The gift of (foreign) gab

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I was in a big hardware store near our home in Sydney with my son Mio to buy paint for some school projects he had to do, and he was remarking about the slow service in the store. He’s been buying his aerosols from there and he always has to wait a while for someone to attend to him.

The surprising thing was how in the middle of the conversation, he automatically switched to Tagalog the moment we were within hearing distance of non-Filipinos who were working in the store. From where we were, all we could see were white Aussies who tended the different counters.

I pointed out to him how advantageous it was for us to be able to switch from one language to another when the need arose. As Filipinos, we take this gift of bilingualism for granted. Actually, many of us may even be trilingual since we not only speak English and Tagalog but also a regional language, like Capampangan, Cebuano, Ilocano, etc. And on top of that, if you happen to be an OFW in a non-English speaking region and have learned to speak to the natives fluently, that makes you quadrilingual! Whew!

Speaking in many languages fluently is not only a matter of being able to translate words and sentences. Every language carries with it a unique world view. While we may seem to be able to describe things objectively in two or more tongues, there is a different take on how we perceive the world whenever we switch from one language to another.

Language is borne out of the reality experienced by its users. Eskimos, for example, may have no words for grass or desert sand, but they have more than 30 words for snow. They have precise words to describe snow when it is, say, in mid-air, or freshly fallen, or melting; whether it is afternoon snow, icy snow, dirty snow, etc. The phenomenon of snow is, after all, such a big part of their everyday life that they had to develop more specific words to describe it in its many nuances.

We Pinoys are as extravagant with our many words for rice. Americans just have one word; they call it “rice.” We have kanin, bigas, sinangag, tutong, suman, lugaw, bibingka, and so many more. Rice is something so ingrained (no pun intended) in our everyday life, something we cannot live without, that we have an overdeveloped vocabulary for it (from an English point of view) which encompasses every interaction we may have with it — rice that is sweetened, ground, cooked, overcooked, baked, sugared, boiled, burned, uncooked, etc. And because the really exciting thing about knowing languages intimately is the different mindsets that we are able to traverse as we switch from one to the other. I call the flawless switching we do cambio, as in switching gears. We can seamlessly enter one reality and cambio to another, sometimes even in mid-sentence! It’s like doing high-flying trapeze — so graceful and effortless. When we say, “What’s the address nga?” or “We were gonna go sana pero we got tamad,” or even, “Ganyan talaga ang buhay. Weather-weather lang,” we are freely juxtaposing not just words but making halo-halo out of two cultures. It’s nothing short of amazing.

There are some things that are easier to say in English, and other things that flow better in the vernacular. For example, a Filipino sentence that is hard to translate directly to English is, “Pang-ilang presidente si George Bush?” Try it. You’ll be at a loss. It’s tempting to think up a sentence that you end with a question mark, something like, “George Bush is the how manyeth president?” except that there is no such word as “manyeth,” and won’t do as a substitute for “pang-ilan.”

Often, we think we are translating something correctly until we analyze things at the etymological level and see that we are expressing different realities. Take the phrase, “I love you.” We think we are saying the same thing when we say “mahal kita.” Actually, we are not. When we express love in English, there is an independent “I” (subject) and a “you” (object) conjoined by the word “love.” But when we say “mahal kita,” where is the subject (ako) and where is the object (ikaw)? We do not say “Ako mahal ikaw” unless we are trying to speak barok! In the Filipino reality of love, subject and object disappear and is intimately melded in the word “kita.” Clearly, that must say something unique about our experience of love itself.

Are there such things as a Filipino “reality” and an English one? I don’t know. But I do know that there are two interpretations of the same reality that do not entirely overlap. I think each language can only encompass certain chunks of reality but cannot handle other chunks as well as other languages. As bilinguals, we know there are certain things that are “invisible” or not real in the English domain but are real in our Filipino reality, and vice versa. We are more attuned to the spirit world, for example, and do not bat an eyelash when we talk about a deceased loved one who is nagpaparamdam. Try saying that to an English-speaking foreigner and he will give you a strange look. To many rural Filipinos, time and space are not always linear but experiential. For example, we describe the distance from one town to another as “isang sigarilyo lang,” and we know we are not comparing it to the physical size of a cigarette.

While we pride ourselves on being English speaking, I suspect that our primal understanding of many things is Filipino, and at best, we express much of it by word substitution in English. We mostly use a Filipino sensibility and our mental and lingual syntax is still Filipino. For example, we have no problem taking an English word and conjugating it in Filipino. A verb like “shopping” turns into: nagshopping, nagshoshopping, napashopping, etc.

