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  • Danny Martinez
    ENGLISH I had no difficulty whatsoever learning English [entered first grade in 1949], but a number of extraneous factors worked in my favor. Both my parents
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 18, 2001

      I had no difficulty whatsoever learning English [entered first grade in
      1949], but a number of extraneous factors worked in my favor. Both my
      parents spoke near-perfect English. My father was a lawyer and my mother
      was a teacher. I went to a private school. I loved to read and nearly
      everything worth reading then was in English. The "system" taught me that
      anything native, like Cebuano literature ["Bisaya" magazine was in wide
      circulation then], was "inferior." Entirely apart from these factors, I
      simply fell in love with the language and in this regard can vouch for
      the fact that most of my classmates preferred to learn English than
      Tagalog. How we hated the Baralila and the Wikang Pambansa. Were we
      "brainwashed" into believing that Tagalog, being native, was inferior to
      English? Perhaps. But although we were unable to articulate it then, I
      believe now that we also instinctively felt no compelling need whatsoever
      to learn a third language in addition to English, which we learned mostly
      in school, and Cebuano, which we spoke at home and in the streets.

      I can't disagree with those who find English a difficult language to
      learn, vis-a-vis Spanish, for instance, which has more cogent grammatical
      rules, apart from being much easier to spell and pronounce. The flaw in
      this conclusion, however, is that it completely ignores subjectivity.
      What I'm trying to say is that one who either loves the Chinese language
      or feels a compelling need to learn it is likely to find it easier than
      Burmese or Russian. [And incidentally, how many actually say to
      themselves, "I'm going to learn this or that language because it's easier
      to learn?"]

      I'm no believer in "national" languages, but if the nations of the
      Philippines believe they need one, I would prefer English to
      Tagalog/Filipino/Pilipino for two common-sensical reasons. First, because
      no indigenous language will lord it over the rest [forcing everyone else
      to become tri-lingual], and second, because, like it or not, English has
      become the lingua franca of regional and global commerce and diplomacy. I
      believe we have much to learn from Singapore and Papua New Guinea,
      neither of which equates their choice of English with a lack of
      patriotism. [China is expected to spend at least 12 million dollars this
      year alone teaching its scientists, scholars and diplomats English.]

      At the end of the day, no matter our individual preferences and biases,
      the choice of which language or languages to preserve and promote
      [whether in schools or in courtrooms], after a period of intelligent
      debate, belongs to the nations that speak them, not to the structures
      that govern them, especially when the consent of the governed has become
      a permanent, unchallenged assumption.


      Spanish should be actively encouraged and promoted, although not
      compelled, if for one reason and one reason alone: Sen. Blas Ople points
      to the fact that in the archives of Spain and Mexico [and in a few other
      countries], there are no less than eleven million documents written in
      Spanish relating to the Philippines which have yet to be translated. This
      is an academic gold mine awaiting rediscovery and appraisal. This is a
      treasure trove we cannot consign to the dustbin of history. The prolific
      and articulate Elizabeth Medina [I understand she's Cebuana] makes the
      compelling argument that we cannot fully understand and appreciate our
      past without comprehending the tongue in which much of it was recorded.
      I'm with you on this score, Ernie.


      I refer to nationalism [which many erroneously equate with patriotism,
      which Benjie has noted] in my forthcoming book [hopefully out by January]
      as the "religion of blame," at least insofar as the variety practiced in
      the Philippines is concerned. In the last four years, American Samoa,
      Guam, and Puerto Rico shared a similar experience: they all conducted
      referendums [referenda for the Latin grammarian] and guess what? They
      each voted to remain a territory of the United States.
      Anti-nationalistic? Absolutely. Unpatriotic? I hardly think so.

