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!”

Throwback Thursday – The Motherland

Yvonne de Salle from Sing at Home Mom

This photo was from the last time I went to the Philippines, about 7.5 years ago, just a few days after I met my husband. I loved those pants I’m wearing! Perfect for the hot hot weather out there! ! While I was enjoying an 85 degree Christmas, my husband (who had no idea he had just met the love of his life!) was skiing in Colorado! I could only stay in The Philippines for about 5 or 6 days because I was in performances of Peter Pan at the time, and the other actress with whom I shared the role just found out she was pregnant. I don’t think the cast was privy to that information yet but when I found out I was all the more grateful that she was able to fly for me.

It was rough traveling so far for just a few days but it was worth it. I was able to attend the wedding of my Auntie Jasmine, reconnect with a lot of family, and delve deeper into my roots.

What a different world it is out there. It aches inside when I think of the terrible weather that the country has sustained recently. Ondoy was bad, Haiyan was worse…and who knows what is to come next?

The Philippines is such a beautiful country and her people are strong and resilient. I hope to bring my husband there one day. It is important to me that our future children know where they come from. They will not have as much “Filipino-ness” as I do, but they must never forget their heritage. And they must learn to eat balut. Don’t gag, it’s delicious!