To Leave a Trail

It is not this act
of losing ground
that counts,
the strange land
says to us,
we migrants
in loves as
in life.

There is much more
in the finding
of the way
harder and harder
one could imagine
as if we
are all writing
the difficult line
of our praying poem.

To leave a trail,
the rugged land says,
you have to go
the way of the wind,
brave and bold
in its posturing
against all elements
that block its way,
kind in its supple caresses
of the greening leaves.
There the trail it leaves
behind is in the memory
of the courage
it takes
to create storms
to wreak havoc
to renew the earth.

I think of the trail
I take, I, migrant
and wanderer
in the land of loves,
lost and found
lost or found
first and last
first or last,
these loves we have
that keep us alive
we who have died
a long long time,
we who have been betrayed
by virtue of our birth,
date and place,
and the nation of our fathers
that keeps us zombies
and cadavers
and robots.

The loves are
eternal residents
in the song of my soul
I write, sadly,
but I sing the exile's
chant in each line,
the exile always
coming back
at the beginning
of all miserable loves.

The homeland where
the body has its twin
in the earth left behind,
for instance.

Or the umbilical cord
on cheap pots
on treetops
for the sun to dry
and the wild weather
to bring to the heavens
during the summer storms.

The heartland where
the merciful murderers
of metaphors abound,
them who test us
to the limits,
our leaders
who lie to us
as if lying
is what makes
us poets of sadnesses
us cantors of sorrows
that do not have names
like the way we
intone the strange greasy gods
on our bended knees
open up our palms
to catch the blessings
from pallid priests and patriots
who prey on our desires.

So we leave a trail
the land says, dust
covering us
once more
to remind us
of the origins of our hopes
of the genealogy of the redemption
that, we can only dream, will be ours.

A S Agcaoili
Inquirer Editorial Offices
Carson, CA
Jul 31/05 9:46 AM ABC7 Time

To Settle In the Currents

To settle

in the currents

is what leads

you here

towards the seas.

You permit

the waves

to come home

to your heart

and you take them all,

one at a time


gulping for air

but staying afloat.

It is the morning


your mind,

its early hours

the many days

that you prayed

for the dawn

to come right smack

into the shores of your

strained loves.

In the cold sand,

the dunes meet up

with the wind going wild

and beneath your feet

are the memories

of loss and redemption

the currents give.

Today in this morning

of your waking

to glories hidden

in the blue waters,

their expanse covering

all that you can withhold

from within,

you cry rivulets

in velvet and red.

Everything began

in a dream

and here you are

trying to live

and let live

in a land

where dreams

loss their own

little meanings.

A. S. Agcaoili

The Inquirer Editorial

Jul 29/05

Carson, CA 90745


The Weekly Inquirer Editorial

August 5, 2005

By Aurelio S. Agcaoili

There is one thing that we can call many of our leaders aside from the fact that they have become an abomination: they are empiric.

They offer us cause-effect analyses that are all without ground in good logic unless they now think of the logic of governance as always-already and only a case of self-preservation and advancing of one’s own self-interest. Charlatans these are—and they have no right to impose upon us what they think is the reason of all our social ills.

In the coming days, the charter change moves will govern our bland, blighted lives as a people. The moves will come in dizzying sway much like a dirty politician’s to-and-fro from one principle-less act to another one. Forget the bayan and the taumbayan—they do not matter. The cha-cha dance movements will one with the movements to assure the leaders of their perpetual entrenchment in power they do not deserve in the first place.

The cha-cha will be a grandiose excuse for the incurable mediocrity of our leaders.

Like the dance moves of the equally oppressed Latinos, the cha-cha will be a spectacle of foot-works left and right, forward and backward, and some splitting and encircling and negotiation of possibilities for accommodating all the actors on the political dance floor. The only argument they can draw up is, “The fundamental reason for all our troubles is that we do not have the correct form of government and that the only solution is to make us enact laws in a Parliamentary form of government.”

Oh well, what can we say? The big prevaricators have declaimed their piece.

The good honorable men and women of the Republic have spoken. Like the absolute power of the Vatican in terms of morals—Roma locuta est, the Pope would intone— they tell us.

As always, theirs is a political blackmail of the most terrible kind. We have a new Rome in our midst even as we watch our poor multiply like flies in summer and like mosquitoes with the dengue virus during the rainy season.

In the meantime, hunger will go on and people will die without ever seeing a doctor or without ever having tasted the fancy cappuccino at Starbucks on the enclaves of yuppies who have forgotten how to think for their people.

Like us immigrants before we decided to call it quits with the home country, the yuppies are busy looking for a way out of this national doldrums. It is now a case of peek-a-boo, or Jack-en-Poy, or “the country loves me/the country loves me not.” The educated and skilled young—the best resource any country can have—are not staying put but are taking the exit route and are going to eke out a life in far away lands.

Well, those who decide to remain, and there are only a few of them left, bravely and boldly take on the cudgels of surviving in a dog-eat-world that the country has already become.

Such is the picture perfect landscape that we have in the homeland—the homeland that has not been a heartland and soul-land for the many that have left: so beautiful in its misery, so miserable in its beauty. Take the ironies, the paradoxes, and the metaphors any the time. They all fit.

With the presidential espousal of the cha-cha, the abominable leaders will again pull the political strings. The curtains will open and the puppet show for the public commences once more. The gullible and uncritical masses will gobble up each praise release that these leaders’ public relations offices will churn out like pan cakes from that other multinational food giant that has damaged forever the taste buds of our children.

We have begun to see a resurrection of those who benefited from the Marcos Parliament during the dark days of dishonor that wreaked havoc on our political sensibilities.

Already we see a slant of the issues from all that bogs us down and doggedly we can only sigh and say, “Here we go again with this masquerade!”

What is wrong with the form of government we have at present is beyond us.

The honorable leaders without the honor have forgotten that they are to lead us into greatness and not to keep on tinkering with the Constitution.

These leaders ought instead to tinker with their brains, if they have; and their minds and souls, if they do still have them.

Like in the past, we are now beginning to suspect if we are electing the right people to represent us in the task of forming a government that takes regard of our common good.

These useless leaders are the problems—not the Constitution.

We may keep on changing the Constitution year-in and year-out but if we do not educate our leaders to lead us to greater heights, we are just wasting our precious resources. We might as well consider banishing those who have not done us any good but only to themselves. They do not deserve to be Filipinos anyway.