As a young songwriter years ago, I realized early on how much more visceral a reaction I was getting from the audience when I sang a Tagalog song instead of an English one. The world of emotions I sing about in Tagalog just hits home in a more intimate way. I am sure my songs in the vernacular will outlive my English ones. And partly because of this and for many more reasons (and I know this is controversial), I believe in a language policy that promotes Filipino over English, but that’s for another discussion later on.

Language is a subject that has always fascinated me and I know I have merely skimmed the surface here. Before I end, I would like to leave you with this intriguing question that I hope you will ponder over this weekend:

Why do we speak to our dogs in English?

* * *

38 thoughts on “The gift of (foreign) gab”

  1. Tito Jim,

    My English translation to the following sentence:

    “Pang-ilang presidente si George Bush?”

    Here goes:

    “What ordinal position among US presidents is George Bush?”

    What I can’t find an English translation of is the word “nagtatampo” as in “Nagtatampo ako sa iyo.” Anyone figured this out?

    -JT of Dural

  2. I can’t agree with your post more.

    I do have a hard time teaching my kids in Filipino (not because I dont speak fluent Filipino, it’s because their school’s medium of communication is English) especially they have Sibika subjects, I’m sometimes surprised that my kids don’t understand simple Filipino words.

    Siguro, dahil ako ay pinag-aral ng aking mga magulang sa pampublikong paaralan kaya nahasa ang pagintindi ko sa ating wika.

  3. Maybe we speak to dogs in English because of Rin Tin Tin and Lassie, plus all thos other movies and TV shows, where the main character is a pet or an animal. Although, I remember the Manobos & Talaandigs of Bukidnon who kept hunting dogs. They didn’t talk to their dogs in English. They couldn’t speak English!

    Here’s a POP question. What’s the English translation of :”Sinabi ko na sa yo, huwag kang pumunta, eh pumunta. O ngayon, tingnan mo.” Answer: “I told you not to go to, you go to. Ok now you look at” 🙂

  4. Being a Tsinoy, I always speak to our dogs in Chinese, in the Hokkien dialect to be exact. Now how strange is that? 🙂

  5. This is indeed a fascinating subject and one that has come up in discussions with my ESL (English as Second Language) friends, Pinoys or otherwise.

    The question being: “at what point did you stop having to translate your thoughts from your 1st language to spoken English”?

    In my own experience regarding conversation, I was conscious of first thinking in Tagalog then having to translate to English for 10 years, before my thoughts became “universal” in the sense that I stopped thinking in any particular language.

    Interestingly some of them said they were still doing it, some said they never were conscious of it. I wonder what, if any, research has been done on this topic.

    Funnily enough, I have this feeling now I am more fluent in Filipino as a result of being more expressive in English. Or maybe that’s simply age!

  6. We Filipinos have a innate talent or skill to learn and speak different languages. I guess we can attribute that to our mixed backgrounds and being a colony to two different countries.

    As far as local Philippine dialects, I speak Tagalog, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo and Cebuano. Then of course English and now I also speak Bahasa Indonesia quite fluently thanks to my wife who is Indonesian.

    As you mentioned in your post, there is an advantage for person who can switch to a different language or dialect in certain situations.

    I also talk to my dogs in English. Hehe

    Great read! 🙂

  7. this is off-topic, but i would like to say it anyways…hehe

    i learned about your migration from my P.I. 100 prof in UP some semesters ago. he would bombard us with news every meeting, and in one of those meetings, i remember him saying something like this: imagine, jim paredes is leaving the country. this is jim paredes we are talking about.something must be really wrong with our country.

    i have the highest respect for my prof, and i think it would interest you to know that a very good prof in UP sees you as a national artist/icon/ lang. hehe

    let me just share that my family has a collection of your albums (yung mga multiplex pa nga, pati minus-one). =)

    have a good life! =)


  8. jt–Hmmm.. pwede!

    With regards to nagtatampo, i think the closeest term we can use in english is the ‘cold shoulder’. Di ba?

    sassy mom–I was like yor children when I was growing up but when I stareted gto write songs, I embraced Filipino. I read comic books, poetry stuff, panitikan until I ‘remembered’ it.

