The Philippines is now an English speaking nation; deal with it

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In the economic race, or out? [Photo source]

The term “deal with it” is an American idiomatic expression. It is normally used in a confrontational manner, as a final exclamation point. A translation would be, “tough luck, nothing’s going to change, so you have to accept it. Nyaah nyaah nyaah!”

But I don’t mean it as confrontational. I mean it as polite advice.

I do believe English is the language of the future for the Philippines. There will be no pronouncements to that effect. The leadership must, after all, be sensitive to the native pride that exists within every Filipino, no matter which of the 114 languages he speaks.

Neither is it a matter of choice. English is happening now, and will become even more prevalent in the future.

A breaking point of sorts occurred last year when the Commission on Higher Education decided that Philippine universities no longer had to require Filipino language instruction. The authoritative document is CHED Memorandum (CMO) No. 20, series of 2013, a rather rambling explanation of the logic behind new rules for institutions of higher education. The “required Filipino” mandate was dropped down to the high schools which are adding two years of instruction as the Philippines goes K to 12th grade. The universities now offer the study of Filipino as an option, so students have broader choices on how to deal with languages.

This memorandum has not gone down well with a lot of university professors and nationalists.

That is perhaps the understatement of the decade.

But what is the reality? The reality is that:

  • English is the official legal language of the Philippines.
  • Private schools that teach future leaders demand fluency in English.
  • An entire outsourcing industry, the heart of Manila’s economic revival, is based on English.
  • English is a primary language of millions of OFW’s in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Middle East.
  • English is a common language that cuts across 114 separate languages within the Philippines. It is on a standing equal to Tagalog.
  • The “Filipino” language is rapidly absorbing English terms to reach for expressions that are not available in Tagalog. It is common for reporters and government officials to slide between Filipino to English fluently. The two languages are merging.

But the number one reality is that the economy is based on English, and successful workers and managers are fluent in English. The parent who limits his child to Filipino, or the student who limits himself to Filipino, drastically cuts his career opportunities.

Private schools know that their students must be fluent in English to thrive. To restrain public school students, to not allow them to compete, would be a strange form of nationalistic discrimination. So, nationalistic passions that demand Filipino in place of English can only penalize Filipinos. Teach them both, sure. But don’t constrain knowledge of the language of success.

Holding the Philippines – or individual students  – to Filipino is like holding a race horse in the gates while the other 11 horses bolt down the track.

It can’t be done. It shouldn’t be tried.

The horse will go wild to get out and run.

My advice is to “go with the flow”, the economic flow.

Don’t hold back.

Let the horse run.

Preserving old languages should be an option, a choice, not a requirement. The preservation burden should be carried by the academic community or private institutions, not economic institutions or those citizens wanting work.

Strike “should be”. Replace it with “will be”, because there are forces at work that cannot be constrained.


Impose ‘Filipino’ in CHED’s General Education Curriculum?” by Father Joel Tabora, S.J.  This is a very studied look at languages from a very studied man.


Language-in-education row: A ‘bibingka’ solutiondiscusses the problems lower level schools outside “Tagalog” regions are having to find capable instructors and materials to teach Filipino. English is actually easier.

60 Responses to “The Philippines is now an English speaking nation; deal with it”
  1. randedge says:

    I find that some of the best speakers of Tagalog are people who are 17 years removed from “The Motherland”: my Parents!

    I wouldn’t rank my Tagalog on par with theirs, but I certainly speak and write it decently enough. But as for my family, friends, and other childhood acquaintances still living there? Well, in the two times I was there, they all spoke this maddeningly frustrating language I cannot seem to grasp.


    So fluid, so ever changing it is that, even though I spoke its 1997 version, its 2007 and 2010 versions were foreign to me.

    • randedge says:

      My mother is from the Ilocos region: Born, Bred and Raised in Santa, Ilocos Sur. Attended Highschool in Vigan.

      My father and her only met each other at the University of the Philippines, Laguna.

      Anyway… that my mother can speak more coherent Tagalog than so many “pa sosyal” (pretentious) Taglish speakers is quite telling to me.

      Just pick one already, FFS!!!

      I for one favour English and approve of this “victory” over Tagalog. LIke you said, it has been the de-facto language of instruction, business, and other professional communication since the Filipino American war.

      It’s how I communicated with my Lolo and Lola in the summers I spent in my Mom’s hometown in Northern Luzon. Lolo being a court sheriff spoke it at a professional level and would rather hear my fledgling English as a youngster than have me mangle his beloved Ilocano.

