James Soriano and his wang-wang

“A different language is a different vision of life.” – Federico Fellini

An essay on the English language by Bulletin columnist James Soriano was met with so much protest and condemnation it became a trending topic in social media. Unfortunately, by the time I heard about it, the Bulletin already removed it from its archives. Wimps. Now I have to rely on excerpts from Billy Esposo’s Sunday column in the Star. Tragic. (Just kidding, Billy.)

At any rate, it seems that the majority of those who read James’ put down of the national language reacted like some Catholics did to Mideo Cruz’s Christ collage. They were outraged.

I was not offended by the Christ collage because human intellect needs sacrilege and blasphemy if it is to continue evolving. I was not offended by James’ essay either. I felt sorry for him. Because he believes that his ability to speak English is his wang-wang. And that is neither sacrilege nor blasphemy. It’s simply stupid. Even as satire.

Dear James,

I hate to disappoint you but English is just another means to communicate with other humans. English is not a magic potion, speaking it does not endow you with special powers. When you speak English in English-speaking countries you are just like everyone else there. And when you speak it in countries where they don’t speak English… well you will be different. And different is not the same as special.

“I may be disconnected from being Filipino, but with a tongue of privilege I will always have my connections.”

No, James. That would be like Mommy D. saying, “My Hermes handbag will get me into the salons of the old rich.”

Was your mother responsible for your pathetic attitude? “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.”

I don’t think so. I think she only wanted to teach you a second language, with great difficulty.

Was it your school? “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.”

I don’t think so. I think your school was only making do with what was available because in this country we do not print textbooks in our native language.

So who is to blame for your belief that Pilipino is inferior, that it is “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”?

I think you acquired that pathetic attitude all by yourself. As a coping mechanism. Because you patronize tindahans instead of supermarkets, because you put down tinderas like a stupid tourist who faults locals for not speaking his language.

Now I don’t know about your personal circumstances but you did mention that you ride jeepneys and you address your driver as manong. So let’s talk maids.

A privileged lady once told me that if you have to talk to your katulong in Pilipino then that means you either cannot afford to hire one who can speak English to begin with or you don’t have the wang-wang to phone your local bishop to tell him that you have a new maid just in from some godforsaken province and to please take her to the convent so that his nuns can teach her how to speak English and be a good maid.

So I asked her, “Why send a katulong to a convent instead of Maid Academy?”

“Well,” she replied, “that’s because we are good Catholics and we want out katulongs to learn the right values as well. Because we know that if we send our katulongs to Maid Academy then chances are they will learn not only English, right values, and good maidsmanship but also how to text, twitter, and facebook. And then they will connect with an English-speaking foreigner and marry him. But we don’t consider that a problem, as a matter of fact we would be happy for the maid.”

However that would be a problem for someone who seems to have no other qualities other than his English to differentiate himself from his katulong. Can you imagine running into her and her American better-off-than-you husband while you are bargain hunting at Serramonte Center with your English-as-a-second-language immigrant relatives from Daly City? “Hi sir James, this is my husband Jack. I’m teaching him Pilipino.”

Anyway, where did you get the idea that you can pontificate on something you know nothing about? “(Pilipino) 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.”

Tell that to the tindera. And don’t be shocked if she replies, “Pilipino is not the language of call centers either.” In other words, they speak English in call centers but call centers are not exactly places where you would go to rub elbows with the privileged.

Allow me to also point out that your notion of English being “the language of the learned” is absolutely wrong. Because to speak English and to be learned is not the same thing. Sarah Palin speaks English, duh.

And that brings me to my last point. Knowing English is not good enough. You also have to speak it with the correct accent. Now there’s no right or wrong accent per se. But there’s the accent of the privileged and the accent of everyone else. And I’m sure you don’t want to be included among the everyone else because “connections”, as you proclaimed, is important to you.

So you have to learn to speak English like the privileged. You must hang out with them, pretend to be one of them. Fortunately for you, your school, the Ateneo, is a school where you can learn how to fake good breeding. But, unfortunately, you also have to deal with pedigree. And there’s nothing your Alma Mater can do about that because pedigree is all about being a sperm from a long line of privileged sperms.

