Kung kaya nila, kaya niyo rin.

(Translation: If they can do it, so can you.)

I remember watching this video back in Manila last year and I couldn’t help but get chills seeing these Russians speak my native language – fluently, and some with what can pass as authentic Filipino accent.

I’ve spoken to a bunch of North American-bred Pinoys and the common argument for not knowing how to speak Filipino is that their parents refused or gave up on teaching them when they were young. But after watching this clip, doesn’t this excuse make it less valid now? As they say, kung gusto, kakayanin. That’s why programs such as KPC’s Conversational Filipino classes are worth signing up for – no one is really “too old” to reconnect with their cultural heritage.

I’ve encountered so many Filipino immigrant parents here in Toronto that would insist talking to their children in their minimal English. One particular instance was when I was shooting in Riverdale Zoo and a Pinay woman was talking to her husband in Tagalog, then turned around to her daughter and would only talk to her in English. I shook my head. I mean, I guess it’s understandable for first-generation immigrant parents to want their children assimilate into the North American culture faster than they do. There IS an advantage to that. But what’s wrong with rearing your kid with two different languages? Our Chinese and Korean-Canadian friends do it, as well as Hispanic and Eastern European Canadians, so why not Pinoys too? Are the parents or the children ashamed to let other people find out they’re Filipino beyond the brown skin and the Asian features?

I was surfing Youtube and stumbled upon this video of a blonde Ukranian 5 year old girl adopted by a Filipino-Canadian family who can speak Tagalog fluently.


~ by antoniele on May 27, 2008.

3 Responses to “Kung kaya nila, kaya niyo rin.”

  1. i see her face, and i listen to her speak.. and i’m completely overcome. wow. i’m definitely looking forward to the first classes of the tagalog class next week….

  2. oh my that is AWESOME!!! Great post Jade!

    That little girl is so cute and her tagalog rocks! This inspires me to improve mine. I can speak passable tagalog, pero nahihirapan pa rin ako kung malalim ang salita.

    I remember being a kid here in the GTA and being pretty much the only one who could speak the language and most of my parents friends would find it so odd (as if other cultures had trouble raising their kids in two languages).

    At the time there was little interests from my peers to learn, but I’m very happy to see that yearning to connect to the mother tongue and culture in the younger generation.

  3. To me, that kid looks like the reverse version of an asian horror genre kid! haha but yes her Tagalog is pretty damn good!

    I guess we can’t really blame our parents though. Wasn’t leaving the Philippines during those years all about ‘forgetting it’?

    I’ll be at class too, because my other teachers – Aga Muhlach and Judy Ann Santos – just aren’t cutting it.

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