Some interesting thoughts during my German Language Class

I have signed up for an intensive introduction to the German Language when I first arrived in Cottbus. We are now through with the second week of three weeks of training. We have daily lessons which, by the beginning of the semester will be done twice a week for an hour, more like an extensive lesson. I am enjoying the lessons, although I must admit that at a certain point of the lecture of every day, around 2 hours in the class proper, I find myself really just dumb struck with what we are talking about. I make it a point to do my assignments and improve my vocabulary on a daily basis. I am proud to say that I have ordered beers for myself and two friends , figured out how much the cashier says in the grocery, went to the museum and asked the for discounted rates for students to get a special tour package, spoke to the city hall personnel to clear my residency permit and I have also discussed with the local insurance on how I can get additional travel insurance – this has been done with more or less half German, a quarter English and a quarter of patience and guesswork.

Let me share some of the stories I have had with my basic German knowledge. My teacher asked me today what languages we speak at home and I told her in German, “Wir sprechen Englisch und Philippinisch.” explaining that we both speak the two languages at home. She was puzzled by the answer and she asked, “Is that normal?” I said the language we speak is mostly a combination but we are comfortable to speak in either Filipino or English. She found this an interesting response. Generally, Germans would prefer to speak German at home and not combine the two languages together because it will be a bit confusing. There are already some words that are similarly expressed so creating a Gerlish (my own term for German-English talk) isn’t really a fad here.

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Map of the biased world

Another day, we were also asked to show the country we came from and she wittily said, “The country is far far away!” I never really saw it as that far in my mind – its only 6 hours difference as compared to the US which is 12 hour difference to Manila / Singapore but when I reflected on it, maps usually show that New Zealand is in the right most side of the map and the US is is in the left side and of course, Europe is in the middle. We are like on the right hand side of the map covered with so much water.  Most people would here have not met any Filipino, even the woman in Stadtbüro (City Office) was surprised most Filipinos are Roman Catholics.

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Like in Singapore, I have also encountered many questions mostly from International students, why my English is good, and they ask where I studied my bachelor’s degree. I can’t seem to find the right words for this yet and my usual response is that, “We have good education back home.” That conversation usually just ends there.

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I have also been asked a couple of times by the Spanish students if I speak Spanish and I say, “I can count in Spanish. I don’t know if that’s the same thing.” I would usually throw some bente dos, bente quatro, lamesa, eskaparate, and ola in the word list and they nod affirmatively. I am still slightly part of the family.

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Lastly, as part of our lessons, we were asked us to convert a German expressions to our native tongue. Here was the trick conversion that got me. “Was sind Ihr Hobbys? Ich sammle Briefmarken” (What are your Hobbies? I collect stamps.) I actually had a hard time translating hobbies and stamps to Filipino. Finally I got it. “Ano po ang iyong kinalilibangan? Ako any mahilig mangolekta ng selyo.” After writing that, I pondered when I last used the word selyo. It was probably in primary school.

Language Translation

There is a German – English -Filipino conundrum in my mind. I feel that German is my first foreign language. English has been so engrained in our daily conversations as Filipinos because it has been taught in schools from kinder garten to high school so much so that I have associated it with normal conversations. We can’t escape a day not seeing an English phrase or saying something in English. I won’t dare to say it is my mother tongue because I know that I speak Filipino easily too but at some point, English has only become a tool for me to communicate.  I no longer differentiate the medium of communication from my own native tongue. When I speak German, I am like a toddler, jumbling the words together to find the most appropriate way of saying things. I process the words in English, translate it to German and check if it is correct. We have never really learned or possibly created a German -Filipino educational tool, or at least none that I know of. I rely on my grasp of the English language to help me learn this foreign language.

When we heavily rely on one language to learn another, do we consider it a foreign language? Are we a bilingual nation?

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Peace, Party, Puerto!

This holy week, far from our family’s traditional routine to go to nueva ecija to mingle with family and to catch up with the latest buzz in the local elections, i decided to take a four day trip to one of the summer meccas in the Philippines: Puerto Galera.

