On Being A Poet

It’s not easy.

For me, the literary genre most difficult to produce is the poem. Imagine putting together the elements of meter, rhyme scheme, sound and imagery… weaving your words together metaphorically  and figuratively.

My best poems are written in Filipino. I’ve been trying to write good ones in English but I have to admit it’s a mighty struggle. I’m not sure if for example the following quatrain makes sense:

Whisper your woes on the flicker
Cover it with dried leaves and twigs
Whisper till the flame grows taller
Let it burn your anguish and grief

I have no problem with free-verse but my dream is to walk gloriously  the “rhymed” and “metered” path while holding the hands of either Erato or Euterpe.

One time I tried to mix Greek mythology and poetry and this is what came out:

“Pain’s But a Myth”

Writing stories is just as difficult because mixing in a bowl  the elements of fiction within the bounds of the plot  is not a walk in the park.  But fiction writers have the luxury of using a lot of pages to serve their purpose. Leo Tolstoy needed more than half a million words for his novel “War and Peace.”

Conversely, a poet has a single page, sometimes not even the whole of it, to capture vivaciously and vividly the emotions and thoughts pervading within or around him. The Japanese, through their Haiku, would do it in a single-stanza poem with three lines consisting of a total of 17 syllables.

What adds difficulty when poets thread the rhyme zone is that they can not walk the path of sadness while wearing a smile. Neither can they frolic in the lake of happiness while riding the canoe of sadness.

Pain begets pain, joy engenders joy. This is seemingly the prevailing mood in the realm of poetry. Rare are the crying clowns who can masterfully inject sadness into the veins of their poems while they are cracking a joke.

The melancholic lyre sounds best when played by a poet who in one way or another licked some emotional wounds sometime ago in a desolate room. On the other hand, the trumpet of merriment can best be blown by a poet who has journeyed the clouds of ecstasy.

But life is a masterful musician who teaches poets to play both the melancholic lyre and the trumpet of merriment. Life enables a poet to play any of the said instruments at any given time.

If a poet intends to paint his canvas with gloom then he can easily prick an old emotional wound until it bleeds sadness. He can walk down memory lane and revive the pains inflicted by either a person or an event he would rather forget. That’s not masochism but rather a form of sacrifice, the poet ought to feel what he intends to write.

If it is the rainbow needed in his canvass then exactly the opposite of the foregoing he must be doing.

That‘s the beauty of being a poet. Poets can switch with ease to any emotions that they desire. Like an actor in a theater, crying one moment then in a jiffy burst into laughter.

Sometimes poets get misconstrued. When a poem tackles sadness and regret for losing someone the readers would think that the poet still loves and wants that someone back. Worse, the person who felt alluded to may either be excited or feel vindicated.

Lest we forget that poets are men of arts who write for art’s sake. Undoubtedly, they draw inspiration from someone or something. They need a motivation in pursuance of their art. But as it is, the end is the art and the motivation is but the means to achieve the end.

And what is the reward the poet receives for writing a poem? The reward is the poem itself. No reward can be sweeter than the poem that the poet chisels into perfection.

As to whether or not a poet  who writes a poem of gloom and bewail is sad and regretful, only he knows. Who knows it may be Melpomene who visited him in his dreams.

Source: On Being A Poet

Kabilin-bilinan ng lola…

tsismisan

Heto na ang mga matalinhagang payo ni lola na pinadaloy sa apatang taludturan. Patula kang pagpapayuhan ng lola. Sundin mo ito kung ayaw mong mahagupit sa puwit gamit ang mabilog at mahabang sanga ng bayabas.

Simulan mong basahin…patikim-tikim. Pilitin mong gustuhin… ang mga payo ni lola. Hangga’t ang mga payo n’ya sa isip mo humukay ng malalim… hangga’t mahirapan ka nang  tanggalin. Parang bisyo. Hala sige… LAKLAK na.

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grandma4 INGGIT NA EH GALIT PA…
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Pakawalan mo na ang kimkim na galit
Iya’y anay na sumisira ng isip.
Ibuga sa hangin nalanghap mong inggit
Lason iyang papasikipin ang dibdib.

