May 19, 2010

"I don't speak the language no more"

My Filipina friend was excited and giddy about him. "You have to meet him! Grabe! He's amazing! Ang galing-galing niya."

It piqued my curiosity, so I went for a weekend trip to Virginia to visit my friend and also to meet this guy she was crushing on. She warned me though, "he doesn't speak Tagalog, so English lang when it's the three of us, ha?" I shrugged my shoulders.

As it turns out, Mr. Amazing moved to the US three years prior. He was 26 years old. My friend and I were 24. We got introduced. I was suspicious already. If he's 26, then he moved when he was 23. If I'm 24 and I remember the Filipino language, then there's no damn way this dude's telling the truth that he doesn't speak the language anymore. Not if you moved when you were in your 20s. Unless you experienced some head trauma or amnesia.

I was Little Miss Mischief in my 20s. I tried to find ways to get him to reveal the truth - that he, in fact, spoke Tagalog. Still. That the inability to speak Tagalog's all an act. I remember that I tripped him. Oh yeah, pinatid ko. "Aray!" Gotcha! "Ulol, kunwari ka pa di ka nagta-Tagalog. Umamin na kasi!" And he tried to rationalize that he remembers how to speak it, "pero konti lang." Seriously? By the end of the meeting, he was speaking Tagalog. So yeah, I was right, all an act. Fact is, my friend and him were members of an all-Filipino religious group. Don't tell me that all of the members do not speak Filipino. I'd assume there's a bunch who still speaks the language.

I got a bone to pick with fellow Filipinos who don't speak (or claim not to speak) the Filipino language after living in the US for a year or two (or even three) when they move to the US past their teens. How is it possible?

After that, I vowed to keep speaking the Filipino language even if I'm here in the US. Plus, if and when we have kids, they'll learn Filipino and even Aklanon (courtesy of my husband). Children learn what you teach them.

You teach shame. They learn shame.
You teach selfishness. They learn selfishness.
You teach them to love their heritage. They learn to love it.

I've heard some folks here in the US say learning both English and Filipino will confuse their children. Really? Then how come there are those who are multilingual, and who live to tell the tale (in different languages! ha ha)? I don't see them roaming the streets all confused.

Reading this blog post reminded me of the above incident.

But what galls me more? I've got some friends living IN the Philippines whose kids do not speak the Filipino language AT ALL. What the heck is up with that?


... Paige said...

living in the US is no reason not to use a native language, the more that one can speak the better, I believe

He should say that he prefers to speak english and not that he doesn't remember-duh

Jon said...

I am with you cez, there is no reason why somebody who grew up in the philippines cant speak pilipino after living here for merely 3 years or even longer. it is all a pretension. I can see how somebody who is only surrounded by english speakers 24/7 for 3 years might forget some rarely used profound pilipino words. but to forget the entire language is bull. I dunno, do they feel superior by not speaking pilipino? Quite the contrary.