the James Soriano article – when truth hurts, pinoy netizens ache
the pinoy twitter world is once again abuzz, this time with a fellow named james soriano who posted an article in manila bulletin about the language, actually languages pinoys use – english and filipino.
we do not understand at all the flak soriano is getting in the pinoy social media world – the soriano article is reality. what you read there and how pinoys use languages, english and filipino in particular are all true.
the article talks about soriano’s journey with filipino and how he started young and what new things he has discovered when he went to college. his experience is also true for most pinoys who go through schooling in private schools in the country. nothing wrong with that at all.
we also find it interesting, in fact ironic that almost all of those who were attacking and disagreeing with soriano were tweeting in english and not in filipino. which is exactly one of the points of the soriano article – that many pinoys being bi-lingual use the language they find most appropriate depending on the situation and the audience or receiver of the communication.
we think the adverse reactions soriano has been getting is being caused by the fact that truth hurts. readers just can’t accept the fact that even in language, there is a divide in philippine society.
we know of the divide in wealth, opportunities, jobs, justice and education in philippine society where the rich are able to get the best and the mostest (intended) while the poor make do with meager offerings. the truth hurts to know that that also exists in language.
with inequitable distribution of wealth comes inequitable opportunities in education that results to inequitable distribution of language skills and ends up in inequitable distribution of job opportunities which goes back to inequitable distribution of wealth.
the divide, a wide one between the poor and the rich is one of the most enduring problems in philippine society. it is not only an issue of poverty, it is an issue of inequitable distribution of wealth where a very small portion of the population control a very large portion of the wealth of the country while a very large population are poor dividing among themselves a very meager portion of the wealth of the country.
marketing puts it at 85% of the population belonging to the poor, the DE socio eco class while only 15% at most belong to the ABC socio-eco class.
if there is a wide divide in socio-economic wealth, why shouldn’t there be a wide divide in the use of language? although they might not know it yet but that is what most of the critics of soriano cannot seem to accept.
nowhere in the article did soriano disparage or insult the poor nor did he express his elitist sentiments, all that he has done was state facts on the use of language. it is a fact that when we are in the streets and when we talk to ordinary folks, we use filipino while when we are at work, in school oir even at home, we use english. more glaringly when we are in school, we almost always use english.
how can we not use english in school, specially college when the medium of instruction in private colleges and even in public colleges is in english? books are in english, even road signs are in english. where in that did soriano fail?
every pinoy know that english skills is very important in finding a job. in the country. call center jobs, the sunshine industry in the country has been hiring the most number of new graduates and young people and english skills as most key for these jobs. jobs outside the country, for OFWs, also put a premium on good english skills. sometimes in some of these jobs, the course you take is less important but english skills is a number one skill local and foreign employers look for.
ask anyone in business and those in the universities and they will tell you the country’s educational system need to improve it’s teaching of english to pinoy students. the country’s declining proficiency in english is one of the reasons why pinoy graduates are getting less competitive.
on the other hand, the BPO industry will tell you that we have gained significant market share in the global market, we are now 2nd or 3rd in the world because of the pinoy labor force’s proficiency in english compared to other countries. but the same BPO industry will tell you that it has been increasingly difficult to hire pinoys for call center jobs because of the declining english proficiency of pinoy graduates.
i think by and large the critics and attackers of soriano have misunderstood the article. they probably need to read the article again and understand what is there, not what is “between the lines”. but i doubt if there is anything written between the lines.
the upside is that the high number of attackers and those disagreeing with soriano’s article are in effect professing their sympathy with the poor, the uneducated. they seem to be going against soriano as they want to defend the poor. the only question is – why is it that these same defenders of the not learned posting mostly in english and not in filipino? the fact that most of the post in english proves exactly the point soriano is raising in his article.
Language, learning, identity, privilege
By JAMES SORIANO
August 24, 2011, 4:06am
MANILA, Philippines — English is the language of learning. I’ve 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.
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.
james soriano is supposed to be a senior at ateneo de manila university and writes a column at manila bulletin. we googled “james soriano ateneo” and this is what came up :
AHS senior James Soriano is best Filipino high school debater
date posted: 2007-08-23 13:43:17
The organizers of the 2007 World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) recently released the official individual rankings of the Top 50 Individual Speakers in a field of 156 world-class debaters representing 35 countries.
James Soriano, a member of Ateneo de Manila High School Class 4A and the chairman of the Sanggu-HS Executive Board, was ranked 31st Over-All Best Speaker with a speaker’s tab of 72.78. This is the highest rank thus far obtained by a Filipino high school debater in the 19-year history of the annual tournament. The last time a Filipino debater entered the exclusive Top 50 bracket was in the 2003 WSDC held in Lima, Peru when debater Eric John Paredes of Paref Southridge ranked no. 42 with a total score of 72.08333.