      When Quezon preferred a government run like hell by Filipinos to one run
      like heaven by Americans, most of our people, hypnotized by blind
      nationalism, agreed with him. Many, to this day, still do, equating the
      foreign with evil and the native with good -- the polar opposite of the
      political and cultural imperialism imposed on us by external
      colonization. At the end of the day, just as communism proved to be as
      evil as unbridled capitalism [think child labor, monopolies, no unions,
      no labor laws, etc.], nationalism -- except where it has been practiced
      in an enlightened manner -- has proved to be as much a blight on mankind
      as imperialism.


      From the American viewpoint, the American occupation of the Philippines
      borders on the brutal [the anti-democratic nature of acquiring foreign
      possessions, the atrocities that marred the Philippine-American War, the
      immensely unjust military and commercial concessions coerced from the
      country upon independence, and the often high-handed manner by which the
      U.S. got what it wanted from the Philippines for decades thereafter].

      From the Filipino viewpoint, however -- if only because the Spaniards and
      Japanese were much harsher -- our "tutelage" under the Americans was
      relatively benign. Indeed, most Filipinos I've queried remain uncertain
      as to whether America did more good or harm to the country.

      This appears to be the fundamental reason why anti-Americanism in the
      Philippines has always been an ambivalent social phenomenon, essentially
      a love-hate relationship. It's much more vocal than anti-Americanism in
      Japan, but is never likely to reach the level it did in Iran.
      Incidentally, Even Filipino Americans become the subject-victims of
      anti-Americanism: we love you for the things you send and the dollars you
      have, but hate you for leaving us and telling us that you know better
      what's good for us. [Not too long ago the argument was posited that
      "since you're not here you can't hope to understand what the problem is."
      In other words, non-residents can't be experts. Really? The guy at NASA
      who knows more about the moon than anyone else in the whole world was
      never an astronaut. And it took a Harvard surgeon, studying data,
      photographs, and x-rays sent to through the internet, to diagnose the
      rare disease of a patient in New Delhi.]

      Our version of nationalism doesn't make us merely anti-American; we've
      become anti-"other." Alongside Americans you can can include the Chinese
      [traditionally resented because they prosper while we wither], the
      Muslims [for not converting and for wanting to secede], and the Japanese
      [some refuse to forgive them for WWII]. A recent poll conducted in Asia
      reveals that of all the peoples of the region, Filipinos least wanted to
      "work for a foreigner." This poll did not include Filipinos already
      working for foreigners overseas. Internally, Filipino nationalism
      actively discourages "regionalism" and "tribalism." Centralist thinking
      dominates the political and cultural discourse. Anyone who displays any
      awkwardness at belonging to or expressing loyalty to the metropolis is a
      "promdi," an outsider, a poor cousin.

      Filipinos are a synthetic people who profess a manufactured culture,
      speak an illusory language, and inhabit a fabricated state.


