Since both our kids are born here in Australia, one common question we get from fellow Filipinos is 'Do you teach them to speak Tagalog?'. Apart from a few words like 'mata', 'ilong' , 'ligo' and 'puwet', the kids speak mostly english. Even if they hear us speak Tagalog at home, they do not seem to pick it up as easily as English. Or maybe not yet. After all, sometimes I do not feel like translating every word I say. It is sometimes simpler just to talk in English since that is what they hear all around them in school, daycare, playgroup, TV, etc.
Recently we made a trip to Manila with the kids, Bianca now 4 yrs and Nico at 2 yrs old. The purpose of this trip was to get them to know all other relatives not with us is Adelaide, that means grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousin. It also meant a chance for us to expose them to the pinoy culture that we grew up with. And for us, a big part of growing up was the food, eating out at the malls and window-shopping. One of our favourite places to eat was Jollibee ... so glad this place is still going strong after all these years.
Back in our time, we went there for the yummy burgers, spaghetti, palabok, and mango/peach pies. I frequented so many Jollibee branches, especially in college as it was a good value for money. Nowadays, there are so much more food variety on the menu including rice meals, burger steak, tuna pies. Also, the mango/peach pies now come in a smaller size, really nice for kids hands.
Another notable addition to some of the restaurants were these great play areas which is a big hit with my kids. The play area was quite interesting too, to see how our kids would interact with other kids knowing that there were other kids there that did speak Tagalog. True enough, the language not hinder them from playing and enjoying themselves.
As part of the meals in Jollibee, they were giving these VCDs for kids on the Filipino aphabet, the numbers and shapes. I thought, wow ... what a great way to introduce them to pinoy culture. By the time we got home, we played those VCDs over and other again, they now memorized the words and dance to the music all the time. A few days before our departure, Bianca even felt so bad when we only got 2 out of the 3 VCDs on offer. With the power of text-messaging I texted all my siblings to be on the look-out for this particular VCD in any outlet they may encounter along the way. After all, there were so many branches all over Manila now. Good thing my brother Teddy came up with the goods one night, and my kids were so happy when they saw they had a complete set of VCDs in the morning.
Now that we are back here in Adelaide, they often ask us to play the Jollibee VCDs again and again. One time Bianca asks me, "Mommy, did you have Jollibee when you were a little girl?" . 'Ofcourse I did, and I loved it! ' (A little white lie there as I think Jollibee did not exist when I was her age). And then we proceeded to talk about our favorite foods - burger, spaghetti and peach/ mango pies. And to that she replied ..."Wow mommy, we're the same!". It felt good to know that somehow we exposed them to a part of the Filipino culture that I hope they will remember for a long, long time. Its nice to know these experiences will be one thing we as parents and kids will have in common. They will grow up not knowing what a 'yaya' is, but at least they know what Jollibee means to all of us.