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An article published by James Soriano made it rounds online, bashing the Filipino Language James Sorianos article saw

the light of day for a few hours only. The author of the text quoted below is written by James Soriano. Hes a 21 year old columnist of the Manila Bulletin since 2008. Mind you, hes so confident in his English writing talent that he, James Soriano published an article on Manila Bulletin entitled Language, learning, identity, privilege just in time when most Schools, Colleges and Universities are about to have their Buwan ng Wika Culmination Language, learning, identity, privilege By JAMES SORIANO August 24, 2011, 4:06am MB I think English is the language of learning. Ive known this since before I could go to school. As a toddler, my first study materials were a set of flash cards that my mother used to teach me the English alphabet.

James Soriano from Manila Bulletin My mother made home conducive to learning English: all my storybooks and coloring books were in English, and so were the cartoons I watched and the music I listened to. She required me to speak English at home. She even hired tutors to help me learn to read and write in English. In school I learned to think in English. We used English to learn about numbers, equations and variables. With it we learned about observation and inference, the moon and the stars, monsoons and photosynthesis. With it we learned about shapes and colors, about meter and rhythm. I learned about God in English, and I prayed to Him in English. Filipino, on the other hand, was always the other subject almost a special subject like PE or Home Economics, except that it was graded the same way as Science, Math, Religion, and English. My classmates and I used to complain about Filipino all the time. Filipino was a chore, like washing the dishes; it was not the language of learning. It was the language we used to speak to the people who washed our dishes.

We used to think learning Filipino was important because it was practical: Filipino was the language of the world outside the classroom. It was the language of the streets: it was how you spoke to the tindera when you went to the tindahan, what you used to tell your katulong that you had an utos, and how you texted manong when you needed sundo na. These skills were required to survive in the outside world, because we are forced to relate with the tinderas and the manongs and the katulongs of this world. If we wanted to communicate to these people or otherwise avoid being mugged on the jeepney we needed to learn Filipino. That being said though, I was proud of my proficiency with the language. Filipino was the language I used to speak with my cousins and uncles and grandparents in the province, so I never had much trouble reciting. It was the reading and writing that was tedious and difficult. I spoke Filipino, but only when I was in a different world like the streets or the province; it did not come naturally to me. English was more natural; I read, wrote and thought in English. And so, in much of the same way that I learned German later on, I learned Filipino in terms of English. In this way I survived Filipino in high school, albeit with too many sentences that had the preposition ay. It was really only in university that I began to grasp Filipino in terms of language and not just dialect. Filipino was not merely a peculiar variety of language, derived and continuously borrowing from the English and Spanish alphabets; it was its own system, with its own grammar, semantics, sounds, even symbols. But more significantly, it was its own way of reading, writing, and thinking. There are ideas and concepts unique to Filipino that can never be translated into another. Try translating bayanihan, tagay, kilig or diskarte. Only recently have I begun to grasp Filipino as the language of identity: the language of emotion, experience, and even of learning. And with this comes the realization that I do, in fact, smell worse than a malansang isda. My own language is foreign to me: I speak, think, read and write primarily in English. To borrow the terminology of Fr. Bulatao, I am a split-level Filipino. But perhaps this is not so bad in a society of rotten beef and stinking fish. For while Filipino may be the language of identity, it is the language of the streets. It might have the capacity to be the language of learning, but it is not the language of the learned. It is neither the language of the classroom and the laboratory, nor the language of the boardroom, the court room, or the operating room. It is not the language of privilege. I may be disconnected from my being Filipino, but with a tongue of privilege I will always have my connections. So I have my education to thank for making English my mother language. ##