    Charlie– YOu are right. I suspect that a lot of the influence came from american media. Prior to that, our dogs were companions but they were also part of our cuisine. When we adopted them as pets american style, we began speaking to them in english!

    singlguy–not strange at all. Chinese are less influenced by american media when it comes to relationships with dogs.

    jaym–I don’t rreally translate anymore. when I use either language, i shift mindsets. We may substitute words but each language carries a different syntax.

    jaypee– that makes you multilingual.

    angel–I did migrate but it’s more of just a hiatus. It’s good to change scenery periodically. I have lived outside Australia more times since I moved here actually.

    I still see myself as a Filipino and will still spend a good ddeal of my life there.

  9. This is interesting.. I’m learning the same thing in my Intercultural Communication class! Code switching is what they call for switching from one communication style to another. And as a bilingual like all of us, I take advantage of it here in the US. 🙂

    I also talk to my dogs in English. My step mom sometimes talks to them in Spanish and my dad sometimes talks to them in both Filipino and English. Does that make my dogs multilingual? haha! 🙂

  10. tito jim,

    yezzz…yun din tingin namin ng prof ko na kahit asan ka mapadpad, eh ikaw pa rin ang pinoy na pinoy na si jim paredes. ehehe

    yun lang po…=)

  11. We speak spanish, filipino and english, depending on the need. One day in the US, we had to speak in vulgar spanish, but stupid us forgot we were in los angeles with mexican joe next to us, thus we decided on filipino-naku, pinoys left right and centre started looking strangely at us. We swicthed to Ilocano, and that got them stumped! What an unfair advantage us pinoys have with our multi lingual talents no? Enjoyed your essays tremendously Jim, would love to bump into you one day in preeezzzing Sydoney! Cheerio!

  12. “Pang-ilang presidente si George Bush?” Di ko alam ang sagot dito, pero maaring masabing Namber Wan siya sa pagiging odatnarat.

  13. hello po!
    why do we speak to our dogs in english?…
    because when we train daw po our pets, it’s easier for them to understand mga simple (one-two) word command, like -sit, jump, roll over, play dead, high five…nabasa ko po, pero di ko na po matandaan kung saan.
    have a nice day po!


    my kiddo loves your songs, especially yung Batang-bata ka pa 🙂

  14. noemi–Sounds logical but am afraid it’s not true actually. Germans, Chinese, Italians and other nationalities talk to their dogs in their own language. It was our colonial experience that did it for us. That’s why we talk to our dogs in english.

  15. The problem with trying to find exact translations for Pinoy words and phrases like “nagtatampo” is that we fall into the trap of assuming that people from different parts of the world have the same thinking processes – well, they don’t…as Jim pointed out. The true mark of being bi/tri/quadri-lingual is that you don’t do the translation in your head anymore, you just assume the mindset of the language that you are speaking (also pointed out by Jim).

    Depending on the gravity of the “tampo”, one might say: (a) You’re not being nice (b) You hurt my feelings (c) You really pissed me off! or even (d) Go to h-ll!.

    If we persist in doing literal translations, then we come up with things like “What ordinal position among US presidents is George Halaman?” Now, who the heck would ever really say anything like that in a real-life conversation?

  16. Wittgenstein once said that language is thinking and thinking is language, all else is silence. indeed, how do we make sense of the world of ideas if we cannot assign symbols to represent them? how do we dissect them minutely if we cannot even name them?

    i do agree with what you said about language reflecting the reality and culture around us. the concept of “tampo” for instance, doesn’t have a direct translation in any other language precisely because it is a filipino concept. to hold a grudge or to become angry at someone does not come close to describign this concept. We don’t make “tampo” with someone we dont’ like. There should always be some sort of relationship between you and the person you hold a “tampo” on. And that’s purely filipino.

    as to being bilingual, i think our race is gifted with very flexible tongues. Whenever I speak French, native French speakers always say that I don’t have a foreign accent. I’m sure that’s true for most filipinos. we effortlessly blend in, linguistically, that is.

  17. Bakit in English? Most likely has to do with our colonial history? Why do we speak in English when we want to impress upon a point or simply why does a better spoken English get the job over my bamboo. Do we still have a love affair for imported goods? Is something foreign always better? When did we start having dogs for pet? Excuse my ramblings…

  18. i know i’d get crucified for saying this, but we’re not as unique as we all seem to think when it comes to speaking different languages. every minority in a foreign land would at least be bi-lingual. and these days, after living overseas for a number of years, and meeting people from different cultures, i’ve realised that we are not the best english speakers (from a non-english speaking country) in the world. but does that matter? why are we so obsessed by it?
    i’m not being un-pinoy. it’s just reality.