I guess what I’m trying to say is you might be better off learning Pilipino and embracing it instead of deluding yourself that English is your wang-wang.

Mabuhay ka,


Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Uniffors.com. Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • MJR ,

    First off, on the subject of the role of the English language: I would have to agree with the points being made about its usefulness as a tongue that “opens doors”.  The advantages of developing a proficiency in English should be obvious.  Because of the domination of the British Empire, and the later global influence of American ideas and culture, English has become something of a lingua franca between nations, and is now the second most common language in the world.  That reason alone should make studying English a requirement.  

    As a foreigner, I must say that I am surprised that Filipinos do not take more pride in their proficiency in English.  I teach English here in the Philippines, and I can attest to the fact that Filipinos are indeed peerless amongst other Asian peoples when it comes to the English language.  (Indians may come in as a close second—however the accent of the average Filipino is more preferable to the accent of the average Indian.) Indeed, I have even had European students come all the way to the Philippines just to study English!  

    That being said, I must also add that pursuing in-depth studies in the various major languages is an undertaking that every educated person (which, ideally, would include every human being on the planet) should work toward.  Becoming proficient in at least three languages (again, idealistically speaking) is an achievement that can only result in great benefit.  For example, a Tsinoy friend of mine once remarked that by learning both Chinese and English, one gains the ability to communicate with and understand half of the world’s human population!

    On the question of English and Tagalog, I admit that I possess only a basic understanding of the Tagalog/Filipino language, and thus my insights into that issue will of course be limited.  However, I do have a great deal of interest in the role that individual language cultures play in the development of national identities; and thus I recognize that the establishment and progression of a “Wikang Pambansa” that is uniquely Filipino in origin may perhaps be indispensable in the development of the Filipino identity.  As such, I cannot completely dismiss the potential necessity of government, private and other leaders emphasizing the importance of developing Filipino more than English—or any other language, for that matter.  The fact is that without a unified, national language, the Philippines will never have a unified, national sense of purpose.  I am aware that there is a bit of an animosity among non-Tagalogs about the dialect of greater Manila being selected as the basis for the national Filipino language, but the intention of Manuel Quezon and his collaborators to create a Malayan-based Wikang Pambansa—rather than use English or Spanish—was a noble one.  But whether a national language is Malayan or European in origin, the bottom line is that any argument that claims localized dialects deserve to be “respected” at the expense of a unified, national language is an implicitly treasonous one.

    There is also the obvious problem—of which Mr. Soriano’s apparent pathology exemplifies—where English is treated as a language of the patricians, and Tagalog and other dialects as that of the proletariate.  This oligarchical attitude must be combatted without quarter by all Filipinos who wish to consider themselves patriots.  

    Admittedly, however, English still possesses one major advantage that, at present, cannot be held by Tagalog/Filipino, and that is a rich language culture full of profound and Promethean literary works.  Even the writings of thinkers who predate modern English are widely available in satisfactory translations; and it must be asked, for purposes of illustrative contrast, why one cannot find the Tagalog translations of Plato, Augustine, or Erasmus, for example.

    Nevertheless, I do believe that Mr. Soriano is still wrong.  A national Filipino language has the potential to be the language of both of learning AND the learned.  But achieving that goal will require a major paradigm shift in Filipino literary culture. This people needs writers, poets, and musicians who will do for Filipino language culture what Dante did for Italian, Schiller and Beethoven for German, and Shakespeare and Milton for English.  Because Tagalog is the language of the masses much moreso than English is, this task is of the utmost importance for bringing the fire of knowledge to the majority of the Filipinos; thus creating a strong and sovereign republic.  (Even Taglish can become a vehicle for such an achievement in the same way that Yiddish—a linguistic hybrid primarily made up of elements from German and Hebrew—developed a highly learned and literate language culture amongst European Jews.) From what I have been told about Balagtas, it seems that he indeed had such a goal in mind; also, Rizal’s unpublished Tagalog translation of Schiller’s ‘Wilhelm Tell’ was almost certainly intended as a means for educating the Filipino peasant in republican statecraft.  But such past initiatives were only seeds sown too few and far between; thus they never grew to have the concentrated effect needed to revolutionize Filipino society (again, case in point being Rizal’s ‘Tell’—which has yet to be published, let alone performed.)