Anti Filipino article reaps the whirlwind


AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo The Philippine Star / Sept. 4, 2011 In his August 24th Manila Bulletin article (Language, learning, identity, privilege), James Soriano reaped a whirlwind of protests and condemnation from many Filipinos. The backlash was such that the Bulletin removed Sorianos article from its archives. Soriano drew flak for writing, among other controversial assertions, that Filipino is not the language for learning. Soriano wrote: English is the language of learning. Ive known this since before I could go to school. As a toddler, my first study materials were a set of flash cards that my mother used to teach me the English alphabet. My mother made home conducive to learning English: all my storybooks and coloring books were in English, and so were the cartoons I watched and the music I listened to. She required me to speak English at home. She even hired tutors to help me learn to read and write in English. In school I learned to think in English. We used English to learn about numbers, equations and variables. With it we learned about observation and inference, the moon and the stars, monsoons and photosynthesis. With it we learned about shapes and colors, about meter and rhythm. I learned about God in English, and I prayed to Him in English. Filipino, on the other hand, was always the other subject almost a special subject like PE or Home Economics, except that it was graded the same way as Science, Math, Religion, and English. My classmates and I used to complain about Filipino all the time. Filipino was a chore, like washing the dishes; it was not the language of learning. It was the language we used to speak to the people who washed our dishes. Soriano further wrote: Filipino was the language of the world outside the classroom. It was the language of the streets: it was how you spoke to the tindera (store keeper) when you went to the tindahan (store), what you used to tell your katulong (helper) that you had an utos (order), and how you texted manong when you needed sundo na (fetch me now). These skills were required to survive in the outside world, because we are forced to relate with the tinderas and the manongs and the katulongs of this world. If we wanted to communicate to these people or otherwise avoid being mugged on the jeepney we needed to learn Filipino. He closed with this statement: Only recently have I begun to grasp Filipino as the language of identity: the language of emotion, experience, and even of learning. And with this comes the realization that I do, in fact, smell worse than a malansang isda (rotten fish). My own language is foreign to me: I speak, think, read and write primarily in English. To borrow the terminology of Fr. Bulatao, I am a split-level Filipino. But perhaps this is not so bad in a society of rotten beef and stinking fish. For while Filipino may
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be the language of identity, it is the language of the streets. It might have the capacity to be the language of learning, but it is not the language of the learned. It is neither the language of the classroom and the laboratory, nor the language of the boardroom, the court room, or the operating room. It is not the language of privilege. I may be disconnected from my being Filipino, but with a tongue of privilege I will always have my connections. So I have my education to thank for making English my mother language. Soriano correctly described himself as a split-level Filipino. Soriano demonstrated the mentality that transformed some Ateneo Blue Eagles into Blue Vultures when he said: I may be disconnected from being Filipino, but with a tongue of privilege I will always have my connections. He overlooked the greater values for what provided him convenience. The pressures caused by our economic deprivations are making some Filipinos adopt very narrow-minded perspectives to the language debate. They failed to appreciate these: 1. The nation pays a greater price for the loss of its identity when we allow a foreign language to replace what is the very soul of Filipino communication our native tongue. The Chinese, once behind us economically, pushed for a national language Mandarin knowing the need for a national language to weld a national aspiration. 2. The Japanese did not need English to excel economically. On the contrary, the Japanese never had a language problem and theyre a great country because of a language that promoted one mind, one heart in one Japanese nation. In contrast, our counter-productive language debate reflects our damaged culture and the deep divisions in our sick society. Countries that are on the march to progress dont have this embarrassing debate while those that are basket cases never progressed by shifting to another language. 3. Both Filipino and English can be learned and this need not be at the expense of losing the natural language of the Filipino mind and soul. A countrys native tongue need not be sacrificed in order to have a facility in English. 4. Technical terms that may not be in the Filipino language are easily adopted. Even the English language adopts foreign terms emanating from non-English minds. Rolando Tinio, the late National Artist for literature and one of the greatest artistic minds of our race, proved in his translations of the classics of Shakespeare, Shaw, Ibsen, Sophocles and so forth that Filipino is a great language and can easily retain the essence of foreign classic literature. 5. Well be lucky to have five percent of Filipinos thinking in English. Many who claim to be proficient in English actually think in Filipino. They may be able to translate their thoughts in English but the fact remains that they think in Filipino. Note how the Thais, Chinese, Singaporeans, Malaysians, had all overtaken us even if they had never been as good as us in English in the 50s and the 60s. English did not get them to where they are.

6. English can never capture the Filipino national spirit. Try singing the old national anthem Land of the morning in English and compare that to the flood of emotions that the singing of Lupang Hinirang draws from your Filipino soul. 7. More Filipinos can achieve levels of excellence when taught in the tongue theyre most familiar with. The worst-case scenario is to have Filipinos studying engineering, for example, under teachers who speak defective English. In such a case, neither learning English nor learning engineering is facilitated. Using English as medium of instruction merely adds another impediment to progress. 8. We can never trade our national identity and the language of our Filipino soul for the sake of better job opportunities overseas. Those jobs overseas will not be there for us forever. Weve closed our eyes to our festering social gangrene. The sooner we accept the reality, the sooner well be able to address it. Were like a basketball team thats blaming our rubber shoes for our losing streak, when in truth were losing because weve not been playing as a team. This is the state of Team Philippines. When we dont really know our problems, we tend to arrive at ridiculous and illusory solutions. We then become our greatest enemies. *** Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

