The evening of April 15th 2012 saw the Binibining Pilipinas 2012 competition and all the people and things involved therein trend worldwide on Twitter. It was a prestigious event that sought to crown the most beautiful of all the beautiful women the Philippines has to offer, with the whole nation watching it happen.
The participants wowed the crowed with their stunning smiles, their elegant prowess and charming looks. It was a tight race, until they opened their mouths and started to speak come the question and answer portion. Suddenly, Twitter was full of sneers and jests on the language of the contestants as they spoke hilariously incorrect statements that would make their English teachers cry. I tell you, if speaking grammatically incorrect sentences in public was a contemptible offense, then senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago would have cardiac arrest lashing rebukes at the beautiful contenders.
And that's the problem with the majority of Filipinos. They see the English language as a sort of Ilustrado mark, thinking that speaking the language somehow makes the impression that we are better intellectually, socially and economically. Inversely, we cast a wary look at our own language, having the belief that speaking it somehow degrades our status in the community.
First off, there is nothing wrong in having a preference towards the English language. After all, it is pretty much the lingua franca of the world, and to hone oneself to its usage is commendable. However, there is no problem with our native tongue, either. We should in fact, embrace it, as it is our own language. To distance ourselves from it is highly absurd. Isa lang ang salita natin. Kung mamatahin natin 'to, hindi ba parang minata na rin natin 'yung sarili nating pagkakakilanlan? (We only have one language. Wouldn't casting disdain on our own tongue be tantamount to casting disdain on our identity as a whole?)
Its a real shame that we think this way.
Now, I won't go way out of my head here and say we should use Filipino every time and to abstain from using English, for that'd be ludicrous. As I pointed out, English is the trade language of the world and to not use it would be a blatant, ignorant mistake. However, I exhort Filipinos to use our own tongue if we can not say what we mean and mean what we say in the foreign language we want to use, whether it is English or not. Sa madaling salita, kung hindi ka marunong mag-Ingles, huwag kang mag-Ingles. Hindi 'yun makakabawas sa pagkatao mo. Kung hindi mo rin lang masasabi ang gusto mong sabihin, mag-Filipino ka na lang. Mas maganda nga 'yun pakinggan kasi masasabi mo at maipaparating mo talaga ang nasa isip mo, kaysa mag-Ingles ka para mag-mukhang mas magaling o mas nakatataas sa mga kausap mo. (In other words, if you don't know how to speak English then don't tire yourself doing so! It'd be better for you to use your own tongue as you can say what you really mean and bring this across to your listener in a clearer way, than use English to make an impression that you know a lot more than you really do.)
We should get rid of that mentality. What does your speaking a foreign tongue do if you don't know how to speak it? It will only make you a laughing stock and an incompetent fool in front of your listeners and make them think that you're worse than you really are instead of better. How's that for an impression?