I belong to a few e-groups on Yahoo and one of my former officemates sent out an essay by a Korean student who had a few notable observations on why the Philippines is in this sad and sorry state it is in right now. The gist of his essay was that we Filipinos don’t love our country enough to help it get back on its feet again. That essay prompted me to write my own take on Love of Country (Pagmamahal sa Sariling Bayan) which I specifically anchored on my attempt to teach my son my native tongue.
(So sad to say this Korean’s observations about our country hits where it hurts.)
I have to admit that the Koreans are my motivation to teach my son Tagalog. You will be surprised how Koreans here are conversant in both Korean and English. My husband and I say: if the Koreans can do it with their children, so can we. I am just at a loss as to why we Filipinos here in the US cannot do the same for our children. I’ve said it a hundred times before, we have taken forgranted that we in Manila are a bilingual people. It came as second nature to us to be able to speak and think in English and Tagalog. I am so proud when I boast to the Americans here that practically everyone in the Philippines, from the cigarette vendors to the bank tellers and department store clerks — knows a smattering of English — and yet so many of us want our children to speak ONLY English, denigrating Tagalog to a second language.
Little do we know that we are handicapping our children by restricting their education to a language not their own. Don’t get me wrong, English is a powerful language because it will get you places indeed. But it has been scientifically proven that facility with languages enables one to have a sharper mind.
Masarap magsalita sa wikang sariling atin. Lalo na kapag alam mong hindi ka naiintindihan ng mga puti sa paligid mo.
This is just but one evidence of our lack of love for our country. My son will grow up an American, but I want him to appreciate and treasure his Filipino heritage. And I am trying my darnedest to teach him to speak Tagalog — he already understands it, but to be able to understand it is NOT enough — I want him to be able to speak it like his father and I do.
Just as I sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to him, he has heard me sing Sampung Mga Daliri over and over again. And I have made it a point to scold him gently in Tagalog, not only because I want him to comprehend I’m serious about talking to him in my language, but more so because it’s easier to scold him about his behavior when people around you don’t have any idea what the heck you’re talking about..
But back to Love for the Philippines — I am done trying to find excuses. It’s a fact — it’s there.. so what do we do about it?