      • Joe America says:

        I wonder if Tourism has done an ad that touts “It’s more fun speaking English in the Philippines!” A lot of English speaking people prefer to go where they can converse easily, as foreign languages can be intimidating. That’s why Hong Kong and Singapore get a lot of travelers, and Australia of course.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, right on target. Taglish, a moving language that brings new words in every year and wobbles directly into English phrases and back without a blink of the eye. I admire Dee who has written here. An OFW overseas speaking English, she took up the translation of my blogs to perfect her own use of Filipino. That is the way to preserve existing native languages. To have a passion for doing so because, sure as we are typing on our super-speed computers, the economic world is moving fast. If the Philippines wants to catch a ride, it can’t even stop to think about language. I can imagine communities that will foster continued dialogue in native tongues, as my son’s private school does (he got one of 10 answers right on his first Tagalog quiz; he’ll do better next time, guaranteed.) Associations that speak, write and read in Tagalog or Visayan or Cebuano, for the pride it gives them.

      But for job hunting? For success on the job?

      Different ball game.

      • Janice says:

        I think “Taglish” is very natural because the Tagalog grammar and conjugation is extremely flexible. (Taglish, not “Englog” which is more known as konyo English)

        I studied basic Spanish and there’s no way I could think on how to conjugate an English loanword using Spanish conjugation. Meanwhile, English and other loanwords can be conjugated with the Tagalog or Philippine languages’ grammar.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, but we need another name than “Taglish” because it reminds me of the unflattering term “pig Latin”. To me, “Filipino” is Taglish because it is greatly enriched with English and would be (economically) constrained without those English words.

  2. JM says:

    I rarely read anything Filipino anymore (less than 3x a year?). My work documents/emails are all in english. The books I read are in English. I do however feel more comfortable speaking Tagalog than English but half of the time I am required to speak in English because I have to deal with tons of foreigners at my work. I’ve dealt with Malaysians, Israelis, Indians, British, thieving chinese, Australians, Singaporeans and Americans. It comes as no surprise that I can easily understand Americans not so much on the others with their very different accents.

    • Joe America says:

      I gather that you are a “one stepper” in English, that is you primarily think in English rather than having to work through a translation word for word. Your use of English to bridge across so many other languages underscores the point I made a while back that English is really the global language, although no one will call it that lest Americans get even BIGGER heads.

      Accents are indeed like wading through the marshlands of communication, but my wife and I have the most laughter when one or the other of us misinterprets. The surprise meanings are most hilarious.

    • Adrian says:

      I’ll give you an assignment. Look for Virgilio Almario’s translation of Noli Me Tangere and El Fili, it’s written in beautiful and readable Tagalog. I was really surprised of how readable it is and I’m used in reading English books.

      • randedge says:

        hah! I have Maria Soledad Lacson-Locsin’s English Translation. I find hers to be the most sublime.

        Any Tagalog reading for me is just cumbersome. But I’ll take take that suggestion (though not directed towards me) and check that out next time I’m in the motherland.

  3. brianitus says:

    “Taglish” is natural. Deal with it, to borrow a phrase. Anyway, it’s not like English evolved as English as the primordial starting point. Language evolves out the need of the times. Heck, maybe in the days of the cavemen there were even Grunt purists. I’m pretty sure grunts died as a means to communicate.

    Anyway, I think universities should still have that option to offer those courses in Filipino. Nationalism aside, what if I am a Filipino coming home for the very first time and that’s what I wanted to learn in UNI? Would I be forced to watch the television dramas just to learn? This is an exaggeration, of course. On TV, Filipino is spoken with an occasional passionate slap and a round of violent hair tugging.

    As a medium of instruction, or teaching, I think instructors should have the flexibility to use whatever language or medium that fits their needs. I mean, just to exaggerate, you don’t teach sign language to blind people, right? The point is this: the teaching method/medium fits the students. Knowledge is too important to constrain the ways for one to get it, imho.

    As an aside, I think gov’t is betting way too much on K+12 without thinking too much about the negative externalities. I hate to imagine that in the future, Filipino will end up as just as something in a paid Language Learning Center or something exclusively used by PhDs in Filipino Language.

    • Joe America says:

      I think many will go to paid language centers once they realize their public school instruction in English was too little, too late. Those schools will be bandaids, I fear. Maybe helping a few, but not many. Rather like all the hotel and restaurant management graduates have no jobs, at least not in hotels or restaurants.

