Why I don’t speak my mother tongue

The following post has been in my drafts since 2014.  I have been going back and forth about whether I needed to post this, because clearly I wanted to at some point. Today, I’ve finally decided that I should because I know some people feel the same way as I have and this may even bring them comfort to know that there are others like them. And personally, I would just like to throw this out there because I feel that since the time I wrote this, I have definitely grown more comfortable being myself and not giving a damn about what people want to think or assume of me at first glance. Without further ado, my name is Agnes. And this is another part of my story.

I feel like I’ve pondered this question too many times over the course of my young life.  I had some more time to think while I was stuck in traffic the other day.  And I found myself coming back once again to this explanation that I think is the most accurate one so far, which I wish to share with you guys today (to be digitally immortalized on this blog for years to come).

As some of you may know, English is not actually my first language.  Tagalog is.  Although, I can definitely say that I am more fluent and more comfortable with English than Tagalog, especially if you’re looking at it vocabulary- and literacy-wise.  I feel like I can just mimic the typical Filipino accent really well, so that’s how I’ve been getting away with it. (I seem to have this strange talent of being able to nail an accent or pronunciation right away.  Not for long though, just in the beginning.)

I always thought I spoke English more because my family and relatives seemed to prefer speaking in English at home growing up, but now that I’m older, they all seem to speak mostly Tagalog now even though I respond in English still.  So I’ve ruled out that explanation–that it was just in our nature.

So what is it?  Nurture?  I grew up with people who spoke mostly English; therefore, I speak mostly English too…?  Nah, I had a maid who only spoke Tagalog up until her second year in Singapore, so I kinda practiced with her a lot those times.  Also, I did have Filipino friends and their parents whom I spoke in Tagalog with whenever I got the chance back in SG.

Then it hit me.

Those Filipino ‘friends’ of mine.  Whenever I tried speaking to them in Tagalog, they responded in English.  They even seemed turned off from the conversation when I flipped it to Tagalog.  I even had one annoyedly tell me, “Can you not use Tagalog?”  And maybe you think it was just because I was hanging out with the ‘wrong sort’, but I also had similar experiences while I was at church or at church events, which are places that you can always count on spotting large masses of Filipinos anywhere.  I got mean looks from them when I spoke Tagalog with the lunch-ladies (actually, even the lunch-ladies gave me those looks), or asked for things in Tagalog.  I didn’t really assume it was because I was bad at the language because they understood me, right?  So I’m left to think that maybe the fact that I was even speaking Tagalog was their problem with me.  But being the proud Filipino that I was, I ignored them because what could they say about me?  I was ‘one of them’ in this foreign land.  They probably had the same story, so who cares?  (Also, what’s really weird now is that I’ve run into a few of them here in Manila and they now speak straight Tagalog even though I speak in straight English to them, because I was still thinking they would get annoyed with me or something.)

Okay, racism amongst the same race, that’s fairly harsh.  And it’s bound to happen, right?  I would simply just resist the urge to speak in Tagalog so much in front of other fellow Tagalog speakers in this foreign country.  This was my reaction because I was a weak and shy little girl.

But guess what?  It wasn’t just my own people being racist against me.  It was also OTHER races who were being racist against me.  This part I wasn’t too bothered about either because my parents had warned and briefed us about this already.

Anyways, the kinds of racial discrimination I usually faced with non-Filipinos was a bit more typical.  One kind was the usual “where should I go on vacation?” questions, to which I usually replied, “I don’t know”, because I myself hadn’t really traveled within the PH at the time.  Another kind was the “can you teach my how to say…” questions, to which I would usually reply, “I’m not sure because I don’t speak Tagalog very well”.  After responding to either of those kinds of questions, they would usually give me a look that said,”Are you kidding me?  You don’t know you’re own country/language?” and then I would quickly apologize before they walked away, probably thinking I just didn’t want to talk to them or something.  There are also those times when I’m mistaken for a race other than my own.  What happens is they speak to me in what they assume is my mother tongue, asking about a translation usually, and I have to say, “Sorry, I don’t speak that language.”  Then they give me a look of disbelief, and they follow up in English, asking what my race is. (Or sometimes they just continued in their language, thinking I was bluffing. In which case, I’m obliged to keep quiet and ignore.)  Of course, I say, “I’m Filipino.”  Then they look at me baffled, and they furrow their eyebrows more.  That’s usually my cue to smile (depending on their attitude, I would apologize too) and walk briskly away.

The draft ended here.  I can’t remember too well, but I think I was just rambling on and on ’til I decided to go to bed.  Seriously though, racism can be a pain in the ass.  But I have realized over the years that the best way to deal with racists, and bullies in general, is to kill them with kindness.  Most of those people just want to make people cry, or show how much more “powerful” or dominant they are.  And it annoys the f*ck out of them when it doesn’t work, haha!  Since I wrote this draft, I’ve learned to be more accepting of who I am and to not be bothered by other people’s opinions of me, especially when they don’t know anything about me.  And good news, I have been moving forward with my life, letting go of the past that doesn’t matter anymore, and  stepping into the future to continue discovering myself.  (I’ve also become slightly better at Tagalog, though my vocabulary seriously still needs work, hehe…Gotta work around this stubbornness of mine next.)  Still working on the whole “socializing” thing, but I think there has been an improvement.  The memories I mentioned in the draft I now think of fondly, as learning moments and tests that the universe decided to throw at me.  I have been enlightened, but there’s still much to learn.Well, that’s as good of an ending as I can give this one for now.  Over and out.Kill ’em with kindness ;)Agnes

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The Question I Can’t Answer

I’m never sure how to answer the question, “Where is home?”