      On Wed, 19 Dec 2001 03:11:34 -0000 "ernieturla" <eiturla@...> writes:
      > --- In unitednon-tagalogs@y..., Jason Lobel <jasonlobel1@y...> wrote:
      > > > And I'd like to repeat here the advantages of
      > > > English which Ernie in one of his latest messages
      > > > has already implied with his six descriptive
      > > > phrases:
      > > >
      > > > 1. Its neutrality
      > > > 2. Its being easy to learn
      > > > 3. Its world-wide popularity in usage
      > > > 4. Its being used already in the halls of Congress
      > > > 5. Its availability on teaching materials with which
      > > > to learn it
      > > > 6. Its cultural value to us having been a colony of
      > > > a country that speaks it
      > >
      > > Who on earth would say that English is easy to
      > > learn?!? It's one of the most complex languages for
      > > foreigners to learn because of all the exceptions and
      > > the horrendous spelling system! Philippine languages
      > > are much easier to learn than English!
      > Jason, these happened to be my own words, not Dag's.
      > I don't want to reiterate what I've already said before,
      > but I'm being compelled to. Like I said before, when I
      > was in first grade, and that was in 1945 (Liberation),
      > we were taught English, and we found it easy to learn.
      > But of course, we had good teachers, but more than anything
      > else, we were just seven years old. Nowadays, they start to
      > study English a little later which perhaps makes a big
      > difference. If I were just to start studying English
      > now and I live in the Philippines, I don't think I would
      > still learn it. But I know of some persons here in the US,
      > who did not go beyond sixth grade in the Philippines and
      > who came to the US when they were already in their thirties,
      > but who have learned to speak English well enough to be able
      > to communicate with native English speakers. Which goes to
      > show that it is easy to learn. Especially by six or seven year-olds
      > whose fresh and innocent minds are not yet distracted by sex as
      > compared to 12-year olds. Haven't I told you about those seventh
      > grade graduates who already could speak English so fluently that
      > they were even hired as temporary teachers in the outskirts of
      > towns?
      > Of course this has become next to impossible, but the reason for it
      > is obvious. My son, who teaches English in what is equivalent to a
      > junior college in Seville, can speak Spanish fluently, and the
      > reason
      > is he learned it from first grade - up.
      > BTW, may I request those of us here who found English difficult to
      > learn, to please come forward and confirm it. I want to make a head
      > count. Also please tell me in what grade English was introduced to
      > you as an elementary school pupil.
      > > And cultural value? So then should Filipinos also
      > > learn Spanish as a required medium of instruction?
      > Yes. I've also said this before. By learning both English
      > and Spanish, a person won't ever get lost in the world.
      > At least that's what I've read and which I believe.
      > But Filipino could only do it among the local people there and
      > within Filipino communities abroad. Regarding whether it can
      > unite us, i doubt it. Sometimes it could even divide us.
      > > And why on earth do people all of a sudden love the
      > > colonizers, both American and Spanish, who committed
      > > such atrocities in the Philippines during their
      > > colonial reign?
      > Why would you consider this as love? In Spain, they are
      > proud of the Moorish architecture they have in their
      > castles and other buildings. It has become a part of their
      > heritage. In the Philippines, we're proud of our churches,
      > our family names, etc. that we inherited from our Spanish
      > past. In fact my dictionary has a lot of words derived from
      > Spanish, and a lot of words too that are borrowed from
      > English. A person can not just disown or discard his heritage,
      > especially if it is good, be it customs, religion, literature,
      > products, or language. Even if it came from foreign invaders.
      > Quite frankly, people during my time in the Philippines were
      > not anti-Americans. The so-called ugly American had a good
      > image then. Somehow later, I don't know what happened to their
      > attitude, i don't know if it had something to do with the US
      > support for Marcos for his "adherence to democracy" to quote
      > a former vice president.
      > This isn't to say that neither did
      > > any good, as they both DID have positive things that
      > > they contributed to the Philippines. But all of a
      > > sudden, it sounds like we'd like the Philippines to be
      > > a colony again...
      > Some people, in fact, harbors that very idea. They want
      > the Philippines to become one of states of the union. A
      > senator at one time even filed a bill but which did not go through
      > for lack of support from other senators who knew that the US
      > won't admit a country as populous as the Philippines. Oh,
      > I realize I made a mistake here, for you mean colony and
      > not state. Well, i don't think anybody would want the Philippines
      > to become a colony of another country again. Not after it has
      > become independent!
      > > > That's why considered ourselves as having been
      > > > wronged by the Spanish and the Japanese regimeS
      > > > (foreign) and the Marcos regime (domestic).
      > >
      > > AND the American regime, let's not forget...
      > Okay Jason, tell us what the American regime did! I still
      > have to know. When Gen. MacArthur said, "I shall return",
      > didn't he return? When Quezon wanted a government run like
      > hell by Filipinos, didn't he get for his people what he
      > clamored for?
      > __________________________________________________
      > > Do You Yahoo!?
      > > Check out Yahoo! Shopping and Yahoo! Auctions for all of
      > > your unique holiday gifts! Buy at http://shopping.yahoo.com
      > > or bid at http://auctions.yahoo.com
      > Let's fight for the survival of our dying languages.
      > It is not only our right but also our duty to help
      > correct a language policy detrimental to the
      > existence of our vernacular languages that are being
      > treated like garbage in their own territory. Let's
      > protect our languages from the clutches of Tagalog.
      > Let's prepare ourselves for a rally to get our native
      > languages back into the classrooms to replace Filipino.
      > With a worthy cause like this, we shall overcome!
      > Long live the Ilo-Capam-Pangas-Bic-War-Hili-Buano
      > Languages Protectionism Association! Biba!
      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
      > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
    • Ferngil@aol.com
      In a message dated 12/18/2001 9:25:04 PM Pacific Standard Time, ... But Danny, look at the what-might-have-been scenario. Attached below is ... 17 September
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 19, 2001
        In a message dated 12/18/2001 9:25:04 PM Pacific Standard Time, dama22@... writes:

        Filipinos are a synthetic people who profess a manufactured culture,
        speak an illusory language, and inhabit a fabricated state. 

        But Danny, look at the "what-might-have-been" scenario.  Attached below is another posting:

        17 September 1993
        Manila Standard
        Gerry Gil

                                                       The Road Not Taken

                Mexico is not the only country that celebrates its independence day in mid-September. So do five Central American republics -- Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, which once comprised an administrative region of the Viceroyalty of New Spain (Mexico).
                On Sept. 15, 1821, the region declared its independence from Spain. Presumably, the Sept. 15 date was chosen to coincide with 11th anniversary of the Cry of Dolores -- the call of Father Hidalgo for Mexican independence. For about 15 months, these five countries were legally part of Mexico, but in 1823, they broke away to form the United Provinces of Central America. Despite the efforts of President Francisco Marazan, the federation began to collapse under various pressures. In the late 1830s, it broke up and the individual states became independent republics. They remain separate although there have been at least 25 attempts to achieve some kind of political unification.
                The history of these five countries has been turbulent. Part of the turbulence is due to the heavy-handed attempts of the United States to interfere in the politics of these countries. Also, the leaders of these countries are not the most competent politicians in the world (we recall, for instance, that El Salvador and Honduras went to war over a soccer game).
                The Philippines and Central America are more similar than most of us believe. The two areas lie in roughly the same latitudes (San Jose, Costa Rica and Puerto Princesa, Palawan are roughly ten degrees north of the equator). And so, the climates are quite similar, except in the high mountains of Guatemala. The Philippines, with 115,831 square miles, has about the same land area as four of the five republics -- Costa Rica (19,575), El Salvador (8,260), Honduras (43,277) and Nicaragua (50,193).
                We Filipinos know almost nothing about these countries; on the other hand, the Guatemaltecos, Salvadorenos, Hondurenos, Costaricenses and Nicaraguenses do not know us either. And yet, Filipinos and Central Americans should know each other because each represents for the other the proverbial "road not taken."
                During the Spanish period, these five countries were ruled by a captain-general based in Guatemala City who reported to the viceroy in Mexico -- in much the same way that the captain general in Manila reported to the viceroy in Mexico. In the eyes of both Spain and Mexico, the Philippines and Central America enjoyed exactly the same status.
                But while the officials, landowners, priests and other leaders of Central America decided to go along with Mexico when it declared its independence from Spain, our leaders here in the Philippines decided to remain loyal to Spain.
                One wonders what might have happened if the Philippines had decided to declare its independence at that time. Could the Philippines have maintained its independence, preserving it against the various European powers that were seeking colonies in this part of the world?
                And even the Philippines could repel such invasions, would our archipelagic country remain one political unit -- or would it, like Central America, break up into several countries, including one as small as El Salvador?
                Most of us would probably be happy that the Philippines did not opt for independence at the time that Mexico and Central America did -- but this attitude could very well stem from the very human trait that makes us "rather bear the ills we have than fly to others that we know not of."
                And so, we would not be surprised if Central Americans who look at the Philippines' turbulent history arrive at the conclusion that Central America made the right decision when it opted for independence in 1821.

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