We change the fundamental law of the land but we allow the buaya to stay in the same waters, the fluvial fiesta and parade of thieves and liars and cheats will continue to haunt us for a long, long while yet.


Ni Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Kabanata 5

Wayawaya. Kalayaan. Freedom. Kuwento ng limang henerasyon ng isang pamilya na testigo sa kasaysayan. Simula kay Ina Wayawaya noong huling bahagi ng ika-19 na siglo hanggang kay Wayawaya sa kasalukuyan, ang kuwento ng rebolusyon ay nananatiling di tapos na dula ng buhay ng mga Filipino. Mailap ang katubusang pangako nito. Laging lumalampas sa palad ng mga nangangarap ang kalayaan para sa inangbayan—ang buong-buong wayawaya para sa sambayanan.

Isasadula ng nobelang Wayawaya ang masalimuot na kuwento ng mga kababaihan sa pamilya Agtarap na nag-alay ng sarili para sa higit na malaking sanhi—ang wayawaya na nakabatay sa panlipunang katarungan.

Magsisimula ang kuwento sa kasalukuyan—sa People Power II—at magtatapos din sa kasalukuyan. Subalit pumapaloob ang kuwento sa iba’t ibang pook at panahon ng mga pangyayaring kinakasangkutan ng limang Wayawaya. Ang pagsasaksi ay sa kanilang puntodebista.

Limang Wayawaya ng limang henerasyon ng mga Agtarap—silang mga malay at mulat na tauhan sa di natatapos na kasaysayan ng pakikipagtunggali para sa pagkapantay-pantay, para sa kaunlaran, para sa kapayapaan.

Limang Wayawaya—limang pangarap. Limang Wayawaya—limang kuwento ng pakikibaka. Ng kaligtasan para sa sarili. Ng kaligtasan kasama ang kapwa.

Sa iyo aking Ili,

Bagama’t alaala na lamang ang nagdudugtong sa atin, minabuti kong sulatan kita.

Ipapadala ko ang aking sulat sa hangin kasama ang lahat ng hinaing ng taumbayan.

Panahon ngayon ng Unang Babeng Pinuno, siya na biyudang tulad ko na ginawang biyuda ng mga puwersang itim na nanggaling pa sa mga sinaunang balaking lihim ng mga pinuno natin.

Alam ko, alam ko, sasabihin mo: “Teresa, Teresa, metapisikal ang balangkas ng iyong isip.”

Alam kong sasabihin mo rin na pagtatawanan ako ng aking si Bannuar sa ganung termino at konseptong aking ginagamit.

Alam kong sasabihin sa akin ng aking panganay, “Nanay tapos na ang panahon ng mga prayleng naghasik ng lagim sa atin, sila at ang kanilang makalumang pagbasa sa mga kahulugan sa mundo at sa lipunan ng mga tao.” May kasamang ngisi ang kanyang pagsasabi, ngisi ng isang nang-aarok ng isip, ngisi ng isang nanunukat ng kaalaman.

Ay, makikita ko roon ang iyong ngisi, aking Ili. Siya—at siya ring ngisi ng mga nag-iisip para sa sarili at para sa bayan.

Sasabihin ko ngayon sa iyo: siya ring ngisi ng kanyang iniwang supling nang binutas ang kanyang dibdib, winarak ng mga kaaway na animo’y ang kanyang dibdib ang pinagkukutahan ng lahat ng mga tapang at takot ng mga katulad niya.

Ili ang pangalan ng ating apo.

Ili tulad mo.

Bansag sa ating bayan, bansag sa lahat ng ating pangarap para sa taumbayan. Ili, salitang ugat ng pagiging sambayanan—ng pagilian.

Madalas, tinititigan ko ang ating apo kapag dumarating sa aking ang ibayong kalungkutan lalo na kapag naalala ko kung papaano ipinarada ang iyong ulo sa nayong iyon na kumupkop sa iyo nang tumiwalag ka nang tuluyan sa simbahang iyong pinaglilingkuran.

Naririnig ko pa sa aking isip ang mga yabag ng mga sundalo na siya ring yabag ngayon ng mga sundalong paulit-ulit na nagpapalabas ng mga murang dula-dulaan ng kudeta laban sa biyudang Pangulo.

Hindi, hindi ko alam kung ano ang tama sa mga sitwasyong kasing-kumplikado ng sa ngayon.

Umuukilkil sa aking isip kung tama ba na ang makikinabang sa ating pagkilos ay siya na ang nuno ay nakinabang na noon sa mga sakripisyo ng ating mga ninuno.

Ay, Ili, ayna. Mahirap mamatay—at lalong mahirap mabuhay kapag ang naiwan ay ang pag-aari na lamang ay katulad ng mga lumbay na residente nang totoo sa aking puso.

Sa mga kudeta, naroon lagi ang pangamba na bukas-kamakalawa ay iba na naman ang pinuno natin o ang hunta militar ay nagbalik na nga sa ating piling. Di mo man aminin ay noong panahon ng batas militar ng ating mapagpagpanggap na dakilang pangulo na mula sa atin, ang rehimen ay katulad ng isang hunta.

Utak militar ang pinunong iyon na ang kontribusyon sa ating pag-unlad sa ating nayon ay ang pagpapalit ng Kawasaking motorsiklo sa bawat bangkay ng mga kabataang lalaking umuuwi sa atin.

Tulad ng lahat ng gera, sinasayang nating ang mga buhay ng ating mga kabataan at ngayon—sa saglit na ito—ibig kong yakapin ang aking si Bannuar, ang bayani dito sa aking puso.

Naalala ko lahat-lahat kung papaano nagsimula ang sa ating pagp-ibig na lampas sa ating mga sarili.

Siya ring pag-ibig, alam ko, na naipamalas nating sa ating mga anak kung kaya’t ngayon ay nag-aalay ng buhay para sa iba.

Kung ako ay isang pangkaraniwang ina—kung ako ay isang inang ang tanging pangarap ko sa aking mga anak ay yumaman at magpakayaman pa, hindi ko maaatim na makikita ang aking mga anak sa ganung kalagayan.

Pero ganito ang ating tungkulin sa kasaysayan. Ilang ulit mong sinasabi sa aking noon ang ganun. Lagi mong dinadakila ang kasaysayan ng mga mamamayang nagbubuwis ng buhay para lamang mabuhay ang bayan. Kaydakila!

Subalit ang kapalit ay nandito ako ngayon kasama lahat ng mga lungkot ng isang kabiyak at inang iniwan.

