‘Tagalugin ’nyo,’ pleaseBy Minyong Ordoñez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
I fretted much when I learned that Sen. Lito Lapid agonized and hesitated over interpellating pro-birth control bill (RH) senators because his poor English might result in his disastrous performance. He’d rather, methinks, shoot bandits in his cowboy movies.
Harboring an inferiority complex in using one’s own native tongue in a public forum is totally absurd and baseless.
I’m a hard-boiled apostle of using Tagalog when talking to our kapwa masang Pilipino. While still creating advertising in my former job, all our ad campaigns conceived in Filipino and spoken in Filipino were sure-fire home runs in the market place. The best example was Jollibee’s Langhap-Sarap.
How thrilled I was, then, when finally Senator Lapid summoned the nerve, at lakas-loob siyang nakipag-debate tungkol sa kontrobersya ng birth contol (RH) bill.
Tinagalog niya! Sa maliwanag at tumataginting na Tagalog ay naisiwalat ni Senador Lapid ang panganib sa kalusugan na naranasan ng kanyang asawa’t sanggol nang dapuan ang mga ito ng sakit at sakuna dahil sa side effects ng contraceptive pills. Ang dating haka-hakang harmful side effects ay totoo pala sa karanasan ni Senator Lapid. Nagkaanak siya ng isang blue baby at ito’y namatay. The senator was visceral!
The other male macho na anti-birth control bill ay si Representative at boksingerong kampeon, Manny Pacquiao. Maliwanag rin siyang nagpahayag ng kanyang paninindigan. Tinagalog din niya! Ang contraception pill at abortifacient ay mali. Ayon kay Manny, ipinagbabawal ng Diyos ang pumatay at inutos rin nito ang magparami ng lahi. Mali ang birth control bill kasi labag sa utos ng Diyos. Ito’y maliwanag kay Manny. The pugilist got good instinct.
Last month, this newspaper (Sept. 11 issue, p. A15) ran a discussion on the value of Filipino language usage. The big headline asked: “Is Filipino for stupid people?” This inutile topic was triggered by an article by an Ateneo student who claimed that Filipino is the language of the street (useful only for talking to drivers, maids, vendors and promdi cousins), while English is the language of learning and privilege.
What hogwash! This sophomoric Jesuit-bred kiddo misses the whole point of Filipino bilingualism, an acquired Filipino skill unique in Asia.
In the same page and issue, Benjamin Pimentel, a journalist expat in California, wrote an article entitled “How my sons lost their Tagalog,” which told the story of how his sons lost their Tagalog while growing up in California, but were trying to recover it urgently. When they visited the Philippines, the desire to speak in Filipino became a primordial need.
The power of language lies in its sound, its intimacy, and its immediacy. It’s those sounds that come from the vocal cords that concretize thoughts and feelings. The creation of words springs forth from the inborn creativity of our prehistoric ancestors living in caves thousands of years ago. They started emitting grunts and growls, then they formed syllables, combined syllables into words, then words into sentences.
Then they systematized their language with grammar. Style followed later, allowing them to create poems and write stories.
Every race and nation evolve their own language, which becomes the trademark of their distinctiveness, their unity, and their pride as a people.
Language is never used as a bias for class or status. Its main function is to express thoughts and feelings from person to person, assembly to assembly, citizen to citizen.
Language has its own originality, its own spirituality, its own graciousness, its own passion, its own sanctity, its own madness.
William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” and Francisco Balagtas’ “Florante at Laura,” project the same vivacious imagery, echoing the same sweet longings.
Nonoy Gallardo’s “Tuliro,” and Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind,” elicit the same love metaphors that can melt the coldest of hearts.
There’s absolutely no racial distinction, when any language is spoken, when it comes to raising hopes, chasing dreams, pursuing truths.
Kaya, Lapid and Pacquiao, Tagalugin ’nyo pa. Snob them ingliseras at ingliseros. ’Pag Tagalog ang salita ’nyo, you are in your element.
Pag nagta-Tagalog kayo, I’m seized with nostalgia. Nagugunita ko tuloy ang mga yumao nating mambabatas whose eloquence in Filipino resonated through the halls of congress, the way Cicero’s orations in the Roman senate mesmerized the entire gallery.
I remember Sen. Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo, with his impeccable Bulakeño discourses; Sen. Wenceslao Lagumbay’s Tagalog talumpati, makata-style, complete with rhyming couplet; and Gov. Felicing San Luis of Laguna, a brilliant Tagalista whose choice of words, clarity and logic was incredibly Aristotelian.
And of course, the guru of ward politics, the inscrutable party boss, senate president, Eugelio “Amang” Rodriguez, who made American jaws drop as he mangled proper American English, by talking with impunity, in his hilarious Carabao English.
That’s Pinoy hubris, my friend.