Category Archives: Teaching Tagalog

College Friends

Kaibigan is the Tagalog word for friend.

Magkaibigan tayo.  (We are friends.)

The root word is ibig meaning like, or fond.

Ibig kong lumangoy.  (I like to swim.)

One of my very good friends got married this weekend.  Our little tight-knit group, now scattered all over the globe, has decided to celebrate this special occasion by gathering for a buddymoon (or honeymoon with friends).

Our friendship started back in college. For four years, we encouraged each other to have fun and be successful in school. We learned very early when to study and study hard (!) and when to kick back and party.

After graduation, we went our separate ways—some left the country, others pursued further education, one went to law school, and one pursued her passion for cooking.

Now a couple of decades later, during the very rare occasions that we are in the same time zone, we still recount and embellish stories from long ago  —my favorite ones are about crashing a blind date, being clipped by a tricycle while crossing Katipunan, and getting a wall clock and electric fan from a paramour for Christmas!

We try to meet up in Manila whenever we can, but that is easier said than done. Between work and family, it is next to impossible to coordinate everyone’s schedule.

CIMG0766My wedding entourage

We regularly email each other to share milestones.  Smartphone allows us now to chat in real time too.  And thanks to WhatsApp, we even know what our inaanak (godchild) is having for lunch.

IMG_0238Sunrise in Sydney (Photo by ILDM)

I could not agree more with what we learned from St. Thomas Aquinas in one of our Philosophy classes:   There is nothing in this world to be prized than true friendship.

 Now if we can only agree on where to meet up for this buddymoon.

Spelling for Kids

When should I correct the spelling?

As a former first grade teacher, I am constantly asked when children’s spelling should be corrected.

My very simple answer is:  if it is a word that your child SHOULD know how to spell correctly, then it should be corrected, otherwise don’t.

If a 4-year child spelled ball, /BL/. I wouldn’t correct it.

If a first grader spelled ball the same way, I would.

If a kindergartner spelled blue, /BLU/.  I would leave it.

If a first grader spelled blue the same way, I would get a blue crayon and show him the label, and then have him correct it.

If a first grader spelled mountain, /MOUNTEN/. I would leave it.

If a third grader spelled it that way, I would point it out and have the child think where he could find the correct spelling for it, or think of another way to spell it.

In my opinion, the important consideration is the manner by which the spelling is corrected.  Pointing out spelling errors as the child is writing could be frustrating.  But, letting the child complete the work while giving him praises for his effort, and then going back to the misspelled words could spell the difference (pun intended).

Example:

The 6-year old child writes in the grocery list:  meetballs

Parent:  I see you spelled meat, M-E-E-T.  You are right, meet is spelled that way.  But that meet means when a group of people gather together to discuss something, like in a meeting.

What other ways can you make the long E sound, like in the word /meat/?

At this point the child can say, add /e/ at the end of the word,  like Pete; or /ea/ like in the word read.

Then, you can write the two ways and ask him which one looks right, or you can simply say that the second one is the correct spelling.

Four, Five, Six, and Seven-year olds are just learning that they can actually put their thoughts into writing.  They can write notes, make lists, and create stories that relay information and contain ideas.  These creative pieces are extensions of themselves.

Interest to write should be encouraged first, and then spelling, grammar and syntax follow next.

As a teacher (as a mom, too) I would rather be handed a piece of writing riddled with misspelled words, than not to have any piece of writing at all because my child is worried that words may not be spelled correctly.

IMG_2377My daughter’s writing at 4

IMG_1775At 5, an advertisement my daughter wrote to teach reading

IMG_2774At the end of Kindergarten (almost 6)

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Spelling is one of the strong suits of children educated in the Philippines.  I think it is because Filipinos read words exactly as they are spelled, without the  American twang.   Spelling is also considered as an important part of the Language Arts block.

WAS is read with a short vowel sound /a/, instead of a short vowel sound /u/.

TRAIN is read as T-R-ain, instead of the American English accent, chrain.

Tagalog spelling is much easier because the spelling rules are simple:  All vowels are read as short vowel sounds and each letter in the word is pronounced except for the digraph /ng/.

leeg (neck)—le-eg

paa (foot)—pa-a

kamay (hand)—ka-may (not May as in the month, but /ma/ like Mama + /y/

bato (stone)–ba-to (short vowel /o/ as in Oscar)

English spelling is definitely more confusing than Tagalog.

Meal Plans

Báon is a Tagalog word that means food, or items packed, specifically for a trip.

Ang báon ko ay tinapay. (I brought bread.)  Nag-báon ako ng maraming libro.  (I packed a lot of books.)