    The problem of a unified language for the Filipino is not one that can be solved easily, but still, it must be solved if this nation is to claim its right as a strong and sovereign republic. Those educated Filipinos who prefer English because of its stronger intellectual tradition should and must be willing to take initiative on behalf of the ignorant masses and solve the national language problem much more effectively.  Anything less is simply noisy complaining.

    • Manuelbuencamino ,


      • GabbyD ,

        yes to what? you two dont really agree. to him, language is a key to identity. 

        with you its just a tool. 

        • Manuelbuencamino ,


          Is a key not a tool?

          • GabbyD ,

            that is a metaphorical key. 

            its not a REAL KEY.

            tell me: did u really not know what a metaphor is,or are u joshin’ me?

            and if u were kidding, what was the point of it?

            • Manuelbuencamino ,

              a key is a tool. language is a key to identity and a key to communicating with others. 

              key 1 |kē|
              noun ( pl. keys )

              3 a thing that provides a means of gaining access to or understanding something : the key to Jack’s behavior may lie submerged in his unhappy past. “tell me: did u really not know what a metaphor is,or are u joshin’ me?”

              Do you know a metaphor when you see one?

        • Anonymous ,

          PresiNoynoy in his foreign travels has already demonstrated the power of Tagalog as medium when to Filipino communities in Japan, San Francisco, metro-New York city and when speaking to United Nations and other such organizations.

        • Bill Davis ,

          As for job opportunity (albeit abroad), we proctored several CGFNS exams for Filipino nursing grads who want to work abroad. 2 hours on nursing knowledge, 2 hours on English, two more on nursing. Right or wrong, English is a gateway.

          • raggster ,

            Just to reinforce what Manuel has been trying to say: In the field of communication theory, there is no theory that suggests that there is a “divide” in language use. Language is a communication tool, period. I think the main problem of Soriano’s article (apart from being generally poorly written) is that he writes from an experiential perspective of a college student, and is thus limited to that context. I believe that as he encounters more situations that force him to communicate to people other than those in his current immediate environment, his perspective on this so-called “language of the streets/learned” will change.

            Either way, I maintain that whatever language you use is the language of expediency.

            Kung ano yung nakasanayan mo, at kung ano yung kinakailangan mong gamitin sa pang-araw-araw, yun ang gagamitin mo. Kung kinakailangan mong matuto ng ibang wika (halimbawa: kung agtatrabaho ka sa ibang bansa tulad ng Pranses, kung saan mas nakararami ang hindi nagsasalita ng Ingles), pag-aaralan mo at gagamitin mo ito. Hindi ito batayan upang sabihin na mas marunong ka, o salitang-kalye ang wika mo.

            • Djoaniel Hernandez ,

              point being, English language is a gateway for people who have no other language but English.

              my grandfather speaks English like he’s Eddie Garcia, not your call-center class accent, he’s a farmer and he farms his land. He got wealthy by communicating using Batangas tagalog and Quezon tagalog. He went to the states and he came back with his Eddie Garcia accent. No place like home I presume.

              as i’ve said, nothing about patriotism or nationalism, but English can be learned by anyone who wants to. being fluent in it is a plus. even a dropout can practice fake east coast accent. Fake it TO Make it.

              bottomline, it’s a harsh and rather ignorant generalization saying that English is necessary for the success of a person, or for the wealth, or for whatnot. it might be essential if your work involves communicating to people but then again that’s your “work”, if your job is to get rich, it’s not actually necessary, hire someone to translate for you, English speaking Filipinos come by the dozen anyway.

              getting rich, success, wealth, all of them are not connected to English. however, menial things like employment, bpo-ing, call-center’ing, ushering, waiting tables, heck even cout-room’ing all involves English. 

              the fault lies to people who have NO IDEA how to communicate on levels. umaga na, babarek na ko, i need my night cap. Au Revoir Manila.

