By Tin Bartolome

Posted at Aug 07 2015 01:32 AM | Updated as of Aug 07 2015 09:32 AM

If we are to believe the Freedictionary, this word means artificiality and refers to “a mannerism or habit that is assumed rather than natural, especially to impress others or a behavior characterized by such mannerisms or habits”. In conversational Filipino—or as that infamous editorial would say, Tagalog, we simply say “plastik”!

The term brings to mind the Pabebe girls whom we either love or hate. Enough has been said about them and I do not wish to discuss their performance here. Frankly, I think interest in them will die down once we ignore them. Anyway, they said they are unstoppable and no one can do a thing about it. In English, people say, “Live and let live” which, in colloquial Filipino-Tagalog is “Walang basagan ng trip”.

A “Weird Affectation”

What concerns me is how the term affectation was used in a recent broadsheet editorial that generated mostly negative reactions. The editorial called PNoy’s use of the Filipino language “weird affectation” and spoke about “Filipino” being mainly Tagalog incorporated with a few words taken from other Filipino languages.

The one who wrote it is obviously not Tagalog—Cebuano perhaps? Many of the reactions were negative, some even called the writer names! I would’ve applauded the writer if he (or she) did not insist that PNoy should have delivered his SONA in English!

What I would consider a weird affectation is the accent some radio announcers/disc jockeys use. The twang often distracts listeners from errors in grammar or syntax and sometimes, malapropisms.

But when one’s accent is genuine and the message is sincere, the choice of language becomes less of a “weird affectation”. But when one’s own language is used—when one does not have to think in one language and express the thought in another, then we say “it comes from the heart”—or mula sa kaibuturan ng puso.

Language of the Heart

Invectives in the vernacular are more painful than those said in a foreign language. When one’s own language is used, what is not said is just as important as what has been spoken and that the speaker’s sincerity is easier to gauge when one’s own language is used. The language of heart does not need words to convey messages and these messages are always sincere. It is not surprising that empathy can make words obsolete.

Of course, this is a tall order and I am not saying that we should all learn to be telepathic. Meaning what we say and saying what we mean are such difficult tasks. And having to do that in a foreign language makes it even harder.

Understanding and expressing oneself in a different language are two different things. One must first learn the basics, then practice and this entails conversing with others who speak that language. Language, to be kept “alive” must grow—find terms or labels as new things and ideas are discovered.

Being “Global”

A magazine editor I worked with years ago declared that she was “global” that was why she preferred to speak English. I failed to ask her how and where she would situate herself in a group of foreigners if she did not know her own origins well. I felt that she would lose her identity if she hadn’t previously defined who and what she was. I’m afraid this is happening to many of us—which is why more and more are unable to speak fluent English or Filipino.

A study made at the University of the Philippines Integrated School showed that children performed better in school and were more creative when the medium of instruction was Filipino—their own language. My children went to UPIS and I did not speak to them in English as toddlers. But we gave them books to read and corrected them whenever they tried to speak English. Today, they are fluent in both languages perhaps because their basis was Filipino.

My father had this theory that learning Filipino would be easier later in life when they play with other children. But I felt that I would rather speak to them in the language everyone spoke at home. I was afraid that if I had been strict with the use of English, I would hear the help I had then say to them: “Ay, do not tats, derte yan, ah-ah!”. This brings to mind that funny line: “I told you not to go to, you go to, now look at” – (sabi ko wag kang pumunta, pumunta ka pa rin, ngayon, tingnan mo).


To me, feeling the need to hire translators for the President’s important speeches; having to be forgiven by readers for failing to provide English translations; assuming that it is of utmost importance for foreigners to understand the speeches of the President; to say that Filipinos who speak English are discriminated against when such important speeches are delivered in are affectations. Filipino; that the Filipino intelligentsia prefer to hear the Presidents’ speeches in English; to say that it is the intent of the present administration to prevent the writers/columnists of English speaking media organizations (local broadsheets) from delivering their hard-hitting criticisms are affectations.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.