  4. ivyemaye says:

    There could be a trap here. I am English as you know. We English are really lazy when it comes to learning a second language. I have a splattering of German and a few words in French, Spanish, Swedish and Tagalog. When I visited Helsinki, Finland, shop assistants, yes shop assistants, had little badges on their clothes showing they were fluent in Finish, Russian, English, French and German! But Finland has one of the best educational systems in the world!

    Yes, English is the world’s primary language at the moment, but your native language is your culture. There should be reasonable scope for Filipino to be continued in the future.
    What of Japanese, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi. We Brits are being held back in Europe because of our poor language skills. Relying solely on (American) English could be a little short sighted.
    Just a thought on culture. We play football in England not soccer, because you kick the ball with your foot! American football is a form of Rugby football. A small difference, but I am from my culture with my traditions. World languages are in rapid decline as it is, with that cultures and wisdom dies as well….Yes by all means make English the main language, it makes lazy me very happy, but not exclusively please!

    • Joe America says:

      I don’t disagree at all. See my explanation to joseph ivo.

    • Bill Brow says:

      Your fear is baseless. English is already an official language along with Tagalog (Filipino). If Tagalog is abandoned as an official language, the people will still speak at least two languages (their local dialect and English). The use of Tagalog as an official language is nothing more than an attempt by native Tagalog speakers to subjugate all of the other people of the Philippines. As Manual Quezon said, “If we allow people in the provinces to learn English, where will we get our servants?”

      My daughter goes to a private school where the students are taught most subjects in English, but also have to learn Mandarin Chinese. I think that would be a much better use of their time than learning what is essentially just another Filipino language (Tagalog). Tagalog won’t get them anywhere outside of the Manila metro area. Nobody speaks Tagalog in daily conversation outside of that area, so it is ludicrous to force all to learn it.

      • Joe America says:

        Tagalog is spoken everywhere, at at least a rudimentary level. I’m not sure where you are getting your readout. My wife is from Leyte in the Visayas and is functional in about five regional languages. Just like all her friends. They drift between languages just as nationally people easily mix English and Tagalog. I guess I don’t buy your hard lines.

  5. josephivo says:

    I strongly support the president in his exclusive usage of Tagalog. It is high time that Filipinos accept that they are Filipinos and that they can be successful as such. They do not have to copy the Spanish anymore, nor the Americans. Be proud Asians, as your neighbors are. Look at Binay, he can be successful too as a Malay, speaking Tagalog. Cherish your Filipino languages.

    Yes learn languages, to start with your mother tongue, than learn the largest languages in the country, Visayan and Tagalog. With this bilingual base it will be easier to learn English. That’s what I had to do in my country, first my mother tongue, than a lot of French and a little German, and in the last 3 years of high school English because of its international importance. Look at Switzerland, Belgium, Québec… they are not unsuccessful.

    A language is more than a language, it is a gateway to a culture. Dutch opened me to the Germanic culture, French to the Romanic cultures, English to the Anglo-Saxon. The world is on its way to an American monoculture. Monocultures are fragile and stop progress, natures trick to thrive is diversity.

    Filipinos be courageous, follow your president and avoid the trap as described in the article above.

    • josephivo says:

      “the article above” being Joeam’s article.

      • ivyemaye says:

        I could not agree more with your excellent Blog. You do need a high degree of proficiency in English (at the moment) . Who is to say that Cantonese, Mandarin or Spanish may not be world languages some day?
        I mentioned Finland, where they are multi lingual. Language is your culture, loose that and as you said you end up with an American mono culture, no offence to Mr Joe here, I am English and we do have quite a different culture.
        The Philippines has an amazing film/movie industry, a huge amount of diverse cultures.
        I was fascinated when I went to Zamboanga picking up on a lot of Spanish words there in their language. Loose your language and you will loose your culture. Aquino is right. The Filipinos do suffer from an inferiority complex I feel. Yes, English is the world’s current world language , but this country should value all facets of its culture and language is an important part of this.
        OK my American gripes.
        Soccer is football, the game you play with your feet.
        Regular does not mean small, In Costas back in the UK they would ask “regular or large?” coffee, no small or large, regular is even as in geometry, a regular triangle.
        We have a Queen not a President\.
        What does a f lackey guy mean, some one with skin problems!
        “Have a nice day”…what is that suppose to mean?
        Yes you are 100% right!