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Today was a good day

Just a really quick post. I felt like I just needed to tell the (cyber)world how sweet life can be sometimes.

Today was a good day. Not the best, but I felt a bit more uplifted after today than usual.

  1. No traffic on the way to school, which always feels awesome.
  2. The most original story idea I’ve ever had hit me in the head while I was zoning in and out of class. (Very excited for the holidays now so I can start working on that.)
  3. I got the ‘good box’ of sushi for lunch. (Freshly made and rolled tightly.)
  4. Finished my final submission for my Photography class, and ahead of time for once! (A portfolio of our best works in video form, and I even had time to mix the music myself.)
  5. Our team won the badminton championship!!!

And to top it all off, the UV express I rode on the way home just now smelled like raw cookie dough! (That’s good in my book.)

Ahh, so good.  Life’s kind to you sometimes.  Best to just enjoy it while the moment lasts.

Signing off for now,

Agnes D.J.

Exam week

Heyyo, people of the Internet!

Finally back with another post!  It’s actually the start of our finals this week, and it ends some time next week (and then summer break, here I come).  But, as usual, I don’t really study for any of my exams…especially now that I’m taking Fine Arts and most of my exams can’t exactly be studied.  So if I’m not already being honest enough right now, exam time is actually when I am the most free.

Growing up in a country (or maybe I should say continent) that puts SO MUCH importance on school and grades, I often observed most of my classmates/schoolmates being so stressed and lethargic during exam time, due to burning the midnight oil, being too nit-picky with their assignments, mental and emotional breakdowns, and even suicidal thoughts.  And I just felt really bad for them because they’re growing up thinking that school and grades are just that – super stressful and the only thing that will make their parents proud.

Personally, studying everyday even until the day of the exam has never worked.  I get so stressed and so engrossed in all the info I’m trying to absorb that my mind just becomes so….artificial?  Like I’m a computer storing all this info that I’ll probably only use for that one day.  It felt like my humanity was just draining out of me like a running tap. Continue reading

Emptiness

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnddddd I’m back, guys!

[Just thought I’d post something real quick.  Oh, and btw, I’ve been getting so much traffic from IG ever since I put a link to this blog on my profile…cool beans.  Thanks, random strangers who may or may not be stalkers.]

I can’t help but feel that I’ve ruined my life on so many levels, and I continue to ruin it even though I’m fully aware how I’m ruining it.  I just think about things too much, and it leads me to come up with these bewildering and often stupid conclusions.

I wish it could stop.  I wish I could stop.  I wish everything would JUST.  STOP.  I need to take a breather…from life.  Not even long weekends and holidays give me the rest I need anymore.  I feel like everything is just so draining. Continue reading

Interviewed by the Dean

Hey everyone!

I’m just getting back into the swing of things.  As usual, I’ve always treated this blog as a sort of confessional online journal of my life. I  always come back to this when something has bothered/been bothering me; hence, here I am. Continue reading

Losing Focus (Update)

Hey, hey! What’s up, everyone?

I know, I know.  It’s been a long while.  Sorry about that…again.  It seems like I just can’t shake the old habit of never finishing anyth

Speaking of, I started multiple (and kind of ambitious) art projects near the end of 2015 and at the very beginning of 2016.  First, I started not one, not two, but THREE new art journals sometime before Christmas break.  I messed up one, so it was down to two by the time school closed for the Christmas break.  One of them was going very strong, inspired by one of my classmates who was VERY diligent with her many Moleskine journals.  Then school started again and I lost sight of why I wanted to finish it in the first place.  Same with the other one which I’ve left absolutely blank, aside from the covers.  Also during this time, my mom and I worked very hard to get the four different Starbucks planners (which is now a custom for at least the two of us).  I absolutely love Starbucks, and I especially loved their 2016 planners because they were MOLESKINE JOURNALS!  (Yup, inspired by that same classmate as well.)  We got help from my mom’s colleagues, who seemed to see it as a charity case hehe…
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Practicality over Passion?

Hey guys!  Happy 2016!!!

So, I’m halfway through my first year of college and it’s almost time to apply for a new school ‘coz I’m really not feeling it at my current school (or rather, I’m feeling way too strongly against everything at my current school).  I don’t know if it’s because of the people I hang with, who are just so URGH, or the course I’m doing, Fine Arts, which is what I’ve been doing for pretty much my whole life and is honestly getting a little routine/repetitive/redundant due to having come from a specialized art school. Continue reading

Strange People – Part 2

Hey guys! It’s been a while, but here I am! And, boy, do I have a sharing for you!
First of all, tomorrow’s the opening of Manila Art!!! Yay! But I forgot to brush up on my art movements and techniques, so I may not be the best usher(ette) I can be tomorrow…oh well! An usher(ette?) nonetheless 😛
And now to the good bits…
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Strange people these days…

Hey guys! Quick post/update…

So, yesterday, I experienced a lot of lower back pain (again). I couldn’t get out of bed…like, I was paralyzed from the neck down. I was stuck, basically. Thankfully, like the last time it happened, I could get up after an hour, but I walked weirdly haha. So I thought I shouldn’t over-exert myself by walking to school (in heels might I add, which is mandatory at my school 😛 ).

Anyways, I read somewhere that caffeine is an ingredient in a lot of painkillers. So it just clicked in my mind that all the Starbucks trips I’ve made must have increased my pain tolerance slowly over the years. And God knows how much I love Starbucks, and how often I drink it…hehe…So, naturally, once I was able enough, I decided to go to Starbucks! (Haha, hey, I brought homework so I could chill there and be productive too, okay?)
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