My Parents’ Native Tongue

Philippine Clip Art, Filipino Clip Art, Watercolor Clip Art, Speaking Tagalog

Philippine Symbols Watercolor Clip Art from my shop, Affordable Clip Art

My parents were born in the Philippines and emigrated to the United States back in the 70’s. Though Tagalog is their native language and they spoke it at home, I unfortunately didn’t retain enough of the language and I’ve been playing catch up.

I understand the spirit of what they are saying, but I cannot tell you for sure what they are saying. I know enough but I want to know more. I am inspired by this guy, Dwaine Wooley, who lives in the Philippines and speaks fluent Waray. I feel like a backwards FOB when I watch his videos. The character I played in An Infinite Ache has a huge argument with her Jewish husband about losing her culture, losing herself, disappearing down the family line. I worry about that, too. Especially in the volatile political climate we are in now. I don’t want my daughter to disregard her heritage, I want her to know that her mixed heritage is a thing of beauty.

One of my closest high school friends was a fluent Tagalog speaker and she would very patiently teach me. I also listened to songs and watched some movies to immerse myself the best that I can. I also made my parents talk to me in Tagalog. I like to think I got pretty good, but then I started to date a guy who liked to announce NO COLOR LINES whenever I would practice in front of him. I shouldn’t have let that go as easily as I did, but I was too malleable back then. I should have corrected that part of my life sooner but I wouldn’t be the first person to stick around longer than necessary. Live and learn.

Anyway, I am teaching my daughter the names of parts of the body like nose (ilong), Eyes (mata), hands (kamay), etc. I also got these Tagalog flash cards and this book to start. I’m still looking for kids songs, but that’s proven to be tougher to find.

I just wish my daughter was able to learn first hand and not through an Americanized filter like myself. But like when Marge Simpson said she was gonna teach piano lessons. “I just have to stay one lesson ahead of the kid!”

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