        • Joe America says:

          Again, I don’t disagree, except to make the point that America is hardly mono-culture. The larger cities in particular have many ethnic underpinnings from Cuban in the Miami area to Hispanic in Texas and other southern states, to a wild hodgepodge in cities like Los Angeles and New York. LA has its little Tokyo, its Chinatown (and the entire San Gabriel Valley is mostly Asian), a huge Hispanic region in the East and South, blacks concentrated in south central, Korea Town, a huge Filipino community along Wilshire and one in Cerritos, a Russian enclave, Middle East concentrated around Beverly Hills, Cubans, El Salvadoreans. The Vietnamese have a large community in Garden Grove in Orange county.

          Each area is bound ethnically by culture, food, and language. Most speak English. Many government forms are done in English and Spanish.

          Indeed, America is an example of how English can be the dominant language, but culture can be prized and preserved, for its richness.

          And as to inferiority complex, that is worth a blog, I think. So I’ll hold off on commenting on that one.

    • Joe America says:

      Evidently I did not get my point across well. I am not advocating English, and I agree with you that culture is defined by language and that language usage is important and ought to be preserved. That President Aquino does his speeches in Filipino is wonderful. But you are right, there is a trap out there. But JoeAm is not setting it, economic circumstances are.

      My son goes to a private school, grades pre-school to high school, taught in English except for the DepEd mandated classes in Filipino. The public school up the road from my house teaches in Tagalog with an English class or two offered in high school. The kids don’t speak English at all. They are afraid to use it because they lack confidence in their abilities.

      Who will have more job opportunities? Who will have the best opportunity to break out, whether in be in the Philippines or as an OFW?

      Now if you say culture is more important than economic success, that’s fine. But the Philippines is likely to become a much more powerful economic machine, and I’m afraid that it is likely to be run by the privileged. So those with culture will be poor and those with jobs will speak English well, and hopefully Tagalog or Visayan well.

      My point is that committing public schools to “culture” will bar a lot of intelligent people from being all they can be.

      I’m not advocating anything. I’m saying English will become MORE prevalent than it is today, native languages CAN and SHOULD be preserved, but one should think very carefully about who is being held back and who is not.

      • josephivo says:

        I think that the kid that is good in math or science or arts or whatever will make it. Studying this in your mother tongue is so much easier for most. Bill Gates or Steve Jobs made it for their technical savvy and the market circumstances, not because of English.

        The kids from the private school will make it because their parents are better connected, not because of their English. As in many public schools, kids in the US don’t make it because they come from poor families, the worst student from a Ivy League university coming from a good family has better chances than a top student there from a poor family.

        Automatic translation is around the corner, be careful not to bet on yesterday’s horses.

        Be proud of your mother tongue, be proud of all the values, culture, history… that comes with it. (and value the knowledge of foreign languages, values, cultures, histories…. )

        • macspeed says:

          Yes, English should be right on the front line. Just imagine an engineer who could not compose a good responses to comments from clients 3rd party reviewer?

          Comparing to last bend of the horse race, the ones with super English has the edge to cross the finish line. Management shall mark with a seal those that are communicating very well will be up for next higher level of work.

          The current trend for work is now international. Most big companies hires not only good in work but also very good in English.

          Again you are right, native dialects should only be elective for students, not a requirements. To put Tagalog as an option is best suited for foreign students. Filipinos does not have to learn Tagalog in depth, understanding it is good enough. Philippine does not have technical books written in Tagalog, so why Filipinos need to have Tagalog as a rule to have in college. While if this Tagalog Language is compulsory to foreign students who may marry a Filipina or Filipino is of most importance and fun.

        • ponkawolla says:

          Considering that the Philippines has historically lacked in the R&D department, all the math and science education you speak of are imported from Western nations. The mathematical and scientific terminology found in textbooks communicated in English, which means one must possess basic English skills to excel in math and science.

          Steve Jobs wasn’t just a computer geek, he was an excellent communicator known for his oratory skills. He even said that the calligraphy courses he took in college were crucial in the development of the typefaces of the original Mac. +1 for the importance of English skills.

          Bill Gates is a genius in programming, which, incidentally, is heavily dependent on a strong understanding of language structure and grammar, hence the term “programming language”. All the coding found in programming languages are basic English words. +1 again for the importance of English skills.

          JoeAm is pushing the importance of being multi-lingual and explains why the further polishing of Filipinos’ inherent English skills is crucial to give the country an advantage over our competitors. Only insecure Filipinos would see this as a dilution of our cultural identity.

