‘Linguistic’ predicament

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SEGUERRA. Former child star turned gender-bender.

The third telecast last March 15 of Martin Nievera’s new late-Friday-night talk show on ABS-CBN came off better than its premiere show, thanks mainly to its inspired choice of guest—former child star turned gender-bender, Aiza Seguerra.

Since Aiza is famous for not being shy about articulating exactly what she’s thinking, her conversation with Martin was bracingly and quotably candid. Trouble was, Aiza’s life—and life choices—have been made public for so long that her “revelations” for Martin’s benefit weren’t as “revealing” as promised. It was also a mite too discreet for the late-late hour, during which viewers expect the talk to be more, ah, forthcoming.

To make up for the slack, Martin’s show came up with droll featurettes that shed light on different prisms to Aiza’s idiosyncratic life and current interests and involvements.

All told, however, the hour-long focus on just one guest still ended up feeling over-long—which is why we’re reiterating our unsolicited suggestion for Martin to try doing two separate features per hour, just to see if it comes off better.

The best thing about the telecast? The songs that Aiza and Martin sang. Their musical styles may be different, but listening to them, both separately and together, was still a special treat.

However, the telecast had an unusual problem that affected the performance of both interviewer and interviewee: Something decidedly got lost in translation, because Aiza spoke mostly in Tagalog, while Fil-Am Martin asked his questions generally in English. We admired Aiza for sticking to her linguistic guns, but the disconnect that resulted was disconcerting to watch.

The strange exchange was a timely reminder of the sad consequences of our “deathless” colonial mentality. We trust that it prompted Martin to decide to finally learn Tagalog well enough so that he can communicate with both his guests and his audience—as all good local TV show hosts should.

Other Filipinos who grew up overseas have faced the same predicament, but they’ve resolutely taken speech and language lessons to lick the problem. The latest star to pull that admittedly difficult feat off is Sam Milby. After more than six years of playing balikbayan characters, he’s now speaking mostly in Tagalog in his current teleserye. Some observers may criticize him for taking too long to see the light, but at least he’s done it—perhaps inspiring the likes of Martin to follow suit?

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