In an episode of the new season of ABS-CBN’s Pilipinas Got Talent, judge Robin Padilla was irked when a Korean contestant conversed with him in English. Padilla argued that the foreign contestant must speak in Filipino, Tagalog to be precise, before talking to him since he is in the Philippines. Fellow judge Vice Ganda even supported him by asserting that the Korean must already learn the local language since he has been in the country for quite a while.
Shortly after Padilla made his remarks, Twitter users quickly addressed their disagreement with him through their social media account.
Communication principles would tell Padilla that as long as people are able to send the message across, there is no problem. Capitalizing on a specific language to assert nationalism is rather fallacious. Nationalism, in the most essential meaning of the word, implies more than that.
It’s a rather purist approach to impose one language as the only means of sending a message. In addition, Tagalog is not the only language in the Philippines. This fact actually creates more fallacies to Padilla’s assertion.
While it is true that Filipinos should assert to be respected especially in the native land, it is wrong in so many levels to impose superiority to foreigners. Instead of coming up with a solid nationalist stance, Padilla only creates divisiveness among cultures and languages.
In this day and age when internationalism should be the next step to nationalism, Padilla’s misguided sense of nationhood only takes the discourse several steps backwards. Truth be told, it is not a debate whether or not someone should speak the local language. Rather, it is being able to make foreigners respect the traditional and local culture without even begging for it.
Television is such a huge platform that is available for everyone who may be able to access it. Irresponsible and culturally insensitive remarks would only influence the viewers negatively.
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Padilla is a nationalist in his own standard, for he made several attempts in the past to mainstream the plight of many marginalized sectors. Nonetheless, his brand of nationalism must be able to transcend beyond his own limited beliefs. Cultural sensitivity will surely be beneficial, especially now when everything, from politics and culture to religion and faith, seems to divide the nation rather than to unite them with strong cultural affinity.
Likewise, just to state the obvious, his show’s title Pilipinas Got Talent is not even straight Filipino. That alone should make Padilla reconsider his thoughts.