My Mommyology

Learning from Motherhood.

Learning to Read and Speak Filipino


Summer is fast approaching and I’ve been thinking of activities to keep the girls preoccupied for the majority of it.  While a part of me feels that it would be nice to have them home for a change, I realize that a few weeks of that may drive me (or them!) up the wall.  As it stands, there are days when I have them both home with me all day and by the time the afternoon hits I’m ready to collapse.  So yes, summer activities are on the list!

Jamie will most likely take the summer program in her school.  It’s a great program after all, and I figure that she needs to maintain her familiarity with the place.  I can imagine what 10 weeks of not being in that environment will do to her separation anxiety.  It’s also the time she can get to know her future teachers for the following school year; so it seems like the most logical choice.

Sam will still have her ballet, Kumon and probably some swimming lessons if we can squeeze it in.  She is interested in taking summer at Jamie’s school (with the older kids of course), and that will cover her request for art classes.  I hear that their summer classes are very heavy in terms of art; and it’s an opportunity for the girls to be together in the same school.

All these activities are great and will definitely keep the girls busy.  The one thing I’m missing though, is that their isn’t an activity that will teach them how to speak and read Filipino.  My husband used to tell me I should teach them how to speak, read and write in our vernacular, and I took it for granted.  I said they’d learn anyway since we speak it at home, in the same way that they picked up the English language (and a tad bit of the Spanish I’d interject into our conversations every now and then).  I recently realized that English came so naturally because all the books and the TV shows they were exposed to complimented what they heard on a regular basis.  We would even watch and read some books in Spanish, like the ones of Dora for instance.  Yet, they weren’t watching TV shows or reading books in Filipino.  There was no follow through.

So, I’ve decided that for this summer, I will consciously teach them how to read and speak Filipino.  Sam knows a few words from her lessons in school, so it should quite natural to continue, especially if we make it a fun learning experience.  Jamie picks up words here and there but she’s never had any formal instruction.  In any case, she loves whatever her Ate does so I’m sure she’ll want to join in the fun too.  And it serves a double purpose, since Jamie is also picking up new words to read; why shouldn’t they be in her native language?  I’m a believer in teaching them a second (and even a third) language at an early age because it helps stimulate and exercise their brains a lot more.

Of course the best tools to use are Filipino children’s books.  My girls love books and they are a part of our daily lives.  I started my search for the said books back in Chapel Hill, but only a few titles were available on Amazon.  Now that we’re home though, we have access to the wealth of locally published titles from Tahanan Books.  In fact my friend Fran who works there, invited me (along with some of the other SoMoms) to the book launch of sequels to two popular Filipino Classics, Bugtong Bugtong 2 (translated:  Flilipino Riddles), and Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang Vol 2 (translated:  The Tales / Stories of Grandma Basyang).   I thought it was perfect timing and so I went in the hopes of finding material to work with.

The Tahanan Books Paper bag and the book marks with excerpts from each book

The Tahanan Books Paper bag and the book marks with excerpts from each book

Filipino Riddles!  Gosh.  I still remember a lesson we had in our Filipino class eons ago.  The teacher would read out a riddle and we had to guess the answer.  I failed that session because I just couldn’t get it.  I hope I’m doing my girls a favor by getting them both volumes and starting them on it early!

That's Daniel Tayona actually signing my book!

That’s Daniel Tayona actually signing my book!

I even had the books signed by the Author & Illustrator Daniel Tayona (and I have to say – I LOVE author-signed books!  I hope my girls appreciate the value of that when they grow up!).  He chatted with us for a while too and said that he does love kids and loves to entertain them, thus the ability to think up 57 new riddles.  They are about the adventures of his dog named Oskar as he roams the house and the fields playfully encountering adventures and objects.

Tahanan Books gifted us with a copy of the Lola Basyang book as well, and co-editor Christine Bellen was nice enough to sign that for the girls.  The book is actually for older children who like to read about magical lands, maidens, dragons and other fantastical tales, but I was happy to take my signed copy home and keep it for the future.  Besides, I’d never really sat and read the stories of Lola Basyang myself, so maybe I’d take a crack at it (and improve my Filipino along the way!).

Fran brought other copies of the titles that they carry (and of course I happily purchased them all) – simple Filipino books that Sam and Jamie can appreciate and follow as beginners.  I’ve shared them with the girls and we alternate the books with some of the favorite English ones we read at night.  Sam will work through a few of the bugtongs (riddles) in front of the mirror — because the answer key is an upside-down mirror image.  She also tries to guess what each word means based on the illustration and her current Filipino vocabulary.  Jamie is picking up a few words and phrases along the way, but hopefully she too will appreciate reading the material.  In any case, it gives me a good jump off point for how or what our fun Filipino home lessons will be this summer, and I’m suddenly quite excited about it!  Wish me luck! 🙂


Bugtong Bugtong 2 and Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang are all available at National Bookstore, Powerbooks and Fully Booked branches.  You can also visit the Tahanan books website for these and other interesting titles.

Author: mymommyology

I am the mom that I am because of my two wonderful little girls. They teach me everyday.


  1. also…Lola Basyang is related to your girls (and my boys)!

  2. WOW! Your girls are related to Lola Basyang? 🙂

  3. Thought the girls might get a kick out of that. And in HS, they might think it’s cool to find out that they’re also related to the Women of Malolos that Rizal wrote a famous letter to. 🙂

  4. Your girls should speak to Y. She speaks Filipino, a little English lang because I figured naman she’ll learn English in school and from the TV shows she watches. This summer, I’ll teach her Chinese!

  5. Pingback: Summer Shenanigans |

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