Author Topic: Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education  (Read 13036 times)

Joe Carillo

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Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education
« on: October 11, 2009, 09:38:49 AM »
Allow me to attempt to set the tone for our post-flood discussions in this forum on education and teaching by posting an essay I wrote six years ago for my column in The Manila Times.

Teaching Ourselves to Think Logically
 
I recently came across a very compelling statement of one of the critical tasks of education. In a commencement day address in 2001, Neil Rudenstein, 26th president of Harvard University, described this task as “the development and the calibration of finely tuned judgment, leading finally to action.” I have since been pondering how the education of Filipinos as individuals and as a people measures up to this task. Given that our literacy rate is as high as 92 percent, and given that we are among the few peoples in the world that speak English as second language, we should by rights be able to claim having attained that “finely tuned judgment” by now. Sadly, however, most of the evidence around us points to the opposite.

The signs of our illogic and bad thinking as a people are simply too plentiful to be ignored. Let me just cite a few concrete examples:

(1) We endlessly rant and carp against the poor quality of our governance, but we recklessly and even gleefully elect people who know next to nothing about governance and about organization, management, and public accountability. Worse yet, we have accepted the false notion that popularity is competence, that garrulousness is intelligence and wisdom, that media-created appearance is reality, and that the grossly uninformed opinion of the misguided many should dictate our choices, our decisions, and our actions. It is therefore our fate to be governed in great part not by men and women with vision and a sense of mission, but by actors, entertainers, and third-rate broadcasters who have seen better days, by recycled politicians and military men with fractured mindsets and vested interests to protect, by misfits both from the psychological and moral sense, even by outright recidivists and buffoons. We allow all these to happen, and yet we rage that our nation is in perpetual political drift, that it just goes into a maelstrom of what passes for political activity only to return to where it begins. We actually have nobody but ourselves to blame that our politics has become an essentially ridiculous media show that amounts to nothing.

(2) We rely too little on science and too much on the supernatural to guide us in both our small and big decisions, preferring wishful thinking and blind leaps of faith to the rigor of dispassionate, objective analysis. We accept without question the religious admonition that to get things done, we must pray ceaselessly and leave everything to God, often forgetting that we still need logic, reason, and action to get things done right, and that even God needs us as His earthly instruments to get things done at all in this planet. Thus, very much like the ancient Romans who would not as little as lift a finger before their augurs (soothsayers) had interpreted the day’s omens, we wait for signs in the sky and in our dreams to decide whether to cross our own Rubicons, like making a play on a beleaguered but strangely rising stock in the stock market, hiring an applicant who is every inch fit for the job except for a mole on the left check that our favorite soothsayer says is a jinx, or deciding whether to run a beleaguered but necessary candidacy in a crucial national election. The fanatics among us actually nail themselves to crosses or perform sadomasochistic acts of flagellation, blow up infidels and themselves with bombs believing it would get them to paradise, or open and upturn umbrellas and flail handkerchiefs in unison in parks to goad the heavens to grant them their desires. We may smirk at these irrational acts, but the supposedly more intelligent among us see nothing wrong with irrationally using cellular technology to divine the public pulse by making those endless texting surveys that, if we only gave it some thought, actually amount to nothing but a big con and a big joke. As a people, we have yet to learn to achieve a healthy marriage between reason, our superstitions, and our religious beliefs.

(3) We lament the deterioration of our English and the unhealthy predominance of Taglish in our lives, but we do practically nothing to counteract this. We actually revel at the broadcast media’s incessant and insidious assaults on both English and Filipino. We do not raise a howl but actually cheer when national primetime TV newscasts and talkshows ruthlessly use Taglish and swardspeak to exploit our propensity for mayhem, scandal, and gossip, when they use ludicrously emotive and incendiary language far beyond the demands of the occasion or subject, when they routinely trivialize the important and hype the inconsequential, and when they bloat tawdry relationships of tawdry characters into tawdry melodramas of national proportions. Through our own monumental apathy and garrulousness, the broadcast media have us shameful voyeurs and Pidgin speakers at our own expense.

