Tuesday, August 7, 2018

From the archives (03-11-2014) -- from the depths of my computer and my black heart, and my pinhead

This is unsolicited advice. This is intended for people who had to use lingua franca to communicate with each other. This is useful to people who are dancing the mating dance, but with so much difficulty because one is hearing a cha-cha while the other thinks he has to grind to the rhythms of hip-hop and all the time they had to dance to “Careless Whisper”. Yes, especially people who are still at the courting stage via the interwebs. Or maybe married couples who spoke different mother tongues, we are sure that for some it is not yet too late.  

If you are reading this, take with a grain of salt, or sugar if you prefer. But then again there are things that get better paired with soy sauce or fish sauce or naturally fermented vinegar. Yes! Do! We are writing this with biased eyes but with utmost honesty.

If you have a lick of sense, you can stop reading right here.

I am good with the English language. My grammar is above average. My spelling is excellent. I could do both sides of the Atlantic, but my computer insists on British spelling. My comprehension is outstanding. My vocabulary is extensive. While I was asleep drooling and snoring during maths lessons, I was only ever so slightly bored and sleepy during grammar and reading. A lot of things had gotten through. If you doubt any of these assertions, then that is because you are a native English speaker but you can't spell to dispel an idiot's spell. And if my head starts spinning because you use obscure idiomatic expressions, very high level of iron, y, and enviable metaphors, I revert to my dialect. Mind you it is not your ordinary regression; I suddenly speak the vernacular that does not contain any word that is Spanish derivative. Anyway, my overall Academic IELTS is 7.5, so, there...

My mother tongue is Cebuano. It is the language spoken by the people of the islands of Cebu and neighbouring islands in the Visayas and Mindanao. There are many variations of it. The basic difference is in vocabulary. As revealed earlier, I am very good at it. If you doubt that, then learn Spanish. And then compare it with contemporary Cebuano. I am not some new generation, lost even in her culture. I may not be true blue Cebuano because I was born in Mindanao, but I was educated in Cebu. And my mother is Cebuana. I know the place. I have walked even the narrowest and most dinghy alleys of it. I know its people. I love talking to the kinds that are called ‘salt of the earth’.

And my other credential is that I have for the last five or six years talked on and off to an alien. The white dude and I talked for two to three months and off for six to nine months. I really have no idea the lengths of these on’s and off’s. He is my exclusive. I am not his. So it is like being betrothed or married to him only that he does not know it. I may be a little more than a bit in love with him. There is definitely no love from the other side.

I only talked to him in the first place because he had already been vetted by my brother. I still talked to him because he was (mind the tense) the least obnoxious of all the foreigners I tried chatting with. Least obnoxious being that he was content not to see me on camera all the time. He still talked to me because “something about you I continue to cling to”. I think he wanted to make me whole again. I am damaged and beyond repair. Or at the very least, he wants me believe in God again. I have over-analysed him the last year. I have finally stopped. It was exhausting. It was even more energy-draining when you are made to compete with women you have no desire to compete with.

We are on off now. I think. 

Now, then, why we give you this unsolicited advice. Argh! We’ve lost it while writing that introduction…


  1. Learn the mother tongue of each other.


It will bring you closer. It would prevent misunderstanding. It would keep each one of you from feeling betrayed every time the other starts speaking in tongues. It would strengthen your bond.  

If the boy or man you are interested in lives in Iran, and you know that he speaks Urdu, do not insist on learning Farsi simply because that is the predominant language. Unless of course, you are seducing another guy who happens to speak Farsi, then go ahead. But please, learn Urdu too. Nothing says “I value you” more than learning their language.

Let us make “me” an example to be clearer. If you are interested in me and I have reiterated a million times that my first language is Cebuano, do not for the love of the Gods and Goddesses of the Much Misunderstood Palindrome learn to speak Tagalog. Yay!

While I will be able to understand and speak to you in it, it is not me. If I have to be very honest about it, Tagalog would be my third language. English is my second language. We were taught English before we were sent to school. We learn Tagalog in school. Tagalog is never spoken at home. We speak Cebuano, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, even beyond death.

Although to feel a bit posh during better times we speak English at home some of the time. But I don’t sigh and say to my dearly departed paternal grandmother “Oh Grandmama, I sorely miss you. I wish I could talk to you right now.” I would instead say as I always do “Maayo unta ‘La og buhi pa ka aron makatambag unta ka nako.” She died when I was eighteen. My English was good then, but hers was excellent, so I spoke the dialect with her because I was a little bit ashamed of my English.