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H’wag manibugho sa kapitbahay na mayaman,
H’wag piliting sumabay sa kanyang pamantayan.
Gumasta ka’t pumorma ayon sa kakayahan –
Sa biyayang meron ka matutong masiyahan.

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Pababa ang paa nila’y h’wag hilahin,
Bagkus kamay nila’y pataas batakin.
Inggit at galit sa limot ay ilibing,
Tagumpay pwedeng sabay ninyong abutin.

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Galit parang naglalagablab na uling,
Kapag ‘di bibitiwan puso’y papasuin…
Kapag sa dibdib patuloy na kinimkim,
Katahimikan ng isip tutupukin.

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Kapag ang kapatid may biyayang nakamit,
Nanggagalaiti ka ba mata’y naniningkit?
Nagdadabog ka ba dibdib ay naninikip?
Sa ganyan ang tawag ay… matingding inggit!

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Ang inggit ay parang batong nakadagan sa isip.
Galit nama’y parang tinik… nakabaon sa diddib.
Mga ito’y hadlang upang ikaw ay matahimik…
Kapag ‘di maiwaksi ligaya’y ‘di makakamit.

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Maging masaya, kapag kapwa mo ay nagtagumpay
Magalak na narating, pangarap nilang pinanday
Huwag dahil sa inggit, sa sahig ika’y maglupasay
Bumangon ka at mangarap, pilitin ring magsikhay.

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grandma4 SA MAKAKATING DILA…
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May isang hayop mailap at mabangis.
Ito’y dila mong nasa loob ng bibig.
Kontrolin mo yan… itali ng mahigpit
Nang hindi magulo, buhay mong tahimik.

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Dila nati’y matalas parang patalim,
Napakadaling manugat ng damdamin.
Kaya nga’t anuman, ang nais sabihin
Pag-isipang mabuti, bago bigkasin

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Bakit kapintasan laging sisilipin –
Kung may maganda namang pwedeng purihin.
Bakit pagkukulang pilit hahanapin –
Ngunit ang kabutihan ayaw pansinin.

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Kawikaang kapag makikitid ang utak…
Tao ang paksa kapag sila ay nag-usap,
Sa saliw ng tsismis sila’y umiindak,
Makakating dila’y makasira ang hanap.

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Bakit parang ikaw ay nasisiyahan?
Kung ang kapwa-tao mo’y sinisiraan.
Bakit parang ika’y naliligayahan?
Kapag iba’y nakalasap ng kabiguan.

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grandma4 IKAW NA PERFECT…!
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Mataas mang antas sa buhay narating…
Ilan mang kurso kinaya mong tapusin…
Matalino ka man maganda o magaling…
Wala kang karapatang kapwa ay hamakin!

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Sariling kahinaan bakit ayaw tanggapin,
Ikaw na ang nagkulang ayaw mo pang umamin.
Kadalasan kasi na sa sarili ang tingin,
Ay walang bahid-dungis at walang kasing-galing.

_____

Aming salaming nakasabit sa dingding,
Samo ko ay laging ibulong sa amin,
Na dungis ng iba ay bago  punahin…
Uling sa mukha nami’y dapat  linisin.

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grandma4 KAYBIGAN BA KAMO?…
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Bulong ng kaybigan bago paniwalaan,
Kabilang panig iyo munang pakinggan.
Gamiting maayos timbangan ng katwiran,
Kung sino ang tama iyon ang panigan.

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Kaybigan mo ay matamang kilatisin,
Tunay na pagkatao dapat alamin,
H’wag papanigan masama n’yang gawain,
Kabuktutan niya’y tulungang baguhin.

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grandma4 PALASIMBA PALA HA…
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Salita ng Lumikha ay dapat nating gamitin
Upang Siya ay pasalamatan at purihin
Huwag gamitin upang husgahan at sindakin
Mga kapwa mo taong hindi kayang mahalin

sikat-ang-pinoy-wala-ka-sa-lolo-ko-juan-tamad

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grandma4 MANGARAP KA’T MAGSIKAP…
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Nakataas na ang iyong layag
Sagwa’y handa nang muling isikad
Lalakbayi’y malawak na dagat
Sisisirin pangarap na perlas

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Gaano man katayog pangarap natin
Matarik man ang bundok na aakyatin
Bukod pa sa anking talino at galing
T’yak ang tagumpay kapag nanalangin