  19. Dont worry anonymous, I dont think you would be crucified for your last post. I agree that we are not the best english speakers(coming from a non-anglo background anyway), and I do agree that being bilingual is no biggie at this age of cross migration yadi yadi yada. However the advantage we possess is our knowledge of Filiono, which is based on the Malay language, and yet uses on a daily basis, a few hundred spanish, chinese and english words. Perhaps thats why we learn foreign languages more easily, especially malay or latin based languages. Did I make sense? Naku ewan ko na, I lost the train of thought I had just before I started typing this. Cheers all anyway…

  20. “we fall into the trap of assuming that people from different parts of the world have the same thinking processes”

    In light of the above, hasn’t anybody noticed that there is no literal Tagalog word for “efficiency”.

    That little factoid, little as it may be, seems to explain a lot about our society. 😉

  21. Benign0 – tinamaan mo ang pako sa ulo!

    Jim himself highlights the experiential nature of the language when he tells us about distance being “isang sigarilyo”.

    I guess that’s my point when I describe English as being more “relevant” in this age. Notions of “efficiency” just don’t rate high in what we as a culture value.

    Our language describes us as much as we use it to express ourselves.

    Like music.

    I gave an English friend a CD of Angelo Favis, playing traditional filipino music on classical guitar. I said to him, that music is “us”. It’s simple, melodic, sweet, and not too sophisticated.

    Getting back to point, that’s why I fear the Filipino language, much as I would like it to grow, can’t meet needs of modern discourse. Filipino is a language bounded by our heritage and perspective.

    Just as we would end up with the tortured (but fair) translation of “pang-ilan” to “ordinal position”, we would have an equally convoluted path from “efficiency” to whatever it is…..

    The great aussie mantra of “she’ll be right” is very naturally “puede na iyan”. But efficiency????? What’s that?

  22. Cocoy, Benign0, et al.

    Yes each language has a way of expressing itself and people who speak different languages have different thought process.

    It’s all hunky dory if we communicate with Filipinos alone. But what with cross-culture friendships and relationships? For example, how do I explain to my Spanish-speaking Colombian sister-in-law in English what “tampo” is? I can use the words “aloof”, “cold shoulder”, “sulking” but I still can’t hit the bullseye. I guess this is because “tampo” has different contexts.

    BTW, “pang-ilan” can also be “ordinal place” or “ordinal rank.” I hope those translations are less tortured. 🙂

    -JT of Dural

  23. could somebody please explain to me why, we filipinos always claim to be “the third largest english-speaking country in the world”? does the whole population of the country speak english?

  24. jaym said: “Getting back to point, that’s why I fear the Filipino language, much as I would like it to grow, can’t meet needs of modern discourse. Filipino is a language bounded by our heritage and perspective”

    jt of dural said: “It’s all hunky dory if we communicate with Filipinos alone. But what with cross-culture friendships and relationships?”

    That’s right. For those who have voted with their feet and now live in foreign societies and for those who remain in the islands but aspire for white-collar greatness in the Corporate world, the reality is that the qualities required to succeed in those place lie not in ideas within the domain of our culture, heritage, and collective perspective, but in ideas that lie in the larger human domain — specifically the domains in which achievement is undisputably clear.

    The sad reality is that Tagalog is a relic of our limited cultural experience and limited cultural horizons. As mentioned and confirmed by others here, the mere fact that we do not have a Tagalog word for “efficiency” is a sad indicator of how little value our society places on such concepts — concepts that more prosperous societies truly value.

    The writings are on the wall – Pinoy migration, Pinoys’ tastes for all things foreign, Pinoys’ (albeit mindless) parroting of Western culture, and the nature of the economic indicators we choose to measure our nation’s development on, shows what our collective development aspirations lie outside of our cultural framework which is imprisoned by “bahala-na”, “pwede-na-yan”, and “god-will-provide” philosophies and attitudes.

  25. Sabi ni Benign0:

    “The sad reality is that Tagalog is a relic of our limited cultural experience and limited cultural horizons. As mentioned and confirmed by others here, the mere fact that we do not have a Tagalog word for “efficiency” is a sad indicator of how little value our society places on such concepts — concepts that more prosperous societies truly value.”

    This is not necessarily true. Nippongo doesn’t have a native word for “coffee”, “baseball” and so forth. Does that mean that the Japanese are backward? Nope.

