FOR ART’S SAKE
By RAUL G. MOLDEZ
I grew up in a remote village of Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte whose name rendered it more bucolic — Lungsodaan. The word “daan” means old in Cebuano. [Until now, as its name goes, our place remains “daan.”]
There, I studied in a public school for my elementary education and was forced to enroll in a private school for my secondary education because our place had — and until now, has — no public high school. Though I am 33 years old now, the order of our teachers directing us to speak in English is still very fresh in my memory. During those years, I, together with some of my classmates coming from poor families, religiously obeyed the order because we had no money to pay for the fine. Yes, our teachers would impose fines upon those caught speaking “Bisaya.” The result, many of us got the “Most Behaved” awards every closing of a school year!
In part, I can say that my teachers must have been good motivators because I have become an addict to English subjects in that I would listen to them attentively telling us the stories of Rip Van Winkle, King Arthur, Perseus, etc. or explaining when to use comma, semi colon and other punctuation marks.
Through their motivations, I learned to love the language, romanced it more deeply, and gave it the respect it richly deserves.
Truly, I can speak the English language but always stammer no matter how hard I have practiced it. And all along, I only mastered this line: “Ma’am, may I go out.” It was my favorite sentence in English while in high school.
As I am a son of poor parents, I worked hard to earn a college degree — I finished a BA degree from a school in Cagayan de Oro, majoring in, accidentally, English.
In the campus, my classmates looked up to those who spoke English inside the classroom. But when I transcribed what they said, I found out that their English grammar was bad.
And I was much surprised later when I learned that those brandishing their supposed English-speaking expertise would always get the low scores during quizzes and examinations.
Yes, man’s intelligence is not measured through his ability to speak the English language fluently, much more his success in life.
Yes, our country’s progress is not measured through the people’s fluency to speak English.
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