William Esposo is a bit of a dick, and believes I’m dragging this country down.

So I read an article on the Philippine Star today, which irked me enough to merit a reply via email to the column’s author, one William Esposo.  I made what I thought was an intelligent enough response to his column, certainly not a “OMGWTF ur so stupid!” kind of thing.  It is as follows:

Dear sir,

I must disagree with your article entitled “The extensive damage a foreign medium of instruction unleashes”.  Despite the hyperbole inherent in your article, I find that there was very little in it that convinced me that instituting English is detrimental to our society.  You make broad, sweeping claims that the use of English was why we were left behind in Asia by countries we led in the 1960s, and yet you offer proof of none of this in the Filipino context, choosing instead to compare us to India and Hong Kong (whom you wrongly assume we share a lot of traits with simply because we shared a colonial master that spoke English).

In your reference to India, a certain doctor Kamat quotes that Gandhi always thought that the imposition of a foreign language was “a great evil” and that it “estranged students from the masses and made education unnecessarily expensive”.  This is a very interesting premise, and I would have loved to hear you expound on it, but you simply chose to have us accept it as fact.  What is the evidence, I must ask, that there is any correlation between the two?  Further on, you state that Gandhi’s opinion must be taken seriously because “this relates to achieving nationhood.  What good are Filipinos who are gainfully employed but has lost altogether their sense of nationalism?”  Again you use sweeping generalizations, assuming that all call center employees are unpatriotic a stumbling block towards nationhood.  More on that later.

Next you compare us to Hong Kong.  Where in tests students who had “English-medium” capabilities fare worse than their fellows who were “chinese-medium”  in a science achievement test.  Specifically, you say that “They were particularly weak in problems that assess understanding of abstract concepts, the ability to discriminate between scientific terms, and the ability to apply scientific knowledge in novel or realistic situations.”  Again. very interesting theories, and things that I wish had more meat behind them.  For example, the chinese (as I have heard from numerous chinese friends educated in local chinese schools) have a different method of teaching math and science (or scientific formulas).  Could this be the reason why the chinese-medium students were doing better in the sciences.  Let’s say that I simply agree with you that English is detrimental to the study of science and mathematics.  Then please explain to me why it is that India has sprouted so many engineers and programmers, and why they have nuclear weapons and a successful space program.

Do you notice the incongruence of your two arguments?  You argue that English has weakened students knowledge of Science, and yet India is quite successful in producing engineers and scientists.  And here’s another thing.  You argue that English speaking is a threat to nationhood, and yet in Hong Kong there is a healthy suspicion with regards to mainland China.  The citizens of Hong Kong are quite patriotic and fiercely protective of what they feel is their nation (Hong Kong, not China), and jealously guard their right to self rule.

But let us cast all these arguments aside.  I’m sure I have inserted fallacies into my own arguments, as I’m by no means an expert in the field of education.  But I must strongly, even violently disagree with the idea that one must speak Filipino to be a nationalist.  You arrogantly assume that anyone who works in a call center wants to be an American and is a threat to nationhood.  As if they ought to be ashamed for working there.  As if it would be a better thing that they stayed home and spoke Filipino and were unable to take advantage of an opportunity to make money, have dignity, and be a part of the international workforce.  Do you really believe that if we simply chose to speak Filipino that we would be better off?  If we all only spoke Filipino, would that make politicians less corrupt?  Would there be no insurgency in the south draining our military resources?  If we only spoke Filipino, would we even be a united Philippines?  Tell that to a Bisaya, a Kapampangan, an Ilocano, and see how that goes down.

You rumble on about “misguided and parochial ones who are deepening the national delusion with the English language.”  I’m one of them.  Instead of your examples I point to Singapore, which uses English as the primary means of instruction.  The imposition of a language on a people does not destroy their culture, does not make them any less proud to be what they are.  I am a Filipino, and I am far mor comfortable speaking in English.  I am not lulled by the promise of milk and honey in the US.  Aside from a distrust of US foreign policy, I love my country deeply, and would only choose to leave it under desperate circumstances, or to learn more so that I can come back and share my knowledge with my fellow Filipinos.  I convince my friends who are thinking of leaving to stay, believing that every single one of us that stays in the Philippines and helps to try to fix the mess we’ve made can only make us stronger, and soften the blow of the constant brain drain that lures our best and brightest out of the country.  Am I any less of a nationalist than you for believing that an education in English can help rather than hinder us in this increasingly globalized world?  Who’s being parochial now?

I was basically letting off some steam.  I considered putting it up on my blog but forgot about it, and decided to finish an entry to gameartisans instead.  I hardly tought he’d bother replying to it, since I’m sure most broadsheet writers probably get tons of email.  But I guess he read just enough to reply this to me:

This country is dragged down by people who think they know what they are doing – like you.

