The first time I heard of James Soriano was in August, the same month as Linggo ng Wika. People, left and right, were talking about him. At one point, he became one of those water-dispenser topics in the office.
In my Facebook network of friends, his name would crop up every now and then. As if that wasn’t enough, some bloggers were either asking their readers’ opinions regarding the “celebrated” article he wrote for the Manila Bulletin, or they were giving their take on the article themselves.
James Soriano and the controversy
My curiosity got piqued, to say the least. And because that was the case, I had to find out what the clamor was all about. Just so we’re clear we’re on the same page here, yes, I am referring to “the” James Soriano, the same guy who opined that Tagalog is the language of the streets, of the manong drivers, the househelps and his relatives in the province.
Now before we go any further, let me just clarify that I am writing this not to bash the guy’s persona. I am not without sin and undeserving to throw a stone his way. Or for that matter, beat a dead horse, the horse being his not-so-popular opinion of the Philippine national language.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011, I got off work feeling a tad richer than usual. I stopped by a 24-hour convenience store and bought me a bag of potato chips – the local one, yes – and a broadsheet, the Manila Bulletin.
I usually eat a heavy breakfast, so after a sumptuous meal of rice and paksiw na bangus (milk fish cooked in ginger and vinegar), I went through the comic strip section of the paper. After which, I started attacking the crossword puzzle.
I still had a few boxes left to decipher when I finally admitted defeat and decided to get ready for sleep.
Hesitant to start the final book in my Reader’s Digest compilation as this might render me sleepless for the night’s shift, I thought to run through the newspaper one last time. And there, in one of the pages, was an article by James Soriano entitled Tao Rin Sila [They Are Humans, Too].
The essay was written in Tagalog, and my initial reaction was: “What’s going on?”
As you might have correctly guessed, I went on and read it. It was about his three-day stay at the New Bilibid Prisons with other classmates of his in Theology for their so-called immersion.
The story of Kuya Boy
They stayed there with children in conflict with the law, also known as CICL. His inmate partner during the first day was a certain Kuya Boy, not his true name, of course, who, according to Mr. Soriano was a Bamboo Mañalac look-alike.
In so many words, he asserted that Kuya Boy probably ended up in jail not because of his own volition but more likely because he was pressured by society. He went on to say that society, though unaware, is in one way or another breeding its own criminals, that a society drowning in poverty, injustice and violence is nurturing the next generation of evildoers.
Considering the current moral state of our society, it wasn’t at all difficult to agree with his argument.
What made the essay eye-catching to me is really not the message per se but what I view in my mind was a contradiction presented by its author. You probably won’t blame me if for a moment there I didn’t believe he wrote the piece. But then, there was his byline, and in a reputed newspaper, too.
So yes, he must have written it.
Although there was at least one grammatically incorrect sentence in the entire piece – I may be wrong; I’m not a Tagalog grammar expert – for a guy who claimed to have grown more comfortable thinking in English rather than Tagalog, I’d say if I were his Filipino professor, there’s a good chance I would have given him an A.
James Soriano probably realized there was no use alienating the masses. After all, a friend of mine once asserted that in the U.S., the language of the streets, the common people, the lowly of stature is still English.
That was probably never his point, but this post is stretching farther than I had planned, so let’s leave it at that. Just like the title of his Tagalog article, the guy is human, too, and worthy of second chances.
Then again, if we care enough to take a look inside ourselves, aren’t we all?
Latest posts by Maricel Rivera (see all)
- Creating a Working Environment in the Home - October 4, 2013
- Time Management is Life Management: When Life Gets Inundated by Time - June 16, 2013
- Speed Writing Is Not Rocket Science, Or Is It? - June 9, 2013