My mother warned that I should learn Cebuano before I come to live in Cebu. I lived with my family all my life. And she’s afraid that my husband (or anyone) would sell her only daughter out if I can’t understand what they’re saying. True in fact, my in-laws rarely converse in Tagalog even if I’m around.
My husband says when Cebuanos go to Manila, they had to speak in Tagalog despite difficulties in speaking the language. In the same way, Manileños/Caviteños need to speak Cebuano when they come here. He further explains the pains they had to go through in school to learn the Philippine language and how tough his former Tagalog employer was when he required all his Cebuano employees to speak in Tagalog when he’s around.
So in order for me to adapt, I took note of several ways by which I could learn the language and speak it:
1) Learn from someone close to you
Ask someone to casually teach you basic Cebuano expressions. In my case, I ask my husband about a conversation or expression I can’t understand and he translates it for me. I ask for the meaning of words I often hear from housemates, officemates and locals.
Just see to it that you ask someone patient enough, especially if you’re like me who constantly forget terminologies or confuse pronunciations and definitions. You wouldn’t want someone to walk out on you and say ‘Ay ambot sa imo!’
2) Buy a dictionary
Head to the nearest bookstore and grab a copy of a pocket dictionary. The Cebuano-English-Tagalog guide is very handy in case your Cebuano friend or family is not around. I bought mine at National Bookstore for 75 pesos only. Browse it before you sleep so you’ll save some vocabulary for tomorrow’s istoryahan.
3) Watch TV Patrol Central Visayas and Cebuano TV commercials
Cebuanos love being updated with current events so at 5:00 pm, expect the neighborhood TV tuned in to TV Patrol Central Visayas. Local news in and around the City is reported in Cebuano. Consider also that TV news reporters speak slower and are more syllabicated in pronouncing, hence you could follow proper pronunciation of words.
You wouldn’t find this convenience if you’ll be listening to a family conversation. Chances are, you’d either be lost in track or you’d just phone a friend later. Tune in also to TV commercials. The repetition of words intended to establish recall is helpful for someone learning the local language.
4) Listen to the radio
The FM and AM airwaves in the Visayas region wouldn’t bring you Jam 88.3 or Magic 89.9. Trust me. I’m missing the K-pop and J-pop segment on Jam already!
But don’t snub the radio just yet! Take this to your advantage. Listen to Love Radio or the local commentators on the AM stations. Do this while cooking, sweeping around the house, or while doing the laundry. You wouldn’t notice how you’d soon absorb local humor and politics.
5) Eavesdrop on local Cebuanos
Yes. I know its bad, but I’m guilty in doing this. Unsuspecting locals wouldn’t know I’m listening because some would know I’m Tagalog. I often stay quiet. But I somehow manage to pickup on their conversation bit by bit. And then I’ll save some terms to ask Mr. H later on.
6) Read the forums on Istorya.net
What the heck! – you might say. Yes, this is serious. You can find a topic on almost anything at Istorya.net. If you Google up something related to Cebu, Istorya.net always shows up on the list. It’s their version of PEX (Pinoy Exchange). And how the heck are you gonna understand? Use No. 1 & 2. J
7) Read signages around you
Finally and the easiest of all!
Signages around the City often enrich one’s learning of the Cebuano language. You wouldn’t be needing No. 1 & 2 for this one. It’s more of using your IQ and common sense on understanding what it means. Some examples: “Ayaw pangihi dinhi.” “Sinsilyo lang sa buntag.” “Load na dinhi.” “Serbisyong delmar.” – Comment if you know what these mean. ^__^