We wouldn't be surprised if it was discovered one day that man sang first before they could speak. In history, some of the greatest stories ever told were told in song. In preschools, toddlers recognize and react to nursery rhymes. These days, in the comfort of a room or in the space between two ears, countless ardent fans pick up and eventually understand lyrics from their favorite K-Pop bops, J-rock jams, and other tunes sung in different languages.
It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that songs are seen as an effective tool to hone communication skills. And now, more than ever, we need the help of music to reintroduce and strengthen the use of one in particular: our very own.
This isn't news to us. Recently, introducing the Filipino language has been surprisingly very low on the priority list. At the very least, we use Taglish, a mix of the Tagalog vernacular and English. But at home, more and more parents teach their children English first. In school, curricula have been changed so that most subjects are taught in English.
This gap has been recognized not only by the government on countless occasions, but also by concerned parents (and even some musicians). With this gap comes the opportunity to reintroduce Filipino to children in a more relatable way: through songs from those in the local indie scene. Below is the first of many lists we at Bandwagon put together of songs Filipino teachers and tutors can incorporate in their lesson plans for children aged 7-9:
1. 'Puno,' Coeli feat. Clara Benin
Lesson hits: Pagbasa at pakikinig (reading and listening comprehension), mga elemento ng tula (elements of a poem)
The second song from Coeli's EP combines kalikasan (nature) and angking katangian (individual charater). Examples are provided of how children can relate to the environment around them -- 'Dito sa ilalim ng iyong puno, isipan ko'y mapayapa' (‘Here under the shade of a tree, my mind is at peace’) -- and so the teacher is assured that they can not only identify the message but also absorb it fully.
Prepare for: Mga talinhagang nakakalito, tulad ng 'Sa ihip ng hangin ramdam ko ang iyong pagmamahal.' (Confusing figures of speech, such as 'In the blowing wind, I feel your love.)
Lesson tip: Instruct the kids, 'Iguhit ang paborito ninyong bahagi ng awit.' (Draw your favorite part of the song.)
Listen to 'Puno' here:
2. 'Tulog Na,' Ebe Dancel
Lesson hits: Pakikinig at pagsulat (listening comprehension and writing), pandiwang pawatas tulad ng 'tulog' at 'lumuha' (commanding verbs, such as 'sleep' and 'weep')
This Sugarfree hit penned by one of the icons of the local music scene today may be more known as a love song, but its lyrics show love beyond romance. Ebe Dancel's 'Tulog Na' is the perfect ballad to reinforce kaginhawaan at kapanatagang dulot ng pamilya (comfort and security given by the family).
Prepare for: Mausisang tanong, tulad ng 'Sinong nanakit sa kinakantahan? Bakit siya nasaktan?' (Inquisitive questions, such as 'Who hurt the person being sang to? Why is she/he hurt?')
Lesson tip: Use the song as a springboard to verb tenses (aspekto ng pandiwa). Ask them to change the base form of the verbs (salitang ugat) or the commanding verbs (pawatas) to the past (perpektibo), present (imperpektibo) and future (kontemplatibo) tenses.
More tips: Instruct the children, 'Isulat ang isang pangyayaring sumama ang loob ninyo. Kinausap ba kayo ng inyong mga magulang tungkol dito? Anong sabi nila?' (Write about an experience when you felt hurt. Did your parents talk to you about it? What did they say?). You can also introduce the song to even younger kids and ask them about bedtime habits.
Listen to 'Tulog Na' here:
3. 'Mapa,' Autotelic
Lesson hits: Talasalitaan (vocabulary), pagbibigay ng panuto at direksyon (giving instructions and directions)
Easy to listen to and even easier to understand, this track from Autotelic’s 2016 offering Papunta Pabalik presents the opportunity to introduce talinhaga (figures of speech), like ‘Nasa aking palad ang mapa ng mundo, ngunit paano ba babasahin.’ Teaching this song is never complete without introducing its 90’s inspired music video: kids find the band using everyday household instruments hilarious, and ‘Pabs on vase’ is the perfect opportunity to reinforce that ang alpabetong Pilipino ay walang letrang v (the Filipino alphabet has no letter v)!
Prepare for: Mga tanong mula sa pagkalito, tulad ng 'Hindi ko maintindihan kung ano ang gustong basahin. Anong ibig niyang sabihin?' (Questions that stem from confusion, such as 'I don't understand what needs to be read. What do they mean?’)
Lesson tip: Focus on mga salitang nagbibigay panuto at direksyon, tulad ng ‘kaliwa,’ ‘kanan,’ ‘kilometro,’ at ‘mapa’ (words to give instructions and directions, like left, right, kilometer, and map). Use these words to introduce other related words, like ‘globo’ (globe), ‘deretso’ (straight), ‘liko’ (turn), atbp (etc).