Philippine English Goes Crazy

Philippine English Goes Crazy

by: Marie Buena S. Bunsoy


People are absolutely amazed when they hear someone speaking in English fluently as if he is a native speaker of the language. Pronunciation and intonation matter as they say. It is overwhelming if we encounter persons having an American or British accent because according to us, they are the standard accents. But who sets the standard? What things to be considered to make a type of English a standardized one?

Based on the article written by Maria Lourdes Tayao entitled “A Lectal Description of the Phonological Features of Philippine English”, she reveals how Filipinos create their own identity in terms of speaking the language. Sometimes, the problem is with the sounds or syllabication of words. She also categorizes three kinds of Philippine English speakers.

First is the “basilectal” variety and included in this category are the Filipinos who have limited access to the English language. Therefore, their English vocabulary is very restricted in terms of communicating to others. They also have their own way of speaking the language like the phoneme /f/ and /p/, as well as /v/ and /b/ that are used interchangeably. For instance, instead of saying “flower,” they pronounce it as “plower.” In addition the words starting with “v” like victory, vase, vague are pronounced as “bictory, base, and bague.” Because such interchangeable sounds become a part of our culture, we accept them as if we understand them.

Next category is the “mesolectal” speakers who are considered as professionals who use English language for specific purposes. For example, if you are an English teacher, you are required to speak in English for such language is the medium of your instruction.

The last one is the “acrolectal” variety or the Filipinos speaking the English language as if they are native speakers of it. They have both the accuracy and fluency of the language. And sometimes, if we Filipinos try hard to be in this kind of variety, we tend to be incomprehensible in terms of speaking the English language and producing the proper sounds or pronunciation for it.

So why are these three categories created?

Well, these three are the results of the study of distinct phonological features of the English language produced by Filipinos or in short, the Philippine English. These three varieties of speakers have the similarities in the use or application of the intonation patterns (Tayao, 2004). Yet, the three varieties are not mentioned or enumerated by the level of English speaking ability for such are developmental process in a sense that a particular type of speaker cannot only stay at the variety he is into, but he can move on to the next type by means of learning the English language more.

The question is this: Does this mean that the Philippine English is not the standard?

The answer is NO. We should not sound like the Americans or Britons for we considered as excellent speakers of the language. We Filipinos have our own identity of the language speaking and that what makes us unique among the others who speak English as well.

Way back 2010, a Korean actress named Lee Da Hae presents how English language is spoken by people in specific countries. The Filipinos find it offending and insulting. According to Junielyn Linaja, one of the interviewees and Filipino teacher, she is dismayed on how the hosts also laugh at the actress’s joke. She states, “Hindi po ako makapaniwala na nagawa niya ‘yon. Para po sa akin, hindi lang po ako ang dapat ma-offend sa ginawa nya kundi lahat ng mga Pinoy sa buong mundo. Dapat malaman po ang pambabastos na ito sa ating lahi.” No doubt that such situation brings some to light how Philippine English, though always applied, is discriminated by some people in other parts of the globe. According to Tayao (2004), educated Filipino people talk to another Filipino using the Philippine English for they know that they can be possible to be unintelligible at times.

Philippine English not only merely centers on how the Filipinos speak and pronounce words in English, but it pictures that Filipinos create their only kind of English. In the research presented by Maria Lourdes Bautista in 1997 entitled “The Lexicon in Philippine English,” only Filipinos use brand names to identify or represent a thing. As she states, “Philippine English uses words like “pampers” for disposable diapers, “pentel pen” for a color marker, “to osterize” for the process of using a food blender, and “Colgate” for toothpaste. Mr. Lemuel Fontillas, a professor of Bataan Peninsula State University, tells us in the Graduate School class that the words “Masteral” and “grocery” only exists in the Philippines for in most of the countries, they mean “Masters” and “supermarket” respectively. As mentioned by Bautista (1997), another feature of Philippine English is the fact that the English words we use in the country differ from that of the foreign ones in terms of meaning. Filipinos create words also by means of clippings. Example is the use of the term “ball pen” where in fact it is called as “ball point pen.”