          • josephivo says:

            ??? look at scores in mathematical test, China, Korea, Finland… are at the top. USA and England are way down. Same for science.

            Gates and Jobs flourished in a favorable economic environment in Silicon Valley. What I mean is that economic factors correlate stronger to economic success than language. The economic environment. Tackling the rent seeking bias in the Philippines will have more effect than promoting English.

            Japan did flourish without making English the national language, Korea did, Thailand does better than the Philippines…. Better knowledge English promotes BPO’s and OFW’s, hiding the need for real jobs based on innovation, in manufacturing, in construction, in logistics…

            • ponkawolla says:

              Look at the ‘scores’ among Nobel Laureates. All Western. What exactly are you trying to imply when connecting a lack of proficient English with science advancement? As if both are mutually exclusive?

              And why would Japan, Korea, and Thailand adopt English as an official language when none of those countries were colonized by English-speaking powers? Even Koreans are invading the Philippines to study English.

              All of the Philippines’ neighbours, China included, are ramping up English literacy education to better compete in the global economy (it’s the international language of commerce FYI). Some say there are more English speakers in China than anywhere else. It would be to our disadvantage if we disregard English language training for the misguided notion that less English equates to more Filipino-ness.

              The point of further promoting the English language is to better equip our future graduates with superior communication skills. Want to attract BPOs? Learn English. Want to further attract FDI by abolishing archaic, protectionist laws in place to serve the needs of oligarchs so that foreign corporations can finally establish shops in the country? Better polish up on your English. Consider that in the 21st century what worked for our more prosperous Asian neighbours in the past may not necessarily work for us now and beyond.

              Do you want the Philippines to abolish English as an official language when all of our neighbours are pushing their children to learn it as a second language? Business must not be an important topic for you, then. Arts and culture seem to trump financial well-being in your mind.

              • josephivo says:

                All neighbors are proud of their own languages, children are thought math and science in their mother tongue and excel.

                Economies can be successful without Nobel laureates too. Still most of the best/richest universities are in the US attracting the best scientist, but this is a different discussion.

                Only the Philippines is still stuck in a discussion on colonialism. Time for them to discover their proper richness such as their language. Isn’t this president promoting Tagalog? (not the pidgin taglish most Filipinos use) Isn’t this part of the current rise in Filipino confidence? English as an official language is not a must as most nations demonstrate.

                And yes, today knowing English as a lingua franca is a must, more then ever.

                (As a foreigner it would make my life much easier, But today it also hinders me in learning local language and it puts me squarely in the corner of the English speaking class)

              • Joe America says:

                Very good debate y’all have going here. I’d offer that the pride in and preservation of native languages is important to establish a national identity, or, in the Philippines, 114 national identities, all of which don’t subscribe to one unified national identity. So native language advocacy is an advocacy for separateness. It is my belief – not advocacy – that each of the languages alone, even Tagalog, is not as unifying as English, and not as economically competitive as English. Economic need, the need to compete globally and not be bogged down by ANY historical bindings, language or occupations or heroes of the past, will drive the Philippine to English. That does not mean local languages will go away, if the local commitment to them is high.

                My point is that there is a huge sector of the Philippines, tied to local languages, that is being left behind as a class of no opportunity. The economy will draw many up, and those who dive into that stream will likely prosper because they are good at English.

                One does not have to lose or let go of one’s native language. But being locked to it carries a penalty. Holding kids to it passes that penalty to the youth.

              • Joe America says:

                I would add the perspective that President Aquino, by speaking in “Filipino” or Tagalog, is also imposing a national language on the provinces. I live in the Visayas, and people here speak Visayan first, Tagalog if necessary, and English quite regularly. I don’t think President Aquino is doing anything different than what I argue the Economy is doing. Using a language of some bigger unity than individual local dialects, at some risk of eroding those local dialects.

                I suspect this roundabout argument occurring here has been held over and over again. I only make the point that there is no real choice going forward if the Philippines is to emerge as a modern state and leader in Asia. English will become ever more prevalent, and those speaking it will become ever more successful, leaving behind those who do not speak it. And local regions will preserve their languages until the natural merging and mixing erases them, or leaves them as quaint remembrances to avid language historians.

              • Nobody says:

                It’s not just because non of them were colonized.

                Fact is, they don’t have to rely on English as much as Filipino do to get good jobs. For them, English is an option. An advantage. For Filipino, it’s the only tool to get out of the country.