Pinoy Tambay.com Sagot ni Benjamin Pimentel

Editors Note: In the fourth week of Buwan ng Wika last month, an Ateneo senior wrote that Filipino was the language of the streets and that English was the language of learning and privilege. James Sorianos article drew criticisms from Filipino Netizens, prompting a newspaper website that posted the material to remove it. The newspaper later reposted the article. We are running the article as it appeared on blogs and Manila Bulletins website, and a response of a Filipino-American journalist to encourage debate on how the use of Filipino, English or another language affects us as individuals and as a nation. Benjamin Pimentels piece appeared on INQUIRER.nets Global Nation.) SAN FRANCISCO My wife and I decided early on that Tagalog was going to be our sons first language. It wasnt easy. In his first days in preschool, our firstborn was miserable, intimidated by a world in which pretty much everyone spoke English. But his pediatrician said not to worry about it. Experts said not to worry about it. They even said that its good for kids to be exposed to many languages, that they, eventually, will adjust and adapt. And my son did. It didnt take long for Paolo to be fluent in English, although he later, sadly, lost his Tagalog. His younger brother grew up with a kuya who spoke to him in English. They had some funny
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moments. Anton would struggle to tell his big brother, Eh kuya, I just ano uh because maglaro naman tayo. But like his kuya, it didnt take long for Anton to shift from Filipino to English. And sadly, he, too, lost his Tagalog. Well, they didnt actually lose it. Its still there. They can understand, but would not speak it. But the spirit of my mother tongue is still part of them. I hope someday that they get a chance to use it again, to be immersed once again in that world. Itll be up to them. Which brings me to James Soriano, the Ateneo senior, whose essay on his own struggles with English and Filipino sparked a heated controversy, especially on the Web. Now, this may surprise many, but Im glad he wrote that essay. It inspired me to write him a letter. Letter Dear James, Unang una, maraming salamat. Mabigat ang dating ng sinulat mo. At alam kong bugbog ka ngayon sa mga puna at batikos. Pero dahil sa iyo, nagkaroon ng debate. Dahil sa yo, pinag-uusapan, pinag-iisipan ang papel ng wika sa buhay natin, sa bayan natin, lalo na ng mga kabataang tulad mo. Ipagtatanggol ko ang karapatan mong sabihin ang sinabi mo. Salubungin mo lang yong mga puna, yong mga ideyang kontra sa mga pananaw mo. Kung hindi mo tanggap, OK lang. Pero harapin mo pa rin. Ganyan naman tayo umuunlad at natututo. Ngayon, tungkol doon sa sinabi mo na Filipino is not the language of the learned sakit mo namang magsalita pre. Classy, lowbrow Do you really believe the implied equations in what you wrote? English = Classy, smart people. Filipino = Stupid, lowbrow, very emotional people. For I can share with you several instances when knowing just English (and Filipino) really made me feel unlearned. One was when I was in Cotabato in the late 1980s as a reporter covering the lumad, the tribal Filipinos struggling against militarization and social injustice. I dont speak Cebuano. They didnt speak English or Filipino. We needed help. And that help came from an unexpected source a kind-hearted Italian priest named Father Peter Geremia, who spoke Italian, English and Cebuano. (Im guessing he also speaks Tagalog since he had lived in Manila where he got involved in the protests against the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s.) It was one of the oddest interviews in my career as a journalist. Here was this white dude from Europe helping me understand and communicate with my own people. He knew their language. I didnt. My grasp of English couldnt bridge that gap. Father Peter was the learned one. Not me. Like a chore Sabi mo, Filipino is like a chore, like washing the dishes; it was not the language of learning. It was the language we used to speak to the people who washed our dishes.
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Pag nagkita tayo, Tagalugin mo ako. Kasi, bagamat ang hanapbuhay ko sa Amerika e nakabatay sa kakayanan kong umingles, kasama ng buhay ko dito ang paghugas ng pinggan. Oo, may dishwasher sa bahay namin. Pero, alam mo, pag mga malalaking kaldero ang katapat, puno ng mga latak ng mantika at tirang ulam, kinukuskos ko nang husto yon, pre. Condescending view Obviously, many got upset because of what they felt was your stunningly condescending view of those who speak Filipino. Well, I must confess, I also once had an intense bias against another language: Spanish. You see, when Filipinos of my generation were in college, we had to learn Spanish, four semesters of it. We hated it. We thought it was useless. We were offended that we had to learn the language of the conquistador, of the Padre Damasos and Padre Salvis. Of the coo