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Sa sariling hulmahan pangarap ay hubugin
Ukitin ang tagumpay, at sa Diyos manalangin
Huwag umasa na swerte ay kusang darating
Magpagal at magsikhay, pangarap ay tuparin

_____

Upang maabot minimithing pangarap
Magsikap ka at piliting makalipad
Iyong ikampay sariling mga pakpak
Sa bumbunan ng iba ay huwag yayapak

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Mahirap akyatin matarik na bundok
Pawis tagaktak manginginig ang tuhod
Subalit kapag nakarating sa tuktok
Tanawi’y lulunurin matinding pagod

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Mataas pa ang bundok na aakyatin
Maraming pagsubok pa ang susuungin
Matindi mang panganib ika’y subukin
Patuloy ka lamang sanang  manalangin

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Hindi magugutom and taong masipag
Tiyak ang tagumpay kapag nagsisikap
Ngunit kung ika’y kalahi ni Juan tamad
Buhay mo ay babaon sa dusa at hirap

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Hindi kasalanan ang maging mahirap
Ang kasalanan ay ang hindi magsikap
Swerte mo’y hindi nakaguhit sa palad
Perlas itong dapat ay sisirin sa dagat

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Walang maghihirap kung walang tamad
Kapag batugan ka’y hindi ka uunlad
Kaya’t kung sa buhay ay nais umangat
Magbanat ng buto at laging magsikap

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Bangka mo’y patuloy naglalakbay sa dagat
Katig ay matibay unos man ay humampas
Ang sagwan mo’y ikampay hangga’t may lakas
Hintayin mo hanging iihip sa layag

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grandma4 MANGARAP,  PERO…
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H’wag gumapang sa balag ng alanganin
H’wag kakapit sa punyal na ubod talim
Paninindigan dapat na pagtibayin
Tatahaking daan dapat ay tuwirin

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Kapag sa Panginoon mananalangin
Kapag ng biyaya ikaw ay  humiling
H’wag kang tumunganga’t milagro’y hintayin
Pagpaguran biyayang nais tanggapin

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Sa tala’y h’wag ibulong ang iyong hiling
Wala itong tenga upang ika’y dinggin
Kakahinatnan h’wag sa baraha silipin
Buhay ay ‘di sugal, h’wag mong balasahin

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grandma4 TAGUMPAY…
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Sa timbangan mo tagumpay ay sukatin
H’wag panukat ng iba ang gagamitin
Sa sariling hulmahan pangarap buuin
Iukit mo sa bato h’wag sa buhangin

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Panuntunan ng iba ay h’wag gagamitin
Kung ang tagumpay ay nais mong sukatin
Matarik man ang bundok na dapat akyatin
Dapat mong iukit landas na tatahakin

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Bunga ng tagumpay ay ubod ng tamis
Kung puno’y dinilig ng dugo mo’t pawis.
Ang lasa nito’y parang apdong kay pait
Kung luha ng kapwa ginamit mong pandilig

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Sa ano mang tagumpay na iyo nang narating
Magbulay-bulay ka nga’t sarili ay tanungin
Langgam ka bang nagsikhay sa liwanag at dilim
O dili kaya’y lintang kumapit sa patalim

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Tagumpay ay hindi pwedeng namnamin
Kung nanlamang ka kaya mo narating
Milyon-milyon ay madaling gastahin
Kung sa pagnanakaw ito nanggaling

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Kay tamis ng tagumpay kapag nakamtan
Nang walang taong ginamit o tinapakan
Masarap magtampisaw sa karangyaan
Kung salaping gamit ay pinagpaguran

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Tamis ng tagumpay bago mo lasapin
Magbulay-bulay at sarili’y tanungin
Saan ba tumapak nang tagumpay sungkitin
Sa bumubunan ba ng kapwa-tao natin?

