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Why I Regret Taking French in College

I've always heard that Tagalog is a dying language. I just never realized that the death of this language can start with one person acting as a form of resistance. And unfortunately, that person is me.

Philippines 2010
My choice to take French in college was a sorry attempt to seem "cultured" and to be a part of a lifestyle that I saw as "art". French is often regarded as the Language of Love and when spoken to in French, one feels as though they are in being serenaded into a trance. I used to consume myself with all-things-French. I continued to watch French films, listen to French music, (attempted to) read French literature, and ultimately speak French. Despite my lack of memorization skills in terms of French vocabulary, my French accent and sentence formation is pretty decent for someone who has only taken three semesters of college-level french.  During my first two semesters, I was entranced by the language, just as people promised I would be. I actively practiced French in the hopes of feeling a part of something beautiful.

It was my mistake to ever think that Tagalog was not a beautiful, rich, lovely, and enchanting language. Who even said that Tagalog is not a beautiful, rich, lovely, and enchanting language? With the mix between the influence of Spanish colonization and indigenous tongue, the language of the Philippines has so much history of hurt, pain, resilience, strength, and love. Who has the authority to claim that Tagalog is anything but beautiful? It lands on the shoulders of Filipino youth to reclaim the Filipino identity and be proud of being a Filipino.

I used to think that I resisted learning Tagalog only because my parents never bothered to teach me. But I recall that when I did try, my family (immediate and distant) laughed or ridiculed me for my butchered accent. I realized that they treated me and my attempts as a joke because I ultimately treated it as a joke. Research shows that Filipino immigrant parents resisted teaching their American born children their mother tongue because assimilation in American was the most important thing in order to get by. I guess old habits die hard. I don't blame my parents or my family in general for not getting around to teaching me Tagalog. It's hard. It's hard especially when you have a defiant kid who wanted nothing to do with being Filipino except for when it came to heaping mounds of rice on my plate.

Me being Filipino is never going to change. It's not a part of me that I can just get rid of. I can't wash the brown off of my skin or erase the shape of my eyes and nose. I never want to deny my culture again and regard it as something less. My culture is important to me because it is all of me. All I can do is just wait to learn more and discuss more, honoring my mother tongue.

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