Puerto GaleraI went there last year in a different beach adjacent to the ever so popular White Beach but as my friends and i planned it, we only have three things in our agenda:

1. get a good dose of tan;

2. drink and party all night, and

3. just get freaking happy.

Yes, after four days i actually achieved it all. i forgot about work and money budgeting coz there was no point in doing so, everything there is expensive anyway.

so there i was, enjoying those four days without being guilty about it. i would not  tell you about how fun it was or how dark i got, thats all so easy to tell. its puerto galera. No need for explanations. What i will tell you is what i realized, my eureka moment when i was there.

The last night of our seemingly endless journey, i, wanting a moment alone, went out of our room to go to the beach. Slowly, i walked, half dreamingly, savoring the moment of ease and relaxation. I sat down in the sand, looked at the horizon and saw the setting sun. Although everything around me had the vibrancy  of the summer vacation and and everyone was enjoying the last few minutes of swimming before darkness, i on the other hand,  was put in a trance of peace like what happens when you mute the television when it became so noisy. I opened my cellphone, went to my song book and listened to “Calling All Angels” (a song that people play during death ceremonies). Everything became so quiet and people started to slow down like some music video in black and white. I felt a certain kind of spiritual trance.

Beyond the moments of booze and fun i remembered that the next day was easter. “Pasko ng Pagkabuhay” as we say in tagalog. As it was said in the PDI, the night before easter is the holiest of nights, i guess that was what I felt at that moment too. It seems that i have replaced contemplation with enjoyment but all the same, i derived my holy week realization.

My life has fast changed over the year that i have been working. If you know me you would know that something has changed in me. Being serious has become my norm. Being a drone of the corporate world, responsible, efficient workaholic. The life that i led when i was younger, the small part of me that i thought was youthful, it has trickled into nothingness and i am left with a dry self. I have to regain my youth.

I don’t want to drift in this world and never really understand what it is to be young and to make mistakes and to remember happy times of sheer stupidity and fun. At the moment of realization, i grabbed the sand between my fingers and realized that old saying that the more you grip the sand in your hands the faster it is trickle, the trick is not grip it but to open your palm and just hold it, removing your desperation it stays in your hands longer.

I made a wish, a prayer asking guidance for my life. i realized that i needed this time, unconventional for my family for a holy week but all the same, a spiritual journey. It became apparent that there was something deeply wrong with what i have programmed myself to do. I wanted to grow older at such an alarming rate and i’m seeing bad signs of what it has produced.

I prayed not for success anymore but for simpler things, for happy moments, for laughs and for childish curiosity to life. I prayed for slow unraveling of truth, and intense appreciation of beauty and the meaning of experience.

By the time the sun reached the horizon, i closed my eyes, opened my palms to retain the sand that i had in my palm  and i increased the volume of my music.

I found peace.

transferred from Friendster Blog written 08 Apr 2007

Comments:

Kuch obsbet@yahoo.com:

nice

A Quiet Walk on the Beach of Panglao

panglao

After six months of working in my firm, I embarked on another trip to the Visayas. After going to Nasugbu Batangas, Bay Laguna, Mactan Cebu, Tagaytay, Puerto Galera, and Boracay since April i headed to Panglao Island Bohol last September 25.  It is quite a charming place where relaxation is the only thing that would be in my mind even if i had to go there for official business for the office. The people, even the owner, is pretty laid back. We talk bout business and enjoy the good food prepared and served by Reggie Aspiras, the PDI columnist/celebrity chef/culinary school owner,  who is improving the quality of the resort’s menu (She is one really good chef, makes me wonder why i never pursued to be one).

I was full to my stomach for the two days that i stayed there and I will always remember that rice can be served in a salad – cold and with grapes and that ube can be eaten in a soup, as chips, as part of rice aside from the jam that we frequently eat when we go to Baguio or Laguna. Very satisfying indulgence. I had to go to the gym the next day to burn it all off.