        • ponkawolla says:

          BTW I’d imagine that the Ivy League student who stems from a privileged background becomes successful through personal talent in addition to having strong connections. Unless you’re trying to imply that connections alone are sufficient, in which case, there would be no point in having to attend an Ivy League school in the first place. One year in kindergarten should be enough, no?

          • josephivo says:

            Why I didn’t mention, it is just a statistic. Position of the parents is the strongest correlator in career success, more than degree, more than ethnicity… even at Ivy League levels.

      • sonny says:

        Joe, my children were born here in the US. I chose not to teach them Tagalog or Ilocano since I didn’t foresee how much the total absence of either Filipino languages would deprive them of a critical window to their Filipino heritage. I wish I had done otherwise. I also underestimated the capacity for learning (languages & culture included) children-in-development had. Of course teaching them Filipino languages in an American setting is somewhat of a pedagogical uphill climb. (California is more friendly to this need).

        The English vs Pilipino debate being waged in the Philippines should not be an EITHER-OR proposition. Rather, it should be BOTH-AND all the way for the good of our country, in so many levels!

        I would like to refer to this question as seen by our Linguistics experts in this article written many years back by Bonifacio Sibayan, PhD. He lays out, IMO, the Philippine language situation under a clearer light.

        “Bonifacio P. Sibayan is internationally recognized as one of the world’s pioneer scholars in sociolinguistics. He is a recipient of the Social Science Achievement Award – Sociolinguistics (1986) from the National Research Council of the Philippines and National Social Scientist Award (1990) from the Philippine Social Science Council. He is the acknowledged doyen of applied linguistics and sociolinguistics in the country.”

        • Joe America says:

          Very interesting article, thanks, Sonny. The “controlling domain” language in the Philippines seems to me to be predominantly English, and to get Tagalog to be such, a very dogmatic, nationalistic view would have to be made to force it to happen. Rather like North Korea. I don’t think that will happen because economic forces work against a language that has no utility outside the Philippines, and very watered down utility within the Philippines because local regions speak local languages.

          My son is only now starting to work on speaking Tagalog, and in a few short weeks he has surpassed my grasp. Indeed, young people have open minds to language. Perhaps they don’t fight it as we adults do. They just play. I think if your kids develop a passion for wanting to learn the home language, they will do so. Passion, like youth, breaks down resistance to learning, I think.

          • macspeed says:

            Learning Tagalog is easy as watching TFC or other media like Philippine movie or speaking Tagalog in your place or just as Joe mentioned when passion is develop for wanting to learn it will be easy as eating pie…

            Tagalog language will never cease to exist, if it does, then the government is ruled by either a Federal government or a Red communist form of Government. Filipinos loves FREEDOM, hence Tagalog will always be there as well as the government of FREEDOM which the early Filipinos has fought for….

            With the commercialism of media such as SATELLITES and INTERNET which were originally used by US scientist and military, learning Tagalog can be via watching Filipino channels. US FREEDOM loving policy does not stop or provide barrier for learning, the world owe this to US government and other countries who embraced these medias. The information are so huge, everyone will learn…do you know that I learn Arabic writing and speaking via searching in google? The world is changing, someday, we or perhaps if we are not here, people will travel at the speed of light and the language none other else but ENGLISH!!! Tagalog can never be an international Language that 100% sure.

          • sonny says:


            Thank you for the comment, Macspeed. By all means, the current technologies that serve mass communication (Internet & satellites) should be utilized to the maximum. These are very powerful resources.

            Our problem when the kids were growing and developing as bicultural personalities was one of timing. They belonged to times when Internet & satellites were not as available as they are now. The critical times for effective language learning and interaction are at ages 3 through 12. The tools available then were Sesame Street and Electric Company and cartoons. These were all in English. There were next to nothing from the schools and not enough time & personalities at home. (California schools had bilingual programs mandated and financed by the State, Illiinois, zilch).

            I encourage Fil-Am and Fil-European parents to take advantage of bilingual resources that are available now. Don’t forget the passion and motivation. These will keep the fire burning.

        • Janice says:

          Just imagine the advantage of the Philippines had Spanish been improved rather than abolished. The Philippines may be able to pull some supposedly investment from Latin America to the Philippines!

          Being multilingual is a tremendous advantage in the era of the “global nomads”. Say that most Filipinos are fluent in Spanish and English in addition to their native tongues. If you were to hire someone, will you hire someone from Mexico who barely speaks English(and barely makes effort) or a Filipino fluent in both languages?

