I AM fortunate to have been married to a Filipina now for over 17 years. We have two children, both in their late teens. Since I was 18, I developed an interest in the Philippines and Filipino people.
This stemmed from my love of the theatre and in particular Miss Saigon. I quickly discovered that the lead cast were Filipino and decided to travel to Manila to meet with Monique Wilson who I admired. I guess, I could have married somebody from the same country as me, however as I had a passion for the country, it made perfect sense to marry and settle down with someone from the country I was so passionate about.
Raising children in the UK or indeed anywhere isn’t easy. There isn’t a manual on how to be a parent. When you buy a car, house, electrical equipment or anything else, there are clear instructions on how to operate it. With children, I guess it’s natural instinct, combined with what we have learnt from our parents or indeed advice from maybe friends or relatives.
With that in mind, we, like I suspect many other parents got plenty of advice on how or how not to bring up our children. I had always wanted our children to be able to speak Tagalog fluently. I believe this is very important. Sadly however, neither of our children can speak it. I guess the best advice I could give to parents where one of the parents is not Pinoy, is for the parent who is, to speak as much Filipino as possible to the children at a young age, maybe for the children to go back home or even live in the Philippines for a year or so.
However the question is, when? If they are very young at the time of going back to the Philippines, they would probably forget it all. If they are over 9, this would affect their education in the UK. The Philippines has an American style education with words spelt the American way. This would be highly confusing for children. I guess the alternative would be to send them to a British school in the Philippines; again there wouldn’t be much point because they would be taught in English!
I know of so many even well known Filipinos where one of the parents is from another nationality and in most cases they regret not being able to speak Filipino.
I have always believed that if you marry someone from another country you should eat their cuisine. I see absolutely no point in marrying someone from the Philippines, yet refusing to eat the food, not even wanting to visit the country and on some occasions not even allowing Filipino to be spoken in the house. My advice to such people, marry somebody from your own country!
How do you expect your children to grow up appreciating both their British and Filipino culture, if they are not totally immersed in both?
I would be happy to hear your views and experiences. You can contact me through the following channels:
Facebook: Malcolm Conlan
Maraming salamat po until next time.
By Malcolm Conlan