kids! Regret Then I moved to California. Boy, do I regret not taking those Spanish courses seriously. For Spanish may have been the language of the hoity toity back home. But in California, its the language of middle-class and working-class people, of immigrants like me. Many of them may seem like the people you somewhat derisively referred to in your essay as the tinderos and the katulongs. As a journalism student, I had to run around the US-Mexico border and came face-to-face with poor Mexicans and Central Americans in Tijuana and Mexicali. How I wished I could speak really fluent Spanish then. As a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle I was assigned to cover immigration and affirmative action, which took me to Latino neighborhoods all over the Bay Area. How I tried to find the Spanish-speaking me. But there was no such person. There was only English. And English couldnt help me out. Knowing English didnt make me feel learned. Unang nobela Binigo rin ako ng Ingles noong unang pagtatangka kong sumulat ng nobela. Sa Ingles ko unang sinubukang buuin ang Mga Gerilya sa Powell Street. Sa San Francisco ang setting, kaya, siyempre, inisip kong dapat Ingglisin. Pero ayaw makisama ng mga tauhan. Iyong mga beteranong nakatambay sa may cable car stop sa San Francisco, ayaw umIngles. Kahit anong gawin ko, hindi umuusad ang kuwento. Para bagang sinasabi ng mga matatanda, E bakit mo ba kami pinag-iIngles Boying, e mga Filipino kami. Kaya kumambyo ako. Sinulat ko sa Filipino. Saka umarangkada ang kuwento. Nabuhay ang mga tauhan. Sarap ng pakiramdam. Fil-Ams yearning You want to know why I wanted our children to learn Tagalog? Because when I moved to the US, I met many young Filipino Americans who were disappointed, a few were even angry, that their parents didnt teach them Filipino, didnt expose them to Filipino culture. Its really strange, in a way. Here you are declaring that Filipino is not the language of the learned not the language of privilege. But here where I live now, thousands of miles from our homeland, young Filipino Americans,
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who yearn for the privilege of speaking that language, are searching for ways to embrace Filipino. Baybayin script tattoo They take Tagalog lessons, even learn the Baybayin, the original Tagalog script. They even have Baybayin script tattooed on their bodies. Joey Ayala, the folk singer who lived in Berkeley for a time, put it best when he told me, Things that are distinctly Filipino are often more valuable to Filipino Americans. Filipinos in the Philippines look to the American dream. Filipinos in the United States have the Philippine dream. Quite a stir You caused quite a stir with what you wrote, James. Im sure youre still reeling from the criticisms. But like I said, Ill defend your right to express your views, even if I disagree with many of them. Thats how we learn, after all. Im guessing your views may still evolve, grow wings, take flight. Good sign I actually see the backlash as a good sign. It tells me that young people feel strongly about these issues, about language, culture and society. (I dont get Jejemon, but hey, thats part of the debate, of the process of finding answers.) And its important to remember that culture and language are not static. They change. Consider some of the big changes over the past 20 years. When I was growing up in Manila, pretty much all the TV newscasts were in English. When I was growing up, we got fined for speaking in Tagalog on campus. Five centavos a word! Well, OK, I hear that still happens in some schools. But I also hear theres a congressional bill trying to put an end to that silly practice. Progress! Even my eldest sons attitude toward his first language has been changing. He used to tell me that he really didnt want to speak Tagalog anymore, Because its not cool, Tatay. Apl.de.aps Bebot Well, when the Black Eyed Peas apl.de.aps Apl Song and Bebot became hits that changed. Suddenly, Tagalog was cool. And during our last visit to Manila, he even realized the value of his Tagalog-speaking self when he witnessed a street fight in Ermita. I understood what they were saying, Tatay, he said. One was saying, Thats mine. Akin yan. I imagine that he could very well have been talking about his Tagalog. For while its buried within him, its still his. Its still there. Nandoon pa rin. (Pimentel is a US-based Filipino journalist, novelist, author and blogger. He studied at Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines-Diliman before moving to the United States, where he earned a masters degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. A former editor-in-chief of The Philippine Collegian, he worked as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle for 14 years until he moved to MarketWatch, where he covers the Technology Business news. Among his published works are UG, An Underground Tale, Pareng Barack: Filipinos in Obamas America and Mga Gerilya sa Powell Street.)