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grandma4 KAPAG SINUBOK…
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Ngiti mo ay ‘di maikubli ang kalungkutan
Sa mata’y banaag sakit na nararamdaman
Kung ang luha ay dadaloy hayaan mo lamang
Araw mo’y sisikat din matapos ang tag-ulan

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Bagwis sana ay patuloy lang na ikampay
Salubungin man ng unos ay h’wag maglulubay
Ibuhos ang lahat-lahat h’wag manlupaypay
Sa dulo ng bahaghari ginto’y naghihintay

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Malakas man ang bagyo humuhupa rin
Tiyak hihinto malakas nitong hangin
Tikatik nitong ulan pagtila’y hintayin
Panibagong araw ay tiyak na darating

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Sa pagkalugmok ay bumangon kang pilit
Muling ikampay ang nabali mong bagwis
Liparin ang malawak na himpapawid
Sariling tadhana sa langit iguhit

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Sanga-sangang daan man aking lalakbayin
Panganib at pagsubok tiyak susuungin
Kwento ng buhay hindi pwedeng pigilin
Maraming kabanata pa ang susulatin

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grandma4 HETO PA IBA…
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Ang isipa’y parang kulay na ‘di kukupas
Kapag ginamit lalo itong tumitingkad
Ang isip mangangalawang na parang itak
Kapag ‘di ginamit mawawala ang talas

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Likas ang pagtulong ng pusong busilak
At walang kapalit itong hinahangad
Hindi nagbibilang hindi nanunumbat
Hangal ang hindi dito’y magpasalamat

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Respeto’t pasalamat ay magkatulad
Mga ito’y kusang-loob igagawad
Ibinibigay lang kung karapat-dapat
At kung ayaw naman ay h’wag manunumbat

 

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grandma4 TANDAAN…
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Kay sarap ng buhay na tahimik at payak
Lalo na kung puso’t isipan ay panatag
Landas ay ituwid patuloy na magsikap
Saya’y lubos kapag mithi’y natutupad

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Ang palagian natin sanang isipin
Ano man ang gawin at ating sabihin
Ang mga ito’y nagsisilbing salamin
Ng taglay at tunay na pagkatao natin

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Kung kapwa mo tao ika’y iniiwasan
Nagsisilayo mabubuting kaybigan
Panahon na upang iyong pag-isipan
Ano ba ang iyong naging pagkukulang

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Matagumpay ka man at sobra-sobrang magaling
Paa sa lupa’y lagi mo sanang pasasayarin
Huwag kang lilipad at umikot na parang hangin
Ipo-ipong malilikha ‘di mo kakayanin

Source: Kabilin-bilinan ng lola…

Filipinos and the English Language

philippines-india-bpo-coopetition-431

Why is the Philippines included in  the discussion about which country is the BPO/Call Center capital of the world?

There are lots of positive qualities Filipinos have that make their country an attractive destination for business process outsourcing. This article, however, focuses only on what could possibly be on top of that list – their good command of the English language.

There were a few netizens from some parts of the world who, in videos, made fun of the ability of the Filipinos to speak in English. Whatever people, through the Internet, have seen in such videos make them think that it is the truth about the Filipinos’ ability to communicate in English.  There were foreigners also who experienced conversing with drivers, vendors, and bystanders in the streets of Manila or in far-flung tourist destinations in the countryside, who thought that the “broken English” they heard from these common people is a representation of the English proficiency of the Filipinos. It is not.

What kind of English do you expect from taxi and jeepney drivers in the Philippines? Do you expect street and sidewalk vendors and bystanders, who might not have even completed elementary education due to financial constraints, to speak impeccable English?

Those common people, not well-educated that they are, at least, can carry out a conversation in English, “broken” it may be. They understand what native English speakers tell them. They can give the latter information and directions they need. You are barely scratching the surface of the Filipino English proficiency when you talk to them. You need to dig deeper. One has to visit the halls of the academic community of the Philippine and stay in the lounges of the country’s business sector in order to have a more informed evaluation of the speaking, writing, reading and listening skills of the inhabitants of the island country.

It is safe to assume that the English proficiency level of the Filipinos occupying the lower stations in society is from “low intermediate” to “high intermediate.” The higher the level of proficiency of the Filipinos become when they at least finish high school. Once they succeed in receiving a college diploma that means that they have acquired both the lower and higher order thinking skills in English. They can remember and understand materials written in English. They can apply what they learned, analyze and evaluate them. In terms of language they can create… write sentences, paragraphs, and essays. Students in the tertiary level in the Philippines are required to write reaction papers and term papers in English while pursuing their degree and, in most universities and colleges, before they are allowed to graduate, they need to present a thesis.

it is no longer surprising that in surveys conducted to test proficiency (of non-native English speakers), Filipinos perform well.



