Thursday, October 14, 2010

Que horror

Luistro tries Chavacano, calls students ‘servants'

Ordering the students to return to their classes after the brief program, Luistro said: “Maga muchachos y muchachas, entra ya ustedes na clase.”

His words came as a shocker to the more than 600-strong crowd, including teachers, principals, supervisors and students.

Abelardo Brutas Jr., principal of Lubigan National High School and secretary-general of the Teachers Organization of the Philippines Public Sector (TOPPS), said he was shocked to hear the secretary calling the students servants. “I am from Luzon and muchacho or muchacha means househelper, katulong, alipin,” Brutas said.

...Claretian Missionary Father Angel Calvo said Luistro might have thought that Chavacano is Spanish and had them mixed up.
Calvo, himself a Spaniard, said that in Spanish, “muchacho” and “muchacha” mean “adolescent boy and girl, [respectively].” But in Chavacano, they mean servant.

Still, Calvo said Luistro should have said in pure Spanish: “Muchachos y muchachas, vuelvan a vuestras clases.”

In an interview, Luistro apologized for the mistake. “Sorry, I forgot my Spanish. It was an innocent mistake,” he said...
I took up Spanish subjects in elementary as well as 12 units in college. In elementary, we used to pray the rosary in Spanish. Although I cannot carry a decent conversation in that language, I understand well enough (having grown up in Manila) that "muchacha" stands for a helper/servant in a deprecatory sort of way. Probably had something to do with the culture wrought by the domineering Spaniards at the time. If Sec Luistro were quite older, he would have understood. The word is almost never used now, to my knowledge. In most households the helper is called 'katulong' (helper) or 'kasambahay' (kasama sa bahay). In our own household, our children fondly call our female helpers "ate", a term commonly used for older female siblings.

To put it simply, Sec Luistro was lost in translation. One has to be very careful with this kind of thing. For example, there are many bible translations that do not convey the actual sense of the original Hebrew or Greek texts. In like manner, there are even occurrences of official Vatican translations of the original encyclicals that contain faulty English translations. When one becomes confused, it is best to study the entire context, or seek the original texts and attempt an exegesis if one is so qualified. In this case, I understand Sec Luistro's context. I suppose his next message to the students should be: "When you are unsure of something, study it more deeply. Do not assume a false sense of confidence. Yet as you make mistakes, like what I embarrassingly did, apologize readily, stand corrected, and learn from the experience. The latter is the true mark of an educated person.".

I feel so sorry for Education Secretary Luistro's blooper. It was an innocent mistake alright.

Que lastima.
or should I say: Que horror.

No comments: