so when users where leaving comments with foreign characters, it would show a black diamond with a question mark in the browser.
at first, i thought it was my code that was creating all this problems. but after extensive research, i read about encoding. i thought encoding was within the code. you can manipulate the encoding through code in PHP, but that was not my problem.
i was using Dreamweaver CS5 to create my php scripts, and usually i was being lazy to create the php files from Dreamweaver, instead i would just right click on windows explorer and select new text file, then i would just rewrite the file extension from .txt for .php
that was my mistake, for some reason, windows was creating the files with ANSI encoding instead of UTF-8
UTF-8 is what you need for foreign characters like ñ
so what i did to fix my files, i downloaded notepad++ - notepadd++ has an encoding menu where is shows what encoding the files is using. there is also and option to change the encoding. so after i changed the encoding to UTF-8 it worked.