Are you less Filipino if you lose your accent?

Sunny Vergara, in his American Pop blog, writes about how he doesn’t like losing his Tagalog accent. The implication in his post was that losing your accent was like losing part of your identity. He disliked people pointing out his American accent, presumably because it made him feel less Filipino.

I’ve heard this opinion many times before but just don’t buy into it. Why should improving your language skills suggest that you’ve turned your back on your background? Surely a big part of mastering any language is to try speaking it like a native?

We had to learn French and German at School. Aside from learning grammar and vocabulary, the top students tried to lose their English accent. None felt that this would somehow make them less English. For them, it wasn’t even an issue. Why is accent such a big thing with us Filipinos?

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3 responses to “Are you less Filipino if you lose your accent?

  1. Why is accent such a big thing to most Filipinos? Because Filipinos who make an issue with those who can speak English like the natives (American/British) are those who are problematic with their command of the language. I am Filipino but I don’t speak good Filipino, does that make me an alien in my own land? Of course not. In fact, I’ve never been to countries where English is a primary language. Do I sound like the native Americans when I speak? Hell yes.

    Currently, I am taking voice training with native top North American voice over coaches, who require the native level of spoken language skill, I said I’ve never been to such countries. Hear my story. I am taking my training right inside my own room, here in the decent city of manila. Telework-out is the terminology in this new age, thanks to skype and other online services that offer free pc-pc call. Wait, did I just say I don’t speak fluent Filipino? Here’s a newsflash, I hail from the province of Iloilo. I lived their for almost 24 years of my life. I think it’s idiotic if anyone from Manila would expect me to spit Tagalog every time I open my mouth. Now, I am 27 years old.

    The odd thing I noticed with fellow Filipinos, though, is the fact that they don’t care much if you speak Hiligaynon, or if you speak Tagalog with a provincial accent. Well, they may mock you from time to time, but that’s it, they still consider me Filipino if I use my own tongue. But, can they survive the minute I open my mouth with my acquired language? Sadly, no.

    What’s wrong then? In my opinion, (someone has to support me on this), it’s all psychology. People in Manila, who speak Filipino, do not give so much care with folks like me when I use their language with my Hiligaynon accent, because of this theory I now give light on.

    People from the province are likely to be considered inferior by those who came from the capital with the language involved. So, if I am superior why would I go down to the lower level? My point is, from where I came from it’s also a big deal to most if you were native Hiligaynon, and you visited Manila spent months or years there and you came back with a trace of Tagalog in your tongue. For me, it’s not because they’ve become someone else, although some folks show this attitude, but the point is we kind of evolved. Evolution for a reason. Sometimes consciously done. Sometimes it just work without one noticing. So why do Filipinos make an issue with the language again? Simply, because they feel inferior over to someone who can speak the language better. Period.

    I might point out too, there are some factors as to why this inferiority has come into play. Most people may side me on this, there are Filipinos in the United who are now blowing air. You know what I am trying to say, those who feel and think they are too cool. And that they will loose their coolness once they go back speaking their native tongue. These are the kind of pathetic attitude. I myself does not admire this specie. This behavior spells disaster to most Filipinos(I mentioned above) who are left here in the Philippines with the same dream of America.

    I admire Filipinos who adopted the language, and who are living abroad. However, I worship Filipinos who acquired the language, rather perfectly, without leaving the Philippine soil.

    Please drop by my post on for my take on US Politics at this link:

    Thanks a proud Filipino here,

    1. I was originally born in Cebu, but I have lived half of my life in United States. I am proud to admit that I speak my native tongue so fluently, that one would assume that I “recently” just moved to the US if you heard me speak my dialect. Needless to say, I do sound like an American folk when I speak my adopted language, English.

      I appreciate your point of you, and the way you conveyed your story in the matter. I most certainly agree with everything that you have stated above.



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