Here is how much I love Bisaya.
Only 18 hours away from being physically in Cebu, and my mind is swimming with Cebuano words. Like they were little fishes drifting by my thoughts.
Definitely part of the landscape of my mind’s ocean.
Tagalog feels inadequate, and I switch to English. Where are those little emotives, like “pud,” or “gyud,” or “jud, ” or “ra,” that just adds so much feeling to a simple phrase? (And when I form sentences, I surprise myself by feeling like I should drop letters from words the way Cebuanos do, or saying “kuw-an” while thinking.)
While in Cebu, I felt so much frustration that was at odds with the smile on my face. I should be able to speak back in the same language, not just to answer (because, thank God, kasabot man ko) back in English. Frustration, because I feel like I’m at the cusp of speaking back, but I find myself stopped by boulders and cliffs of the technical structures of the language. My college degree’s bone-deep training to be sensitive to cultural nuances keeps me from using a word or phrase without being absolutely sure it is culturally relevant. “Yeah, but would you say it now?” “Ai, just say it!”
And then there’s the limits to my vocabulary. My poor Bisaya friends. I keep asking them to translate words for me. I felt like a child, trying to put labels to the world around me. “Unsa man ni?” “Rice pud.” Sarcastic they were, these walking dictionaries.
It’s strange. I’ve listened to people talk in Ilocano around (to) me all my life. My Ilonggo grandmother sang me to sleep with her Ilonggo stories.
But I have never ever felt an affinity with a language the way I do with Binisaya.