Foreigner Teaching Tagalog: Adjectives, Comparatives and Superlatives

As I’ve already mentioned, adjectives in Tagalog are usually formed by putting the affix ma- before the root word. For example, in order to form the adjective beautiful starting from the root word ganda, you need to combine ma with ganda and, therefore, form the adjective maganda.

Not all adjectives, however, are formed that way: sometimes there are adjectives that don’t require any affix, such as: payat (slim), bobo (stupid) and so on.

If you want to say that something is more, let’s say, beautiful than something else, you need to use the following structure: mas maganda kaysa (example: ang Pilipinas ay mas maganda kaysa sa Italya=the Philippines is more beautiful than Italy).

If you want to say that something is the most, let’s say, beautiful among a group you use the affix pinaka- instead of ma- before the root word (example: ang Pilipinas ay ang pinakamagandang bansa sa mundo=the Philippines is the most beautiful country in the world).

If you want to say that something is very beautiful you can use the napaka- affix instead of ma- (example: ang Pilipinas ay napakaganda).

Hope this helps….


Physical Fatigue, Intellectual Fatigue and Cultural Fatigue

My relationship with a Filipina has taught me that there exists a kind of fatigue that is heavier than physical and mental fatigue put together. It is actually a kind of fatigue that drains your physical, your mental and your emotional energy.

I think the expression cultural fatigue is more appropriate than culture shock as, the word shock kind of conveys the idea of a jolt, like and electric shock, something that lasts a few seconds and then you get over it (if you survive it).

The word fatigue kind of conveys, at least to my mind (I am not a native English speaker), the idea of a prolonged strain and that is precisely what keeping score day in and day out between the cultural differences between two entirely different models of the world is: a prolonged strain, a very heavy fatigue that lasts for a very long time and it drains all your energy.

I like how the “Culture Shock Philippines” book by Alfredo and Grace Roces describes this fatigue on pages 4 and 5: “cultural fatigue is the physical and emotional exhaustion (so there are two components to it: physical and, most importantly, emotional and the book, instead of using the term tiredness uses the really fitting term “exhaustion”) required for long-term survival (long-term survival entails that you don’t just experience an initial shock or jolt) in an alien culture. Living and working overseas (or being married to a Filipina, even in your own country) generally requires that one must suspend his automatic evaluations (for example we in the Western world automatically assume that once you get married you live your parents for good and form your own family unit, we also assume quite automatically that you first pay the rent and the bills and if you have money left then you buy a car and the list of “automatic evaluations” that a Westerner must suspend could go on forever)…and he must supply new interpretations to seemingly familiar behaviour (like getting married and forming a family of your own which seems familiar but the Westerners interpret it in a way and Filipinos in a radically different way) and that he must demand of himself constant alterations in the style and content of his activity (notice the expression constant alterations: this is an ongoing and a very prolonged effort, not just a “jolt”)”. The book goes on to say that “this process consumes an enormous amount of energy”.

I like the expression that a Westerner must suspend his automatic evaluations or, in other words, in order to thrive in this kind of relationship and to be able to withstand a very prolonged fatigue, a Westerner cannot be stuck in his automatic perceptions that are the result of his upbringing and exposure to the Western culture.

An interesting point that the “Culture Shock Philippines book” makes on page 7 is that the solution of the cultural conflict lies, in fact, in the arena of “perception” rather than in a locked battle between irreconcilable values. What this means, as the book says on page 6, is that Filipinos value pretty much the same things as the Westerners (family, honesty, sincerity and so on), it is not as if Westerners have a certain set of values while Filipinos have totally different values as if Filipinos and Westerners belonged to a different species. This is certainly not how it is, we share the same humanity and the same core values. The values are the same, it is just that such values as family, sincerity etc are viewed and perceived from different viewpoints.

And this, of course, calls for an outstanding ability to suspend, as the book says, one’s automatic evaluations and be ready to experience constant alterations in the style and content of his activity.

My granpa was a farmer and in his life he experienced a great deal of physical fatigue but very little mental fatigue, I studied hard my whole life and experienced a lot of intellectual fatigue and (at least when a was a teenager) very little physical fatigue. Since I married a Filipina I’ve experienced cultural fatigue, a combination of both physical and intellectual (and, most of all, emotional) fatigue, something a lot heavier and trickier than any other form of fatigue, this is, in fact, the ultimate fatigue.

Is it Enough to be Open Minded to Live with the Extended Family of your Filipino Spouse?

In this (Tagalog) video I try to explain that, although the Western husband of a Filipina should be open to the Filipino kin-group culture and, if necessary, even be willing to share his apartment with the extended family, his Western family and friends are not necessarily open minded and this might cause some friction if the husband of a Filipina lives in his country in one apartment with “big-family”.

As I say in this video it is one thing if a Western man married to a Filipina moves to the Philippines and shares his house with his wife’s kin-group but it can be quite another thing if this happens in a Western country. Hope this video can help.

Foreigner Teaching Tagalog: “Gusto/Ayaw Ko…”

An interesting aspect of Tagalog is that certain actions that are normally expressed through verbs in most Western languages can be replaced by words that are not verbs in the real sense of the word.