Furthermore, during the special lecture in lexicography led by Dr. Danica Salazar, a lexicographer and contributor to Oxford Dictionary, the words we have in the country like “Mabuhay,” “adobo,” “letson,” “kare – kare,” “bahala na,” are already included in the mentioned dictionary for they originate in the Philippines and those should not have their translations to maintain their essence. The previous words mentioned is a part of our own English.

Philippine English not only deals with the manner the Filipinos speak the English language, but also, it reflects how rich we are in creating our own language and meaning. As Filipinos, we should be proud on how we use and develop the language for it mirrors the countries’ culture and identity. Philippine English is not as its very lowest level. Every English speaking manner in different countries doesn’t tell us about their level of speaking, but of the variety and distinction. It is not our responsibility to mimic native speakers of the language for we can express our own ideas in our own way.

And that is how Philippine English goes crazy. It goes crazy for it is being told that it is not standardized English that everyone should consider. It goes crazy for we create a boundary between the American and British English and the Philippine English. We look at it as if different Englishes are arranged according from the best to the least one. But try to think of this. Philippine English has rich features when it comes to phonology, morphology, meaning – making, and lexical items. This kind of English gives us a lot of twists and encourages us to make studies or researchers about it. Because of the thrill that the Philippine English provides, it is no doubt how far it can go and how many people can be influenced, and later appreciate the variety of English we have. #




Tayao, M.L. (2004). A Lectal Description of the Phonological Features of Philippine English, 1 – 8

Bautista, M.L. (1997). The Lexicon of Philippine English, 1 – 24 November 10, 2010



i still remember what his smile was like

when he first waved his hand at my front door,

how shy he was and there was an ice cream in his hand.

how he said always that he wanted to be with me for a lifetime.


i still remember how he became an inspiration

to others, to the young, to me.

how i excelled to something that i did not want to do,

but he enlightened me that i should…for my future.

how he held my hand upon falling on the rocks.


i still remember how said we were

when he left the same ground for a year or two

how he wished he could go home…

and his home his me.


i still remember how he dreamt for us,

how he planned our dream house,

our wedding, our babies…

and what we would do after the retirement age.


and now that he arrives,

there is no happier person than I.

i can see the melancholy in his eyes,

i can feel the wound in his heart.

i can encounter the spirits that hinder me from him.

then my hand touches him so painfully

and those spirits almost become my friends.

those bring back the yesterday,

that past second that i murdered and left behind.

until i do not know what i am doing.

i hurt him.

i hurt him every day.

yet, i love him every day.


he messes up everything as he says

and he’s the chaos and storm as he tells

but i still love him stronger than before,

and the ring he gave is the thing i hold on to.


i still remember the smile that he had 5 years ago,

and i can’t have even a glimpse of that smile i used to love.

he never dances to the rhythm of love anymore.

he never sings our songs.

he becomes so clueless, and so am I of him.

the magic we have cherished for years

seems to be falling apart.


and i will still remember the days we had

and what we used to be.

he will still remember the day i write this,

miserable… sad… breathless.







...and then he said goodbye and left...

but only for a while for he is a busy person and there are still things to be done outside the world that we created only for the two of us. He's a teacher, and people say that I am too. I do not know why. I can't consider myself as one.

And then gathered his uniform and got his bag up from my bed and I started to whine and cry as if I was a child. My heart was beating fast and my knees were becoming weak as if that is a permanent goodbye. I got his uniform from him so he would not be able to live. My tear feel from my left eye so I totally knew that what I was feeling was pain... A genuine and real pain.

People say that I am independent; that I can do all things by myself. That I can be alone and don't need anyone to rely on. That I can decide justly for myself. That I can finish a task without asking questions from the others. That I am efficient. That I am excellent...

...without knowing that it's very hard to get up from my bed every morning and pretend that I am the strong woman they have seen ever since...

...that I really need him a lot.

Old quote from an old social media site says that behind a strong woman is a man who supports and understands. Maybe I cried that moment because I felt that I couldn't do some things anymore.  Perhaps I whined for that it was only the time that I was very happy and comfortable. That after he left, I would start to feel all alone the old days that I felt the sun doesn't want to shine on me.

No one knows that I am totally depressed with the things that happened and will never happened. I have no idea about the root of all my inner chaos. And I don't want the people around to know about this. A friend says that I am a sanguine. Maybe. yeah, nice trying being a best actress. For when nobody's here to talk to, I suddenly think about lots of things. Death and suicide are my favorite source of thinking.

Now, he went home.

I am alone again and there are tears.

And I entertain once more all the demons playing in my head.#

#Sonnet Made in Lover’s Hell

Soft winds never know how much you are loved.
Heavens smile, but in this hell we meet.
Through the fire we walk, hearing monsters breathe,
Never thought how I wish you from above.
Perfect are you, as tender as a dove.
Do you hear the silence of our hearts' beat?
Candles I lit, flowers touching your feet,
Let my love pour on you. My soul, you have.
Even when the nights seem lifeless and cold,
There is more to my life that I will prove.
And it's you, darling, even we get old.
All the yesterday's pain, together we move
To the whining life. Our chaos be told
And bravely run into the darkness groove.


Since random religion practices are questioned by many people of different beliefs, let me talk something about it. Because I belong to the Roman Catholic religion, I’ve already experienced how people wonder why some Catholic people have their unique way of showing their faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes, we are accused of “inventing” practices that are not really existing in the Bible. Well, maybe, in this simple way, I could provide explanations to the questions frequently asked.


WARNING: These are only my own opinions on how I see these things.


1. Why does the Catholic church have the “Legion of Mary” organization for women when Mary is not really as powerful as Christ, and ACCORDING to some explanations, she was once disbelieving the teachings of Jesus?
**If you would ask me, I would say that yes, she may not be powerful, but she is the most blessed among all; for there are many women in her time, but she is the one chosen by the Lord to be the mother of Jesus. So, such organizations were created simply because they wanted to pay tribute to the mother of our Savior.

2. Why do Catholic people always worship the images or “statues” of every saint, where in fact, they can tell God directly their prayers?
**I do not say that we, Catholics, really worship them directly. But those images of other saints and their statues are only a reminder for us that even though, we are ordinary people, we can also do extraordinary things to the people around us…that if they could do such good things, of course, we are capable of doing good also. They serve as a role model and we must remember that doing good counts.

3. Catholic people do not always go beyond the content of the bible, so why don’t we engage ourselves to some religions where the bible is very well studied?
**Oh yes. I encounter a lot of people who were once a Catholic, but they converted to some religions because of the reason/ question cited above. This is only my answer. It is not only your religion that will enlighten you. But you must find a way on how to enlighten yourselves. Religion only strengthens our beliefs and faith, but how we help ourselves to see the essence of such teachings is what really matters most. I hope I answer your question.

4. Some people are being accused of self-denial when they cannot attend to a particular religious session, because as the gospel says, all of us must fulfill our mission to be fishermen of people.
**I think some take this literally, that they have to leave all of what they have for the sake of serving God. But I interpret it as the calling of God. For instance, even though, I did not like this at first because I was afraid, God called me to be a teacher. So I left most of my negative attitudes, especially, my lack of self-esteem, just to serve the school and to teach students. It doesn’t mean that if a person is busy, we would say that he or she is not interested or in short, he/she is self-denying. The most important thing is he/she has a sacred time for God by the time of waking up and of going to bed. And of course, on Sundays. Being fishermen of the people is not measured how many religious sessions you attend to. It is how you put God first before all things and not forgetting to thank Him every day.

5. It is not the Bible that makes a person good; it is his/ her obedience what the Bible tells us to do.
**Many people read the Bible, but only few follow. Let’s say you know what verses they are, you know where the gospels are located, you know how to interpret it, but if you do not follow what is written in the Scripture, it’s nothing. Bible is also a teacher. It doesn’t mean that if you are hearing it, you are following it. There are also those who will say that we must not judge a person, but the one saying it judges another. So, what’s the essence of uttering such words if you yourself find them hard to follow?