          • miguel lo says:

            unfortunately the tagalogistas are hard at work to make sure filipinos only understand tagalog, they prefer that filipinos didn’t understand english at all. they might not stop with english, they will try to stamp out other languages as well such as visayan ilocano etc. i’m afraid they might be succeeding.

            • Joe America says:

              Indeed, going English or going Tagalog has the same effect on local languages, diminishing them. I don’t know how one preserves languages spoken by only a few people in the whole planet, though. The local region has to make a commitment to local languages in the schools, I presume.

  6. juan lim says:

    Philippines should make English the sole official language of the Philippines. It’s just common sense.

    • Joe America says:

      That is probably too bold for political reasons. But can you imagine how it would hype tourism and investment from English speaking nations? That is the issue, I think. Economic wealth versus fond memories. For a nation that is outrageously poor, I’d forget the fond memories, myself. But, in time, it will likely just happen. Because too many people DO want to be wealthier.

      The “marketing moment” will be missed, though.

  7. Janice says:

    I think Tagalog should be an option in college. After all, what is taught in “College Filipino” is merely a rehash of what was taught in high school and we don’t write in Tagalog/Filipino when writing technical.

    What is double standards in this “Filipino debate” is speaking Filipino(which is just a form of Manila Tagalog), it is seen as patriotic, but if non-Tagalog speakers prefer their own regional tongues, it is derided as “regionalistic”, “unpatriotic”.

    With all the bashing on emphasizing the importance of English in the Philippines, these so called “nationalists” are nowhere advocating the KFW to offer other major languages even just as an elective in high school and/or college. Then they cite monolingual countries like Japan and Korea as an example of developed countries “not needing English”. Wake up and smell the coffee… these countries are desperate to “upgrade” their English, hence, the massive amount of funds for English languages and hiring of native speakers but despite that, there is minimum improvement because there is no immersion. The Philippines has the immersion part. We just have to stop demonizing English

    • Joe America says:

      Excellent points. The double standard of emphasizing Tagalog which diminishes regional languages, but constraining English because it diminishes Tagalog. Manila centric. Better to respect and preserve all languages. But recognize the one that will generate more workers who can move into the global job market with more opportunity. The notion of holding people back from getting skills that allow them to work, in a desperately poor nation, for the sake of nationalism . . . is rather like being nationalistically in favor of poverty.

      Interesting point on Japan. My experience in working with the Japanese is that they are monolingual to outsiders but work like crazy learning skills in languages such as English, not to replace Japanese, but to succeed economically.

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        As an educator, I have always been inclined to believe and continue to believe that basic education should be done in the native tongue. And by “basic” here, I mean all the way up the undergraduate level. I have found myself having to re-interpret many of our English-written textbooks for our to students to better understand anyway. Half the time goes to just learning the English instead of the actual subject matter on hand. This isn’t to say that the learning of English isn’t important. On the contrary, I also believe that being fluent and well-versed in a SECOND language is an important business skill every person in the world should possess. Still, a balance must be struck between making sure our students learn all the basic skills they need to survive at home and some more advanced tools that will allow them the opportunity to improve their lives.

        • Joe America says:

          It’s good to have the views of an educator, and you make a good point regarding a second language being a HINDRANCE to learning because it takes time away from learning to translate. My response would be that it can be done one of two ways. One, as you suggest, leaving English until late high school or college as a second language, and then requiring total immersion to develop fluency. The other way is to start English young, along with the primary language, when kids’ brains easily wrap around languages. The latter places extreme burdens on teachers, so may not be the best way, now that I reflect on it.

          My kid’s instruction is in English with Filipino as a parallel second language. He is already gaining fluency in Filipino, even though he has spoken English at home all his young life. I rather think his job opportunities will be much broader than those for kids from the public schools, and he will be totally fluent in both languages, reading and writing.

          That’s just a fact, to be accepted. Or to be applied so public school students have an equal opportunity to move into the well-paying economy.

        • ivyemaye says:

          As a retired teacher from the UK I have mo argument with that. English is an important second language here, yes. Your culture and identity are bound up with your language . Loose that and you loose a lot more. Welsh in Wales is still spoken, an ancient Celtic language. This way the Welsh have retained their identity inspire of the dominance of the English. A good blog di ba!

  8. marc go says:

    25% of filipinos speak tagalog as a native language, the others speak their own language. they might understand tagalog but it is a foreign language to them. english will be a much suitable national language for filipinos because it bridges the language barrier among filipinos. there are plenty of filipinos who grew up in the provinces don’t speak tagalog at all. tagalog might be an identity of someone from manila, but not someone from pampanga or cebu or davao. ever since tagalog was established as a national language after world war 2, a lot of native filipino languages vanished.

