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I always had this fascination with the English language.
Ever since I learned to read and write,
it captivated my interest, beside my own native tongue;
Opening for me a whole new world different from my own -
A world of kingdoms, of princesses and princes, of queens and kings,
of knights in shining armor, of noblemen and the common man,
of many innumerable things.
A child who found such joy in a second language or third
would feel like a traitor to her own when deep nationalism
is rooted in her bones. It was not easy.
And yet the fascination remained – despite being inculcated
with heavy ideas on love for motherland and in the words of Rizal –
“Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika,
Ay higit pa ang amoy sa malansang isda”.*
To a child who secretly preferred reading in the foreign tongue,
These words were damning. So much so that in my mind
there was always an ongoing war while growing up
with the king’s language and Rizal.
Looking back, mastering both languages would have been a lot easier
had somebody told me: “Go ahead, do what makes you happy,
as long as you do not forget your identity.
Be proud of the color of your skin.
You can be unique and world class at the same time,
there is no need to feel guilt, find your own rhyme.”
And so today, I tell the youth who have their own native tongue:
Enjoy the journey, but do not forget you are a child of your land
while you discover many things, using the language of kings.
Dr. Jose Rizal – Philippine National Hero, who ironically have mastered different languages including Greek, Latin, Hebrew ,Sanskrit, German, French, Italian among others, aside from Spanish and the now commonly used English language
* "Anyone who does not love his own language
is worse than the smell of a rotting fish."
26 July 2015
The Doesn't Fit Contest
Sponsor: Carol Eastman
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