Once Again Tito Sotto?


Comparison of Sotto’s Speech in Senate dated Sept. 5, 2012 and Kennedy’s Speech during the Day of Affirmation in 1966 in South Africa. Photo grabbed from: When In Manila FB Page.

Today, he made a fool of us once again. Today, he mocked the citizens who trusted him enough to elect him into office. Today, he showed the world that Filipinos are – at best – copycats.

When Sen. Tito Sotto was first accused of plagiarizing a blogger, I must admit, I was a bit sympathetic to him. Being a blogger myself, I take pride in my work. But I also understood the awkwardness it would present if he quoted so many “according to’s” in his speech. To me, at that point, so long as he presented the facts straight, so long as he got his point across, then wherever he got his information, properly cited or not, was ok. He did made a disclaimer that the facts he presented were not his own. For me that was enough. He was presenting facts after all.

But today, he presented opinion. Today, he tried to be poignant in closing his series of turno en contra. Yet, instead of being inspiring, he became irritating. Netizens quickly realized that the last parts of his speech were translated from parts of Kennedy’s speech in 1966. When asked about this, he replied:

Marunong magTagalog si Kennedy?…Para nga safe, tinagalog koMeron ba silang alam na pinanggalingan na Tagalog noon (ng speech ko)? Marunong pala managalog si Kennedy ah!” (Kennedy could speak Tagalog?…To be safe, I translated it to Tagalog. Do they know where I got the speech in Tagalog? I didn’t know Kennedy could speak Tagalog.) – Rappler.com

I read that copying was accepted in the Senate. That bills that were not passed into laws in the past were recycled, sometimes copied word for word, then are debated once again. This, apparently, was an acceptable practice. It seems to me, piracy is evident not just in torrent movies and music or DVDs sprawled across the streets but also in the halls of our Upper and Lower Houses.

And thus, it seems, that copying speeches or perhaps translating them, word for word, into another language is acceptable as well.

Does this mean that we are a breed of copycats? Does this mean that we cannot fathom words or concepts of our own? When I was in college, it was known that most of our answers to our lab experiments would be lifted from books and other journals. But we were never taught to copy them word for word or even merely paraphrase them. We were taught to read through their context, derive our own understanding from them and then put into paper our very own analysis of what we just learned.

Isn’t this what we also should demand from our lawmakers? That they themselves, when crafting laws or echoing great speeches from the past in hopes to inspire, should first try to understand the contexts of such past materials then translate them into their own words based from their own understanding. By translate, I do not mean literal translation word for word.

There is no crime in patterning one’s thoughts from others. In fact, we can always share the same thoughts, the same opinions & the same views even if these were ages or miles apart. But even so, we have our own unique intellect, our own unique words, our own unique ways of communicating those very same thoughts, opinions & views. And when we do communicate them, it should be imperative that we do so in our own unique ways and not by mimicking the words of others.

What Sotto did has raised irate responses from fellow vigilant citizens. To those who don’t know any better, his speech might have been inspiring. But to those who know the truth, it was nothing but rubbish. Even if his points were valid, the way he communicated them diminished their worth. And denying that he did anything wrong only added insult to injury.



Author: elleica

Jesus Lover. Writer. Blogger. Biologist turned marketer. Child of Learning. Thrill Seeker. I long for my next adventure.

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