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

Advertisements

The Question I Can’t Answer

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

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

Arrogance vs. Confidence

Hey guys!

Christmas is coming up!  And New Year’s is just around the corner!  This is always my favorite time of the year.  Time to let go of the past and start anew.  There have been a few things that happened recently that still irk me up to this very moment, and I want to just get it off my chest in the hopes that I’ll feel WAY better after (which is usually the case).

A couple of weeks ago, our 2nd semester at school just started, so it was pretty much just introductions.  In one particular class, the teacher openly admitted/warned us that she can be arrogant most of the time.  I was absolutely fine with that, having dealt with much worse in my previous school.  Arrogance is the least of my worries, really.  After we introduced ourselves to the teacher, she asked the class if anyone of us were arrogant too.  Quite shockingly, they pointed at me!  I was quite offended by this.  Never have I ever been described as arrogant!  Nor do I think I have EVER been arrogant!  Nonetheless, with this bunch of people who I barely know, and who barely know me!  But, being the nice and NON-arrogant person that I was, I shrugged it off and said nothing against it that day.  However, I can never really get over it until I justify myself to somebody, anybody…so here goes. Continue reading

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?)
Continue reading

Stressed. Depressed. But well-dressed (?)

Quick post!

Hey again!

I’m afraid I can’t write too much today, since I’ve got lots of stuff to do for tomorrow. “Why am I writing at all?”, you ask. Well, this couldn’t wait, so here goes…

I’m now extremely ashamed and disappointed with myself. I just feel so embarrassed all the time now…like, I almost don’t wanna leave the house anymore due to sheer embarrassment. ALMOST! I’ve done that before, and I don’t wanna be that kind of person again. I told myself I’d change this year, but it seems like the more I try, I become something much worse 😦
Continue reading

Merry Go ‘Round of Life

Hey guys 🙂

Two posts in a row…so far, so good. I felt slightly better after ranting yesterday, and it reminded me of why I started this blog in the first place. I started this blog last year because I was being put (and putting myself) under a lot of unnecessary pressure. And I couldn’t really talk to anyone about it because I’m a coward. I’ve known that for a while…There’s this thing in Psychology when a person has such low self-confidence that they project it as over-confidence…I think, for me, it’s this PLUS my ego.
Continue reading

HAY NAKU! Agnes…

Heyyo guysss…

Super sorry I’ve been gone for so many months.  School was out for me for so long that I got too bored to do anything for a long while 😦  And now that I’m in college, and having classes again, I’m still feeling a mixture of excitement, anxiety and boredom.

It’s my third month schooling back here in the Philippines, and so far I’ve had lows…and highs…and many many lows again.  I don’t get it anymore.  I mean, it’s definitely different here from Singapore. Continue reading

Finding My Inner Passion. Here’s to the Music students!

Happy Friday the 13th! (The second one of 2015 actually…)
(Just f.y.i., ’13’ just happens to be my luckiest number, and ‘Friday the 13th’ has never failed to be one of the better days in my life so far.)

So I’ve been really free lately, which leaves me a lot (too much) time to think. And my mind just can’t seem to stop thinking back on the embarrassing, funny, scary, anxious, fun, happy, sad and generally memorable moments I’ve had in SOTA (my former high school)…I think this is what people think/feel before they start seeking closure, am I right? And if ‘closure’ is what I want, then I really have to visit them really soon. It’s starting to get annoying.

Anyways, I brought that up because I started reflecting on my ‘Arts journey’ in SOTA, if that makes any sense, and I realized that I auditioned into SOTA under Visual Arts ONLY because it was what I thought would be beneficial and it was what I was more passionate about at the time…But after just a month in that school, I quickly realized that I may have joined the wrong art form. Why? Well…
Continue reading

Red, Yellow, Blue

Hey everyone!

Happy Chinese New Year of the Goat 🙂 I personally don’t celebrate it, but a significant amount of people in the world do so why not say it?

Anyways, I wanted to share this weird thing that happened to me last year. Call it coincidence, call it fate, call it superstition, call it…mental instability! But this is how I saw it, and you won’t have much say in how you’ll see it. (So sorry.)
Continue reading