Iniwan ng asawang rebeldeng pinugutan ng ulo at ipinarada sa nayon upang takutin ang mga mamamayan.

Iniwan ng isang anak na nag-iwan ng ganun at ganun ding masaklap na alaala.

A, hindi ko alam kung saang landas patutungo itong si Linglingay. Sumulpot dili, Ili.
At alam kong pumalaot na siya sa higit na malawak at malalim na larangan ng pakikipagtunggali. Ang ating si Linglingay na kakambal ng ating Bannuar.

Ipinarada rin ang ulo ng iyong si Bannuar.

Nahuli sa isang kuta, dinala sa kampo military, tinortyur, pinaamin ang lahat ng mga kasalanang di naming ginawa at isang araw—isang araw na rumaragasa ang bagyo sa lugar natin—dumating ang isang sundalo upang ibalita sa akin ang isang masaklap na pangyayari: Na ang ating si Bannuar ay natiklo pagkatapos makatakas at ngayon ay kinukuha ako para kilalanin ang luray-luray na katawan ng aking anak, ang ulo ay hiwalay sa katawan, ang dibdib ay may tama ng kung anong binaril na tumagos sa kalamnan.

Papaano mo kilalanin ang ganung bangkay, Ili?

Sinong ina ang may ganung lakas ng loob upang harapin ang isang masaklap na pangyayaring katulad nito?

Sinong ina ang makakapagsabi na kakayanin ang lahat-lahat?

Napapagod din ang mandirigmang puso, Ili.

Nahahapo ring ang damdaming umaapoy.

Ngayon ay ganyan ang aking naiisip, ganyan ang aking nararamdaman. Lalo ngayon at patuloy ang ganitong ehersiso sa kapangayarihan ng mga sundalong di natututong gumalang sa ating mga karapatan.

Paulit-ulit ang mga pangyayari sa ating kasaysayan, Ili. Kailangan nang mapatid ito, maputol ang ganitong masaklap na kalagayan.

Pero, papaano kung ang mga nanunungkulan sa ating ay kaduda-duda ang mga layon?

Papaano kung ang mga naglilingkod sa atin ay sila ring mga pangalang naglingkod na sa atin noon, mga pangalan ng mga traidor at magnanakaw, mga pangalan ng mga tumalikod sa ating tungkulin?

Nasa huling yugto na tayo ngayon ng taon. At kung hindi mo alam, 1991 na ngayon sa panahon ng mga mortal na tulad namin. At ngayon ay hinehele ko ang supling ng ating anak na ang pangalan ay halaw sa iyong kabayanihan.

Kinakantahan ko siya ngayon ng kanta ng paglalayag sa dagat ng pakikipagtunggali. Hindi ko alam subalit nginingisihan ako ng ating apo, ngiting nagsasabi na siya raw ang bagong Ili.

Bukas, maggagawa ako ng atang.

Napanigipan ko ang ating si Bannuar at maraming pang Bannuar na tulad niya. Butas ang mga dibdib, walang laman ang mga bungo, may mga butas ng mga baril sa kanilang mga palad na animo’y pinagdaanan ng malaking bala. Di kaya lagusan ito ng mga pako sa krus?

Mag-aatang ako—at iaalay ko ang niniugan sa lahat ng mga nag-alay ng buhay para sa bayan. Samantala, samantala, kakantahin ko sa ating apong si Ili ang awit para sa bayan.
Maya-maya pa’y makakatulog na. Makakatulog ng mahimbing na mahimbing.

At habang tulog ang ating si Ili, babalikan ko ang iyong mga tula para sa bayan. Babasahin ko isa-isa, imememorya sa aking puso upang hindi sila mangawala.

Doon ko huhugutin ang lahat ng mga lakas na aking kailangan para mapalaki ang ating si Ili.

Hindi ko alam kung kailan magbabalik ang kanyang ina, ang si Wayawaya.

Iniwan sa aking pag-aaruga si Ili. Alam ko, alam ko sa kaibuturan ng aking puso, sa wikang walang tunog kundo mga senyas lamang ng kabatirang totoo, bukas, bukas-makalawa, maglalaho rin ang kanyang ina. Maglalaho si Wayawaya.

Tutulo na naman ang aking luha.

Tatapusin ko muna ang pagdidili-dili. Haharapin ko muna ang paggawa ng atang para sa inyong mag-ama at para sa lahat ng mga katulad ninyo.



The Inquirer Weekly Analysis

By Aurelio S. Agcaoili


This is the hour of judgment—ang oras ng paghuhukom.

From this State of the Nation Address, presidential version, we either will move on or get shucked up in the political quagmire of our own making.

There are, of course, other versions of this SONA thing—and these versions are not any better than the one common sense tells us. Let us state it simply now: That the thinking masses of the Filipino people are not idiots and political midgets. The thinking masses know how to use their head even if some of those who claim as our leaders do not.

Take the Lacson claim which he calls the True State of the Nation. He tells us of his diagnosis but then he forgets about the excesses of the Erap regime that he served ever so faithfully. Think of amnesia—and we can only think of an effective remedy.

The Greeks call this anamnesis, the same reality that structures a true prayer of the believer of providence—or a force higher than the monies of those producing the staged rallies and protests.

Anamnesis tells and instructs us of the need to draw up an antidote to forgetting by always remembering—always refusing to succumb to forgetfulness. Is it in the river of Lethe where forgetfulness is of value?

Maybe, but not in nation building as the case of the Philippines. For even as we try to address head on the issues of the day—even as we require and demand that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo submit to the rule of law, we must also demand the same thing to those who have wronged us as people.

We must demand the same to those who, in the height of their power, concocted their own version of truth for us to swallow as if we do not know any better. From the time of President Ferdinand Marcos—this one-time ex-great based on his boast and on his campaign promise—until today, we have had enough of this manufacturing and fabrication of truth. This manufacturing and fabrication of truth has been the masterpiece of those involved with the Marcos regime and those regimes that came after him, the present occupant of Malacanang Palace included. Psy-war operators, all of them. Or their henchmen, their truth-spinners and truth-spawners.

Reports tell us now of the hanky-panky maneuverings of those who are claiming a right to speak for and in the name of the Filipino people—the maneuverings that have something to do with renting warm bodies to hold the placards about Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s cheating and lying and stealing. These are the very same warm bodies that have been deprived of dignity and robbed of self-respect; those who did these traitorous acts were the producers of this political theatre of the burlesque kind—the same people who claim they know the truth better than anyone of us.

