When I first moved to Manila a month after college graduation to review for the board exams I refrained from speaking in Bisaya in public. Whenever I and my cousins would meet up I would always speak in Bisaya at a low volume while they would converse in Tagalog. Back then I was feeling inferior to Tagalog-speaking Filipinos, afraid to be laughed at for my accent. I was still a bit shy since I did not have a good command of the language having only visited Manila for 3 days one summer when I was 11, relegating its use only in the classroom during Filipino class.
For seven years I slowly learned my way in Tagalog. It’s no surprise since all of my colleagues and most of my friends grew up in Manila , with only my relatives and a handful of college friends I could speak with in Bisaya. I learned that one should say ‘mahaba ang buhok’ and not ‘mataas ang buhok’, or say ‘mas matangkad ako ng konti’ and not ‘mas mataas ako ng konti’.
I became so accustomed speaking in Tagalog that a few years back my high school friends remarked that I had completely lost my Bisaya accent and now spoke like a true-blue Tagalog. They laughed when they first heard me pronounce tricycle as try-c-kel rather than try-c-kol. They laughed some more when I would forget I was in the Visayas and pronounced a slew of other words whose last syllable should have been spoken as kol instead of kel.
I was cool about it since some people I know in Manila have also observed that a twinge of my Bisaya accent would sometimes manifest itself especially when I talk real fast. Now, if my Bisaya has a Tagalog accent and my Tagalog has a Bisaya accent what does that make me? A crossbreed?