and even earlier. These are even things claimed as “normal” or “part of evolution” that are actually products of people’s decisions. That decision-making is based on willpower that we must use to choose the better thing to do.
So, for a list of bullet points:
– Understand that resistance to or wishing to excise English or foreign languages is not patriotism
– Stop shaming or badmouthing English speakers and intellectuals, it only betrays one’s arrogance
– English speakers are not necessarily rich and should not be treated as ATMs (automated teller machines)
– Accept that the easier or more convenient way is not always the better one, nor should we expect that we “deserve” it
– Understand that language (such as English) is not being promoted as a measure of intelligence, or a tool for cultural separation, but is a means to increase knowledge and intelligence, so hostility against it should stop
– Stop seeing a foreign language as a tool of imperialism or conquest; it is a communication medium for learning things you might never have heard of before
– Stop promoting that “stone age” is better or purer (probably one of the beliefs of the left and commies), since there was more harmful behavior back then, such as headhunting and infanticide
– In addition, take note that concepts such as human rights and democracy were made known to us in English, so cutting away English or all foreign sources of information would bring us back to an age where killing each other by whim was seen as OK
– Demand for more English-language material on mass media, such as allowing more foreign shows to not be dubbed in Tagalog
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.