On Teaching Our Children to be True Filipinos

11:34 AM


Today, my children had their culmination activity in school for the yearly celebration of "Buwan ng Wika".  They were required to come in Filipino costume, bring Filipino food to share to their classmates, and participate in various Filipino games scheduled for the day.  What I failed to ask them was if there was any activity for the day that pertains to the use of the Filipino language since it is after all a month supposed to be celebrating our national language which incidentally is also referred to as Filipino.

An Interesting Question

While they were dressing up, my children had a very interesting question for me to answer.  The question was this: If these are the real Filipino clothes, the real Filipino food, and the real Filipino games, how come we only get to wear them, eat them, or do them once a year? Are we not Filipinos everyday?  For the life of me, I cannot readily find a suitable answer to that logical question at that certain point in time.

A Look-Back to the Past

While I was trying to find an answer for their question, I did a quick look-back to my own school days, trying to remember how we celebrated "Buwan ng Wika" during our time.  As far as I can remember, we were also made to come to school in Filipino costumes, danced Filipino dances, and sang Filipino songs.  The biggest challenge however, was the ruling to speak in pure Filipino while in class for a whole month.  The penalty was a 25-centavo fine for every foreign word uttered in class.  If I remember it right, we only did this challenge once but a whole load of coins were collected which were used anyway to treat the students with candies after the grueling month was over.  It was an experiment that provided interesting results.

The main obstacle turned out to be the students' lack of knowledge with the real Filipino language.  What we considered then as Filipino was actually a watered-down version of it, known as Taglish coupled with what was then known as "colegiala" speak.  It turned out that the words we were using were merely "Tagalized" versions of English and other foreign words.  The Filipino subject proved very difficult to learn not because we were fluent English speakers but because of the highly technical form of the formal Filipino language.

Fast Forward to the Present

Our family is a regular one in the Filipino setting.  We speak Filipino at home and reserve English speaking for school or work requirements and for other situations that require it.  It makes sense therefore that my children will find the study of their Filipino subjects a breeze, but unfortunately this isn't so.

They actually find the subject hard, much harder than their English subjects in fact. I attribute this  to the fact that everyday spoken Filipino is entirely different from formal Filipino mainly in construction and choice of words.  The former is quite easy while the latter requires a more detailed study to achieve precision.

My Say

It would take regular practice and use to bridge the gap between everyday Filipino language used in informal settings with that of the Filipino language used in formal settings such as the school.  Parents again share in the responsibility with the school towards this end.  Knowing our own language is part of our development as Filipinos.  The clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the games we play which are all products of foreign influence can all be attributed to practicality.  This however, should not prevent us from looking more Filipino in externals if we wish to.  

That said, the most important thing in teaching our children to be true Filipinos is to help them develop a mentality of love of country.  This will include respect for our traditions, our way of life, and the symbolism which Filipinos hold dear in their hearts.  And so I answered my children: Yes, we are Filipinos everyday, not only for a day but being Filipino extends beyond what is obvious and seen.  You can adopt the Filipino clothes, food, and games as much as you want, if you want, but always be a Filipino in heart and in mind.


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21 comments

  1. Spoken Tagalog is very different from written Tagalog, I came to this realization while learning German because I realized that I speak German like how locals write it. It goes the same for my friends (Austrian) who learned Tagalog, they speak it how we write it.

    I trained my kids in the vernacular along with English and German. Though they can't speak Filipino perfectly, I am proud to say that they are confident to speak it whenever we're home. They try to converse in Filipino and are proud to tell those trying to speak to them in English that they know the language. :)

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  2. In my daughter's school, they didn't get to celebrate Linggo ng Wika this year because of the missed school days due to the typhoon. That would've been a good experience for her. Anyway, there's always next year ;)

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  3. I miss those days. About the question, it as well put me in deep thought. Why is it by the way? Nice questions indeed....and smart kids!

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  4. You have intelligent kids ;) I was stunned with their question too. We should really practice our Filipino side everyday;)

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  5. Its a pity that we Filipinos doesnt wear our traditional costumes often.. only during Linggo ng Wika.

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  6. Na bilib ako sa question nila! But yeah, isn't that something we need to think about when our kids ask that? Good job Mama. :D

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  7. i guess, we really need to teach the value of filipino language to our kids even though it was our usual words everyday.

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  8. that is nice. new generation should know and learn the Filipino tradition and it's their right to know what's the history and culture of a true Filino. You are doing great job, keep it up

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  9. I salute you for instilling your children the importance of knowing the tradition and cultures in the Philippines. They have to know that because it's for their own good.


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  10. I always teach my kiddos filipino words :)

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  11. It is always good to teach the kids our history so they could start to feel being patriotic.

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  12. I may not be using Filipino in talking to my kids but for sure I will instill them Filipino values which they will never see in this foreign land.

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  13. I agree, our kids need to have strong patriotism and moral value for the country this days. lovely Filipino costume they are wearing.

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  14. I went through the same while growing up too. I kind of wish our daughters will be able to learn their Filipino heritage while in school but as they are here they can only learn it through me. When they're a little older then they will be able to understand the difference between my Filipino culture as well as their father's.

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  15. If only my son can understand both language kaso hindi :( The therapist advised us to use one (and according to them English is better) kaya kahit hirap at nosebleed na sige pa din hehe.

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  16. the celebration of Buwan ng Wika gives our kids the chance to get know the "real" and "ideal" Filipinos just like what your kids said. Too bad we cannot do that everyday when in fact we should be loving our country because it is the only one we have.

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  17. In my part, I always encourages my daughter to know this stories. This really helps them a lot

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  18. I miss celebrating Buwang Wika coz we do not have that here in America :-( Despite my kids half Filipino-American, have to make sure that they know about Filipino cultures and they even speak some of my Bisayan dialect. My little girl got the opportunity to mingle with her cousins three months ago when we visited the Philippines.

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  19. its good to know that they still do this kind of activity in school. this will remind students about our culture and heritage. thanks for sharing. u have very cute kids. love their costumes.

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  20. In my own way, I teach my child to be true Filipino by showing him our Filipino culture and at the age of three he already knows how to sing "Lupang Hinirang".

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