It can also mean monetary allowance for a trip.

Magkano ang báon mo?  (How much money did you bring?)

Báon is also the word used to refer to food packed for school.

Anong gusto mong báon bukas?   (What snack/lunch do you want to bring to school tomorrow?

I pack my children’s snacks and lunches for school.  With the invention of Thermos and ice packs, there is really no reason for me to spend extra on hot lunches or salads at school.

Palagi silang may báon. (They always bring packed food.)

IMG_0127    IMG_0027Adobo wings

Occasionally, I would pre-order lunch for them in school, especially on sushi days.  But regularly, nag ba-báon sila (they bring packed food).

My children know what to expect for their báon.  I post the menu of the week on my refrigerator door for easy reference.

It is not always easy for me to follow through with my weekly menus, but when I do, I feel I am organized and in control.  I have less food waste, I have more time to do other things, and I don’t overspend on food.

Planning our weekly menu is a family activity.  My son would go through the recipe books I have, and then he would choose several dishes.  Usually, I would be able to cook his choices.

IMG_0016Bacon quiche from a recipe book

I would then buy all the ingredients and cook a week’s worth of food for báon and dinner. I would store them in leak-proof tempered glass containers so they can easily go in the microwave or oven.

My daughter would then decide on which days the food would be served. She would help write the menu.

IMG_0113Menu for this week

Something could definitely be said when all you have to do is take a couple of containers from the fridge and dinner is served.  You have more time to spend with the children.

Coffee Beans

My earliest coffee experience was at 6. I didn’t drink it, but instead, poured it over fried rice for breakfast.  I can’t imagine discovering this on my own, so I am guessing that I saw someone do it first:  Kapeng Barako (Batangas coffee: liberica beans) on rice, crispy dried fish, and sunny side up. It was a favorite weekend treat for me.

We didn’t have a coffee maker back then.  We used a percolator, or sometimes just a pot of boiling water where we let the ground beans steep.

Despite this very early introduction to caffeine, I didn’t pick up drinking coffee until after college, and even then it was an occasional dessert coffee. Starbucks and similar coffee shops were my hang out places after a late night movie.  I would make an afternoon trip there too when I got bored working at home.

I still get to sneak in a Starbucks run once in a while

Now, I am a regular morning coffee drinker.  I enjoy drinking it black, sometimes with a bit of demerara sugar.  In cafes, I order mocha, non-fat, no whip.

From a non-coffee drinker 10 years ago, I have managed to be a coffee aficionado where I grind my own beans every morning.   On one of my trips back to Manila, I brought back dalawang salop* na Kapeng Barako from Lipa.  I got a fancy espresso machine for my wedding, so I  indulge on cappuccinos on weekends.

My children cringe at the thought of pouring coffee over fried rice.  I don’t blame them, but I can’t deny that I loved it when I was younger.

Kapeng Barako

Boiling water
Brown sugar
Ground barako beans

Put brown sugar in a pot of boiling water.  Add ground coffee and beans and remove from heat.  Steep for 5 minutes.  Pour through a sieve to minimize latak (coffee sediment).

*salop is a unit of measurement equivalent to a kilogram

Barako is a tagalog word which means strong or tough man.  Kape means coffee.

Kapeng barako is a common name for liberica coffee beans grown in Lipa and other high places in Batangas. Because of the coffee’s strong taste, it got the name kapeng barako.

Earrings

During my time, babies go home from the hospital with their ears already pierced.  I am not sure if this was a Filipino tradition or it was just my own family’s tradition.  But I know that when my sisters and I came home from the hospital, we had panahi (thread) soaked in mercurochrome already looped through the ear piercing (butas ng tenga).

I remember my very first arilyos (earring).  It was a turquoise blue stone that had a hinged-snap back.  I wore it everyday and every night, and never took it off.  They were only replaced when I outgrew them, I think, and my mom gave me something that my grandmother had given her.

Well, keeping with that family tradition, I made sure that my daughter had her ears pierced as soon as it was possible.    I found a pediatrician who does ear piercing (a very enterprising Filipina doctor who understood the  culture and tradition).

At nine months when I decided to have her ears pierced.

Last Thursday, we had an earring problem that ended in the injury clinic the very next day.  The pearl in my daughter’s earring fell.  She tried to remove the earring, but she accidentally pulled it in instead.  Yiiikes! The earring got stuck in her earlobe.

We tried to numb the area with ice.  That didn’t work.  My husband suggested that we take it off when she was asleep, that didn’t work either.  So off to the doctor the next day.

