I'm now the guy on the left?
(Courtesy of whywesuffer.com)
Let me start off by saying that bullying is a serious, serious offense, one that can cause devastating effects. Whether it is of the physical, or emotional variety, it is unacceptable, and reflects more on the perpetrator than the victim. As a minority, I know fully well what it's like to be on the receiving end of this act.
With that said (and hopefully clearly stating where I stand in it), this is, thankfully, a humor piece.
Many of those who know me personally can characterize me by many things, but one "standout" fact is that I seem to be challenged where the vernacular is concerned, a fact I readily admit. Even back in the day, one of my most hated test items was when I had to choose between hulihin, ihuhuli and huhuliin, and the Filipino subject in school was always my Waterloo. Whether it was the definition, the usage, the accent, or the emphasis, I seem to make it my goal (unintentionally) to make others laugh when I speak in Tagalog.
I "blame" that squarely on my mom, who penalized us at home for ever speaking Tagalog (we had to pay one peso to her for every Tagalog word spoken). She was determined to make us excellent English communicators, so the only languages "allowed" at home were English and Chinese. So it's no surprise that I am at ease with English, which brings us to how I was accused of doing something I am against.
Yes, someone actually pointed a finger at me and called me a bully.
And how did I manifest this? By speaking in English.
A disclaimer: I don't have an "American accent", the way employees of call centers say it, even though they are off duty, and giving their fare to the jeepney driver. (True story: a friend of mine witnessed a just-off-work call center agent, with her ID card still on her neck, saying "Mama, here's my bayad, I'm going to Kyey-Poh! (Quiapo)" which prompted everyone else in the jeep to look at her.)
Excuse me, but if you feel inadequate about your own mastery of English, don't turn around and say "Eh, sya eh! Nam-bu-bully sya!"
When I heard this accusation thrown at me, I swear time stood still, and the words no, this isn't really happening, this is a weird space-time gap I have fallen through formed in my head, but when I saw the other people in that conversation look at me, and we all had the same expression that said what the hell is this moron smoking, I was, for once, glad that stupidity was the minority in that group of people.
I somehow raised my jaw from the floor, only to do a shrug, with a look that I will admit must have reeked of condescension. My accuser squeaked in a "Bully!" before someone else spoke up: "Wait, wait, how is he being a bully? I don't get it."
"Eh, kasi! Gagamit gamit sya ng English!"
Silence from everyone in the group.
"Hindi ko sya maintindihan no! Kung ano man yung mga terms na ginagamit niya, kailangan ko pa minsan hanapin sa dictionary, sinasadya nya yan! Sigurado ako! Sinasadya nya para di ko sya maintindihan!"
This time, everyone else's jaws dropped to the floor, and I decided to end it - not for my accuser, haha, but because I had no time to waste on buffoons who are afflicted with low self-esteem and mataas na pagtingin sa sarili at the same time.
"Look, if you're mad or feel left out, because someone else speaks in English, blame it on the education you received. While you're at it, blame your parents for sending you to a school that allowed you to exit their corridors without ensuring that would be competent enough to be in the workforce, one that uses English on a daily basis."
What is laughably infuriating is that I would never dream of accusing anyone who spoke to me in malalim na Tagalog that s/he was bullying me, I would take that as a challenge to try to understand what it is I just heard (I usually stop the person right at that moment and say "I'm sorry, I really didn't understand the last word you said, what does that mean?")
So, that's how I came to be known as a bully.
The one and only time.