MANILA – Because of his limited fluency in English, former action actor Sen. Lito Lapid is afraid to tangle with Sen. Miriam Defensor who is sponsoring the controversial RH bill in the Senate.
“I want to debate in Filipino,” Lapid, whose dream is to have a photo op with US President Barack Obama, said. Sen. Defensor and Pia Cayetano, the co-sponsors of the bill, said they are willing to accommodate Lapid by debating in Pilipino.
The former action star and local executive of Pampanga expressed his fear of joining the debate because he is not fluent in English.
“I’m not used to it. Firstly, I’m at a loss for words because I did not finish school. I also hardly read and even if I’ll try to catch up with my reading to be at par to them, it would take a lot of effort especially since these senators spent 10 years or more in school, what more of those senator-lawyers,” said the senator to the media.
He said that his limited knowledge of the English language may not help him during the debate, although he said that one of his main concerns with the bill is about the effect of artificial contraceptives to infants.
“I’ve seen them mostly in provinces. Could it be because of some medicines? In most cases, especially in the provinces, the youngest child ends up being mongoloid. I wonder who could provide me the answer to this question.”
It was a brave admission from Lapid, once considered Philippine show biz’s ultimate macho who played such notorious characters as Leon Guerrero, Ben Tumbling and Julian Vaquero on film.
“What if they don’t understand my Tagalog or I don’t know how to answer their questions in English?” Lapid said in Filipino. “These senators are also lawyers who spent 10 years in law school while I spent 10 years practicing my stunts.”
He added: “Much as I want to interpellate, my tongue is not used to English.
“First, I don’t have a good supply of English words. I have not studied adequately and even if I cram now, there are some English words, mostly technical terms they use during discussions, that are really foreign to me.”
Santiago and Cayetano appeared moved when informed of Lapid’s worry, and said he could use Filipino during the debates.
“I will try my pidgin Tagalog to try to explain [the RH issue] to him, although I am ashamed of my Tagalog. I don’t have an extensive vocabulary,” said Santiago, who hails from Iloilo and speaks Ilonggo.
But she said she did not think that Lapid was all that intimidated “because he has an entrancing effect on all women, including myself.”
Cayetano also said she would be “happy to answer” Lapid’s questions in the native language. “There should be no problem because if you will notice, I also use Tagalog to emphasize some points in my explanations on this issue.”