  9. Jovita C. Villanueva says:

    It pains my ego as a person who tried both public(elem) and private(hs and college) to be reading blogs about the supposed superiority of students who graduated from private schools. I know of some students with rich parents but who are not that successful academically who pulled through the ladder of success but I also know a lot of poor students who became successful in life because of their sterling academic performance. The success of a person does not depend mainly on his/her ability to speak or write the English language(only the naives believe that!)Hey guys wake up! A person’s success depends on one’s ability to wade through a lot of challenges in life be it physical,social,moral, ethical,spiritual and a lot more and not whether you are a good speaker or writer of the English language…

    • Joe America says:

      That is for sure true, one’s strength of character counts, and many, many public school graduates fend for themselves better than private school graduates. But I look at education as providing certain tools, say reading or the ability to do basic math. A person with character with the tools has a better chance for a good upward path. Speaking English is one of the tools. And educators will tell you that a child picks up tools better when classes are smaller and the child can get more individual attention.

      • ivyemaye says:

        Mr Joe

        You may be more than aware that classes here in the Philippines total 40+. That is also usually in two sittings.
        I have learnt that teacher’s salaries are around 20,000 pesos a month.
        Being a retired teacher myself, it staggers me what they do achieve.

        But more help is really needed.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, I think 45 kids to a class is not unusual. How does one even find quiet? Or enough air to breathe? I think there are a lot of heroes in the teaching profession, and probably a lot of burnt out teachers, too.

  10. Jovita C. Villanueva says:

    Anyway,as a basic ed teacher,I also believe that the students should be fluent in the English language.In fact in the school I’m teaching(SMU,a pvt school in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya)aside from using an English textbook , we use the Practical Spoken English Program(PSEP) of Mrs. Caroline Reyes-Tinao, one of the TOYS awardees(1997) to help us develop and eventually hone the students’ confidence, pronunciation, intonation(CPI) skills in the English language. The author convinced the administration that confidence-buiding should begin as early as possible(preschool or grade one) while inhibitions have not yet developed. June 2015 will be our 7th year of PSEP implementation; I observed though that we,English teachers, had to address a lot of issues when it comes to English speaking abilities of children because of the inclusion of Mother Tongue-Based Multilinguistic Education in Grades 1-3 of the K to 12 curriculum.

    • Joe America says:

      Good for you Jovita. Confidence and competence, two mighty big “C’s” that go hand in hand. I attended a fiesta lunch today here locally, and people were laughing at how the various languages merge and are spoken together, Visayan, Tagalog, Waray Wary, and English. It’s like a dance with people changing partners even within single sentences. A student outside Manila basically has to have a third language. That’s a burden, and possibly an advantage to some. The notion that patriotism is attached to a language is something that I have not quite figured out yet. I’d argue that patriotism ought to be attached to the idea that the people, and the nation, ought to be able to take really good care of themselves. Language is a tool. Not an end in itself.

    • Kim says:

      Good am maam.. where can i buy the PSEP CD AND MANUAL?

  11. njvidad says:

    Is English language contrary to the mother-tongue policy of the Department of Education? hmmmm

    • Joe America says:

      Most Filipinos are adept at two or more languages. For those going to private schools, English is among them, and it gives them an advantage in the job market. If the choice is keep a national language by not teaching English in public schools, I’d say that is making public school kids pay a heavy price.

  12. Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

    I love English. It’s the first language I mastered. Even have awards for using it—grammar, spelling and comprehension—with excellence in Grade VI graduation. First time I read this article, but it pops up in the discussion threads; it invites. I don’t know, but when I go in for the kill logically, my mind shifts to English. Wait, let me recast that: when I want to ride a horse into battle, I use English because most are terrified with it. But when it’s heart-to-heart ligaw (courting) time, when you are close to tears and the reader or audience seems ready, Pilipino my native tongue has magic all its own. It’s turbo-charging, rifle shot to the heart. Your words kill it. I can live with confused tongue, as long as it’s effective. Or are the two languages merging, as JoeAm said? Could be, could be.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. BLOG #1 says:

    […] Filipino should be taken out of the curriculum to make way for English. In an article posted in entitled “The Philippines is now an English Speaking Nation; DEAL WITH IT,” the author said […]

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