In a birthday party Zoe attended last Saturday, Zoe shyly joined the other kids and fell in line to get a goodie bag. Knowing how shy Zoe can be, I was so happy and proud that she tried to overcome her fear and shyness enough to go to the front without me. It helped that Sam, my friend’s daughter, went with her. When the host asked Zoe (in Tagalog) what she would like to say to Cassie, the adorable birthday girl, she answered “Zoe”. The host tried a second time, and Zoe again said her name, this time with a little more emphasis. I had a feeling she was clueless to what the host was saying, as Tagalog might actually sound so foreign to her. So when we got home, I commended her for going to the front and falling in line without me, then I praised her for answering the host. I prodded further to know what the host asked her and Zoe said, “he was asking for my name, so I said ‘Zoe’.” My hunch was confirmed, she didn’t comprehend the question at all, but assumed one thing. I have been trying to teach her a few tagalog questions and one of it is asking her name in Tagalog. Uh-oh, looks like she needs a translator!
Can’t blame her. I used to have a hard time with Tagalog myself. I also grew up with English as our means of communicating at home. When we transferred to our new home in a different place, all the neighborhood kids were speaking in Tagalog. They thought I came from the States because I was speaking in English, when in fact I came from Taft, Manila, hehehe, where all my friends were “English spokening” too. My mom would recall how I tried my best to fit in and talk to my new playmates, even if it meant getting the Tagalog language all wrong (“Halika, Cathy, pasok ka, walang hiya ka, walang hiya,” as I invited a playmate over our house, convincing her not to be shy; this is just to give you an example). Well, with a little help from my neighborhood friends and by watching the old Tagalog movies (was it PPP?) during the afternoons, I was speaking the language in no time. I never did get that good at it and I would still have my occasional misuse of words here and there, but at least I went through school and passed my Filipino subjects without any problem. It’s not anymore foreign to me and it’s not as if I talk “coniotic” like some collegiala girls, haha. Although it helps sometimes that Taglish is acceptable.
I’m not sure how or when Zoe will learn to speak Tagalog, but she will have to. After all, she is Filipino. I’m sure her first few tries will be hilarious, too, but she’ll get the hang of it. I just hope I’ll get to teach her right : )