I think there’s a weird phenomenon that’s happening here. I have heard parents complain about their school-age children flanking Wika, Sabika, and HEKASI. Why so, in these subjects taught in Pilipino? That’s hard to believe, if you ask me.
I was with the girls Sunday afternoon at Quezon Memorial Circle for an afternoon walk. We ended up in Bacolod Chicken immediately after the stroll–that’s how it is when I am with these girls! Food is the ultimate prize for a physical exercise.
Our table was right beside one seating a family of four (five, if you count the yaya). We could overhear the mom and the dad talking to their son and daughter in what I call “tusok-tusok” English.
“Stop that. Sit down,” went the dad. “You like barbecue?” And the boy said, “Yes, dad.” I thought their conversation was a question and answer that led to nowhere near a conversation. The boy must be nine and the girl six.
I hated how they sounded. I felt they were trying hard to speak to their children in the language, but barely going beyond one-two words sentences and d have a real conversation.
As I was with my daughters, we took the chance to recall if we ever tried to force ourselves to speak to them in English when they were growing up. And we recalled, “No.” It would be a disgust to even try to sound like Americans when their names are so Filipino!
How come my kids can speak, write, read, and listen modestly well in this second language? What did we do modestly right?
Just to share with you some things that we did when we did it:
- 1. Our television set came rather late, and it was not top of the line. Just a simple B/W set with an analog channel tuner.
- My eldest then was four years old. And before she was exposed to the boob tube, she was already flipping pages of Adarna books. The television was only for Batibot.
- We never spoke to them in English at home. We used “anak” as our term of endearment; and we were addresed Nanay and Tatay.
- They knew as early as they could understood that their names are Filipino names with real meanings.
- English came to be their second language, that’s that, second language, because it was a necessary thing to learn as the medium of instruction in school was English.
My observations why some 21-year-old Filipinos do not know what “masalimuot” is; or “makinang,” or “hungkag.”
- The television set has become “intelligent,” and gave access to more kid shows in English rather than in Pilipino.
- Even the yayas try very hard to catch up with their “alaga.” “Enough, baby.” “Let’s go.” “Don’t run.”
- Some parents think it’s cool to talk to their kids in English.
- The bookshelves do not have Pilipino reading materials, because some parents think it’s “baduy.”
- Children themselves frown at other children who do not talk in English.
The greatest lesson my grandfather taught me was to speak and write in both, either in good, straight English, or in good straight Pilipino. Never compromising both languages.
So, will everyone please speak to his children in Pilipino so they are able to build a strong foundation of the language?
My children survived not having been “English-speaking” children in their early years. My eldest is finishing cum laude and top of her batch in BS Management; my son has a degree in advertising and working in one of the country’s largest television networks; my other daughter is finishing magna cum laude and top of her batch in BS Architecture; my two other sons, who are also in college, have not suffered because they were not “English-speaking.” They are both well into getting their degrees.
We don’t profess to be superior nor experts in Pilipino, but we use it, and we use it everyday, even learning new words together.
Your children can, too, and not only because we want less of them flanking Filipino subjects, but because we are Filipinos and we should be proud we have our own language.