As usual, ProPinoy.net resident Mr Important is trying to be cute in his latest blurb where he presumes to tell current hero of the Illustrado class, James Soriano a thing or two. Too bad that thing -- even two of it -- falls short on sense. Nice try, Mr Manuel Buencamino. But do think again.
English is just another means of communication.
That is true -- among a people who have strong traditions of scientific, technological, and commercial achievement. Thus among successful societies, it does not matter whether you speak English, Japanese, Korean, German, French, Swedish, or Singlish. These languages -- and the people who speak them -- are peers among themselves.
But when we add Tagalog into that mix, then it does matter. Because between speaking in Tagalog and speaking in English, Japanese, Korean, German, French, Swedish, or Singlish, clearly the Tagalog speaker will be at a disadvantage -- because Tagalog is incomplete. There is no Tagalog word for efficiency, for example.
Perhaps among German, Japanese, and Chinese speakers, English speakers will be mere peers. But among people who speak Tagalog -- or Cebuano, or Ilocano, or Tausog -- English speakers will always be special, because all things being equal, English speakers will always have first shot at that high-paying white collar job in Makati, will have first shot at that promotion, will have first shot at that junket to Silicon Valley, and will have first shot at that statuesque fair-skinned colegiala sipping a a latte while tapping on her iPhone in Starbucks.
A Hermes handbag will not get you into the salons of the old rich, but then who wants to?
Bottom line is, becoming proficient in the English language will vastly improve most ordinary Filipino schmoes' ability to compete with those privileged enough to have been born to old money. That means that the old Atenistas (sige na nga, and La Sallistas na rin) will, for the first time in the history of this sad nation be given a run for their money by an entire generation of English speakers graduating from that hypothetical Philippine public education system that had finally chucked the old "national language" into the rubbish bin and focused its meagre resources instead to the language of winners.
Indeed, Buencamino inadvertently highlighted the very point I've been making for much of my online career -- that English is a language of privilege and opporunity monopolised by the Philippine elite.
That Buencamino would assume that Soriano's goal is to bandy around his English speaking skills like a Hermes bag-toting socialite wannabe reflects the classic typically-Pinoy underclass mentality. You can't really teach minds infested with underclass mentalities to get the sort of points Soriano makes.
In the Philippines, "we do not print textbooks in our native language."
Absolutely right, Mr Buencamino. So imprisoning the Philippine masses in a language (or whatever local dialects we remain fixated to) that utterly and consistently fails to attract scholarly authors is like double whammying an already wretched majority chunk of our collective intelligence.
With every sentence you bang out of your keyboard, you merely highlight the overall futility of those who continue to prop up a language (or dialects) more associated with underprivilege than with the "pride" in "country" that we imagine it to embody.
We all acquired the belief that "Pilipino" is "inferior" and that it is the "language" of our streets by ourselves, Mr Buencamino
Indeed, it does not take an expert to work out that the poor sods who can't string even a two-word English sentence together to save their mother's life are less likely to work their way out of a mail room than their Arrrneo-accented counterparts in the office.
Unlike Hong Kong people, Filipinos cannot afford to hire college-educated maids who can speak anything other than a domestic language or dialect.
That is because we are a society with an entire way of life built on the back of cheap labour. Every spare hour we have to nurse our lattes to room temperature in the local Starbucks, for example, is made available to us by a poor probinsyana ironing our faux designer clothes in a mosquito-infested corner of our village houses. The trouble with cheap is that we get cheap. And we get cheap, because we deprive an entire sector of our society -- those unfortunate enough to be subject to a public education system that has to allocate precious resources to delivering instruction and material in a no-results language -- the chance to compete by arming them with full access to a language that levels the playing field.
And I can't agree with Mr Buencamino more when he says that...
To speak English and to be learned is not the same thing.
Of course. There is no causal relationship between learnedness and English proficiency. The causal relationship lies between English proficiency and opportunity. English opens doors for its best speakers to a world of achievement in science, technology, and commerce that trades in knowledge overwhelmingly articulated in English. That said, I'll be the first to point out that even among English speakers, there are very very few truly insightful minds among them. But the reality is that even stupid English speakers are more likely to get ahead than smart Tagalog speakers. You need not look further than Philippine politics and our entertainment industry to appreciate the Truth in that.