Senator Panfilo Lacson’s TSONA, for instance, presents an oblique case of his brand of truth that could come only from his association with several equally flawed regimes. The true state of the nation, we remind Lacson, is that our people cannot any longer afford to live because this crisis has held them hostage to the vagaries of power and presidential ambition.

Lacson talks of a debilitating cancer—this cancer that has “corroded and contaminated the moral and social fiber of the (Filipino) nation.” Yes, but Arroyo alone did not make this happen—and this cancer did not develop overnight.

We can do a KISS—keep it simple, stupid!—here. And then we see that this cancer began with a tumor, perhaps a boil during all the years that we watched them—these fabricators and manufacturers of national lies and national prevarications and national alibis.

Rizal has forewarned us a long time ago about the frailes that were corrupt and corrupting. The frailes wee those who called for the heads of any one crossing their path to God and glory; with their kind of goons, they were powerful and they succeeded in reducing the masses into a fraile-fearing populace that was at their beck and call. The 19th century chaos called for a revolution as a remedy; the revolution eventually went kaput because the opportunists took advantage of their position to benefit from the spoils of war and patronage. And so in the end, the enemy and the opportunist pseudo-revolutionaries took everything: the honor and the power, and that history of their heroism and supreme sacrifice that was as flawed as it was also a farce—even a mockery of those who willingly gave their life for the motherland.

We look at the names of those calling for the head of the President and we see the same ones that have lorded it over us since the Marcos regime and even before. And with Jinggoy Estrada now serving as some kind of a “Principe Constantino” in that monarchic procession to the search for the missing crown of the father who was impeached for, among other things, taking in bribes from jueteng, we can only complete the spectacle with the senadora mother acting as the Reyna Elena, as an analyst would put it. This is a huge spectacle, a grand one—and we see the scene completely now:
with Imee Marcos crying foul in the anti-Gloria rallies and then us joining, at least in our amnesiac minds, these characters in our attempt to become amnesiac as well with the requirements of the Constitution.

The problem with the opposition is credibility as well. In saying this, we see that the Arroyo presidency is saddled with the same problem. The clamor of the Manila folks for the head of the President is not something that we have to ignore. But then again, Manila does not see everything.

We turn to the surveys as well for guidance and we see some indications of a political unconscious in the poll-taking. Why Manila? And why Manilans alone? As they say in basic research, the choice of a method, a framework, and a sample is itself a bias—an intellectual prejudice that the researcher is duty-bound to acknowledge and explain. And where do the funds come from in these surveys, let us ask?

All these—the rallies, the protests, these SONAs of all kinds, the grandstanding acts of the opposition, the press releases of the President—all these contain some manufactured and fabricated truth because they take the vantage point of the one who does the act.

All told, we need to see who are the other people involved in this grand scam to cheat us of our right to know—and our right to decide for our future as a people.

Let the impeachment process roll and we shall see the names and the abominable actions that have been withheld from us. We want to know the other power-players, those who have a stake in the downfall of the presidency and those who bankrolled the wiretapping of the now infamous “Hello Garci” conversation.

Our right to know is our basic right. With a respect for the Constitution—with the need to balance political claims for legitimacy and its absence and the need to unmask all of those who have been fabricating and manufacturing truth for our consumption, this country will get to its feet and stand once again. We expect a political maturity in the years ahead. With the big picture, we will arrest this crisis looming like a phantom before us.

Published in the Inquirer, Jul 29/05

Wayawaya (Kabanata 1)



Ni Nasudi Bagumbayan

Wayawaya. Kalayaan. Freedom. Kuwento ng limang henerasyon ng isang pamilya na testigo sa kasaysayan. Simula kay Ina Wayawaya noong huling bahagi ng ika-19 na siglo hanggang kay Wayawaya sa kasalukuyan, ang kuwento ng rebolusyon ay nananatiling di tapos na dula ng buhay ng mga Filipino. Mailap ang katubusang pangako nito. Laging lumalampas sa palad ng mga nangangarap ang kalayaan para sa inangbayan—ang buong-buong wayawaya para sa sambayanan.

Isasadula ng nobelang Wayawaya ang masalimuot na kuwento ng mga kababaihan sa pamilya Agtarap na nag-alay ng sarili para sa higit na malaking sanhi—ang wayawaya na nakabatay sa panlipunang katarungan.

Magsisimula ang kuwento sa kasalukuyan—sa People Power II—at magtatapos din sa kasalukuyan. Subalit pumapaloob ang kuwento sa iba’t ibang pook at panahon ng mga pangyayaring kinakasangkutan ng limang Wayawaya. Ang pagsasaksi ay sa kanilang puntodebista.

Limang Wayawaya ng limang henerasyon ng mga Agtarap—silang mga malay at mulat na tauhan sa di natatapos na kasaysayan ng pakikipagtunggali para sa pagkapantay-pantay, para sa kaunlaran, para sa kapayapaan.

Limang Wayawaya—limang pangarap. Limang Wayawaya—limang kuwento ng pakikibaka. Ng kaligtasan para sa sarili. Ng kaligtasan kasama ang kapwa.

Kabanata 1

Sa bayan ng aming isang libo’t isang walang katuparang panaginip lamang ito nangyari, sabi ni Bannuar Agtarap sa batam-batang gabi habang sinusunog ng mga nagsisiprotesta ang halimaw na kawangis ng Pangulo ng Republika.

Sa tagong pook ng aming di mabilang na bangungot lamang ito nagaganap, sabi niya, kausap ang isip na kanina pa’y nagtatanong kung saan nga ba patutungo ang kanilang protesta. Naalala niya ngayon ang kwento ng kanyang ina: “Sasakmalin ng apoy ang dilim sa pook na iyon ng protesta. Sa pagkakasunog ng dambuhalang halimaw, maghahari ang liwanag. Magbababantay ang lahat ng magdadangadang. Babantayan nila ang pagpupunla ng katarungan at kapayapaan sa puso ng lahat ng mamamayan. Ang Kappia ay magbabalik sa dati: pook ng kagalingan at buhay, lugal ng kagampan ng lahat ng mga panaginip.” Ang binabanggit ng kanyang ina ay isang pook ng hiraya: Kappia-payapa. Anong pagkakatulad! sabi ni Bannuar Agtarap.

Dalawang buwan na nilang inaangkin ang lansangan, dalawang buwan na pagmamartsa mula sa Liwasang Bonifacio hanggang sa Mendiola upang paulit-ulit na isigaw ang niloloob ng maraming mamamayan: “Arestuhin! Arestuhin ang halimaw!”