              • Djoaniel Hernandez ,

                the logic of a stupid english speaker can get a better chance of getting
                a job than an “intelligent” tagalog speaker is probably true on some
                parts, but then again, what do you call better?

                if you say better meaning “call center” then i pity the fool who speaks english.

                on the other hand, how can an intelligent tagalog speaker NOT know something as SIMPLE and plain as english?

                this isnt patriotism or nationalism but let’s not forget it’s just a subject in school that if we just go through, there’s absolutely no chance of us missing out on the education. even a monkey can learn how to speak english but i dont think a monkey can perform advanced fine art or accountancy. english is just a gateway. it doesnt stop there. and even THAT gateway can be skipped, no problems there.

                seriously, no matter how good you are in english, if you’re but ugly you can’t be miss universe, on the other hand, if you’re really that hot, just bring a translator dammit! it’s funny… how silly english can be.

                • @Rakehell_Obi ,

                  How about better as in more money?

                  I read an article, a few years ago, from a Fil-Am who was a manager in a hospital. He wanted to hire more Filipino doctors, but he claims that many possessed an inadequate degree of English. 
                  An English speaking Filipino doctor, who was bottom of his class, would have been preferred to someone who was top of his class, but did not speak English as well.

                  Another is that those Call Centres only accept 1 out of 10 applicants. Those 10% would be earning more than someone without a job and may not find it a necessity to emigrate.

                   There are 11 million OFWs and Global Filipinos and apart from communicating with fellow tagalog speakers, most would find English a more useful language.

                  Too much misplaced Pinoy pride and that is one of the things bringing us down.

                  Plus an overclass of Pinoys, who would prefer to promulgate the ideal of Tagalog, whilst they send their children to International Schools.

                  • Manuelbuencamino ,

                    “An English speaking Filipino doctor, who was bottom of his class, would have been preferred to someone who was top of his class, but did not speak English as well.”
                    I guess it’s because the English speaking doctor who was bottom of his class will be able to explain to his patient why his tonsils were removed when the reason he came for treatment in the first place was to have a boil in his ass lanced.

                    • @Rakehell_Obi ,

                      Yes it does. What point would the medical knowledge gain for the Pinoy doctor, when communication with the patient would require an interpreter?
                      I think that would worry the patient.

                      • Manuelbuencamino ,

                        If I were a patient.  would be more worried about a doctor whose medical knowledge is iffy than a doctor who is brilliant but needs an inetrpreter

                        • @Rakehell_Obi ,

                          Perhaps for you.
                          A recent British survey have found patients complaining of doctors without the necessary fluency in English as problematic.
                          At least, Filipina nurses, who were taught in an English speaking environment, were known to have better communications skills.

                      • Manuelbuencamino ,

                        “How about better as in more money?”
                        “Another is that those Call Centres only accept 1 out of 10 applicants. Those 10% would be earning more than someone without a job and may not find it a necessity to emigrate.” 

                        Do you know how much Spanish-speaking Filipinos earn in Spanish-speaking call centers? Does that make Spanish better than English?

                        • Anonymous ,

                          How many Tagalog-speaking call-center desks are there?

                          • Manuelbuencamino ,

                            “How many Tagalog-speaking call-center desks are there?”
                            I don’t know but from my experience I’ve been able to  tagalog to any call center where I recognized a Pinoy on the other end of the line.

                            • @Rakehell_Obi ,

                              The majority of call centres available in Britain are from India. They are not popular and the cause of many complaints.

                              The companies British Telecom and Paypal, use Filipino Call centres, and their reception from the British customers are much better.
                              Filipino accents are not as harsh as Indian call centre workers.

                              Call Centre work may not be popular, but it will pay the bills and they can hopefully gain better employment.

                              • Manuelbuencamino ,

                                And UPn, do you think spanish is better then english because pinoys in spanish speaking call centers make more money?

