Thursday, August 25


"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."


Pero pinapauna ko na, na wala akong ascendancy para awayin ang kuyang ito, dahil sa Ingles ako nagsusulat (at minsan nag-iisip, nananaginip). At binalak kong isulat ito sa Filipino, pero hindi ko napagtagumpayan (pero sige nga: isalin mo ang "banality of evil" sa Filipino?).

But what I'm actually most bothered with is not the author's views per se but the way in which he expressed and processed them. That is, with so matter-of-fact nonchalance. That is, with hands-behind-the-head acceptance. "English is the language of learning ... Filipino is the language of the streets," this dichotomy so certain in his mind. I am bothered that he, in his perfect world where English is superior, is unbothered. Who was it who said that violence is harshest when it is rendered most invisible because of its ubiquity?

When people take it as "natural" things like these -- English being superior to Filipino because of a global order they are born to (forgetting conveniently that Japan, Korea, and even China choose to be immune to such order) -- they forget that this stature is something that is fiercely maintained and defended, by Hollywood-variety onslaught of cultural impositions on one hand, and the quasi-global policing mandate of the US on the other. 

I wonder if it's too much to ask for people to think of language, as a tool for human agency, as necessarily political, and Filipino, as the product of decades-long conflict, as something that comes with a lot of baggage.

"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."

I am tempted to invoke a legion of cultural and linguistic theorists here, from Hannah Arendt to Pierre Bourdieu. See: "banality of evil." See: "symbolic violence."

I am tempted to write a very lengthy message to the author that no, this is not a perfect world, and do not accept it to be so. Do not think you are helpless with a schema that is thrust upon you. You can do something. Study Filipino. Read Filipino works. At the end, everything is a choice. Do not claim helplessness. And if you learn that Filipino is beautiful and it is yours, do not perpetrate the same cycle of violence to your kids. Filipino is not the language of the learned? Realize it is wrong, and do something.

But I think the article (and author) is innocent enough. I'm just so sad that someone like him, perhaps educated, perhaps in a good school, thinks the way he thinks.

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