I speak Tagalog to my kids.: Becoming Minnesotan

Dr. Maryam Beltran Shapland, Emergency Physician at Woodwinds Hospital, Woodbury
  • Name - Maryam Beltran Shapland
  • Age at interview - 34
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 01.25.2011
  • The Beltran Shapland family on vacation in Grand Cayman, 2010.

    We Are Here

    Filipino, Identity, Language

    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Many Filipino immigrants struggle with their “dual identity” - especially young people growing up in a different place than their parents did. Their parents have more memories of growing up in the Philippines, and more of a connection to that country, which they often still view as home. They often form friendships with other Filipinos and try hard to maintain their Filipino culture, religious traditions, and values. However, the younger generation often feels more "American" than "Filipino", and they grow up surrounded by friends and classmates who are not Filipino. Parents face the tough challenge of finding balance between helping their children learn about their traditional Filipino culture and also encouraging their children to become comfortable and successful in American society.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Maryam Shapland 11
    1:60 Minutes | 1.93Mb


    Narrator: Maryam Shapland (MS)

    Interviewer: Lita Malicsi (LM)

    LM: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your generation of young Filipino immigrants in today’s American society?

    MS: I think it is keeping the Filipino culture and especially the Filipino language alive. I speak Tagalog to my kids. They understand it. Some of their first words were Tagalog, but they don’t speak it back to me. I think the biggest challenge with the second and third generation is how do you establish that? How do you teach it to them that they will make it their own? I don’t know how to do that, if it’s Tagalog classes, or sending them to the Philippines. But it’s really important to me that they understand it and they speak it, but at this point they’re understanding it but not speaking it, so, it’s tough.

    LM: So you think language probably is the most important thing?

    MS: I think so, and then culture will follow.

    LM: Let’s see. What do you think? What can we do about it?

    MS: I think that sending them or going to the Philippines often is a way to do it — at least they’re exposed to the language, they’re immersed in it. They see a reason to speak it, whereas here, in Minnesota or in the U.S., it’s really, you don’t have to speak it. Everybody speaks English. Most Filipinos speak English. Filipino-Americans speak English. We’re from a immigrant population that is highly educated and speak English very well, so the need is not there. We’re not refugees, that we are not able to speak…there’s this generation that isn't able to speak the language and the children have to be the mediators. We don’t have that kind of experience, so I think it’s something that we really need to stress.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  The arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.


    Noun:  1. Participation in events, leading to knowledge, opinons, or skills.  2. The knowledge thus gathered.


    Verb:  To introduce to; to become familiar with.  (exposes, exposing, exposed)


    Noun:  1. A period of around thirty years, the average amount of time before a child takes the place of its parents.  2. A group of people who are of approximately the same age.


    Verb: To involve deeply. (immerses, immersing, immersed)


    Noun:  A person who comes to a country to permanently settle from another country.


    Noun: One who negotiates between parties seeking mutual agreement.


    Noun:  A person forced to leave his or her own country and seek refuge in a foreign country out of fear of persecution or violence or because of poverty or natural disaster.


    Verb:  To emphasize as important; to highlight.  (stresses, stressing, stressed)


    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: 2153