6. Let’s go back to the images of saints that they say, many Catholics are worshiping to. “Why do Catholics bring handkerchiefs and wipe them on the statues? Why do most people sacrifice their lives during the feast of the Black Nazarene?”
**Well, if it is how they express their faith, let them. They are doing these things because it is how they show their debt of gratitude for what God is doing for them every day. For them, such sacrifices are not enough because what God provides for them is more than enough. Those sacrifices are little. It is also a way of showing how much they believe in God. Do not forget to show people how faithful and God-loving you are. Be proud to be a Catholic. Don’t be ashamed to do these  things.

7. There is no statement in the Bible that there should be a Palm Sunday. Why do Catholics have this?
**According to Matthew 21: 1-9, people spread their cloaks and they also cut branches from the olive trees and do the same. So it is the beginning of Palm Sunday but in a different way.

8. When you do what is said in the Bible, you will be persecuted by another people because you are preaching the good and providing people enlightenment, especially, if your belief will be the same as ours.

**That’s PERSECUTION! I strongly defend my stand here. Perhaps, people in different religions have their own way of interpreting the Bible. It is not the must-be-done thing in the Bible that people do which is the cause of persecution. It is the DISRESPECT of the crowd towards the belief of others. If your practice or belief contradicts with someone’s, it’s not a problem. But if you try to change that good and strong foundation of someone towards his religion and you keep on INSISTING that yours is right and theirs is wrong, well, that’s persecution. Usually, we persecute other people of other religions without us knowing. Respect mine and I’ll respect yours.

9. You are having a Bible study on the religion where you don’t belong because you want to strengthen your knowledge of God. Now, do you still attend the Catholic mass? How about praying the rosary? Do you still do pray with the beads?

**I absolutely found these questions funny. I even thought they were a jest. Leaving the things in which you are used to is kinda hard. But the highlight of this is I only have joined a Bible study. I haven’t said that I would be converting to other religion. Lucky that I had felt it early; because of this, I’ve learnt how to be firm with my own faith. We can go to church without a soul. We can pray the rosary without a heart. It is not the rosary nor the church that makes you a servant of God. It is what’s within you.

At my last post, I said that I am an agnostic theist. I do not know. What I know now is these maybe the reasons why I have considered myself as one of that kind…that there are chaos or issues that struck religions because of the people disrespecting one another and they always demand explanations on some practices, but in the end, they do not believe still. And as far as I observe some, the values and virtues that they cherish from that religion are taken for granted by somebody who does not belong to such community.

Some people say that religion creates a divide. No, it’s not. It is the people who create such wall. No matter to what religion do you belong, the most important thing is we must respect each other’s opinions and beliefs. Some are open-minded to the beliefs of others and some are not. They/We do not want to accept each other’s belief because we always think that our religion’s teachings are always right. All teachings are right and just. The common problems are the people and their criticisms about other religions. But reflect on this: Does your religion or it’s teaching tells you to have a closed heart toward the beliefs of others? Is it your religion? Or is it you?


I was born a Roman Catholic and at an early age, my parents had oriented me about the existence of what they called “God” and other good things related to Him. I was taught that lying is bad, that saying vulgar words had always transformed a man into an underworld entity. I also became a Campus Ministry president for 2 years. Since I was a child, I knew there was God, yet, I have been searching for proofs until now to justify that their so-called God is nothing, but true.

When I was 17, I had been questioning my faith. I couldn’t tell my parents about this for I knew what they would say. Let’s say, I was uncomfortable or unsatisfied with what my religion was teaching people. I always found people going to church every Sunday, yet, they were doing illegal things when the mass had ended. Some were going to church as a sort of dating; some were chattering when the priest was having a homily; some were using cellphones when the mass was still ongoing; some elders who were members of the religious organization were gossiping about someone who was also their co-member; some altar servers, choir members, lector and commentators and even the members of youth organization had premarital sex and you were just seeing them one day carrying a baby. When they were asked who was the father of the child, they would just simply state the name and said that they broke up already. Worst of all, those servers of my church (who were looking simply innocent at your first glance) were reported impregnating a woman or if that was not the case, most were lustful and womanizers.

Then that was the time that I asked myself,

“Why do the words of God not create a big impact to the lives of these pitiful people? Do they just misinterpreted the words written in the Scriptures?”

