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How #FilipinoMotherTongue empowers non-Tagalog speakers

How #FilipinoMotherTongue empowers non-Tagalog speakers

Yazhmin Malajito
The Philippines is so diverse that a word in one region can mean something completely different in another. Even in an island of two neighboring provinces, the definitions of some words may vary.     Pretty wild. And it’s just one country. Yeah, okay, with over 7,000 islands, but still. Recently, there’s a hashtag on Twitter going around. People are putting #FilipinoMotherTongue on their tweets along with stories about their first language and experiences with others.  Theater and film actress Chai Fonacier (mostly known for starring in Patay na si Hesus and Respeto) gave birth to this hashtag on Dec. 11. The actress, who hails from Cebu, is openhearted and fervent on the social media platform when it comes to championing the beautiful languages in the country and regionalism. She even conducts Cebuano classes on Twitter—from shopping tips in Cebu to Cebuano insults.     Of course, there are tweets about various meanings of words in different languages. Like libog, which means “confused” in Cebuano, but sexual urge in Tagalog.     There are also painful stories about how having a little knowledge of languages can be a strong tool to spawn a great divide among peoples.     Then there are tweets of thanks for this kind of initiative.     Learning about languages may be overwhelming, but simple drives like this hashtag make the topic less scary. Here’s to more conversations about bridging gaps and going beyond the geographic boundaries in an archipelagic country.   Header image courtesy of Buzzfeed Read more: Why is our national language Tagalog-centric? The way you think is shaped by the languages you know © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.


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