When Jessica Sanchez became a finalist for American Idol Season 11, we made Facebook posts about how #ProudToBePinoy we all were seeing her represent us out there.
When Manny Pacquiao battled it out with Flloyd Mayweather during the #FightOfTheCentury, we were all quick to tweet out the red, blue, & yellow heart emojis together with the tiny little flag.
When Pia Wurtzbach was crowned as the 2015 Miss Universe, we trended #FilipinoPride as if we knew what that even felt like.
When Darren Criss and Vanessa Hudgens revealed their Southeast Asian heritage, we cheered them on and smirked as we proclaimed "Yeah, I'm Filipino, too" every time someone foreign brought it up, like we had the right to bathe in the glory of in their hard-earned success simply because we both knew what adobo was.
Why do we do this? Why do we scramble to glorify even the tiniest drop of Pinoy blood in an international figure, but when it's time to prove ours through speaking in the native tongue, pride is traded in for the worst kind of prejudice.
"Only poor people speak it," you might think in disgust. But here's the thing: The language or the people who use it isn't the problem—uyou are. You look at a priceless dialogue rich in history and heritage, but choose to attach a barcode to it, anyway. You look at the hardworking and persevering members of our community, but degrade their achievements by ostracizing them because you unjustly tried to quantify their immeasurable value based on the money in their wallets.
Prosperous or penniless, the Filipino language is for anyone who knows a wealthy dialect when they hear one.
"It's not classy." someone might say with a grimace. "It makes you sound uneducated." But how does being fluent in one of the world's most complex and unique languages associate to a lack of education? How does being able to say one English word in 15 different Filipino ways equate to illiteracy? How does being able to describe sensations that the English vocabulary cannot articulate translate to ignorance? How does having the capacity to speak the juxtaposition of native and foreign dialects equal to unenlightenment?
The Filipino language is for the truly cultured individuals, and not the class-A knock offs.
Annihilate the mentality that our language breeds in a negative light. Our ancestors did not fight for our independence and individuality from our colonizers just so we could bury all their hardwork underneath a pile of pretentious jargon. Although there is nothing wrong with appreciating our sister language, we must not forget that first and foremost, our dedication is to the mother tongue.
So before you hesitate to speak in Tagalog, remember: there is only one F word you should think twice about saying out loud, and it's not "Filipino."