For example, in a survey held (among countries not considered native English speaking) in 2016, the Philippines ranked 7th in the world (1st in Asia) in workforce English proficiency.

Philippines also received a strong rating in another 2016 survey among countries best at English as a second language. Philippines is 13th over-all and 3rd in Asia where in first and second places are Singapore and Malaysia, respectively.1

The fact that Filipinos are good at English is hard to dispute.

How do you think would English being the official language in Philippine schools (from pre-school to tertiary levels… including the graduate school) affect their proficiency in the language? (I chose not to expound on this but leave the analysis to you.)

Filipino children, as early as the age of 5 or even younger, start their training in the English language. And if their parents are professionals, or they belong to wealthy families, they would be hearing English and Filipino sounds even before they go to school. Even in the simplest neighborhoods in the Philippines, it is not surprising to hear in households people speaking in English. Having been a former colony of the USA, English has assimilated deep into the Filipino culture.

The Filipinos are bilingual and multilingual people. Filipino and English are the two official languages. Ninety-two percent (92%) of the 103 million Filipinos can speak English as a second language.2

Filipinos start to write and speak in English at an early age. English is heard and read everywhere in the Philippines. As mentioned earlier, it is the language used in schools. Almost all subjects are taught in English.  Even the business community has it as the official language. It is in English that all communication in business and government are done. Most of the newspapers (all major broadsheets actually) are also written in the said language.

That is the kind of exposure to the English language that the Filipinos are getting and that started more than a century ago when the United States of America annexed the Philippines and made it their colonial outpost in the Pacific. The Americans established the public education system in the island country and used English as medium of instruction to gradually supplant Spanish as the second language of Filipinos.

The Filipino accent in English is what some netizens and self-proclaimed language experts usually make fun of.

It is hard to understand why there are some who make accent a big deal. In communication it is the pronunciation that counts, not the accent.

“Pronunciation can be good or bad, but accent is accent and there isn’t a good or bad accent really.”3

There’s no such thing as right or wrong accent.



A recent study (Putting accent in its place: Rethinking obstacles to communication) explored the relationships among accentedness, comprehensibility and intelligibility.4 The study concludes that accent, comprehensibility, and intelligibility are partially independent constructs, and that simply altering accent will not necessarily affect the other two. In fact, communication obstacles are often based on things other than accent, but because of its extreme salience, accent is given more weight than it deserves.

On the contrary, there is evidence coming out that accent itself could be a barrier to effective communication.

According to an article entitled “Native English speakers are the world’s worst communicators,” “…often you have a boardroom full of people from different countries communicating in English and all understanding each other and then suddenly  the American or Brit walks into the room and nobody can understand them.”5

The article also explains that, “Native speakers are at a disadvantage when you are in a lingua franca situation, where English is being used as a common denominator, it’s the native English speakers that are having difficulty understanding and making themselves understood.”

What makes the native English speakers difficult to understand? Is it their accent? So, is ACCENT getting in the way of INTELLIGIBILITY and COMPREHENSIBILITY?

It’s a great thing that the Filipino’s English accent is (as generally described) neutral.

This could be one reason the Philippines is fast becoming, if not yet, the BPO/Call Center capital of the world. They can be clearly understood by both native and non-native English speakers.

The main goal of communication is understanding, not to sound fancy by copying somebody else’s accent. But if the Filipinos want to mimic somebody’s way of producing vowel and consonant sounds and diphthongs, they can easily do it. What works in favor of the Filipinos in terms of learning English is that they are no strangers to the language.

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  1. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/11/which-countries-are-best-at-english-as-a-second-language
  2. http://www.k-international.com/blog/countries-with-the-most-english-speakers/
  3. Gordon Scruton (http://gordonscruton.blogspot.kr/2012/11/accent-vs-pronunciation.html)
  4. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/language-teaching/article/putting-accent-in-its-place-rethinking-obstacles-to-communication/11D7A6BB87C915E074F50DE01FB7995F
  5. http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20161028-native-english-speakers-are-the-worlds-worst-communicators
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