16 August 2007

ako si Mom2Amara

Nagsasalita ka ba ng Tagalog? Do you speak Tagalog?

Don't be fooled. I don't.

I know the basics of the language. But I had to Google it just now to ask all of you if you can.

As the title says "I am Mom2Amara." And this is my first post on Filipina Moms.

My parents emigrated from the Philippines to the United States in the 1970's. Soon after, my sister and I were born. And while my mom and dad immersed us into Filipino culture bit by bit, they also held back - not wanting the "American experience" to be tainted. That meant not teaching their children how to speak their native tongue.

But my parents still spoke to each other in Tagalog, My dad sometimes even used Ilocano. So I would pick up words here and there. I could watch Filipino movies with the best of them. (I love Sharon Cuneta!) And when my parents would pick up a Filipino magazine, I could skim page after page and get the gist of what was said.

This always left me in a quandary. When my (non-related) aunties and titos would unknowingly talk about me in Tagalog, I stood before them frozen. I did not want to disrespect them and call them out for insulting me or my family. Yet I wanted to show them that I was smart. I did understand!

And now 30 years later, I'm in the same predicament. But this time it involves my daughter.

Since I am not fluent in the language, I cannot teach Amara to be bilingual. But I do try to pepper my conversations with her with some Tagalog.

  • Anak, halika dito. Child, come here.

  • Mahal kita! I love you!

  • Tanga! Dummy! (Ok not the nicest thing to say to my daughter, I know.)

  • Hoy! no translation really...just a way to get someone's attention like "psssst!"
But it all turns out to be some rough Taglish.

Is my daughter losing out on part of her Filipino heritage because I am failing to teach her the beautiful language of her Lolo and Lola? Without an institution nearby our home that can teach Amara Tagalog, how can she learn grandparents' native tongue?

I hope to learn from all of you here at Filipina Moms. I am honored to be a part of your pamilya here! And if you want to hear more about me and my family, you can visit us at my personal blog, Being Mom2Amara.

picture courtesy: ferguweb at Morguefile.com


mamazilla said...

mabuhay! i like you can understand a little taglalog (some bisaya and some ilocano) but can speak very little... and i also worried about the paloma's not knowing the language as well. i bought a few books and a "learn tagalog" cd from asiaforkids.com and they've helped a lot! :) looking forward to reading more of your posts!

Maricel said...

I feel the same way ... I was born in Tarlac and came here in 1971 when I was ten months old. My parents spoke Ilocano at home and understand it, but I can't speak it. My parents also did not want to "confuse my brother and I" by also teaching us Filipino while learning English. And I do not understand much Tagalog.

And I just went to "Meet the Teacher" night for my 5 year old daughter last night and there were many Filipino parents there last night ... talking to me in Tagalog ... and all I can do is smile and say that I don't understand. So they accomodate me and speak in English.

I want my little girls to be proud of their mom's heritage and I know I am trying to do the best I can.


Ria said...

Hey... nice to meet you. I too do not speak Tagalog anymore,i was born in the PI in 1977 and came to the UK when I was 10 years old, and have never been back. I am now 30 married and have kids, my kids don't speak the language at all, and my husband wants me to teach him but of course I dont know where to start.

I feel uneasy when attending Filipino gatherings coz they speak to me in Tagalog and I cant interact as much and just tell them sorry I dont speak it. Even tho I can grasp some understanding.

Anyways, looking forward in reading your posts.


Anonymous said...

I'm in the same boat sistah! My baby really only know words for fart and armpit. Disgraceful, I know. But my own parents don't even talk to her in tagalog so how am I supposed to pass it on? Maybe we can watch some language videos together with mamazilla.

Portia said...

I could have written your post as I relate so well. My parents met in the US in the late 60's and I was born in the 70's. I grew up speaking English because my parents thought that was somehow "better." They used to tell me that they didn't teach me Tagalog because I "didn't want to." I never understood that argument - how can a child be in charge of which language is spoken by her parents? I took Tagalog in college and was surrounded by other Fil-Ams who had the same language experience as me. I have a working knowledge of the language, but I am far from a fluent speaker. (But interestingly - I can read it just as well as my mom can!)

Anyway, I have two children who will only be exposed to Tagalog throuh their Lolos and will probably only learn cuss words and commands. It breaks my heart.

I'm so glad I found this blog.

xiaolin momma said...

welcome to the group! As I have moved away from my parents, my tagalog has gotten pretty rusty, so I worry about that too! Where are the tagalog language schools for kids that the koreans, vietnamese and chinese folks have so wisely put together?

Irene said...

Ha, ha, ha - I just called someone in traffic Tanga. My Tagalog is mixed up with Pangpangan.

maria said...

It sure is tough being able to understand what's being said and not be able to express yourself in the same language. I was already in my 30's when I came here so I did not have that problem and my kids are both teenagers and can speak both English and Tagalog well. My problem is more with Mexicans speaking to me in in their language and expect me to understand them. Maybe we can have a "teach yourself filipino" category and we can all contribute something.

mj aka sugarmama said...

Welcome Mom2Amara!

One thing I'm really happy about is that my parents made sure we learned Tagalog. I may be lost when it comes to slang words...but for the most part, you won't be able to sell me without my knowing.

Unfortunately, I have not been very good with teaching my kids. Sure I try to teach them some words..but I'm very inconsistent. The fact that my husband and I only talk English with each other makes it even more difficult. My kids also go to a Chinese Elementary school where they are submerged in learning Cantonese (My husband's native tongue) and Mandarin in reading and writing. And they also have a Spanish Curriculum that somewhat helps me introduce more Filipino words. I really need to get in the ball game because they are absorbing everything like a sponge! Bad Mama! Bad Mama!

Karmela said...

The two Tagalog phrases that my mom taught me and that my kids will definitely learn, untranslated:

1. "Huwag kang tatanga-tanga!" (Rough translation: "Don't act like you're stupid," or "Don't act like you don't know what you're doing!")

2. "Huwag mong itutulog and bakasyon mo!" (Literal translation: "Don't sleep away your vacation!" Rough translation: "This is an expensive trip! Get outta the hotel and see something!")