                              • @Rakehell_Obi ,

                                Spanish speakers would also be a good choice.
                                I’ve known a few call centre workers, for Spanish speaking customers, and they were from Poland. They had to live in Spain for a year to get training.

                                Filipinos would be a cheaper option.

                          • Roberto ,

                            “at any point, we could have changed the language to filipino (or whatever). why not do that?”-GabbyD
                            They tried that before. Just one example, ‘chair’ was changed to ‘salumpuwit’. And other more graphical-sounding terms. It did not caught fire, but they tried.


                            • Manuelbuencamino ,

                              Silly isn’t it, inventing salumpuwit when upuan already existed and was doing very well? Why that’s like reinventing chair and calling it ass-catcher!

                            • Joe America ,

                              If my wife had not learned to speak English, she would still be poor.

                              • Manuelbuencamino ,


                                English proficiency may have helped lift some people from poverty but it is not a prerequisite.

                                Henry Sy and Lucio Tan did not get rich because of their proficiency in English. Neither did the richest Malaysian, the owner of Genting group. He could not even speak Bahasa. And Berlusconi is not known for his English either. Etc etc etc as  you travel through China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Europe, South America, Africa, and the Middle East.

                                • Joe America ,

                                  My point is well hidden in that one-liner. English is a language of greater opportunity. Tagalog is a language of certain limits.

                                  • Manuelbuencamino ,

                                    For some, Joe.

                                    And to extend your argument – 

                                    “Spanish is a language of greater opportunity. Tagalog is a language of certain limits.” (Pre-1900)

                                    “Mandarin is a language of greater opportunity. Tagalog is a language of certain limits.” (2025 – 26)

                                    Finally in 2026 the Philippines dominates the universe so

                                    “Pilipino is a language of greater opportunity. It has no limits.” 

                                    • Joe America ,

                                      Yes indeed, and if I were a super-intelligent high school student and if they were taught I’d take both Mandarin and English. Spanish is good if you like South America, I suppose.

                                      • Manuelbuencamino ,

                                        Pilipino is even better if you are farsighted. And South America is one of the last frontiers.

                                        • @Rakehell_Obi ,

                                          Henry Sy and Lucio Tan most likely became rich due to their Chinese connections.

                                          Berlusconi is a citizen of an Industrialised Nation.

                                          A Chinese worker who speaks English has twice the earnings potential of a
                                          Chinese factory worker who does not.  It would mean promotion to office

                                          An Indian Taxi driver who speaks English earns twice that of someone who does not.

                                          I also have to point out that your article can be read by most who have English as primary or secondary language.

                                          If it were written in Tagalog-Filipino, then it would have faced definite limits.

                                          The most ridiculous thing I ever heard were claims of Maths and Science being taught in Tagalog.

                                          Tagalog is not useful, for non-Tagalog Filipinos to learn, and they are placed in more of a disadvantage compared to Tagalog speakers, because of Tagalistas proclaiming that you are not Filipino unless you learn such a tongue.

                                          • Manuelbuencamino ,

                                            If you read my comments on the thread then you would have come across this:

                                            “language is just a means to communicate with other humans. You use whatever language suits the circumstance, not because it is better than another language, but because it is the right tool for the occasion.” 

                                            • Anonymous ,

                                              JoeAm:   Don’t knock those Latino south and central americans.

                                              Look at those countries’ GDP and per-capita income.  Look at the percentage of middle-class in those countries.   If only Pilipinas had been as good a banana republic as the genyu-wayn  banana republics….  siguro,  hindi si GuLO at hindi si NoyI-noy  ang pinipili ng Pilipinas for Malakanyang.

                                      • Gabby Domingo ,

                                        I don’t think so. I think your school was only making do with what was available because in this country we do not print textbooks in our native language.”

                                        but the question is , WHY do they only print math and science in english? 

                                        • Manuelbuencamino ,

                                          “but the question is , WHY do they only print math and science in english?”

                                          Let me see if another question will help direct you to the answer you are looking for:
                                          Did Jose Rizal learn his math and science in English or in Spanish?

                                          • GabbyD ,

                                            so the answer is “we were colonized by english speaking americans?”

