James Soriano article at Manila Bulletin invites criticism

James Soriano, a 21-year-old student from Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and columnist at Manila Bulletin since 2008, made it among hot searches on Google and also became a hot trending topic both on Twitter and Yahoo Philippines today, August 26, 2011.

James Soriano photo (Credit to his Multiply account)

That's because of James Soriano's article entitled "Language, learning, identity, privilege" which was published on Manila Bulletin's online website (mb.com.ph) at 4:06am today, but was later deleted before noon because of controversial content.

The fact that Manila Bulletin decided to remove James Soriano's article could mean that there must be something wrong in its content.

Good thing PEXers were able to copy the article before it was deleted. Read on...

Language, learning, identity, privilege
August 24, 2011, 4:06am

English is the language of learning. I’ve known this since before I could go to school. As a toddler, my first study materials were a set of flash cards that my mother used to teach me the English alphabet.

My mother made home conducive to learning English: all my storybooks and coloring books were in English, and so were the cartoons I watched and the music I listened to. She required me to speak English at home. She even hired tutors to help me learn to read and write in English.

In school I learned to think in English. We used English to learn about numbers, equations and variables. With it we learned about observation and inference, the moon and the stars, monsoons and photosynthesis. With it we learned about shapes and colors, about meter and rhythm. I learned about God in English, and I prayed to Him in English.

Filipino, on the other hand, was always the ‘other’ subject — almost a special subject like PE or Home Economics, except that it was graded the same way as Science, Math, Religion, and English. My classmates and I used to complain about Filipino all the time. Filipino was a chore, like washing the dishes; it was not the language of learning. It was the language we used to speak to the people who washed our dishes.

We used to think learning Filipino was important because it was practical: Filipino was the language of the world outside the classroom. It was the language of the streets: it was how you spoke to the tindera when you went to the tindahan, what you used to tell your katulong that you had an utos, and how you texted manong when you needed “sundo na.”

These skills were required to survive in the outside world, because we are forced to relate with the tinderas and the manongs and the katulongs of this world. If we wanted to communicate to these people — or otherwise avoid being mugged on the jeepney — we needed to learn Filipino.

That being said though, I was proud of my proficiency with the language. Filipino was the language I used to speak with my cousins and uncles and grandparents in the province, so I never had much trouble reciting.

It was the reading and writing that was tedious and difficult. I spoke Filipino, but only when I was in a different world like the streets or the province; it did not come naturally to me. English was more natural; I read, wrote and thought in English. And so, in much of the same way that I learned German later on, I learned Filipino in terms of English. In this way I survived Filipino in high school, albeit with too many sentences that had the preposition ‘ay.’

It was really only in university that I began to grasp Filipino in terms of language and not just dialect. Filipino was not merely a peculiar variety of language, derived and continuously borrowing from the English and Spanish alphabets; it was its own system, with its own grammar, semantics, sounds, even symbols.

But more significantly, it was its own way of reading, writing, and thinking. There are ideas and concepts unique to Filipino that can never be translated into another. Try translating bayanihan, tagay, kilig or diskarte.

Only recently have I begun to grasp Filipino as the language of identity: the language of emotion, experience, and even of learning. And with this comes the realization that I do, in fact, smell worse than a malansang isda. My own language is foreign to me: I speak, think, read and write primarily in English. To borrow the terminology of Fr. Bulatao, I am a split-level Filipino.

But perhaps this is not so bad in a society of rotten beef and stinking fish. For while Filipino may be the language of identity, it is the language of the streets. It might have the capacity to be the language of learning, but it is not the language of the learned.

It is neither the language of the classroom and the laboratory, nor the language of the boardroom, the court room, or the operating room. It is not the language of privilege. I may be disconnected from my being Filipino, but with a tongue of privilege I will always have my connections.

So I have my education to thank for making English my mother language.


The article has triggered hot discussion among Pinoy internet users such as on social networking sites (Twitter and Facebook).

Some have criticized the author for being reckless, arrogant and insulting.

I think the only objectionable thing that James Soriano said was that "Filipino is the language of the streets and not the language of the learned", but he actually made a point, a hurting truth about our education system.

Singer-songwriter Jim Paredes has also reacted on the issue. "No reason to hate James Soriano. He merely opened a topic that we either resonate with or not," he said on Twitter.


So, what are your thoughts on James Soriano's controversial article for Manila Bulletin? Share...share...share...

About M.I.

Mykiru is an entertainment blogger, having been named as one of the Top 10 Pinoy Showbiz Resources in the Philippines. For a decade now, Mykiru.ph has been delivering the latest, the hottest and most trending issues in the country.

2 Comment(s):

  1. Whoa, by your looks, mukha ka ngang askal, asong sa kalye nakatira, yang mukha mo nakuha mong maliitin ang Pilipino language--lecheng atenistang elitista. Komo english-speaking marahil ang yaya mo nung araw, at sa english language ka pinalaki, you have the balls to shit my language-- you look like shit to me. Akala ko pa naman Soriano--sounding as though you are in the same alta ciudad as Zobel de Ayala e hindi naman...baka pen name mo lang yang james soriano. Dapat ang pangalan mo James "Shitmyface" Soriano--yan mas bagay... Yukkkie looks--hairdo mo nga para kang aeta and yet nakuha mong maliitin ang Pilipino as a language---kapal mo din pre. Malamang gusto mo lang magpa pansin ---i might say...hula ko your chief editor is not 100% Pilipino---Manila Bulletin e, malamang Chinoy ang bossing mo so he/she had the gall to allow such a language-downgrading article to be published during Linggo ng Wika. Wake up mr aeta bud-- either you get your shit and get out or just shut up. Even the jesuits in ateneo speak Pilipino--so how dare you---malamang ang daming pari sa escuelahan mo ang idedeny na estudiante ka nila one time

  2. What happened to the people in the Philippine government institution who gets mad when our national anthem is sung in the fashion that they do not allow???? AND YET DEADMA LANG SILA SA MANILA BULLETIN na article ni James Soriano--- that government institution should demand Manila Bulletin for an explanation or apology...ano ba kayo lenguahe na natin ang inalipusta, tatahimik lang kayo?????? E mano ba kung Manila Bulletin iyan, instik nga may ari nyan, ni hindi natin alam kung nagbabayad yan ng tamang buwis.... the branch of the Philippine Government that holds it office near the National Library and Luneta have to do something about this....Ang DSWD nga nag rereact sa mga pinag gagawa sa mga mahihirap na bata sa isang top noon time TV show--- ano kayo, ngas-ngas lang? Dapat i-memo nyo ang chief editors ng Manila Bulletin sa pag payag na ilathala ang mapang alipustang articulong ito sa pagdiriwang ng Linggo ng Wika....wake up and get to work guys!