Panglao, as most would describe it is a place very different from boracay. There is a rustic quality to the place that makes you realize that this is a breather that you need, out from the busy riots of manila. It has a soothing feel where you can just lounge around, meditate and think that you are detoxifying. If you are young, energetic and looking for that hot guy or girl for that vacation excapade, better go to boracay because this place is really meant just to relax. I didnt hear any loud music at night nor see a busy avenue along the beach, like what they have in the long stretch of boracay. What i saw was a quiet beach, high tide, with purple jelly fish stranded in the shoreline. A small reclaimed island was near the shore. Darkness engulfed the beach, except for some bollard lights to give some illumination.

Every time I go to some far away place, these are all that i remember: The touch, the smell, the sound, the feeling. For me, it is a sensual experience, I do not think of my plans when i go back to manila and there is no point in doing that when you get out of the metro. I walk a little slower, dream a little bit more and wish for more days of bliss. Those are the things that get me through this hectic life of mine. I have moments when i lose all conscious thoughts and i start to drift into this semi dreamland of hopes and aspirations; where there are no worries, only dreams of a well lived life. Carpe Diem.

transferred from Friendster Blog written 30 Sep 2006

Comments:

Joel brujahharpy@yahoo.com:

Reading this makes me want to put my arm around your head and ruffle your hair. Dream on.

I am wondering if it was Gabriel who threw out Adam and Eve from Eden. Then it would be Gabriel’s Paradise. The literary / cultural allusion would be beautiful.

Sand and Sun: Boracay Fun

i had a nice time at my “vacation” at Boracay and Puerto Galera. Here are things that I discovered in my stay in these beaches:

BORACAY SHORES

1. the sand is really as white and as fine as they describe it. the beach is crystal clear the    landscape is picturesque. the most fantastic thing happened to me there, two fishes in the beach were playing with me as if they were not scared that i could smash them. i even touched their tails.

2. the people are  beautiful, (ok… not all but a lot)  maybe because everyone expects everyone else should look hot so they enter this bandwagon.everyone wears board shorts for guys and bikinis for girls. shades are a must. sosyalera girls are always around and foreigners abound.

3. everything is more expensive in boracay. i bought a pair of shorts in boracay worth P250 but got it for P 189 because of charming the salesladies but as i later found out when i went to puerto galera, that same pair only costs P120. talk about rip off.

4. it is only here that you will see a gorgeous gal, almost naked and walking in the side streets as if she wore pambahay and strutting her stuff as if no one sees her hot bod. in bora, you can get away with anything. good thing she’s hot. if she were some grotesque creature, it would have been a nightmare.

5. the best thing about all that happened is that its all for free. rest and recreation with pay really makes me say, “whew, this is the life!” If i spent for all the things that i did, it would be equivalent to 3 months for a manual laborer.

funny, my firm might go there again in the next few months for another company outing. it seems my boss has a lot of money to spare to make us a bit more comfortable. of course, not all the expenses will come from his own pocket though. clients and contractors are the ones who actually pay for it.hehehe. The next time i go there, i will be more prepared: i will bring the damn Digicam. (my boss psychologically wanted me to suffer the time i went there. he retrieved the company camera at the last moment he was about to leave. such a spoiler.)

this is getting too long and too tiring even for me to write ( i’ve saved this three times now before i actually published it and the moment totally has passed.) puerto galera stories just have to be written on another day with a different mood perhaps. although, to compare the two, i enjoyed my time more in puerto galera because we did a lot of things there and i had my whole bunch of officemates with me to explore and experience. boracay is a nice place but because i was alone and workinig in the morning, i didnt fully enjoy it. the scene was good and the projected enjoyment was immense but vacations need to be spent with somebody. it becomes meaningless without anyone to talk to and relate your experience.

transferred from Friendster Blog written last 14 May 2006

Comments:

Armand lorenze14@yahoo.com:

hihi.. should that somebody feel lucky or the other way?? nahh.. kidding.. of course, youre nice and cool.

Mako maricon_nueva@yahoo.com:

reading this post makes me imagine how things really look like when you’re there…hahaha.kainggit!sama mo naman kami sa mga lakad mo…hehehe.