So I’m royally pissed off now.  Is that it?  That’s all you can offer me?  You, a supposed journalist for a major broadsheet?  That’s all you have to say?  I reply:

It must be nice to sit on your high horse at a broadsheet and reply to well thought out responses with pithy and mean spirited replies.  If you thought my arguments didn’t have enough merit you could have pointed it out to  me or just ignored me entirely.  Instead you chose to reply with another sweeping generalization, much like your column. Good job!

I’m trying not to get too angry because really, what’s the point right?  But I’m angry and petty enough to put this up for public record because frankly, I think he’s a bit of a dick.  He could have chosen to merely ignore my email if he didn’t agree with me.  Or, he could have taken the high route and engaged me in discussion, pointing out any errors or flaws in my argument.  I was thinking more he’d ignore because really, who the fuck am I right?  Just another irate reader.  But no, instead of doing any of these things he chose to insult me instead.  Hell, if that’s what having Filipino as a medium of instruction teaches you, give me English any fucking day.

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13 Responses to “William Esposo is a bit of a dick, and believes I’m dragging this country down.”

  1. Clean! Easy, bro. Easy. In the colloquial, puso mo, pre.

    First off, it’s not worth it replying to a columnist for the Philippine Star. This is, after all, the rag that picked up Tim Yap after he was so unceremoniously dumped by the Inquirer. We are talking about the only newspaper in the world whose design principles are so messed up it’s painful to read. They’re the anti-Business Mirror (design-wise). This is probably because this is also the paper of which it was rumored that all one needed is money and a Chinese surname before one became a columnist.

    You should see Marocharim’s post on the same issue (too lazy to make the appropriate linkage), where he takes the opposite tack. 😛

    • I realize I’m replying to a 3-year-old comment. But I’d have to disagree that the Star “is the only newspaper in the world whose design principles are so messed up” when there exists the Manila Bulletin. Unless of course you don’t consider the Bulletin a newspaper, but just what it is–a bulletin.

      But yeah, it’s easy to distrust the Star for picking up Tim Yap and, well, that talented but foul-mouthed Pepe Diokno.

  2. Hehe thanks man.

    It really just bothers me that people like him have such a big soapbox to spout their bullshit. Anyhoo I’m over it, and I’ve already done my petty best to besmirch his name. 😛

  3. It’s probably a ploy to get more readers!

    Good job on the e-mail though! I think along the same lines.

    I like how he wrote it in English though. That just really weakens his point.

  4. Cat: I’m sure every word was written in excruciating pain, as he lamented the destruction of his nation by this horrible, foul language that he uses.

  5. hey guys, just stumbled on this article and found it very interesting! sounds like esposo really isn’t worth reading! why bother with him when there are better writers out there! check out john mangun from business mirror’s opinion section; he’s always optimistic about the philippines despite 1) being non-filipino, in fact, caucasian and 2) the state of our country! you guys should check him out! and plus, what i find with business mirror is that they’re not at all political and their opinion section does not stink of politician-fed writers.

    http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/opinion/16596-of-biblical-proportions.html

  6. Thanks for the support. And yeah I’ve noticed Business Mirror has some pretty good critical writers.

  7. hey, just a quick note on the side.. i just found out that william esposo is one of noynoy’s PR man… that scares me ALOT. if he wins, he’ll be surrounded by people like esposo… omg…. 😦

  8. I found this article while searching for background on William Esposo, and my best regards to the author and the many writers whose comments truly impressed me. We’d be happy if more of you came to the U.S., but you appear to be happy and patriotic filipinos. Esposo seems to be one of many writers who have an agenda to follow before they start their research and write their story. I’m an amateur historian, especially WWII, and was shocked to discover that this fellow layed the blame for the Manila Massacre on U.S. troops. I saw red at reading this lie, the U.S. has always had good relations,friendship and respect with and for the Philippines far and away greater than any other asian country, and with good reason.

    The paper Esposo was writing for is oddly similar to many other periodicals in this country with an extreme leftist politic, and they also do what Esposo has done. Invent history. One such paper here is called the “Anniston Star” (understand what I mean by similar names?) You, as a group, are remarkably astute in seeing through the smoke and mirror approach which takes advantage of short memories and bad educations. At times, I honestly do wish we had more like you here, I can’t say that we are doing well in this regard.

    All the best, and keep standing guard for your country.

  9. Just found this article and read the comments under it. The comment of Michelle on November 24, 2009 turned out to be true. Its March 2012 and noynoy is the president of the philippines. All the articles of william esposo in the philippine star are pro-noynoy. Your prediction was right. poor philippines.

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