                                            thats the only reason we are teaching in english?

                                            at any point, we could have changed the language to filipino (or whatever). why not do that?

                                            • Manuelbuencamino ,

                                              “so the answer is “we were colonized by english speaking americans?”

                                              “thats the only reason we are teaching in english?”

                                              Maybe not the only reason.

                                              “at any point, we could have changed the language to filipino (or whatever). why not do that?”

                                              At any point after Independence, yes. Why not do that? I don;t know, do you?

                                              • GabbyD ,

                                                well, there are always 2 reasons to use a language 
                                                a) it has the words you need
                                                b) it sufficient numbers of speakers you need to speak with.

                                                (a)  is the reason soriano cites — english is the language of “knowledge”. most of science and math are in english. we need to learn those concepts. so learn them in english. if you were someone like B0, you’d build an entire “inferiority” theory based on this obvious fact. but we dont have to do that. its enough to note that they have the words and its “cheaper” to simply learn to language to access the words. 

                                                now if u really wanted to use another language, theres is an option:a) create new words in the local language.
                                                b) borrow the word, and call it “filipinized”, but it uses a simpler spelling but similar pronunciation. 

                                                since there is a large enough body of people who know english, most chose NOT to create new words. most chose (b); and later abandoned it because there is no reason to do so.

                                                so soriano is correct (but is otherwise, somewhat impolite and culturally impoverished) to say that if one were interested in science, math, etc, you’d find filipino a waste of time. 

                                                learning a language depends entirely on what uses you have for it.

                                                on a personal note, I FEEL IMPOVERISHED travelling in my own country. its hard to talk to locals outside of NCR sometimes, coz they prefer to joke around in their own dialect. bisaya is barely intelligible to a filipino-tagalog speaker. and i feel like a foreigner in my own country. — but this is the hand we’re dealt. there are entire groups of people who i cannot get close with because of the language barrier within my own country. 

                                                • Manuelbuencamino ,

                                                  In the Philippines maybe learning math and science in english is practical at this time.  During the Spanish times it was practica to learn it in spanish.

                                                  If you live in japan china korea germany france spain iran etc etc etc you might have to go to an international school to learn math and science in english

                                                  • GabbyD ,

                                                    the philippines couldve translated the words as “filipino”. but they did not. 

                                                    the question is: why?

                                                  • justwondering ,

                                                    education was said to be one of the greatest gift the americans had given us.. or so they say.. so why not ask our great lolos and great lolas why they did not feel or demanded the need to translate the materials used at that time to Filipino.

                                                    did we start off our educational system with a wrong foot just because English happened to the medium of most subjects? 

                                                    i think its fine to turn everything that is being taught to Filipino to a whole new generation of students starting off at pre-school.. 15 years later, we would have started producing highschool graduates that learned all their subjects in Filipino. but do we have the budget for that or even prioritize this agenda?

                                                    • Manuelbuencamino ,

                                                      “did we start off our educational system with a wrong foot just because English happened to the medium of most subjects?”
                                                      we were wrongfooted by Spanish too. There is a school of thought that argues for teaching math and sciences in the native language, specially math, because students are better able to comprehend abstract concepts when taught in the native language. I guess what that means is it’s hard to own math if it’s passed on to you in a foreign language.

                                                      • Bill Davis ,

                                                        Native (mother tongue) language is the best for pretty much all subjects, especially those you mention. My friend Dr. Ricky Nolasco is pushing for MLE, but again, budget is an issue, and most people don’t seem to care about it. TO illustrate the problem, I’ve seen Palawano kids trying to learn Tagalog (Filipino) at the same time they are being taught, using Tagalog as the medium of instruction. Result: they don’t learn much of anything except that their language is (supposedly) inferior. *sigh*

                                                        • Manuelbuencamino ,


                                                          It could be their teachers. Palawan is a tagalog province.

                                                          By the way, I don’t know if it’s still true today but a chinese friend told me that when he was going to chinese school in Iloilo City their morning sessions were in english and their afternoon sessions in chinese. The same morning subjects were taken up in the afternoon sessions. 

