I would love to be able to speak Tagalog.: Becoming Minnesotan

Patrick Faunillan, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2008. Minnesota Historical Society.
  • Name - Patrick Faunillan
  • Age at interview - 19
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 12.22.2010
  • The Faunillan family at Patrick’s First Communion, 1999.


    Filipino, Language

    Essential Question

    Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

    Assimilation: Does a person have to give up part of his/her culture to become more American?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    There over 100 languages spoken in the Philippines, all of them part of the same Malayo-Polynesian language group. 90% of Filipinos speak one of 13 major regional languages, which each have over one million native speakers. Tagalog is the most widely spoken language in the country; it is a first language for about 1/3 of the population and is a second language for most others. English became common in the Philippines after 1898, when the U.S. gained control of the country. It is currently the main language for government, education, law, science, and business, and other formal settings, and for the publication of books and some newspapers. Many Filipinos learn English in school as a second language; however, very few use it as a primary language.

    To learn more about Filipino history and culture, visit our Filipino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Patrick Faunillan 3
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    Narrator: Patrick Faunillan (PF)

    Interviewer: Lita Malicsi (LM)

    LM: I hear you mention a few pluses of staying in the Philippines, one of which would be being able to speak the language. Do you speak the language here?

    PF: My family does. My parents speak it all the time when we’re at home. My brothers can speak it and my sister can speak it. Some of them may choose not to here and there but they can. They are able to. I do not have the ability to speak it. I can understand it though.

    LM: If you had your way, do you think this is something that you would really like to have done, to be able to speak the Filipino language?

    PF: Yeah.

    LM: Why?

    PF: [Chuckles] I think it would be awesome, for one, to speak another language. I think that’s a really low part in America, in American culture, is that we just learn English in school, in our education. But all the other countries around the world learn English, and their own language, and possibly another language. And I don’t understand why we can’t do that here. I guess America thinks that English is a universal language, and I guess most people know it, but it’s not the only language. And yeah, I have other friends who can speak Tagalog, and they’re in my same situation as me, so I don’t understand why I can’t speak it. But that’s okay.

    But yeah, I would love to be able to speak it, because I think, one, it would be really cool to speak another language. And it would be nice to communicate with other Filipinos when I go back to the Philippines, because some may not be the best in English.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Verb:  To express or convey ideas, either through verbal or nonverbal methods.  (communicates, communicating, communicated)


    Noun: A language spoken in the Philippines, particularly in Manila and the surrounding area.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 2139