Last night, a fellow Kapampangan fighter and I dropped by at the Sto. Rosario branch of Ministop of Angeles City. We were ordering midnight snacks and the person at the cashier was talking to us in Tagalog. We have made it a habit to speak in Kapampangan in our own homeland. Turned out, he speaks Kapampangan, too.
This "speak Tagalog" ideology that has brainwashed almost every Filipino has gotten institutionalized. It is oppressive if you look at it, but, as Neo-Marxist theory says, ideology (such as Tagalog nationalism) is meant to oppress people without them feeling they are being oppressed.
What's good though is that with little empowerment efforts, non-Tagalog speakers are becoming more aware of their own language. I just suddenly remembered this anecdote because I read this article:
Foreigners Who Respect Us More Than We Do
By Dr. Jose Palu-ay Dacudao
August 5, 2007: As I sat in Pizza Hut Gaisano Butuan, a female service crew member showed up to take my order. As usual I talked in Bisaya. Normally, most service crew in the fast foods I patronize would talk back in Bisaya. This one talked back in Bisayan-accented Tagalog. In order to stop her from further insulting her own native tongue, I immediately asked her to talk in Bisaya as we were both Bisaya. Instead she first evinced surprise. According to her, the other customers always talked in Tagalog.
After a few minutes, about five white foreigners sat on the table next to mine. To my amazement, they started ordering (from another service crew member) in Bisaya. Later I approached them, heartily thanked them for promoting the dignity of our culture and people, and asked about them.
I managed to talk to David Johansen (an Australian) and Richard Gappmayr (an Austrian). They were from the New Tribes Mission, on Christian missionary work in Mindanao . They had been in Butuan for only a year.
Wow! Tagalogs who have been in Butuan for 30 years often cannot not speak fluent Bisaya. In fact, some children raised by parents brainwashed in Tagalog Nationalism cannot speak Bisaya, even after having been raised up in Butuan. The problem is not learning Bisaya. The problem is Tagalog nationalism, an ideology that teaches us that all Filipinos should be Tagalog speaking.
Before I left Pizza Hut, I talked with the manager. I told him these foreigners eating at his restaurant had more respect for the Bisayan culture, people, and language than his own Bisdak crewmember. He profoundly apologized for the latters behavior.
Below is a reprint from a previous article.
December 14, 2006
Make Service Crews and Waiters Respect Our Language
Last week as I went to McDonalds Butuan and ordered breakfast. The manager and the service crew were apparently new, as I did not recognize them. I ordered, speaking in Cebuano Visayan. The cashier kept on talking in Tagalog with a strong Visayan accent. In exasperation, told her to quit insulting me. I am talking in Binisaya, and you are replying in Tagalog. What are you trying to prove, that you are superior to me because you speak in Tagalog while I do not? I find your behavior extremely condescending.
My action, which was witnessed by the new manager, had immediate effects. I took a seat near the cashier. The next customers were greeted by a hearty Maayong buntag (Cebuano for Maayong aga). As I left, the service crew told me Balik balik lang, pag ayo ayo.
This is not the first time that this has happened. Apparently, many service crews of establishments owned by Manila-Based Corporations in non-Tagalog areas are instructed that they should speak to their customers in Tagalog.
The problem with this is that such behavior by service crews and waiters tend to change social standards with regards to the public use of a non-Tagalog language in its own traditional territory. Such behavior, if widespread enough, would tend to induce a change in the prevailing lingua franca, from the traditional languages of the region to Tagalog. Socially concerned linguists have warned time and time again that the first symptom of a dying language is a lowering of its social status, resulting in its disuse as public lingua franca in its traditional community. Once such a stage is reached, it is only a matter of time before the traditional language disappears. Only government policy requiring its usage in public institutions and schools could save it.
Last year, I had the occasion to speak to the manager of Pizza Hut Dumaguete, about a waiter who also was insisting that he speak in Tagalog. I had requested that he instruct his crew to talk in Binisaya to customers speaking in Binisaya as a matter of respect for the local culture. The manager was apparently inexperienced as he had the temerity to argue with me in public, that it was alright that his crew speak in Tagalog because everyone understood it anyway. I flatly told him I was his customer, his establishment was in Visayan territory, his customers were practically all Visayan, and he should listen to what his customers wish or they would never eat in his establishment again. I then wrote and gave him a letter that he and his crew were making me feel discriminated in my own territory.
I had practically the same experience with the manager of Greenwich Robinsons Bacolod . The Ilonggo manager would talk in Ilonggo Visayan to his Ilonggo crew, then talk in Tagalog to his customers. The awful implication is that Ilonggo is good only for his lowly subalterns and not for his precious customers. This guy was behaving like an ethnic traitor in his own place, discriminating against hius own people. I was in a hurry then, and so I was not able to give him a formal letter of complaint.
What could you do as a paying customer in helping preserve our language and ethnic identity?
You should verbally complain (as I did), and if possible write and submit a letter of complaint.
This could be done quickly, at no expense and little hassle, and such actions would go a long way in uplifting the social status of our languages. In general, businesses adhere to the rule that the customer is always right. We are the customers, and we certainly have the right to have our own language used in business establishments in our own territory, if only we would stand up for it.