My 2 Cents: On Language, Learning, Identity and Privilege

Language, Learning, Identity and Privilege – an article written by an Ateneo senior for the Philippine Daily Inquirer received mixed to generally negative remarks from netizens. Majority lambasted him for being arrogant and naive, writing an article that seems to downgrade the local tongue when it’s Buwan ng Wika, while very little, including myself, applauded him for being brave enough to show us the real state of the national language.
While it is true that what he wrote was insensitive to most of us, I see nothing wrong with the message that it tries to convey. It stated what in his eyes, and I think in yours as well, how our language tries to survive in this English-dominated world.
I think we need to face the fact that what he said:

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.

is partly true. He might have written this in such a way that the language will not be perceived as too low as the language of the alilas, but the truth is, we do use the language when we relate to the masa. I think if he wrote the article in this reference, it wouldn’t get that much of a fuss.
It ain’t too bad as well if we give him a little credit when he stated he knew he’s short on being a true Pinoy when he said:

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.

As they say, it all starts with a realization. This must account for something, right?
Let’s admit, with our present educational system and I think of the world’s present educational system, it really does pay to know English. For the most part, Mr. Soriano was merely taking pride in his knowledge of the language, because whatever we say, however we react, Pinoys who know English will always have the best opportunities.
I know of someone who made a blog that showed Mr. Soriano’ grammatical errors on his article. This is to somehow prove that Mr. Soriano is not even proficient in what he considers his primary language. Furthermore, he calls Soriano an a**hole. Seriously, did it help? For me, this is nothing but an act of immaturity and non-acceptance of what’s happening around him. Not to mention that maybe he’s trying to get the same popularity as Mr. Soriano did with what he wrote for Inquirer.
Seriously, Pinoys. Is this how we react when somebody slaps us in the face with something that’s actually true? I think more than criticizing the writer, we should focus more on what the article calls us to do. It’s about time that we uplift the image and the role our national language plays on our identity, don’t you think?

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