Minsan nang napanaginipan ni Bannuar Agtarap ang eksenang ito at alam niya, sigurado siya ngayon, siguradong-sigurado siya, na niluluganan siya ng mga anito ng mga ninuno at sinasabi sa kanya ang ibig sabihin ng tatlong buhol sa lina na laging laman ng kanyang hiraya: isang buhol para kay Marcos, isang buhol para kay Aquino, isang buhol para kay Ramos.

Naalala niya ang linas sa kuwento ni Hidalgo tungkol sa “Tatlong Lalaki at Isang Pangako.”

Nakikita niya ngayon ang matandang babae na nag-iingat ng linas:

“Sa takdang araw, isa-isa nating tatanggalin ang mga buhol at ikukuwento natin ang ating pakasaritaan. Isasalaysay natin ang kuwento ng ating pakikipagsapalaran.”

Nakikita ngayon ni Bannuar Agtarap ang apoy na nilikha ng matandang babae.

Kinuha ng matandang babae ang maliit na baga ng sinunog na pungdol ng madredekakaw.

Inilagay ng matandang babae ang baga sa kanyang kaliwang palad.

Itiniklop ang palad, marahang-marahan.

Ipinatong ang kanang palad sa kaliwang palad.

Itiniklop ang kanang palad, marahang-marahan.


Huminga ng malalim.


Ibinukas ang kanang palad, marahang-marahan.

Itinaas ang bukas na palad sa kalangitan, marahang-marahan.

Ibinukas ang kaliwang palad, marahang-marahan.

Itinaas ang bukas na palad, marahang-marahan.

Ihinagis ang baga sa pusod ng gabing madilim.

Naging apoy ang baga, gabundok na apoy.

Nagsayaw sa ere ang apoy, nakipag-ulayaw sa ligaw na hangin ng gabing iyon.

Kinain ng apoy ang karimlan.

Nagsalita ang matandang babaeng nag-iingat ng linas ng pagkasaritaan: “Arestuhin ang tatlong buhol!” sabi ng matandang babae. “Arestuhin ang kasaysayan!”

“Arestuhin! Arestuhin!” sigaw ng mga taong nakasaksi sa panununog sa halimaw.

Iwinagayway ni Bannuar Agtarap ang kanyang pulang bandila.

Kumawala sa kanya ang hiraya.

Kumalam ang kanyang sikmura.

Ngayon lang niya naalala na kagabi pa ang kanyang huling pagsubo ng kanin.

Naalala rin niya ang gabi-gabing pagpipiging na idinaraos ng Pangulo ng Republika para sa kanyang mga kamag-anak at kaibigan.

Sa simula ay maliit lamang ang apoy na ibinubuga ng halimaw na kawangis ng Pangulo ng Republika.

Higante ang halimaw, nagsasa-Godzilla ang anyo: malalaki ang mga mata, may dugo sa kanyang mukha at katawan, nakalawit ang dila, akmang mangangain, maninira, maghahasik ng lagim. Lumalampas ang kanyang sukat sa arkiladong trak ng mga kasama.

Nang di maglaon ay nagluluwa ng mga malalaking apoy ang dambuhalang hayop, tila apoy sa impierno ng mga kaluluwang walang katubusan. Tulad ngayon sa impiernong alay ng Pangulo ng Republika para sa mga maliliit na mamamayang pinangakuan ng bukang-liwayway pagkatapos ng mahabang karimlan.

Noon ay minahal siya ng taumbayan, pinalakpakan ang salamangkang taglay ng kanyang mga salita. May tula sa kanyang mga pangako: magandang bukas, maalwang buhay, pagkapantay-pantay. Ilang guro kaya ng Unibersidad ang naniwala sa kanya, tumulong sa paghabi niya ng mga mahika upang maniwala ang masa?

Pulam-pula ang apoy na iniluluwa ng halimaw, pula ng dugo ng lahat ng nagbuwis ng buhay sa ngalan ng bayan, pula ng mga hinagpis ng lahat na naulila: mga asawang nabalo na wala sa oras, mga anak na inagawan ng ama at ina, mga magulang na pinagkaitan ng pagkakataon na ilibing ang mga bangkay ng mga anak na magpahangga ngayon ay kabilang sa libo-libong nawawala.

Pulam-pula ang apoy na ibinubuga ng halimaw, tila nagsasabi ng: “Huwag ninyo akong subukan! Huwag ninyo akong subukan!”

Sa anumang anggulong tingnan ay kawangis na kawangis ng Pangulo ng Republika ang halimaw: ang kanyang tindig, ang kanyang asta, ang kanyang pagbabadya ng panganib.

Sa kanyang kinatatayuan sa gilid ng entabladong trak na nakabalandra sa mga barbed wire ng Mendiola, nakikita ni Bannuar Agtarap ang lahat ng nagaganap. Enero noon, Enero ng simula ng maraming tag-araw. Subalit tila may kung anong hanging ligaw ang dumampi sa pisngi ni Bannuar Agtarap.

May taglay na darang ang hanging ligaw at gumapang ang darang sa kanyang dibdib, gumapang sa kanyang leeg, bumaba sa kanyang hita. Nakikita niya ngayon si Pepe Samson, ang bastardong anak ni Antonio Samson na iskolar ng pakasaritaan ng mga Ilokanong nakidangadang. Sa isang raling kanilang itinanghal laban sa panunupil ni Marcos, ang unang buhol sa linas ng kasaysayan, pinagbabaril sila ng militar. Sa takot, tumakbo si Pepe Samson, sumuksok sa burak ng estero at doon, doon sa kanyang pinagkukublihan, doon niya nasaksihan ang pagbaril ng mga militar sa kanyang kaibigan. Walang kaluluwang itinumba si Toto, binutas ang dibdib, tiniyak na di na mabubuhay.

May tila di maipaliwanag na damdaming umangkin sa kanya sa paglaro ng kanyang gunita. Dama niya pa rin ang hanging ligaw, sa pagsalat nito sa kanyang kalamnan.

Ako si Bannuar Agtarap, sabi niya, ikapito sa kaputotan ng mga Agtarap, ikapitong salinlahing saksi ng lahat ng pagsinta at pasakit, pagmamahal at pagtataksil, pagbubuo at pagwawasak.

Ako si Bannuar Agtarap, sabi niya.

Supling ako ng mga ligaw ding pangarap tulad ng ligaw na pangarap ng ligaw na hangin sa aking hita.

