I watched the controversial Q&A portion of Bb. Pilipinas World winner Janina San Miguel over YouTube tonight. I gasped and nearly fell off my seat. The grammar police must have had a grand time watching her with all the “aahhhs” and “uhhms” and “errrs” as she stutter in-between grammatically incorrect, incomplete, unfathomable sentences for a period of two minutes.
As expected, the event landed in the newspapers and the World Wide Web in less than 24 hours. People call her a moron, doubting if she really deserves the Bb. Pilipinas World crown to the point that the standards set up by the pageant organizers are already in question.
And yes, I’m guilty. I laughed hard enough when I watched her fumble and lose her bearings while being scrutinized by throngs of condescending crowd. Classic, it really was. But then again, I came to ask myself, does having a “seamless” grammar and an articulate English tongue would earn you the highest seat in human intellectual hierarchy?
Which is worse? A Filipino born and raised here, with perfect English skills, but could not even speak or comprehend a simple sentence in our native language? Or a fellow countryman who speaks “carabao” English but is a master of the Filipino language?
I am not perfect in my English either. I am not even a convinced grammar police. I write English as an exercise to hone my skills, and to further boost my confidence in using the universal language. But I never dared forget to write and speak in Filipino as well.
Maybe, Janina San Miguel should have answered in our own native language, by doing so, she may have expressed herself perfectly and freely, and most probably gain the nod and the approval of the madlang people. Oh well, rooms for learning are aplenty. There’s always a “next” time.
“Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika, daig pa ang amoy sa mabahong isda” – Dr. Jose Rizal