(4) We complain that overpopulation is choking our cities and our countrysides, yet we allow religious doctrine to override the wisdom of pursuing systematic family planning to arrest our galloping population growth. By the year 2035, if we don’t take strong measures now to significantly curb our 2.07 percent annual population growth, our population of 81 million today would have doubled to 162 million—making us among the most densely populated countries in the world. We prefer to look the other way despite the empirical evidence presented by our experts and scientists that our unabated population growth seriously impedes our economic growth, makes our poverty reduction programs meaningless, and perilously degrades our living standards. Until now, after many years of indecision, we have not yet summoned the political will to meet this problem head on by pursuing an effective national policy to bring our population growth to manageable levels.

(5) We are aghast at the steady deterioration of the quality of life in our cities, yet we also lack the political will to stop the growth of squatter populations on both public and private property as well as on our waterways, and to compel our government to pursue countryside development programs that can effectively check the exodus of the provincial and rural poor to our urban areas. Instead, we enact laws that make it almost next to impossible to get squatters out of public or private property once squatted upon, and turn a blind eye to our politicians who not only coddle squatters but espouse their causes in exchange for votes.

(6) We are prone to excess in both our religious and secular celebrations, dissipating our time, resources, and energy in needlessly overextended rituals and expensive revelries. To us, it is not enough to have a feast day practically every day of the year in honor of a saint or to mark the founding day of a province, town, or barangay. We also obsessively celebrate the longest Christmas season in the world, now easily the longest festivity of its kind in the planet—all of five months every year, from as early as September to as long as mid-January of the following year. We are keenly aware that big business and the mass media are ruthlessly exploiting our Christian piety for profit, yet—like flies attracted to flypaper—we allow ourselves to merrily play along with their premeditated and premature calls for revelry. Even more unfortunate, our religious leaders have largely abdicated their moral responsibility to enjoin the faithful to exercise restraint, and to warn us that our veneration—if we can still call it that—has gone to irrational extremes.

A basic yardstick of logical and rational thinking is that what we do and how we do it must make sense. I don’t think how we are dealing with the six problematic life situations I have discussed meets such a yardstick. We continue to live our lives in ways that defy logic and reason, and which are oftentimes colored by political expediency or by an unhealthy desire for personal gain. These lines of belief, thought, and action inordinately waste our energies and ultimately work against our interest as individuals and as a people. Only if we work harder at thinking logically and rationally could we possibly change this picture. Only then shall we achieve that finely tuned judgment we need so badly to achieve real progress. (September 29-30, 2003)

raninxs

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Re: Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2009, 09:35:48 AM »
yeah, you're right, a lot is really wrong with our country especially with our system of governance. however, i do disagree with on two terms:

1) taglish isn't so bad. language is supposed to be about understanding each other. and if we understand each other better through taglish then i don't find anything wrong with it. as for english, yes, it helps if we can speak the language well because it's used globally but to put too much stress on it won't help us develop our country so instead of us being so elitist and pursuing english excellence, why don't we pursue a common language that all filipinos will understand. because before we attempt to understand or communicate with english speaking countries, we should focus first on understanding each other as filipinos.

2) it sounds like those living in squatters are being blamed. i would like stress that no one, no one wants to build a house in a filthy and unsafe place but if you give people no choice, they would build a house anywhere. it is not their fault. there are squatters because this government is not taking any responsibility into giving enough livelihood for the people so that they can build their own houses in the right place. and isn't it housing a social service that should be provided by the government?

Joe Carillo

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On the matter of our speaking Taglish
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2009, 04:20:34 PM »
It’s far from my intention to blame the squatters for living in dangerous places like the banks of rivers and other waterways, but the fact is that they put themselves in harm’s way by doing so and create even more acute social problems when the waterways get swollen. I just would like to say that the issue of squatting is a very complex social and political issue so I would desist from discussing it in detail in this forum. 

As to your comment that Taglish itself isn’t bad, you’re absolutely right. No language is intrinsically bad in itself, raninx. When the code-switching in a particular language mix is done moderately and privately, like speaking Taglish in the privacy of the bedroom or even in the larger private communication space of a gang or coven, the language spoken remains perfectly legitimate and unobjectionable. I would like you to know that I’m perfectly capable of doing that myself in intimate conversations with my immediate family and friends.