I couldn’t go with them, but I gave my husband instructions–crazy-only-mommy-can-think-of-instructions! 

  1. Ask the doctor if he can try to twist the earring out, so there won’t be any incision.  What?  Can you blame me for not wanting her to have a scar in the earlobe!
  2. Make sure to put in another earring so the hole won’t close.

Well, as you may have thought, none of my requests were followed.  An incision was made, but at the back so the scar won’t be seen!  Very smart, I thought! And the doctor said to let the ear heal and just get another ear piercing in 6 months.

And we thought we could yank it out!

My daughter was in good spirits all throughout.  No tears, no drama.  She knew that it had to be done, and she did it.   I have 6 months to look for a hypo-allergenic hinged-snap back so this doesn’t happen again.

Learning Language

At the beginning of summer, I had a goal: to encourage my children to speak Tagalog. Now that summer is beginning to wind down with me going back to work today, and the children going back to school in a couple of days, the teacher in me can’t help but evaluate if I was able to achieve my objective.

I am grading myself on two things:  the number of new Tagalog vocabulary words that my children know, and my children’s ability to form coherent Tagalog sentences.

My daughter started the summer knowing just a few words.  She can easily translate Tagalog words to English, but was challenged with finding the right Tagalog term for many English words.

She has a notebook where she writes new Tagalog words. In her notebook, she wrote:  Parts of the House, and Parts of the Body.  When she started this activity, she only knew at most, two words for each category.  After a whole summer, she has filled the the pages with at least 10 Tagalog words.  Progress, don’t you agree?

            

Before the summer, my children would only speak in complete Tagalog sentences when prompted.  I would like to think that with my determination (a.k.a. kakulitan), now they are able speak Tagalog  with greater fluency and frequency.  Obviously, knowing more vocabulary words helped.

In the last couple of weeks, they would ask, “Nanay, pwede pahingi ng mainit na (gatas na) tsokolate?”  (Mom, may I have hot chocolate milk?) Not bad.

Last Friday, we were in a Filipino restaurant and ordered Halo-halo ( a dessert with shaved ice and an assortment of candied or fresh fruits and sweet beans, and doused with  milk).  We also ordered the restaurant’s special dessert, Bobo Chacha, a tall glass of vanilla ice cream, coconut milk, cubed sweet potatoes, topped with pinipig.

After sampling a little of both, my son said, “Mas gusto ko ang Halo-halo (kaysa) sa Bobo Chacha.”  (I like Halo-halo more that Bobo Chacha.)

I think my biggest achievement is not that they are speaking Tagalog more, but that they are more receptive in learning Tagalog.  It is a huge victory when they no longer ask me why I keep on talking to them in Tagalog.

Co-Sleep

This is how my daughter’s bed looks like in the morning.  If you think that it looks like it hasn’t been slept on, you are absolutely right.  She only sleeps on it for a few hours at night, and then leaves it before dawn for our warm Cal-King bed.

Co-sleeping works for my family, but I am sure that it does not work for all.

Before my husband and I decided to co-sleep with our firstborn, we researched on the pros and cons.  I certainly loved the many advantages; not having to walk to the crib for feeding is at the top of the list.

I consulted my pediatrician.  He said that a high percentage of parents who accidentally roll over infants in bed without ever waking up were either obese or alcoholic. Since my husband and I are neither alcoholic nor obese, we thought of giving our plan a try.

Co-sleeping turned out to be the best for us.  My sleep was only interrupted by feedings, which wasn’t so bad because I would fall back to sleep soon after my baby burped. When my son was two, we transferred him to a toddler bed we set up in our room, so my newborn daughter could co-sleep with us.  Only when we moved to a bigger house did the children start to sleep in their own beds.

The transition to sleeping in their own room was fortunately very easy.  I tucked them in their beds,  did the nighttime ritual (reading and praying), and then shut the door. Both slept straight through the night without problems. At that time my daughter still wore pull-ups.

It was only when my daughter was completely potty trained that she started sleeping with us again.  Instead of going back to her bedroom after a trip to the loo at night,  she would head to our bed, snuggle, and stay there until morning.  In Tagalog, we call this lambing, or showing affection.  I don’t find it intrusive.  In fact, I welcome it.

I know that there will come a time when my daughter would no longer sneak in our bedroom.  She would eventually  want her independence and her own space.  When that time comes, my husband and I would have lots of happy memories of cuddling with her. Until then, I look forward to waking up to her unique snore and finding her foot on my face.  And if I am lucky enough, I hope to wake up sweaty to find her little arms wrapped around my neck.