Tagalog-speaking Russian teen to serve PNoy at APEC

Posted at 09/07/12 8:21 PM

Russian teen to study at UP Diliman next year

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia - President Benigno Aquino III may be with dozens of government officials and businessmen at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in Russia , but he may just find himself preferring to converse with a Russian teen.

From his looks alone, 19-year-old student Andrey Khanov comes across as your typical Russian.

But the moment he speaks, Khanoc is a rare find.

He can speak fluent and grammatically-correct Tagalog.

Khanov is one of a few hundred students who volunteered their services at the APEC leaders' meeting in Vladivostok.

He is taking up Oriental Studies at the Institute of Asian and African Studies in Moscow.

Tagalog is one of the languages he chose to learn.

He said it was difficult to learn the language at first.

"Noong unang panahon, mahirap ito pero pagkatapos ng ilang panahon ng ugnayan ko sa wikang Tagalog, ito'y hindi masyadong mahirap," he said.

How many years did it take him to learn Tagalog?

"Sa loob ng dalawang taon," he said. "Ang guro namin ay Ruso rin."

Khanov said he chose to learn Tagalog because it's one way to build ties between Russia and the Philippines.

He said few in Russia know about the Philippines, even though Russia's easternmost city Vladivostok is just five hours away by plane from Manila.

In about a year or so, Khanov will fly to Manila to continue his studies at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

He said he wants to join the Russian foreign service after he ends his studies.

"Ang pinaka-nagustuhan kong trabaho ay ang trabaho sa kagawaran ng mga  suliraning panlabas," he said.

Because he is fluent in Filipino, Khanov has been assigned to work as a bellman at the building where President Aquino will stay for the next two days.

Khanov hopes to have a chance to meet and exchange a few words with the Philippine President.

"Ito'y malaking pangarap para sa akin," he said. "I'll definitely say magandang hapon o magandang gabi po at kumusta na po kayo."

Aquino arrived late Friday in Vladivostok and will be working early on Saturday.

To prepare for the Philippines' hosting of the APEC meetings in 2015, the Philippine embassy in Moscow will launch the "It's More Fun In The Philippines" campaign this month to encourage more Russians to know more about the Philippines, just like Andrey Khanov.  - report from ANC