BrionTo tell the truth, the provocation for launching this blog came from Dr. Rofel Brion, professor at the Interdisciplinary Studies Department of the Ateneo de Manila University.

We have had a running conversation over the years on the language situation in the Philippines: the continued dominance of English as the primary medium of communication in business, the newspapers of record, and government (think of congressional reports, licensure examinations and the legal system). And this, even as people bewail the decline in the command of spoken and written English among the general population.

Since 2011, I had been among a pool of writers supplying opinion pieces in the Saturday space of the Makati Business Club in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. But we both knew that fewer and fewer people, even in the A and B economic classes, were getting their news from the English broadsheets. Materials in Pilipino had better chances of reaching the C, D and E communities.

I don’t know what actually moved Rofel to say that he would translate my op ed columns into Pilipino. Perhaps, he found interesting that readers would comment on these opinion pieces in both English and Pilipino and, of course, in Taglish and would debate among themselves in the three languages.

As an academic, perhaps, he wanted to demonstrate that Pilipino was rich enough to serve as an effective medium for addressing social and political issues, even when the discourse turned theoretical or philosophical. I would like to think that he agreed with the thoughts I tried to convey in my columns and, in a fit of activist ardor, wanted them to reach a wider audience.

But once he had made that commitment, the problem was establishing the platform to make the translations available. This blog was started, in large part, to provide this platform.

A good friend of our family, Rofel writes poetry and fiction, with equal facility, in both English and Pilipino. His publications include several collections of his poetry, of which Baka Sakali won the National Book Award from the Manila Critics’Circle in 1989. He has participated in international literary festivals in Europe and Australia. In 1990, he was a fellow at the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa. He was twice invited to the International Retreat at the Hawthornden Castle in Midlothian, Scotland.

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