Headline News That Never Made It


The Philippine Diplomatic Corps filed a case against the Aquino Government in the International Court of The Hague. The group claims the President discriminated against them when he delivered his State of the Nation in Tagalog.

The Papal Nuncio who traditionally heads the diplomatic corps in the Philippines said Aquino violated the Bonn International Treaty On SONAs  (to which the Philippines is a signatory) which categorically states that any SONA of more than 30 minutes must be delivered in English, the internationally accepted diplomatic language. Aquino’s speech was 39 minutes long.

“ How can the international community know what is going on if heads of state start to speak in their vernacular? This could spread. The leaders of Iran, North Korea, Somalia and Venezuela could be disparaging us even as we applaud their lines,” said the Nuncio.

Already a number of foreign ambassadors had to be treated for post-SONA trauma. They explained: “ It was stressful. We never knew when to applaud, roll our eyes or nod our heads in agreement. Imagine the embarrassment on national TV. As with ABS-CBN we were given an advance copy of the speech but that was not helpful.”

The suit seeks unspecified damages for mental anguish and for President Aquino to repeat his SONA in English on ANC, the only English news channel, at a time to be agreed upon.

Foreign Secretary Bert Romulo defended President Aquino’s decision: “ This is clearly a nuisance suit. The President exceeded the limit by only 9 minutes. He tried to speak faster but he is still uncomfortable with the teleprompter. We believe the suit is without basis and revives the foreign colonialist/imperialist thinking that has oppressed developing nations for ages.

We will fight the case vigorously and have engaged former Justice Sec. Raul Gonzales to represent us. He lost his bid for the Iloilo mayoralty and has nothing to do so he should come cheap”.

Separately, the MNLF on behalf of all Muslims in Mindanao who don’t speak Tagalog (or English for that matter) filed a similar case in Dubai. It seeks class action status.



In a separate but related development, President Aquino today announced all call centers must conduct their business in Tagalog.

“ This is the fastest growing industry in the Philippines manned mostly by young Filipinos. What message are we sending the world when our biggest source of employment is being conducted in English? It admits to our failure as a sovereign nation,” said the President on ANC, the country’s only English news channel.

The President admitted that certain terms like Business Process Outsourcing and Technical Support would be exempted from the ban as they already have an established meaning in the vernacular.

“Conducting call center business in English also violates my Government’s policy on transparency. A caller from Boise, Idaho has the right to know the nationality of the person he is speaking to,” he said agitatedly.” How can he do that when our call agent speaks English better than he does?”

The President stated that switching to Tagalog would now allow more applicants to find call center jobs. Currently only 2% of all applicants are accepted because of inadequate English skills. This has hampered the growth of the industry.

The Philippine Association of Call Centers is looking into the matter.

It is also considering whether to join the MNLF in its suit.



Congressman Manny Pacquiao came out punching, defending the President’s use of Tagalog in his SONA. ” It is not readily apparent but I myself on my behalf struggle to speak in English,” he said in a prepared statement. “I share the President’s pain.”

Characteristic of his courage,  Pacquiao delivered his Congressional acceptance speech in English citing Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas and his mother, Dionisia. As with the President, Pacquiao is known to write his own material.

To put power behind his punch, Pacquiao filed a bill, his first, in support of the President, banning English not only in call centers but in all animated and Harry Potter movies catering to the young.  ” We must compete internationally not on the basis of language but on service and the beauty of our people” was the preamble to his bill.

Given his overwhelming popularity the bill is expected to be hastily approved and signed by the President tomorrow.


About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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2 Responses to Headline News That Never Made It

  1. Manuelbuencamino says:

    It’s easier to teach Pilipino to the entire world than to teach English to our legislators and bureaucrats. Yes, let Pilipino imperialism begin!

  2. Joey Jalandoni says:

    Well, you know, I’m born Pinoy, and, naturally, began life speaking my, one of hundreds, if not thousands in the national count, Ilonggo vernacular. Come schooltime, I learned my first words in English – yes and no, and BS! And from there, the language grew, in me. I thought it was neat. With lots of reading (I devoured the Encyclopaedia Brittanica), I got into the grammar, finally, after quite a while, of course, and now, believe it or not, I think in English even as I converse in Pilipino! You mean to say, I now have to re-think my thoughts? This article’s like telling me – everything I thought I knew is wrong! WTF?

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