                                                          I asked him how he felt about it and he said it helped him understand his morning lessons better. Maybe you can bring that up with your friend Dr. Nolasco as something our DepEd might consider adopting. I know it’s an expensive upfront investment but I suspect that the long term benefits will make it worthwhile.

                                                          • Bill Davis ,


                                                            I enjoyed the wit and sarcasm in your post. I would not have dared, heh heh. I’m just a guest here, ya know.

                                                            I don’t think that Palawan is really a Tagalog province, thought, except by administrative region demarcation.  Cuyonon is the major language in the northern half (although, Tagalog, er… Filipino… in the schools is winning out in the younger generation.) In fact, Provincial and Puerto Princesa government business is conducted in Cuyonon one day per week. In Puerto, Tagalog is one lingua franca, but since Palawan is sort of the wild west of the Philippines with such an influx of immigrants form other provinces, it’s a real mixed bag linguistically. The further south you go, the are more Islamic people groups there are who have moved over from Mindanao, etc., and (proudly!) have their own non-Tagalog languages. And don’t forget the original Palaweños (Palawano: three languages, Batak, Aborlan Tagbanwa, Batak and Molbog, Central Tagbanwa, Calamian Tagbanwa, etc.) Even Cuyonon is actually an import from the islands to the northwest which took over up in northern Palawan.

                                                            Ricky (Nolasco) would like nothing better than to implement MLE everywhere, but the resources are not there. Plus what do you do, for example, in the valley where we have mostly worked. It’s S.W. Palawano, but there are settlers whose mother tongues are Ilonggo, Tagalog, Tau Sug, Cagayan and others. So one single barangay would needs teacher for 5 or more mother tongues! And then there is no such thing as a S. W. Palawano-speaking school teacher (yet), since they have only recently gotten a grade school there (we fought for 25 years to see that happen). And they might have a high school next year if we can get the last signature for that.

                                                            It’s a challenge.

                                                            • Manuelbuencamino ,


                                                              Thanks for educating me on Palawan and pointing out that it is only Tagalog as an administrative demarcation. Now I know that Puerto is not representative of the entire province’s linguistic richness.

                                                              It’s true the challenge is daunting. But at least you, Dr. Nolasco, and I can agree that education in the mother language is most effective. So that’s the first step on a long journey. I guess I’ll have to hitch a ride on yours and Dr. Nolasco’s back for the rest of the trip. 

                                                              Finally, I hope you are making recordings of those endangered languages. We need to have a record of how humans spoke before the English and Mandarin invasion. 

                                                              But seriously. We need to have recordings of their history, folk tales and all that in their native language.  

                                                              • Bill Davis ,

                                                                Thanks, Manuel.

                                                                We have HOURS of digital recordings, some transcribed. DLSU (sorry you blue eagles and UP grads) has a project going to archive this kind of data. Maybe someday I’ll have time to deal with it all and submit it.

                                                                • Joe America ,

                                                                  I’m going to write my good friend Governor “Moonbeam” Brown in California USA and ask him to enact laws that require Tagalog be spoken by any American seeking to conduct business in Union City or Cerritos. If English is going to be crammed down the throats of Filipinos, then, by God, we ought to cram something down American throats.

                                                                  Who cares if English is the World Language that creates markets and opportunities? Pride is more important than opportunity.

                                                                  • Manuelbuencamino ,


                                                                    This is the first time I’ve seen you act defensively, with a hint of jingoism even. 

                                                                    My essay was not intended to take away your identity. What I found objectionable in soriano’s essay was the conferment of cachet to english speakers at the expense of non english speakers.

                                                                    I was simply pointing out that english is just another means of communication. 

                                                                    Pilipino is not better than english and english is not better than Pilipino. They are just different means to communicate.

                                                                    Actually, multilingualism is best because the multilingual can communicate with more people than the monolingual. 

                                                                    Having said that, I must add that a multilingual Sarah Palin would still be Sarah Palin. Stupidity cannot be concealed by language. 