You would think us rude if my family and I discuss mundane things in front of you in Cebuano. And if there is something sensitive to be discussed, then you will definitely feel out of place. Language has been used and will continue to be used to exclude. Did you know that whole new languages are invented just to keep secrets secret? Enigma? Voynich? 

Besides, the rest of society would not give you the same accommodation. There might be some who would, but the majority would speak to you in English because that is what you speak or in Bisaya because that is what they speak. Another thing and this might be a generalization, but Cebuanos have a hard time speaking Tagalog. Either it’s physiological or psychological, or regionalism, or maybe it is snootiness, but I find many prefer to speak English than speak Tagalog. Or maybe like me, they are more comfortable using English than Tagalog. 

Another example, you’ve lived in Paris two-thirds of your life, and we all know that in Paris it is speak french or perish or something like that. The french is the personification of snotty when it comes to their language, or so my Cebuano french teacher said. But when you go visit your mother in the hospital, you do not say to your native Cebuano speaking mother, “Oh, Maman, coucou ma douce, comment vas tu? Comment allez vous?”

Mag-Binisaya ka, day. Bisan pa'g magpusta-anay. People who are driven to a corner revert to type.

  1. Learn the mother tongue of each other.


When you go visit each other’s country, you will feel safe while in public. You can understand the signages and the people around you. So that no one can make your head literally spin and make you do things you do not want to do. It is not possible that you will be together all the time. The other cannot be there to guide you around at all times. Some terrible street urchin might call out to you “Hey, Joe! Kaon ka tae, Joe?” If you know the mother tongue of your beloved, you can retort with aplomb “Ikaw bulingot, kaon ka?”

  1. Learn the mother tongue of each other.

Language is culture.

As it changes and evolves over time, so it changes and evolves over groups of people living in different places in the same period of time. What you read is so very different from what is spoken. What you read might be formalized version. Or it might be text lingo, all abbreviations and barely a vowel. What is spoken is another form. And then there is gay lingo. How she speaks to you in vernacular may not be how others may speak to you.

Some writers represent only a certain group of people. They would represent a sub-culture. The people who speak about the malls in Cebu City but have never set foot in Carbon or Colon is not to be trusted to speak about Cebu City and its culture.  

  1. Learn the mother tongue of each other.

It prevents you from making an absolute ass of yourself.

It would keep you from seeking dubious avenues to decipher the most innocent messages. Why would you use Google translate when you can have a breathing human do it for you? The exercise would not only bring you closer together, it would also bring you closer together. Did I say the hours spent together learning another language will bring you closer together? Besides, it will bring you closer together!

Plus I am pretty sure Google would not teach you bad words.  Bad words are fun to learn. What is a bad word in another language, might be absolutely edible and delicious in another. Plus of course, you can’t cuddle Google while you giggle about the sound of cunt, ehr, can’t…was it? Ah, the Cebuano tongue--gahi og accent. 

It would keep you from asking random strangers the meaning of some obscure and innocent message she has mistakenly sent to you. Or copy and paste to some public forums whole transcripts of your wife’s conversations with some unknown male who turned out to be just her gay friend asking whether you are really treating her well. Or you might have to wait days or months for answers. These strangers might not give you one, ever, because it would put the girl or woman in an utter and untenable position.

And oh, your dick is all over that transcript too. So…

Or once again go to Google especially when Google does not as yet have the perfect algorithms to translate Cebuano into English.

Besides, it is a skill if the relationship does not work out. You could use it is a tool to seduce another woman speaking the same language as the last one.


Update on the dude mentioned above. He is dead. Like no joke, six feet under dead. He died in November 2015 @ age 52. He was what romance novelists would describe as "tall and lean as a whipcord". But he died of massive stroke.

He has never learned Cebuano. He would every now and then say something in Tagalog and I would be so pissed that I would just rip on him. And then his Tagalog were also just so wrong--"Megendeng umege, megendeng delege." Fucker! Some of the reasons he gave me why he's never learned Cebuano were 1. I never taught him. (After the few attempts, I stopped. I was in grad school. I had no time for that shit.) 2. I and my siblings that he's managed to talk to speak excellent English, so what's the use. 3. His talent lies in mathematics and I'll just have to accept that he's just crappy in languages. He's got advance degrees in mathematics and computer science.

RIP, dude. 

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