One of these is gusto which is the equivalent of the verb “to like”.

So, in order to say “I (or you, he/she etc.) like…”, Filipinos say “gusto ko (mo, niya etc.)….”.


Gusto ng mga Pilipino ng gin” (which is true by the way).

Another way to say it is: “ang mga Pilipino ang may gusto ng gin” (which is still a valid way to say it…as long as gin is available…).

The opposite of gusto or “I like” is ayaw meaning “I don’t like”. You can either say ayaw ko or use the shortened form ayoko.

Well, this is one of those Tagalog pills that sometimes I like to squeeze into this blog.

Why Filipinos Drink Kangen Water after Drinking (Kan)gin Water

I have noticed that more and more Filipinos who live in my country are buying themselves a “Kangen” water machine.

What a “Kangen” machine does is that it turns tap water into alkaline water.

Drinking alkaline water can, apparently, neutralize acid in one’s body as acidity seems to be related to all sorts of diseases.

Well, Filipinos really put a lot of acidic stuff into their bodies such as tons of sugar, that they consume in large amounts, and in various forms (soft drinks, halo-halo etc.), and alcohol.

As I’ve mentioned many times in this blog, Filipinos are heavy consumers of gin, as well as brandy, whiskey and other hard drinks. Even the beer they have (Red Horse) is quite strong.

And so they need to counterbalance the acidity by drinking alkaline water.

This means they need Kangen because they drink too much Kangin.

Evidently “Kangen” is pampatunaw ng gin which, in turn, is pampatunaw ng pagkain.

Yes, Filipinos need plenty of pampatunaw.

It is just that too much pampatunaw could become pampatunaw ng atay (liver) and no amount of Kangen can undo the masamang epekto of too much Kangin.

How to be Attractive: View the Relationship as Icing on the Cake

Have you ever done some public speaking?

If you have you might probably have noticed an interesting phenomenon: the more you are detached from needing to impress the audience the better you perform, in other words, the less you care about getting approval or a standing ovation the more you are likely to get it. The reason? When you don’t need approval you are more relaxed and more confident in your delivery and, as a result, you are much more likely to perform great.

If you go to a job interview, the more you show yourself as one who desperately needs a job the less you are likely to get hired, while the less you care the higher your chances. By showing to the one doing the interview that you don’t really need a job you are conveying the idea that you are fully convinced that, even if they don’t hire you, you will have no problem finding another job.

If you trust yourself and know your worth you don’t need somebody else’s approval and validation and when you show yourself as one who is kind of detached from the outcome (because you basically don’t really need the outcome to be a successful one, meaning that you could still function if the outcome was negative) you will most likely have a successful one. This means, for example, that if you are fully convinced that the material you are presenting in a speech is valid how others react won’t upset you and you will carry on delivering the material with great confidence even if no one claps for you and the standing ovation would just be icing on the cake.

I’ve found out that in an intimate relationship it works exactly the same way: you have to be completely detached from needing anyone to fulfill you in your life.

This means that you need to be confident and independent, happy and successful by yourself. If you desperately cling to another person you will either attract no one or you will, at best, attract a needy person.

In this blog I’ve already touched on how many Western men look for a younger Filipina to marry because they need companionship and those young Filipinas need a Western man to break away from poverty.

I have also touched on how being in a relationship with a Filipina turns out to be extremely challenging and, before long, the huge cultural differences can make the relationship very tough for those who entered it with the idea of having their needs met.

What I have discovered is that, in much the same way as someone who is giving a speech or is applying for a job interview from a position of self-confidence and, therefore, is completely detached from needing other people’s approval or validation is more capable to be himself and perform at his best, someone who enters an intimate relationship, especially one with a Filipina, needs to come from a position where he is already happy with his life and views the relationship as nothing more than icing on the cake.

In much the same way as the cake can stand alone, a person whose life is already fulfilled, a person whose purpose in life is greater than the relationship itself, is much more likely to be attractive to someone who is genuinely looking for a valuable person to share her life with and is much less likely to bump into a woman who is simply drawn to him for material gain. Being in a relationship with someone who merely needs something is, in my opinion, much worse than being alone.

Kung Bakit Galit sa akin ang mga Unggoy sa Pilipinas

Dito sa bansa ko walang unggoy sa gubat at tangi lamang sa zoo ay nakikita ang mga ungoy.

Natatandaan ko na noong bata pa ako maraming beses ipinasyal ako ng tatay ko sa zoo ng Roma at ang impresyon ko sa mga unggoy ay na mabait sila.

Pero noong nasa Pilipinas ako nakapasyal ako sa medyo liblib na mga lugar kung saan maraming unggoy at iba ang dating sa akin: parang galit sa akin ang mga unggoy.

Malapit nang sinaktan ako ng isang unggoy.

Sa palagay ko ang dahilan kung bakit galit sa akin ang mga iyon ay dahil hindi sila sanay sa tao na may maraming balahibo. Ang mga lalaking Pilipino ay halos walang balahibo sa kanilang balat samantala ako, gaya ng maraming Italyano, ay punong-puno ng balahibo.

Baka inisip ng mga unggoy na ako ay walang iba kundi ang isang mas malaking unggoy!