Prints and Traces

Unknown to the Filipino people, their love for and devotion to the English language carries with it an adoration of all things and stuffs associated with the language.  Truly, we have fallen into the cultural trap of loving everything English.  Or everything that comes with the language of the Americans.

By DON J. PAGUSARA
Davao Today

The Filipino is exceedingly enamored with the English language, he would fight tooth and nail to hold on to its enslaving dominion in our social life.  But we know that learning the English language is pegged to the educational system.  It is the language of the educated.  And so the inability to attain an educational status renders one unable to speak the language.

It is unfortunate that in this country education is free only up to a certain level — the grade schools.  The rest of the schooling has to be shouldered by the student himself or by his family, because education is like a commodity that needs to be purchased at a cost.  One’s success in the steep climb to an educated status much depends on the student’s capacity to buy the “goods,” coupled with dogged determination and clever maneuverings to survive against ordeals and all odds.

Of course this has its roots and premise in the “free enterprise” system of democracy in our society.  Like all other undertakings of sustaining one’s existence, the individual has to exercise his mettle in a kaugalingong panikaysikay or the doctrine of “live and let live.”

But the common belief that education will emancipate someone from poverty is pervasive and is the inducement that prods every Filipino to go to school.  So the promise of a better or good life beckons everyone to engage in a bitter struggle to get educated.  The poor parent would say, “Paninguha gyud anak nga makahuman kag eskwela para makalingkawas ta sa kalisod (Strive hard my child to finish schooling so we can extricate ourselves from impoverishment).”

But poverty is a tsunami that obliterates all the promises for a bright future.  Out of the teeming millions of Filipinos in all the islands in the archipelago, only some tens of thousands are able to attain schooling in varying levels of education.

And sadly, among the fortunate ones who are able to hurdle in the race for educational attainment most everyone become alienated Filipinos.  They now speak English, a foreign language.  Worse, they begin to despise and scorn their mother tongue or native language.  All their dreamful eyes are trained towards the far horizon, perhaps to that far-away continent wherefrom the English language originates.  They have become strangers, if they ever come back, to their own places of origin.

And if they strike some luck in getting well-to-do, their status as educated Filipinos becomes a great divide between themselves and their classes of origin.  A great chasm is created between the English-speaking privileged Filipinos and the non-English-speaking underprivileged masses.

English is a veritable narcotic drug that serves to dupe the “great unwashed” to docility.

It has a magical way of confounding the underprivileged to submit to the exhortations of politicos and the injunctions of the misleaders of the society.  Whatever the public officials proclaim, in English, are taken by the masses as unassailable truths.  For after all, they little understand the real significance of what these misleaders say.  The English language has perpetuated obscurantism among the uneducated populace both in urban and rural communities.

The language of the government officialdom is English.  They impose the laws in this language.  The President and the Senators and Congressmen speak in English.  The Courts conduct all their proceedings in English, which even the average English speaking people can hardly comprehend.  There’s no way the masses are able to get the real import and implications of the laws of the land.

And the misleaders of the nation, the politicians elected via deceit and trickery, with all their pretensions and hypocritical posturings, impose policies and laws that are all written and formulated in English, thereby doubly confounding the masses: by the strangeness of the language and the legalese employed to complicate its understandability.

Consequently, the subjugation of the entire people is perpetuated by a language that is beyond the grasp of the masses, along with politico-economic machinations of the ruling elite whose interests are opposed to the people’s longing for liberation from poverty and backwardness.

Unknown to the Filipino people, their love for and devotion to the English language carries with it an adoration of all things and stuffs associated with the language. Truly, we have fallen into the cultural trap of loving everything English.  Or everything that comes with the language of the Americans.

It seems negligible that a small kid would call his father “Dad” and his mother “Mom.”  But that is not the end of it.   The school grader would begin to love the song and the way it is sung by the American idol and starts to wiggle his hips and shuffle his feet to the rhythm of the hip hop.

And he soon finds it awkward and embarrassing to call his father “Tatay” and his mother “Nanay.”  And smirks with scorn the indigenous lullaby his parents used to lull him to sweet slumber when he was an infant.  And he learns to despise the tinikling and the pangalay and mispronounces “dahil sa iyo” as “the hell with you.”  And thinks that to speak in the native tongue is “nakakahiya” (shameful) and “badoy” (out of fashion).  It is fashionable to talk with the nasal twang or swers-swers.

And therefore, it is well to shun one’s Filipino identity and culture.  And adopt the American lifeways as thoroughly as possible.

Verily, all of American culture and art are adored.  And the so-called American pop culture and subculture are popsicles to lick and ice creams to copiously devour. Consciously or unconsciously, knowingly or unknowingly, our national identity and cultural integrity are obliterated little by little in the psyche of most Filipinos.  The middle classes are especially most vulnerable to the assaults of colonial culture.  They would like to get even with the colonial masters who made them second class citizens in their own country.

But the deplorable consequence is they have become colonialists themselves, imitating the culture of their colonial masters, wielding supremacy over the unschooled and the great unwashed.  In effect, they replaced the colonialists in imposing the foreign culture they have so masterfully replicated.

And the cultural divide heightens and the chasm deepens between the schooled and the unschooled, between the educated who speak English and the uneducated who do not know English, between the middle classes who reside in exclusive villas and subdivisions and the great majority who live in squalor in barungbarong hovels in the cities and the countryside.  In short, between the very few privileged and the great many underprivileged.

Don J. Pagusara is a native of Mindanao, a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.<

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  • Joe Smith

    Would u rather be speaking Japanese? Quit your whining and crying!!!! If u hate English so much then why did u write this article in English ????!!!!!!

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