I admit, I could not answer those questions myself. Maybe, they just misunderstood it but that was not an excuse.

There were also judgmental people who exist, and their existence was greater than the black hole in the universe. I, myself, am one of them. But the Bible said, “Don’t judge” and still, I found it very hard to follow. I judged. I said bad words. I lied. I cursed. There was no good in everything I did.

And how could I convince people that there was God, if I did not apply the teaching of the Bible? How would they believe me if it was not evident in my actions?

Upon realizing this, I became an agnostic theist. If there was God, why can’t I follow Him? If He really existed, then why couldn’t He convince people to be faithful and good by means of His own teachings in the Bible? If the entity who published it was an authority and omniscient, then why did people only take His writings for granted? Were they unable to feel His power and command by reading it? That made me puzzled a bit. Even the “church people” found it hard to follow His order to do good and just.

Even my husband-to-be was once a faithful and God-fearing person and now I didn’t know if he was a pure atheist or just an agnostic one for some reasons, but still he has been doing good things to people regardless of what we called our God. That was what matter most to him…doing good and not hurting people. But promise, I was not influenced by him for I felt it first without him knowing. Well, I guess he developed that attitude because of the acts of the “religious” persons he once knew.


This afternoon, my sister’s fellow church mates visited us to have a Bible study. I actively participated in the session. I was hoping that my faith would be revived and be able to call God’s name again. Despite the doubt I have now, I’m still “praying” to my “God” so I can be a God-loving person once more. Maybe, my faith is lost but I’m still wishing that I will find it at the right time.


By then, I requested my sister’s colleagues to visit me every Sunday and Monday for them to lead a Bible study, but I want it more often. Surely, I will be finding happiness and answers to my questions there like they did. I feel that I’m floating on a magic carpet, searching for the faith I’ve lost. But I know, someone up there will find me and treat me as one of His stars.#

A Letter for Tonight

Lucky that I forgot my record in the faculty room. I don’t know if that is a blessing in disguise for me to rest or I’m just careless and forgetful about the stuffs I have to bring and do. In fact, I do not want a vacant time when I grow older. I only think of the distressing thoughts which I infer, not important to some, or even all.

They say, happiness can be found in a right place at the right time. I’ve been lonely since I was a kid and I didn’t know why. I only felt such joy when my sister’s family came to celebrate Christmas and New Year with us but left last Friday. Most ask me if I ever feel that needle that pricks a heart when the persons you love go back to the place where they already secured their dreams and future. No. I was not pricked by that “needle” that Friday, but I have been stabbed by a knife and I think, I can heal no more.

Some people thought that I have no heart at all. They think I do not feel anything…pain, longing, worries, or even the positive emotions. They used to say that my poker face speaks all of what’s within, but it’s not. They have no idea how I “practice” a lot to achieve this kind of face and even an emotionless grin, but all I know is I have this face that hides all what’s inside my heart and even the deepest secrets of my soul. Maybe, this mask also secretly doesn’t find the real meaning of existence.

Nine years…

Nine years of battling pain that I still haven’t recognized where it came from. There’s a great gap among my mind, my soul, and my heart. And until now, they don’t even intertwined. They always ignore one another. It seems that they are just like the persons surrounding me; persons who don’t care even I’m in trouble and needing some little help; those who complements with me, but they’re not when their backs face me. Perhaps, I’m really alone. No one knows what I’m feeling. Nobody has an idea how much I’m willing to take my life away for nine years.  Nine years and no one notices. They think I’m just a lady without any love or hate to show. They think, I’m okay, but when I’m in my room, I always burst into tears…even my heart tears apart to very little pieces thinking why I am like this.  Often, I prayed to God that if ending my own life is very sinful and illegal to heaven, then He Himself must do it now even I’m sure, I’ll surely go to the other side of the world. I’m breaking…and maybe, having myself cornered by fire is just a piece of cake.

I am living in my own world full of words that are very hard to be written, expressed, and published for when I try it, I’m just hurting…bleeding.  Sometimes, I think if I am really a true person or just a dream that is only a smallest part of someone’s universe.

At this time, I’m listening to funeral songs. There’s still a good in goodnight… there’s still good in the night.