Nilaro ng ligaw na hangin ang kanyang pulang bandila na nag-aanunsiyo ng kanyang kilusang kinabibilangan: Tignay.

Tignay ito ng kanyang di nakilalang Tatang.

Tignay ito ng kanyang di nakilalang Nanang.

Tignay ng mga sumusunod pa sa kanila.

Ang ngayon—ngayon sa araw na ito ng pagtutuos, Tignay na ring kanya.

Dito, dito sila unang nagkatitigan, naghati ng tinapay, naghabi ng pangarap para sa sarili at para sa sambayanan.

Ngayon ay igigiit ni Bannuar Agtarap ang isang tuod na kabatiran: Supling siya ng mga protesta, karugtong ng mga pangungulila, kagampan ng mga panaginip, daniw ng paglaya. Siya, siya rin ang wayawaya ng mga magulang na nangawala, inanod ng rumaragasang tubig-baha. O inilibing ng daluyong, isang libong daluyong na bumisita sa kanilang Tingnay, sinubukan ang tatag ng bawat kasapi, inalam kung sino ang tapat at kung sino ang traidor. Ay, isa-isang nagsilantad noon ang mga karasaen, ang mga ahas na kumakanta, matindi ang kamandag kapag kumakanta.

Ipinarada ang pugot na ulo ng kanyang Tatang sa isang nayon sa Kordilyera.

Itinusok ang ulo sa isang kawayan saka iprinusisyong parang tropeo ng kaaway na mandirigma na di naman mandirigma.

Ililibing mo ang bangkay ng iyong Tatang kapag nakita mo, bilin noon ng kanyang Nanang. Ililibing mo sa Kappia, sa nayon ng kanyang kadkadua. Sa isang matandang nara inilibing ang kanyang bahay-bata. Doon, doon mo rin ililibing ang kanyang bangkay.

Naiisip niya ngayon si Wayawaya.

Pagkatapos magsalita si Wayawaya ay nawala siya sa kanyang paningin.

May mga mata ang mga kaaway kahit dito sa Mendiola ng pagkilos at paglaya. Nag-iingat si Wayawaya. Kailangan niyang mag-ingat.

Matagal nang minamanmanan ng mga kaaway si Wayawaya.

Binansagan na siya ng kaaway na komunista, nanggugulo, amasona, aktibista.

Nang umakyat si Wayawaya sa entabladong trak na ibinalagbag ng mga kasama sa dalawang hanay ng barbed wire ng Mendiola, nakadama si Bannuar ng pagmamayabang. May kung anong damdaming di niya alam ang pangalanang ibig kumawala. Kasabay ng damdaming ‘yon ang takot, ang isa ring walang pangalang takot. Naisip niya: hanggang saan ang dulo ng pakikibaka?

Sa kanyang kinaroroonan sa harap ng entabladong trak, nakita ni Bannuar ang liksi ng pag-akyat ni Wayawaya, liksi ng musang—katawagan sa Ilokos sa pusang ligaw, sa Ilokos ng kanilang ugat at gunita, siya at si Wayawaya. Liksi ng mga nagdapat, ng mga naghahanap ng lupang pangako kahit sa lupang pangakong narating na subalit nadatnan doon ang hikahos at gawat at kawalan ng katarungan. May alerto sa ganoong liksi, malay sa bawat panganib na dulot ng tao at hayop sa kapalaluan.

Pagkasampa ni Wayawaya sa entabladong trak, napangiti si Bannuar sa alaala sa isang eksena ng Orapronobis. Pagkatapos daw maipagtagumpay ang rebolusyon, ang mga babae ay hindi na taumbahay lamang. Nasa paktoria na sila.

Magiging malaya ang mga asawang babae.

Magiging malaya ang mga ina.

Magiging malaya ang mga anak na babae.

Magiging malaya ang mga kapatid na babae.

Magiging kasama ng mga babae ang mga lalaki sa tuloy-tuloy na pagpapalago ng kabuhayan ng pagilian, kasa-kasama sila sa tahanan at kaparangan, sa pagawaan at sa bukid, sa paggiliw at pag-irog.

Magiging iba ang saklaw ng pakikibaka, sesentro ito sa relasyon, sa depinisyon ng bagong buhay, sa pagtitiyak ng hustisya para sa lahat.

Dumagundong ang tinig ni Wayawaya sa lahat ng sulok ng Mendiola. Buo ang tinig na iyon, nagbubukal sa isip at puso at kaluluwa, tumatagos sa kalamnan. “Mga kasama,” sabi niya, “isang maalab at mapanghimagsik na pagbati mula sa hanay ng mga mag-aaral sa buong kapuluan.”

Parang kagabi rin itong hapon na ito, sabi ni Bannuar Agtarap sa sarili. Isang nahihiyang mangingibig ang batang buwan kagabi. Naging saksi ang buwan sa kanilang paghahanda ng kakailanganin sa mahabang martsa ngayon mula Welcome Rotunda hanggang Malakaniang. Ang iba ay sa Ayala Avenue pa manggagaling, sa sentro ng puhunan.

Pasilip-silip ang buwan sa mga malalabay na sanga ng akasya na tumatanod sa sulok na iyon ng Bulwagang Lean Alejandro. Paminsan-minsa ay maglalaro ang mga anino ng mga sanga sa mga puting kartolinang sinusulatan nila ng “Arestuhin ang Pangulo! Arestuhin ang nakikipagkumpare!” at “Pangulong panggulo! Suwitik! Magbitiw!”

“Juice mo,” alok ni Bannuar kay Wayawaya.

Kinuha ni Wayawaya ang inumin.

Nagkantahan ang iba pang kasama sa bulwagan, nanunukso, nang-aasar. “Huling-huli! Huling-huli!” Maya-maya pa’y nagkagulo na sa bulwagan. Nag-indakan ang mga nagpoproduksyon ng mga karatula, kinukumpasan ang kanilang kanta. May sinasadyang harot sa kanilang pag-indak.

Pumagitna ang isang lalaking tibak, patpatin, puno ng tagihawat ang mukha. Ginawa niyang mikropono ang ginagamit na paint brush. “Sa ‘yo umibig ng tapat, sa ‘yo lamang mahal.” Tonong Pangako Sa ‘Yo, ala-Angelo ang pagpapakyut, may pakiusap sa mukha, may landi sa kanyang tinig.

