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‘English shaming’ on TV

05:02 AM January 17, 2018

This is a reaction to the news article “‘Rude, racist’ Robin Padilla slammed for forcing Korean to speak Tagalog” (Inquirer.net, 1/13/18).

A lot of discussion online has resulted from a point that actor Robin Padilla tried to make — that a foreigner who has lived here long enough, whose girlfriend is a native-born Filipino, who professes love for the Philippines, and who joins a local talent competition, should have learned how to speak our language.

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After much thought, I admit that I don’t feel that strongly about it. On one hand, I appreciate the idea that a foreigner based here makes an effort to learn Filipino. On the other hand, I honestly have never been bothered by the fact that most of them go about their usual business by just speaking their native language or English, which is our second language.

What triggered me most was Padilla’s obnoxious behavior. I find no pleasure in seeing anyone being embarrassed publicly, especially if it is undeserved, which South Korean national Kim Jiwan experienced when he auditioned on the otherwise entertaining ABS-CBN show “Pilipinas Got Talent.”

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In its Jan. 13 episode, Padilla’s power-tripping mode was switched on as he insisted that Kim speak “Tagalog” before a live studio audience. Good thing that Padilla’s fellow judge, actress Angel Locsin, was really an angel, saving him from further awkwardness and embarrassment by coaching him on how to say his instructions in Filipino.

Padilla should have watched YouTube videos of Rose Fontanes, who competed and won “X Factor” in Israel where she worked as a caregiver. From her first audition up to the finale, she spoke in English, which was not a problem for the four judges who welcomed her most warmly and adjusted to her by speaking English, too.

As a friend pointed out, imagine how many Filipinos (perhaps including Padilla) would have raised hell if she was treated cruelly by any of the judges for not expressing herself in Hebrew or Arabic.

This brings me to my reading of Padilla’s body language and how he coldly said “No!” to Kim when the latter approached him and politely asked if he could participate in his magic trick.

To me, his unfriendly reaction toward Kim manifested his own defensiveness and discomfort for his inability to converse fluently in English.

I’ve witnessed a number of times how some people — kids and adults alike — who can’t speak English so well become uneasy and even curt, rude or sarcastic in varying degrees in the presence of and toward an English-speaking person.

Disguising their own insecurity, they behave obnoxiously.

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“English shaming,” as they call it. In the end, Padilla came across as a rude, insecure bully.

I’m not surprised by the overwhelming backlash Padilla has received online. Let it serve as a strong reminder not just to him, but to other celebrities and prominent figures as well, that we the public are watching and will not condone whatever form of bullying or power-tripping they exert over other people. We will call you out. That’s social media for you!

CLAUDE LUCAS C. DESPABILADERAS,
Quezon City,
claudelucasdespa@gmail.com

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TAGS: Claude Lucas C. Despabiladeras, English shaming, Inquirer letters, Robin Padilla
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