                                                                    But to get back to the advantages of multilingualism, I’ve been told that multilinguists are often mistaken for cunnilingualists. And that is actually not a bad thing.

                                                                    • Joe America ,

                                                                      Jingoism. I like that description and will seek to use it myself. It is an onomatopoeia.  I agree with you in the main, but think English opens up a lot of opportunities and should be taught broadly to anyone who plans to go to college. 

                                                                      • Manuelbuencamino ,

                                                                        well there’s also chauvinism but that doesn’t go to well with my MacDo freedom fries. Just kidding. 

                                                                        But I do agree with you that it is only practical to learn the language of whatever studies or enterprises one wants to pursue. That’s why proficiency in gayspeak will open more doors to anyone who wishes to go into fashion and showbiz

                                                                        • Joe America ,


                                                                          • Anonymous ,

                                                                            A traveler in Thailand (or China, or France, or Sudan, or tha hallways of any United nations Building anywhere) is better-off with English than with Pilipino or Tagalog or Cebuano.   This “Pilipino is jusg as good as English” is — so nationalistic.  Commendable, but limited in view.

                                                                            • Manuelbuencamino ,


                                                                              You miss the point which is that language is just a means to communicate with other humans. You use whatever language suits the circumstance, not because it is better than another language, but because it is the right tool for the occasion. Get it?

                                                                              • Anonymous ,

                                                                                The next batch of Pilipinas elementary- and high-school students should be provided some guidance on what should be among the tools they need to be better citizens — for Pilipinas, and for Asia.  To keep hurling words at them that avoid them looking at the value of English is worse than nonsense — it does not serve the needs of these elementary and high school students.

                                                                                • @Rakehell_Obi ,

                                                                                  English presents more tools for Filipinos, especially the non-Tagalogs compared to learning Tagalog.
                                                                                  Non-Tagalogs are wasting their time learning it. I would vote for Filipinos to concentrate on English and Spanish.
                                                                                  With the 1 million Chinoys, I’m sure Mandarin would also be available as an elective.

                                                                              • Anonymous ,

                                                                                Exactly. During the Propaganda and Revolutionary era, Filipinos used Spanish in their communiqués and to converse precisely because it offered a ‘national’ language that cut through regionalism.

                                                                                How strange that the extant sense of pseudo-nationalism often is nothing more than ‘Tagalogism.’

                                                                            • justwondering ,

                                                                              “A privileged lady once told me that if you have to talk to your katulong in Pilipino then that means you either cannot afford to hire one who can speak English to begin with “…
                                                                              panalo! hahaha

                                                                              • Joe America ,

                                                                                Well, as Humpty Dumpty opined so eloquently, “a word means whatever I choose for it to mean”. So language is irrelevant.

                                                                                And as JoeAm’s mother said so perceptively, “If the concepts stink, who cares what language they are uttered in.”

                                                                                • Djoaniel Hernandez ,

                                                                                  I think it’s a bit of a hostile response towards him, I mean we could be nice to him and speak top him in tagalog.

                                                                                  Malay ba nya kung tingin ng mga tao sa article or column nya eh binaldog. May mga kilala ako sa Batangas pag babarek na kami talagang ma babarino sa nakaka aduwa na pag iisip nyan.

                                                                                  LAWL. Icanhazchezburger nao. 

                                                                                  Go to the US, English is also the language of the illiterate. –PWNED

                                                                                  • @Rakehell_Obi ,

                                                                                    A stupid English speaker has an even better chance, of getting a better job, compared to an intelligent Tagalog speaker.

                                                                                    • Manuelbuencamino ,

                                                                                      You are correct rakehell. Specially if the audience is even more stupid. Look at the success of Sarah Palin. 

                                                                                      But then there is also Willie Revillame and he is not doing too bad speaking Tagalog, is he?

                                                                                      How successful do you think Palin is going to be in the Philippines? How successful do you think Revillame is going to be in America?

                                                                                      Do you get my drift or are you still wallowing in “my language is better than yours” and all of those side issues?

                                                                                  • raggster ,

                                                                                    I LOL’d hard reading this. =)