My written Tagalog sucks. It's atrocious; it's terrible. I'm the first to admit it. I've always thought that my spoken Tagalog was adequate, but The Hubby informs me that my spoken Tagalog is "pang komiks". Whatever that means. He won't let me forget that I sometimes mix up words, like saying that I got my uber cool retro dress from my lola's ataul, instead of baul (for those who experience word confusion like me, ataul is a coffin; baul is a chest--they sound alike, don't they? And they both are sort of boxes where you keep things. Easy to get confused, I say). Or saying that I don't really go for balon-balon, instead of balun-balunan. I don't even know how to spell correctly most of the time! And those repeating syllables and letters! Like off the top of your head--how many "A"s are there in the word maalaala?
Which brings me to my newest career challenge. I am currently editor of a small business magazine for small and micro entrepreneurs. The magazine name is--tah-dan!--Masigasig (that didn't come from me; it's the client's choice). For those not in the know, masigasig describes someone who is persistent, with a set goal in mind. That's why you hear of guys who are masigasig na manliligaw. This magazine is actually a Globe in-house publication, and they are doing it together with Entrepreneur Magazine. The Entrepreneur/Summit people were the ones who got me on board. It's a good project; it's meant to be both inspirational and instructional. It's a monthly (it will be given out for free with Entrepreneur. I think). I think small biz people will find it useful.
My problem is, though, half is to be written in Tagalog, and the other half in English. The English part is a breeze. The mag's only 28 pages, so I have very short articles to deal with. Now the Tagalog--oh boy. When my first writer submitted her story, and I opened the Word file, all I could see were the red squiggly lines underneath 99% of the words. My eyes glazed over. I swear. Editing Tagalog articles take me three times longer, because I have to translate it mentally into English to see if it makes sense, then I have to call on my meager reserves of Tagalog grammar and spelling, and I have to continuously snap myself out of the red-squiggly-line-induced stupor.
Now writing Tagalog articles is a different story. I submitted one to the client, quite pleased with what I'd done. They gave it back with the comment, "please make more reader friendly". To my excruciating embarrassment, I read a mangled sentence that I had written: "Ang flip flops ay hindi lang comportable, kundi mura pa at pwedeng suotan ng kung sinong-sino." Ack! I cringe at the memory. Even I know that is such a wrong sentence!
The Hubby has suggested that I get a good English-Filipino dictionary. But my writer friend Inna says that it's my sentence composition that's the problem, and I should immerse myself in the language more. Hence I bought a copy of Hi! Magazine (after all we have a Celebrity Raket section, so might as well get up to speed on the latest showbiz tidbits). I was going to buy a Tagalog pocketbook--I mean, that should be masang Tagalog, right--but The Hubby told me all I'd get out of that would be super cheesy phrases like "ang kanyang tarugo ng kaligayahan na kinipkip (kinimkim? kinupkop? kinamkam? kinutkut?) sa kanyang karsonsilyo" or something.
Fortunately, I found this little book written by Bob Ong. And to my amazement, I'm actually enjoying it. I even find myself laughing out loud sometimes. Though I'm not too sure if I laugh because Bob Ong is genuinely funny, or out of sheer joy because I actually understand what I'm reading. Still, it's progress, though I am moving through it at a much slower pace.
I haven't given up on myself completely. After all, I did get one of my short stories published in Dyaryo Filipino--and that was pure Tagalog, not the conversational kind. I have to confess, though, that the original story was written in English, then translated with the help of my trusty dictionary and my beloved roommate and friend Leah (Leah has her own memories of my Tagalog boo-boos, but let's not get into that).
I guess it's a matter of practice. And exposure. What else should I read? Any suggestions?