    For a language to succeed it must be like a sponge willing to borrow from other languages. This is why English is so prosperous: it is shameless in borrowing words from other languages. You have kamikaze, blitzkrieg, chauffer, pizza, boondocks, Imeldific and many others.

    Oks ba?

    -JT of Dural

  26. The Israelis revived a language that was not used for two thousand years when they became a nation. They were Jews from all over Europe trying to build a heritage for a new nation and so chose a common tradition. In a few decadees they modernised their language and now they use it for literature, arts, science, etc..

    I think the reason why Filipino is not as developed is because it is tradionally belittled and thus relegated to non-academic and non-scientific domains. If we had political will and decided to use it for everything else, it would develop. In Ateneo, you can have your math, physics and Philosophy in Filipino. And it’s great!

    A friend of mine took up medicine in Indonesia and it was taught in Indonesian. Like most languages, Tagalog has a built in capacity to absorb words and concepts from other cultures. And so what if the word is not originally Tagalog. Everybody borrows from everywhere.

    Right now,if we had to look for talent in the Philippines, our natural hunting ground would be the Universities since practically all knowledge is dispensed in English. In other words, kung di ka maruning mag-Ingles, wala ka.

    The Chinese, Arabs, Japanese,French, etc. work in a different way. They take what is theirs and develop it.

    It’s a long and arduous road but if we want to see Filipino genius spring out in all domains intellectual and artistic, we need to open the field to the most number of people possible. And that means we have to dispense knowledge and engage in discourse that is open to most people.

    My Literature prof in College Rolando Tinio pointed out that the great divide in the Philippines was not rich vs poor. It was English speakers vs non-english speakers. The ingliseros had access to all the the power and the knowledge.

    That will change if we course knowledge through our own natural languages without the need for an interface like English.

    My two cents.

  27. couple words na hindi ko rin ma translate in english:


    do i have a limited vocabulary or is that more like a culture thing?

    thank you, jim for another wonderful entry.

  28. “The ingliseros had access to all the the power and the knowledge.

    That will change if we course knowledge through our own natural languages without the need for an interface like English.”

    The question however is this: Is it worth the trouble?

    Why bother shoe-horning knowledge into Tagalog when it will be far easier, and more productive to simply boost English-language proficiency-focused education approaches on the masses?

    Instead of degrading knowledge to fit the limited articulation faculties of Tagalog, so that it can be fed to the masses, why not elevate the masses’ articulation faculties by directing efforts towards boosting their English languages proficiency?

    We want to bring the masses into the loop, not force knowledge into a hopelessly limited medium of articulation like Tagalog. I think it is the height of hubris to actually think that Tagalog will ever match the immense body of knowledge already articulated in English. To even think of capturing all of that in Tagalog so that the masses can gain access to it is like wagging the proverbial dog.

  29. hi jim, LOL na naman ako dito sa post mo. my son would speak in tagalog when we’re in sm then switch to english when we’re in glorietta or greenbelt. he he

  30. Because English in the Philippines has consistently deteriorated despite all efforts in education, and Hollywood driven media. Kahit ano pang gawin nila, hindi umaangat ang galing natin sa Ingles.

    At sino ang nagsasabi na ‘hopelessly limited’ ang articulation ng Tagalog? Mga Inglisero na di marunong magsalita ng sariling wika! Natatakot sila siguro na di na sila makakaasta na magaling sila. Di na sila kasali sa discussion kapag Tagalog ang ginagamit.ha ha.

    Content is so easily integrated by adapting words. Di problema yun. Pati kano ginagawa yun. Where do yo think ‘boondocks’ came from? Ganyan lalago ang ating wika.

    Kung nasubukan mong mag-aral ng isang sem lang ng Philo sa Ateneo, makikita mo na kayang talakayin ng wikang Pilipino ang mga konseptong malalim na galing kina Kierkegard, etc. At ang kapansin-pansin ay lumilitaw ang pananaw na kakaiba kapag Pilipino na ang ginagamit. Nakakadagdag tayo sa discurso ng Pilosopiya ng mundo mula sa ating sariling karanasan.

    The Chinese, the Japanese present themselves to the world as they are. They carry within them a theme of who they are. Tayong mga Pinoy ay masayadong nakikibagay kaya ang labnaw ng dating natin.

    Knowledge will always be elitist if you have to learn another language first to gain it.

