Little Lessons On Becoming Filipino: 3 Simple Tips To Learn A Bit Of Tagalog
Don't let the title fool you, I do not speak Tagalog. "Oh you speaking Tagalog na eh?" "Konti lang." That is what our conversation would be if you asked me in person. I was at a market with a friend and she asked the tindera "Magkano ito?" then proceeded to tell the tindera how many pieces of the item she wanted, "tatlo po." I couldn't believe for all my market hits I had never learned these basic communication skills. It was that day that I vowed to learn konti pa lang Tagalog. With the help of friends, Chanda Poppins, my eldest and the community I finally embarked on my journey of learning (just a bit of) Tagalog.
As foreigners we are spoiled having almost anyone we come into contact with speak English. I know there are a few exceptions but overall on a day to day basis, Manila is such a great place to live because of the ease of communication. Learning the local language empowers you and also aids in assimilating. Learning the local language wherever you are forges relationships and creates opportunities that otherwise could not be. Many people can get by living in Manila having never learned basic communication skills in Tagalog, I didn't for the first four years! Please be better than me!
Here are a three tips that have helped me immerse myself a bit more in communicating with the local language.
Lucky for us foreigners, Filipinos are kind and helpful and they LOVE when people try to speak/learn Tagalog. When you frequent a market ask manang to teach you basic marketing skills.
Don't be afraid to ask people anywhere to teach you and add something new to your vocabulary tank, even while getting a facial. My aesthetician at HOO is my favorite Tagalog tutor!
2| Friends and Family
My eldest has Filipino as a subject at school and is one of my greatest teachers. He helps me write messages to Chanda, captions for Instagram and corrects my accent. "That doesn't sound so good mommy. It is oPo!"
One of the happiest times of my Manila life so far, was when I finally had a barkada (clique, group of friends). Funny enough, my friend Leona is the one who taught me that word and is my kabarkada in every sense of the word. I learned a lot of emphasis words pa and expressions talaga through group chats and lunches with these kaibigans.
Emphasis words and expressions are funny to me because they don't always have a specific meaning, people just know they add an emphasis. For example, naman - that is an emphasis to reinforce, pala - is an emphasis to indicate revealed information.
This is what a group chat with my FILIPINAS LOOKS LIKE, BITS OF TAGALOG HERE AND THERE. SLOWLY, I HAVE ACQUIRED EMPHASIS AND EXPRESSION PHRASES TO THROW IN.
3| Radyo/TV/Social Media
"Doot doot lub radyo!" I can still remember to this day the jingle of a radyo station from 2009. We rode taxis for the whole year of 2009-2010 and I can hear the beeps from Interaksyon in my mind as I type this. The local sounds become familiar and add to the context of a language, all you have to do is listen. So, turn on those telanovels and the radyo and start listening.
LISTENING TO THE RADYO OR PERHAPS WATCHING TV IN THE UBER EXPOSES ONE TO THE LOCAL LANGUAGE NATURALLY AND CAN BECOME ROUTINE AND FAMILIAR.
And don't forget that Filipinos love a good play on words! So, if all else fails just make a joke about the rain (ulan) including 'Julanis Morrisette' or say 'pak ganern' when something is awesome and you are off to a good start.
*Felt board from Lettergram Ph.