Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tagalog is the word

I’ve a spokening-dollar nephew. Which is strange really, since no one in my family speaks English at home. Oh yes, like any typical Filipino family, English is our second language, and we resort to a phrase or two when discussing technical stuff. But Tagalog is our language.

I blame the baby-sitter – TV. Nickelodeon to be more precise. With both my brother and his wife working full-time, the young tot basically grew up with his tita and grandma preparing his lunches, and TV as the sitter.

One time, on the way to Sunday lunch, the 3 year-old enunciated in his perfect American twang “Come on lola, let’s go.” To which, the farmer’s wife from Nueva Ecija retorted “Lintek kang bata ka, pati ba naman ako i-inglisin mo!”

I see nothing wrong with learning a second language, of course, especially English, the language of commerce in the global business world. But let us not lose our precious cultural heritage. Tagalog is not just our language it is a very beautiful language. Really it is.

I’ve American cousins who grew up in the states who would love to learn it. But how does one teach the subtle nuances of the language?

It’s the plural “kayo” instead of “ikaw” when addressing someone you respect, usually an older person. Would that mean anything to an American? “Kuya” does not even have an exact English translation. It is an oriental thing. The Japanese and Chinese, I believe, have a similar word, having watched many an English–translated martial arts movie. “Older brother”, that’s the closest English translation. But nowhere near does it fully convey what the word truly means. My American cousins would never know what it really means to have a kuya or be a kuya.

It still shocks me a little bit, whenever I hear the younger generation refusing to use “po” and “opo”. They must be thinking they are all cool and gangsta-from-the-ghetto when they do that. That’s not cool.

What is cool is recognizing your roots. What it means to be Pinoy. What it means to be a “kapatid” -- that word, by the way, literally translates to “cut from the same (umbilical cord)”. So a half-sibling from the same mother would still be a kapatid. But a half-sibling from the same father? That would be, technically, a kabetlog. Now that is really cool.


  1. oh em gee, i just had to say..this is hilarious!

  2. Thanks dee-wind. My little sister thought it was ironic that I had to write that piece in English... but Filipinos are bilingual.

    I hope to see more of you here. :)

  3. There was a half-British kid who visited the Province. his dad was an office executive so the guard on duty had to keep an eye out as the kid was thrashing about the place.

    The kid went to shake a tree with a bee hive and the Guard notices. Trying to summon all his English just to stop the kid.

    When the bees came out and stung the kid, he exclaimed "Agi! Agi! Agi".

    To his surprise, the guard just said (Translated from bisaya) "Lintek kang bata ka. Bisaya ka rin pala, pinahirapan mo pa kong mag ingles."



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