But I’ll give three samples of Taglish here to put my point about it in better perspective:

(1) Harmless private conversations in Taglish:

O, seven thirty na; you go na sabi at kunin mo na ’yung kotse, e!”
[“It’s already seven thirty; go now and get the car, I said!”]

Hindi ko ma-gets ang teacher ko; sabi ng maldita i-drop ko na lang daw ang subject na iyon.”
[“I can’t understand my teacher; that bad woman said I had better drop that subject.”]

(2) Iffy official pronouncements in Taglish:

This is my transcription of an authentic reply of a government official to a question during a radio talk show a few years back:

Kung ready nang harvesin ang secondary forest, e, ’di dapat harvesin na. Kung masyado pang young, huwag muna at mag-wait pa tayo ng ilang years bago ito i-harvest.”

[“If the secondary forest is ready to be harvested, then by all means it should already be harvested. If it’s still too young, then we should wait a few more years before doing so.”]

(3) Extreme Taglish on the web:

“I am taking good alaga to my iLongers naman. Lyk, ewwwwwwwwww... the dugo is maxado na these days! i went to make kita nga with a doctor eh. and he make sabi sabi to me. ‘Dont make labas labas muna to ur bahay. u know naman na its so mainit ever outside eh. and the thing is, ur hauz is air-conditioned kasi, then u will go out and make babad to the araw! so bubito for u naman to do that...The doktor is so like....yesturday!!! lyk, whatevurrrrrr!”
From "The TAG-LISH slash CONYO sinulid"

(I'm afraid I can't translate this statement into English that's faithful to its context.)

Now, you and I know that Taglish like Item 3 above has become quite common not only on local radio but even on Philippine network TV these days. The outlandish code-switching in so far-reaching and pervasive a public communication channel as broadcast media is what I find objectionable. Think of its deleterious impact on the language development of our impressionable young people! Indeed, if we don’t moderate our propensity for speaking in such language, there’s no doubt that we’ll be well on our way to becoming a Taglish nation.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 12:28:15 AM by Joe Carillo »

maudionisio

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Re: Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2009, 06:52:25 PM »
It was deja vu when the admiral was assassinated.
The above is a statement in English. Actually it is more akin to Taglish. It is comprised of  three words from two different languages. Deja Vu is French for “You have seen it.” Admiral comes from the Arabic phrase “amir al bahr,” meaning commander of the sea. The verb assassinate is derived from the Arabic word “hashshasin,” which refers to one who smokes hashish.
The difference is that when we adopt English words into Tagalog, we still consider these words as foreign and refer to them as Taglish. However, there are many foreign words in Tagalog that we believe are native to the language.  Take the word “saksi.” We prefer saksi (witness) to the Spanish “testigo” on the mistaken belief that saksi is Tagalog. Saksi is Malay and Indonesian for “witness.” Another supposed nstive Tagalog word is “guru (teacher).”  We would rather use guru than the Spanish “maestra” and English “teacher.” Guru is also Malay and Indonesian for “teacher.”


maudionisio

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Re: Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2009, 07:43:34 PM »
Isn't this also Taglish: “Bilib sya sa mga tambay.” Bilib comes from “believe” and tambay from “standby.”

Sky

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Re: Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2009, 07:26:31 PM »
I think telling all Filipinos to stop using Taglish isn't an easy task to implement :o. But of course, this will only happen when we start doing so from ourselves.  ;)

Joe Carillo

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Re: Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2009, 10:43:58 PM »
When the language code-switching is done privately between individuals or small groups, Taglish serves a functional and even a bonding purpose. It is therefore not harmful in itself. What's objectionable is when it is foisted on the general public through such pervasive communication media as TV and radio. In the worst of such cases, as I have earlier illustrated with examples, Taglish becomes an atrocity--a mindless and detestable assault on the national consciousness. That's the kind of Taglish that we must fight for our own sake as a nation.

maudionisio

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Re: Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2009, 04:13:33 PM »
However, the abominable Taglish of broadcasters could eventually become acceptable. Look at this sentence: “Imbolb ka ba sa holdap?” Imbolb comes from involve and holdap from holdup. There are many similar Taglish sentences that are now accepted as Tagalog.

