My parenting direction, similar to my approach on everything else, is to just be honest. Honesty in terms of what is simple, embodies what we believe in, and what I am capable of. I think about this as a guide whenever I make decisions regardless how insignificant like “what language to use in our house.”
We are really not the English-speaking kind of household even before I had kids. When my brother Ryan and I were young, we learned to understand and speak English with the shows we watch and when we were in school. But I can attest that Ryan, even though we are in a purely Filipino speaking household, is unparalleled when it comes to the English grammar. I am not sure if my brother was just a freak of nature or an exception so I still found myself thinking about what to use when I had Julia.
I want an easy life. And to achieve that, Henry and I just went with what was the simplest and most comfortable for us. So… Iya ended up learning how to speak Tagalog/ Filipino. There were many times that I did worry because all her peers were already fluent in English and Iya was not. I just trusted what the psychologists and social scientists say which was to introduce the native language in the early years of a child’s life. Language is part of our culture and teaching it passes on our values such as respect (by using po and opo), how to be careful with using words, our affable temperament, and it just sounds sweeter. It is very difficult to sound rude with the Filipino intonation. There is nothing more endearing than to hear her use “Nanay at Tatay”.
Now that Julia is already 9, I can safely say that it is not just my exceptional brother, but that all children will learn to speak and understand English. They will be taught in school, through watching TV shows, the internet, with the books they will read, and their interaction with other kids. As for Filipino, she will only learn this from us, her relatives, and her Filipino and Social Studies subjects. I would like to give my kids the chance to be bilingual (or even more) in the truest sense. That they can converse and express their ideas clearly for both languages.
I am not ashamed to speak Filipino. It is my native tongue. And even if I came from any part in the Philippines, I will still continue to speak our language and preserve our culture.
Napakagandang pakinggan ang ating sariling salita.