Growing up, I learned Tagalog through my everyday conversations but admittedly, I loved English more. I would choose Dickens over Balagtas. When I pondered why, I realized it’s because English was living for me. Filipino was not. My Nanay filled our home with books, ranging from novels to Christian books to encyclopedias. Our family car had lots of cassette tapes of fairy tales and Sunday School songs. All of these are in English. I soared in my grades in English but I did not fare that well in Filipino, especially in high school when the novels were part of the required readings. It’s ironic that in the Philippines, Filipino kids are not taught our beautiful language in a manner that is interesting and living for them.
When I passed UPCAT, I chose Linguistics. I initially did not know what I will learn but I know it will be about language. I am in love with language especially how one speaker can mix and match words to convey meaning. I love how it evolves over time and how speakers of the same language interpret certain words differently. When I was studying Linguistics, I realized how important languages are.
- Language is Culture.
Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.“ (UNESCO)
When a people group stops using a language, their culture starts to diminish. Imagine Philippines with diminishing oral traditions, no Filipino plays or people who do not know what binatog is. Filipino parents should teach children our language not only for good grades, but to preserve what we have for the generations to come.
The English language is very fortunate. It has multiplied itself in different nations. Its written documents are extensive. This language is celebrated throughout the world, especially in the digital age. Filipino is not as lucky. We have only a number of Filipino publishers. Worse, our own people do not speak the language.
2. Language is Identity.
Unfortunately, in my daughter’s generation, the speakers of Tagalog are decreasing in number. The ironic part is, Filipino kids who do not speak Filipino reside in the Philippines. This is why I am motivated to teach my daughter our beautiful language one step at a time. She is not as sharp in Filipino as she is in English, even if that’s the language we use at home. I am going with her pace in learning the language and I’m in faith that she will learn to love Filipino.
Denying our children the language of their nativeland is akin to denying them a big part of their identity. They will be disconnected to their community and family members who do not speak English.
3. Language is Legacy.
When we teach our children our language, we teach them our past. My husband and I love reminiscing the good old days in the 90s. We lived simple lives, playing on the streets and enjoying our childhood. If I won’t teach my child our language, she will have gaps in her understanding of our stories when we were children. She will not share in the joy of being a Filipino. The saddest thing is when she is unaware of our legacy, she will not be able to pass it on to the next generation of our family.
After my short time as a HR personnel, I went to teach Tagalog in a language school for missionaries. In our school, I was able to teach speakers of varied languages. I taught our beautiful language to Americans, Russians, Germans, Koreans, Aussies and so on. It’s a joy to hear them speak our language. We teach them from zero to advanced level. The goal is for them to learn to converse in the language, compose a life-giving message and be confident to preach in the language. It’s amazing how foreigners like them want to learn our language.
Filipino is a beautiful language, along with the other 180+ languages in the Philippines. Let us learn to love our own roots and help our children be proud that they are born Filipinos.