Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Subject: Filipino

In our house, my children speak in English. I speak to them in English. I think English was my first language and I am sure I heard Tagalog too as I was born in Manila and lived there till I was about 5. Then we moved to Davao and I learned the Davao Tagalog which is a mixture of Bisaya and a lot of Tagalog words. I learned this fast and with gusto because of my new found friends. All was great with what I thought was Filipino/Tagalog until school started and we had to be graded and told,  
“Ang di marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa sa malansang isda.” 
What were in the books were very different from how I was using the language. The language when spoken was fun and practical and got me from the gate of my aunt’s house all the way to the highway on a bike!

It was not until the summer when I was about to enter grade 4 that it got to me that words like “lagi” and suffixes like "gina", "naga" are not Tagalog which is why they could not be found in my Filipino books. I did not learn this in the classroom but from my older sister who did not grow up in Davao and did not understand “lagi” and a friend from Luzon who laughed at what sounded like make up Tagalog words, like:

how I say it  = how its suppose to be said
gikuha  = kinuha
ginakain = kinakain
nagatakbo = tumatakbo
nagaluto = nagluluto

 So, I figured it’s a Davao thing and must be Bisaya or Davaoeno not Tagalog. The higher I got on the educational ladder, the harder the Filipino subject became. Yet, I won several medals in Lingo ng Wika in my school and graduated high school and college just fine. Filipino was not my downfall as a student thanks to Math! To this day, I do not know when to use nang and ng, does this make me less Filipino? In case you know the difference do leave a comment so I may know.

If I am angry I speak in English. Masmabilis ang flow of words ika nga! I also noticed that when we are not in the country I tend to speak to my children in Filipino or Davao Tagalog/ Bisaya. It makes me feel safer which is weird but it does!

From the start of our homeschooling I knew I could not teach my children Filipino from the available materials that I saw. I tried, here and here. Just tried. We didn't really get anywhere substantial.
It's impossible for me to pound on them with the same materials that was pounded on me and made me ask, "Kailangan ko ba ito?" The sad part is my answer, "Mukhang hindi!" I was much much younger when I made up my mind on this. I could have studied but I did not. In the hierarchy of fast paced teenage priorities, Filipino ranked high on the boring scale and nowhere near the thrill, rush and fleetingness of the sports fest and even first Friday mass!

When my eldest went to ALS it was like hitting two birds with one stone. She got herself a high school diploma and she learned Filipino way better than me! But then, what am I in Filipino (subject) but a poorly educated graduate who can survive in the street, but cannot read well enough to merit my educational attainment. Nor can I write properly without a teacher working with me. Now this is not the fault of my school or my Filipino teachers, as I said  I could have studied as I got older but I did not because early on I figured I did not need it and there was only so much I could do in a day and a week that it just was not, or ever became, my priority. I needed Filipino only to the extent of passing a school requirement and of course chat away with friends which is also punishable in a classroom setting.

Is the same true for my daughter? Does she appreciate it as a subject? Only she can tell. But as her parent I cannot teach her using the materials I had in the fashion that I was taught, given what I know.


  1. Hi Alex, check here>>>

    Nang is used when you answer how.. And ng if you answer what :)


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