    It’s not too late to do it. We’re not getting anywhere with English anyway. Sure, we can man call centers and live in countries like Aus and the US, etc.. But we haven’t added to world literature, or science or any other body of knowledge in any massive scale like the other cultures who speak in their own language. Why? Because english is not our own language and very few of us will ever break the linguistic, cultural barrier with any new, great, life-changing original thoughts that will thrill the world. And the few that do end up not being understood by fellow Pinoys.

    Noli Me Tnagere, dubbed as the great Filipino novel which was written in Spanish could not be appreciated in the country until it was translated into Tagalog.

    If you BenigZERO accuse me of hubris, I ask you to look inward and humbly consider the possibility that you could be so smitten with good old colonial-mindedness. That’s a hard thing to shake loose!

    Here’s food for thought. To be truly international, one must come from a local setting!

    Shakespeare, Confucius, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kurosawa, Solzhenitzyn, all of them used their language and spoke of stories from their culture to talk to the world.

    Even the Blacks in America despite all their exposure to American English and education feel the need to express themselves differently. And that is how they have made their mark.

    And by the way, naniniwala ako na dapat pa rin ituro ang ingles sa mga paaralan as a subject pero ang medium of instruction sana ay Pilipino.

    Yun lang!

  31. “We’re not getting anywhere with English anyway. Sure, we can man call centers and live in countries like Aus and the US, etc.. But we haven’t added to world literature, or science or any other body of knowledge in any massive scale like the other cultures who speak in their own language. Why? Because english is not our own language and very few of us will ever break the linguistic, cultural barrier with any new, great, life-changing original thoughts that will thrill the world.”

    Nobody here said that our fixation on tagalog was the only reason that we remain a failed society.

    As I said before, our language is merely a reflection of what our society is capable of. The Japanese for example have a a huge body of creative and scientific literature — as do the French, Germans, Italians, Russians, and the Chinese — ALL written in their native languages. That is because these societies beyond whatever language they choose to use, have an inherent quality that drives them to succeed and achieve.

    The ironic thing about what you said “We’re not getting anywhere with English anyway” in argument against what I say is that it is in fact true. We turned a world-class tool for achievement — the English language — into nothing more than a tool to provide nothing more than increased labour-added-value to human progress.

    Other societies have used their newly-acquired English language faculties to write scientific papers and contribute to the collective intellect of humanity.

    So if we can’t even exploit the advantages that our English proficiency gave us, what makes us think that withdrawing into our comfort zone — the comfy limited world of Tagalog-articulated ideas — will get us anywhere either?

  32. Hi

    It’s only now that I happened to read through your blog again. It is weird, one of the blogs I read happen to have almost the exact entry as yours…very very similar, with exact wordings. *sigh*

    i like this entry though.

  33. Great insight on language & culture sir.

    For what it’s worth, I’m an English spreaking Australian who happens to love the Philippines, & I believe mandating English in the Filipino schools etc is a big mistake.

    Encouraging better English learning is fine – in fact encouraging better learning of all things is even better – but Tagalog should remain the national language & hence the language of education & national communication in the Philippines.

    Jim, wouldn’t it be great if the newly added Tagalog words included ones that meant “don’t sell your vote”, “red lights are for stopping”, & “save your money for a rainy day” etc.

    I’m trying very hard to learn Tagalog. When I asked my wife (Ilongga) what “ewan” meant, she said “I don’t know”. I said “what do you mean you don’t know, you know a lot of Tagalog”. It took about 5 mins for her to get across to me that she was telling me what “ewan” meant, not telling me that she didn’t know what it meant. It was a real “who’s on 1st, what’s on 2nd” moment. Haha.


  34. according to a TESOL (teaching of english as a second language) tenet, there will always be a primary language. i find this true when i made a conscious decision to be competent in the english language to be able to do well in graduate school here in the US (and to avoid incurring student loans). the process of switching to english as my primary language resulted in a decrease in my competency in filipino. nowadays, i find it a struggle to speak in tagalog – but it doesn’t make me less of a filipino kay bisaya man kung dako:)

  35. i love this post, sir.

    i’ve always been fascinated by my being bilingual and the way different languages work.

    i remember one time in lake tahoe, my cousins and i were watching 2 american kids trying to win tickets at one of those midway games. then my cousins and i started doing commentary on them in tagalog, but our tone was that of just talking with one another. it was hilarious, really. then the american kids did not get their tickets! ahay. we were like “ang tanga naman, di tingnan kung may lumabas na ticket.”

    needless to say, we got them. bad. hahah… oh well. i love being bilingual. 🙂

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