Joe Carillo

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Re: Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2009, 07:21:02 PM »
Yes, the abominable Taglish of some broadcasters could in fact become acceptable, but the big question is: Do we welcome it? Should we encourage it as the emergent lingua franca of the Philippine airwaves? I shudder to think of that eventuality!

shaoley

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Re: Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2009, 10:39:49 AM »
The ways things evolve are complicated but if continued to be fed up regularly it wouldn't be that intricate after all since people learn to embrace it and eventually use it on their everyday living. Taglish has been used everywhere everyday we might oppose of having it as an emergent lingua franca in the Philippine airwaves but people treating it as fab would eventually loose the hope of the non-advocates.

apiong

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Re: Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2009, 09:53:53 PM »
One of my correspondents, an American academic of Puerto Rican heritage, said, "Language/culture matters are so profoundly affected by each other, and it is definitely a two-way street that connects them."

I can't agree more. When the Spaniards, and later the Americans, invaded the Philippines, they profoundly affected the language and culture of Filipinos.

Rewinding a little bit...

Muslim missionaries came first to the archipelago of 7,100-odd islands that has become the Republic of the Philippines before Magellan "discovered" the place in 1521 in behalf of Spain. Perhaps this may be why there might be many Muslim words, not just "salamat," that have similarities with various Philippine languages.

Of course, Filipinos today sprang basically from Indonesia and Malaysia in the south, (I do look like a typical Indonesian). Also, Filipino ethnicity is infused with other oriental and western races (Chinese, Indian, Caucasian, etc.) This ethnic fusion probably added more similarities between Philippine languages and neighboring Asian Muslim languages, and English and Spanish.

Thanks to Magellan, the Spaniards controlled the archipelago for almost four centuries after he gave up his life there in 1521. Spain, employing the proverbial sword, together with Catholicism, successfully engineered the cohesion of the various islands and tribes into a nation. The Muslims became minorities in the south where they are nearer to the larger Muslim populations in Indonesia and Malaysia than to Manila. Among Christian Filipinos many Spanish words found their way into the native languages.

I don't know if Puerto Rico, whence my correspondent's roots sprang, heartily welcomed the United States in 1898 after the latter acquired Puerto Rico together with the Philippines and Guam as spoils of the Spanish-American War. In the Philippines the ruling classes - and eventually the masses - eagerly welcomed the change from Spanish autocratic rule to American benevolence.

Today, half a century after the Americans left, Filipinos still love Hollywood and anything American. Filipinos still cling to English as a constitutionally mandated national language. Alas, they have, as a result, a funny street language called Taglish which is Tagalog adulterated with English words or phrases pronounced with a distinct Filipino accent. The weird thing is that, in spite of Taglish, some Filipinos believe they speak "good" English.

I have masked your identity because I do not wish you to be involved in intramural debates among Filipinos regarding the effects of foreign culture and language on Filipinos which has generated some unwholesome arguments.

But I understand that some Latino communities in the United States have likewise developed "Spanglish." Maybe you and other Latino email pals, to whom I sent copies of this piece, can tell me how pervasive Spanglish is, especially if there are pro and con characters who resort to hostile amateur psychoanalysis on each other.

Ojala (Spanish word for Tagalog "sana") that is not the case.



maudionisio

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Re: Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2009, 04:17:46 PM »
APIONG: It is not only Tagalog that is peppered with foreign words. So do English and Spanish. Actually, the Spanish expression “ojala!” comes from the Arabic “Inhsllah!,” meaning “God willing.” There are many Arabic words in Spanish that have found theri way to tagalog. Some of these words are alcalde, azucar, aceite. By the way, Tagalog is not sprinkled with “Muslim words” as you have mentioned, but by Malay words. Some of these Malay words are mata, pinto, sulat, lima, and other common words.

maxsims

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Re: Setting the tone for our post-flood discussions on education
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2010, 01:26:26 PM »
MADRID—Spain will help the Philippines reintroduce Spanish language instruction at public schools in the southeastern Asian country under an agreement signed Tuesday between the two nations.

The study of the language is currently voluntary at public high schools in the Philippines, a former Spanish colony, but the government plans to make its availability widespread from 2012.


Now there's a novel way to raise the standard of English...!