The Filipino is Multilingual


By Mila D. Aguilar - Published in Facebook When I was born in 1949, my father, Jose V. Aguilar, was conducting what became known as the Sta. Barbara Language Experiment. Before I turned two years old, he had already proven through this experiment in a remote town in Iloilo, the island of Panay, that pupils who were taught in their mother tongue during the first two years of school learned better than those who were shocked into learning through the medium of English. But that does not mean that I grew up entirely using my mother tongue, Hiligaynon. My father was wise enough to speak to me purely in English, while he bid my mother and siblings to speak to me purely in Hiligaynon. Did I grow up confused? No. I grew up versatile in both languages. When I transferred to U.P. Diliman with my family at the age of four, I learned my Tagalog from playmates. By the time I reached Grade 1, I was speaking it fluently. When, at the age of 25, I was assigned to the underground of Mindanao and consciously mingled with the urban poor, I learned Cebuano in a month. When I made a week-long foray into the hinterlands of Samar at the age of 34, shortly before I left my beloved movement, I was able to get the rudiments of Waray and would not have forgotten it had I stayed in Samar a bit longer. I also know a smattering of Kapampangan and Ilokano from friends both within and without the underground. The Filipino is multilingual. You can see that from 10 million Filipinos all around the world, learning the languages of their adopted countries so quickly, you could hardly hear them stuttering. And most of these Filipinos arent rich; theyre masa, domestic helpers, drivers, janitors, seamen, nurses with hungry mouths to feed. As to whether they become grammatical or not is not the point. The point is, they could communicate with anyone in any language. So whats this revelation about living a princely life with English? There is nothing new to it. During the Spanish times, the conquistadores herded the datus and their families into town centers and cut them off from their barangays, the better to prevent them from staging rebellions. They brainwashed those datu families into thinking they were a privileged lot by teaching them Spanish, among other things. The datu families began to think they were princes, living a princely life using Espanggol. No different from our princes today, who think theyre so lucky to be born privileged. But then this shows that life today is no different from life centuries ago. We still have a privileged class bragging about how good they are in the language of the conquistador. This is not to disparage James Soriano, a young man who may have learned German, but hasnt yet seen the world in all its gritty detail. I wouldnt quarrel with him, especially since Im a very old woman of 62; but I would love for him to learn a thing or three about his country.

In English, because that is the language he understands. But I could very well switch to Filipino, which serendipitously combines all languages with Tagalog as base; or Hiligaynon, or Cebuano. But he wouldnt understand. I have written underground tracts in Tagalog and even tried to translate Bible verses into Filipino right on Facebook, so James cant say that our languages are meant only for informal conversations. And has he heard U.P. professors teaching biology, physics and chemistry in Pilipino? Truth is, English is not necessarily the language of connection, because a full three-quarters of the world dont speak it anyway. One does not have to connect using English; one connects by communicating with the eyes using ones Filipino smile. The language, whatever language that is, comes after. That is what Filipinos all over the world, from Europe to Asia to the Middle East to Latin America to Africa, have discovered. Oh yes -- I left out the U.S. Thats because its perhaps one of the few countries in the world left that is largely monolingual, and bilingual only among first and second generation immigrant families. That theyre teaching second languages like Spanish now is a recognition not only of their Latin American migration problem but of their scientific finding that monolingualism makes for a dumb population. No, English is not a universal language, I teach in TESOL. Does God, who rules the universe, and the multiverses as well, speak in English? Of course not. He speaks to you Spirit to spirit, in any language you can accept with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. At most, English is the language of world commerce. If that is what the upper classes of Philippine society need it for, then so be it. Let them deal with Japanese and Chinese CEOs in English. But let me tell you what happened to this language of commerce in the 1950s, after my father had so painstakingly shown, through his Sta. Barbara Experiment, that the mother tongue is a better medium of instruction for efficient learning in Grades 1 and 2. A man named Clifford Prator, from the University of California in Los Angeles, came up calling vehemently for a return to English as the medium of instruction on all levels in Philippine schools. His reason was, in a word, in my view, something like: Ah basta! English is superior. Subsequently, my fathers findings were twisted statistically to show that, indeed, his findings were wrong: English was really the better medium of instruction on all levels. Im sure these same tactics are being used and will be used again and again to push the superiority of the English language in the Philippine scene, including and especially in the Constitution. Sige, go ahead. Meantime, I will use the language of the reconquistador to shout down its proponents. So have I connected? Read more: http://everythinginbudget.blogspot.com/2011/08/mila-d-aguilar-in-reply-tojames.html#ixzz1XyMvdYYg
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