Dinampot ni Bannuar ang nakalapag na Pinoy Times na nag-aanunsiyo ng pagiging lover boy for all seasons ng Pangulo ng Republika. Mabilis nitong nilamukos ang diyaryo, binilog. Ibinato sa patpating tibak. “Tado! Konyo!”

Umilag lamang ang tibak. “I love you, baby, this I promise you!” Ibang kanta ang inimbento.

Muling dumagundong ang tinig ni Wayawaya, umapaw sa Mendiola, lampas sa mga barbed wire at sa pulutong ng mga pulis at sundalong nagmamatyag sa lahat ng pangyayari. “Papayag ba tayo na salaulain tayo ng Pangulo ng mga kroni, mga kababayan?

“Papayagan ba natin ang Pangulo na itulak tayo sa burak ng karalitaan?

“Papayag ba tayo na takutin tayo ng sanggano sa Malakaniang?

“Pupulutin daw tayo sa kangkungan, mga kababayan!”

Tumigil si Wayawaya. Sa pamamagitan ng kanyang kanang palad ay pinahid ang pawis sa kanyang nuo. Tiningnan ang hanay ng mga nagrarali na ngayon ay dagat na ng tubaw, plakard, at bandila ng protesta.

Ipinako ni Wayawaya ang kanyang tingin sa mga pulang bandila ng mga kasama, mga kabataang mulat sa lahat ng nangyayari, inangkin ng mga anito ng mga ninuno, sinasapian ni Ina Wayawaya tuwi-tuwina.

Pinagsayaw ni Bannuar ang kanyang pulang bandila. Sayaw din ‘yon ng kanyang puso. Kagabi, sabi sa kanya ni Wayawaya: “Basbasan ka ng aking pagmamahal na pagmamahal ko rin sa bayan.”

Sinagot niya si Wayawaya: “Basbasan ka rin ng aking pag-ibig. Para sa iyo, para sa bayan.” Nginitian sila ng totorpeng batam-batang buwan, nginisian sila ng mga anino ng mga malalabay na sanga ng akasya na tumatanod sa kanila.

Iwinagayway ni Bannuar ang kanyang bandila, pinasayaw ng maraming ulit sa mga ulo ng mga kasamang pawisan at asar na sa pag-aalipusta sa kanila ng Kalihim ng Prensa.

Mga disidente raw sila, di kumikilala sa awtoridad.

Ningas kogon lang ‘yang parali-rali na ‘yan, dagdag ng kalihim. Umaapoy sa simula, naglalagablab kunwari, naghahatid ng kunwaring pangamba. Ngunit sa kalaunan ay kusang napupuksa ito, nawawalan ng init, namamatay pagkaraan ng pakitang-taong lakas sa kanilang hanay.

“Walang kakayahan daw ang ating hanay, mga kasama,” tudyo ni Wayawaya. Kumakapit na ngayon sa kanyang katawan ang kanyang basa nang pulang t-shirt na nagpapahayag ng sariling layon: “Serve the people.” Nakatali ang kanyang buhok subalit ilang hibla ang tumatakip sa kanyang nuo at kanang mata. May ligaw na liksi ang kanyang pagkilos. Liksi ito ng nakababatid ng maraming kuwento ng kaapihan at pagdarahahop.

“Titigil ba tayo sa ating ipinaglalaban, mga kasama?

“Tatanggapin na lamang ba natin ang husga ng mga panginoong tumitiyak na mananatili tayo sa ating abang kalagayan?”

Palubog na noon ang araw at ang simsim ng gabi’y nagsisimula nang gumapang sa mga sulok-sulok ng Malakaniang at sa mga eskinitang nakapalibot dito. Matatayog ang mga gusaling naging saksi na ng daang-daang protesta sa sentro ng kapangyarihan.

Marami sa mga gusaling ito ang pagmamay-ari ng mga nakinabang sa dating kaayusan: mga madreng nagkamal ng salapi sa kanilang pagtuturo sa mga anak ng mga mayayaman, mga mongheng namuhunan ng bendita at basbas sa mga patay at buhay at naging imbestor ng mga malalaking kompanya sa loob at labas ng bansa, mga pribadong mamamayang nagmamay-ari ng mga frangkisa ng mga pagkaing inaasam-asam ng mga mahihirap.

Sa papakanlong na araw, ang anino ng halimaw ay umaabot sa ulo ni Bannuar.

Kagabi nila pininturahan ang halimaw, tinuhog ng alambre ang dilang nakalaylay, at sinubukan ang pagbuga nito ng apoy mula sa tubo ng gas na panluto na pinadaan sa ilalim ng trak, pinalusot sa katawan nito at pinalawit sa bunganga. May takot na taglay ang dambuhalang hayop. Sa namamaalam na araw ay lalong tumingkad ang kulay dugong mata nito na siya ring kulay ng kanyang lawit na dila, buntot, katawan.

May galit sa kanyang tindig sa inupahang trak: nakaamba ang dibdib at mga paa, tila nakahandang magsabog ng kaguluhan tulad ng mga ginawa ng mga halimaw sa pelikulang galing sa Estados Unidos. Tinangkilik ng marami ang pelikula ng mga halimaw, pinalakpakan habang ang mga militar ay napapraning sa mga komunista at sa mga nag-ooperasyong pinta sa lansangan ng Kamaynilaan, habang ang Simbahan ay panay ang papuri sa mga vigilante na ang pakay ay sumunod sa programa ng kapayapaang inimport noon ng babaeng pangulo sa Timog Amerika, habang ang pamahalaan naman ay panay ang pagpopropaganda tungkol sa tungkulin nito sa demokrasya.

Ilang hakbang mula sa entabladong trak na ihinambalang ng mga kasama ay ang hele-helera ng mga pulis na may tangang mga kalasag at batuta, nagmamatyag sa nagaganap, nakikinig sa bawat katagang binibitiwan ni Wayawaya.

Sa likod ng mga pulis ay mga militar na may dalang armas.

Sa may unahan ng mga pulis patungong Malakaniang, sa entrada ng San Beda ng mga mongheng nagpapahayag na ng pagbawi sa suporta sa pamahalaan ay ang apat na service bus ng militar.

Sa pagitan ng entabaladong trak na kinatatayuan ngayon ni Wayawaya at ng mga pulis at militar ay ang dalawang hanay ng mga nirolyong barbed wire na pagkatapos ng pagdiriwang ng sentenaryo ng paglaya mula sa mga Kastila ay tila mga aliping nagsibalik sa Mendiola, sa bunganga mismo ng maburak na sapa na tutuloy sa Ilog Pasig.

