Vendor:  Boss! wanna buy cigarette?

American: How much?

Vendor: Very cheap Joe, only 25 cents a stick

Vendor: I also have stork for you, perfect for cigarette

American: Hey cool, I didn’t know cigarette goes perfectly well with menthol candy.

Vendor (smiling): Only in the Philippines sir, only in the Philippines


That’s a common scene in the streets of Manila decades back.


I recall during those days when cigarette vendors who never attended school can confidently communicate to any foreigner at any given place and time. Now tell me, where did that person learned English? Well definitely neither from books nor from his family.


I would say he learned English from TV and mostly from radio. I remember when English was common language on FM radio, the Philippines was on Asia’s Top 3 for English speaking countries.


Although there have been many arguments about the preferred use of language on FM Radio since 2005, the “masa” stations have flourished and massively influence the way the common people think and talk. But our youth is suffering not only from English deficiency problem but from Tagalog language mediocrity.


Now some Tagalog speaking DJ would defend this argument saying that it is their way of communicating to the masses. I love the language with all my heart, but Tagalog is everywhere and you do not need that on radio, much more using colloquial Tagalog is degrading and “nakakabobo.”  You will ask me, what about Japan who uses Japanese as their primary language? But I ask you back, have you ever heard of a Japanese overseas worker? Do we produce LED TVs, Computers, and other electronic gadgets and appliances that would skyrocket us to being a first world economic tiger? Our country’s success is our workforce.


I say, Filipinos are very adaptable to any situation, and they are always open and ready to learn anything they could pick up from the streets. So I don’t believe using Tagalog in FM stations is the best way to communicate to the masses. We should not tolerate the masses’ inability to speak the language instead let them learn not drag them backward.  The issue is that Filipinos have forgotten how to speak the international and monetary language that is necessary to uplift our poor economy. And the FM Radio stations have not properly given its share towards globalization.


It is surprising to know that first year college students cannot even speak a complete English sentence without adding the word “ano”. I remember taking the public utility jeep overhearing a couple of students saying that he failed his application to a call center company. The interviewer apparently corrected him from pronouncing vegetables to “ve-ge-ta-bols.” The student ask his classmate, “mali ba yun?”


I can honestly say that my English fluency and proper diction and accent were not all products of my high school English teacher who speaks English with a hard Filipino lawyer accent; no offense but it is true. My English was aided by RADIO, Sesame Street and fortunately some English speaking friends who grew up in the states.  But I speak Tagalog when English is not needed. Our surrounding is our greatest teacher, and Radio and TV surrounds everybody. That is why Radio and TV has a great responsibility in honing a perfectly adaptable English speaking nation to cope up with global economy and technology.


It is very alarming to know what most radio station owners would do just to earn more money from what they call a dying industry.  If you ever meet one, kindly ask him/her if he encourages his children to listen to their “masa” station. Whether they would answer “Yes” with a smile, I could only speculate otherwise. Much worst, there is an award-giving body that tolerates and glorifies this action. It is a very sad fact that advertising agencies are the driving force for this massive “masa” reformats.


The circle is complete, and our government is numb about this issue. It is inevitable, and we will just have to wait for the negative repercussions. It will take time but it will surely backfire. This is a time where I will have to forbid my children, to listen to such radio stations for their sake. It is like a drug, addicting but hardly with good effects.


So to my fellow DJs who speak in Tagalog, my question is, where do you send your children to school? How do you communicate with them at home? Let us not be hypocrites and forsake your five year toil in college.  It all boils down to radio as a mere job and not a responsibility, and that do not make you an inch of a Broadcaster.


If you want to use the Tagalog language on FM radio, then say it in a learned way. Do not murder our native tongue by turning it to below-standard colloquial terms and using it to give listeners momentary laughter. Let us harness our craft, improve it and use it for the betterment of our nation and not for momentary joy and short-term solution.


Our country needs us. Let us give them what they NEED and not what they want!

Nelson Capulso a.k.a Sgt. Pepper


  1. pinoys will lose thier advantage if they let thier emnglish slip by them…in a time where everyone is learning english we are demolishing english institutions like fm radio ..tsk tsk

  2. I beg to disagree that using Filipino in the airwaves is that bad. Unfortunately, those DJ’s are so mediocre that their mediocrity is being brought on air. Plus, if you would analyze, there is a sense of mockery of both languages as some of the DJs using the English language in an FM show is also making the language so dull. I am a Filipino major, I write both in Filipino and in English. There’s nothing wrong of using Filipino in the airwaves, I repeat. However, the mediocre thus make it bad.

  3. Sana bago pinuna ang mga DJ, eh inayos muna ang grammar ng artikulo. Ang daming mali.

    Example: where did that person LEARNED English

    Di ba dapat where did that person LEARN English?

  4. i remeber whn abs was showing english programs on air in the early 90’s and the news shows were also in english – they moved all that to cable and , well, naging bakya ( but more profitable) my point is that instead of uplifting the pinoys through fm radio or tv , we seem to be “dumbing them down”…just in the pursuit of profits i guess

  5. you know we just overtook india in the BPO market – you would think that we would beef up our english skills to maintain an advantage..tsk tsk

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