Burak sa burak, burak sa kuwento, pagsuyo sa pakikibaka, pagkamatay sa pakikipagtunggali—lahat ng mga ito ay akin nang nasaksihan at akin pang nasasaksihan.

Lahat ng mga ito ay aking isasalaysay.

Kung bibigyan ninyo ako ng tinig.

Kung bibigyan ninyo ako ng pagkakataon.

Bilang patunay ng aking katapatan, lalagdaan ko ang aking salaysay, ilalagda ko ang dugo ng lahat ng mga ninuno, ilalagda ko ang lahat ng lumbay ng angkang aking pinagmulan.

Ako ang matandang kaluluwa ng matandang babae ng pakasaritaan ng mahabang paglalakbay.

Ako yaong babaeng may tangang-tangang linas na tuwi-tuwina’y binubuhol-buhol.

Nagpasalin-salin ako sa mga babae ng pitong salinlahi mula nang isakrifisyo ang buhay ni Padre Kuse, ang pari ng aming mga ninuno, aming tagabasbas, aming tagapagtanggol.

Hindi nila pinatawad si Padre Kuse.

Nakita ko ang kanyang inang sa kanyang pagtangis.

Narinig ko ang kanyang inang sa kanyang pagsasabi ng sumpa: “Gagapang kayong lahat! Gagapang sa lupa tulad ng mga ahas! Mabibiyak ang lupa, mahahati. At kayong lahat na nagkasala, lalamunin kayo ng lupa!”

Tinugis kaming lahat, kaming magkakamag-anak.

Umalis kami sa ili ng aming ugat at gunita.

Naglakbay kami sa mga kaparangan at kagubatan, sa mga linang na walang nagmamay-ari.

Hinanap namin ang Kappia sa mga dilim at liwanag na dumating at pumanaw, sa mga araw at buwan at bituing bumibisita at tumatanod sa aming paglalakbay.


Walang Kappia sa aming pinupuntahan kahit pulit-ulit ko itong napapanaginipan.

Kampay idi akong isang baglan, babaeng manggagamot, babaeng pari ng mga ninuno, tagapamagitan ng mga anito.

Kampay idi akong isang tagabasa ng mga kahulugan ng mga hangin at tubig at dahon.

Nasa hiraya ko ang Kappia: pook ng aming mga mithiin, kabuuan ng mga buhol-buhol ng linas ng aming pakasaritaan.

Sa aking hiraya ay ang lugal na laan sa amin—ang Kappia.

Nasa pagitan ng mga higanteng bundok ang Kappia.

May laot sa kanluran.

Ang mga lambak nito ay binabagtas ng tatlong malalaking ilog na nag-aanod ng lahat ng dumi sa mga gubat na nagiging pataba ng mga linang.

Isang araw, ninakaw sa akin ang hiraya ng Kappia.

Ang unang nagnakaw ay mga puti, matatangos ang ilong, umaasul ang mga mata.

Hindi ko mawari ang kanilang wika. Banyaga sa akin lahat ng kanilang senyas.

Di naglaon, pinalitan ng mga mestiso ang mga magnanakaw.

Ang mga asta’y sa mga puti rin. Pinilit ding nakawin ang aming pangalan.

Hindi namin ibinigay.

Itinago namin ang aming pangalan sa aming daniw, dallot, dallang, burtia.

Itinago namin sa aming mga panaginip at sa mga panaginip ng aming mga supling.

Itinago namin sa aming mga awit.

Di naglaon, nakipagkumplot ang mga mestiso sa ilang kayumanggi at muling ninakaw ang hiraya ng aming Kappia.

Alam ng mga kayumanggi ang aming daniw, dallot, dallang, burtia.

Alam ng mga kayumanggi ang aming panaginip at ang mga panaginip ng aming mga supling.

Alam ng mga kayumaggi ang aming awit.

Walang puknat ang kanilang pagnanakaw sa aming hiraya.

Isang araw, hinablot nila ang tubig.

Isang araw, ipinuslit ang gubat, ang buong gubat. Walang itinira.

Isang araw, inangkin nila ang mga parang at linang.

Sa lahat ng pagnanakaw, ito ang di napapalampas ng mga anito ng mga ninuno: ang pag-aangkin sa lupa.

Lupa ang nag-aangkin sa tao. Sa lupa bumabalik ang lahat.

Makatarungan ang mga anito, mga sanhi sila ng lahat ng buhay.

Nagpasya ang mga anitong gawin akong anito ng lahat ng paggunita ng pakasaritaan. Buhol ako ng linas: pitong buhol ng pitong salinlahing pakikibaka.

Ako si Ina Wayawaya, espiritu at aniwaas at kararua at karkarma ng lahat.

Ako ang laon—sa simula, sa wakas. Wakas ng mga simula. Simula ng mga wakas.

Kuwento ko ang kuwentong ito, dallot at dalidallang ng lahat ng panahon.

Ang kay Bannuar at Wayawaya ang bago kong tinig, bago kong laman.

Hindi namamatay ang baglan—at ako ang baglan ng kasaysayan ng mga lupaing ito na pinapalibutan ng mga tubig at karagatan at pag-asa at pag-asam at pangarap.

Sa aking sinapupunan ipinaglilihi ang lahat ng galit at pagtubos, lahat ng pakikidangadang at paglaya.

Pitong ulit na akong isinilang sa pitong salinlahi ng mga Agtarap.

Pitong buhol ng linas ng pananagumpay pagkatapos ng mahabang gabi ng pakikipagtunggali.

Anito rin ako ng lahat ng may buhay. Ako ang hininga ng lahat ng mga nagrarali ngayon. Ako ang kanilang bawat hininga. Lalagdaan ko ang aking pahayag na ito ng aking dugo bilang patutuo sa aking salaysay.

Masusunog ang halimaw.

Magtatapos ang maliligayang araw ng halimaw.

At mangabubuhay na mag-uli ang lahat ng mga nag-alay ng buhay para sa bayan: si Padre Ili na tatang ni Bannuar, si Padre Kuse na aking nuno, ang limang Wayawaya sa pitong salin ng mga Wayawaya sa linas ng kasaysayan ng bayang ito.

Silang lahat—kasama ang mga nangawala, kasama ang mga walang pangalang martir ng paglaya—silang lahat ay mangabubuhay na mag-uli.

Magkukuwento sila ukol sa kanilang paglalakbay.


Book Review: The Grammar of Ilokano Dreams


Intermediate Ilokano: An Integrated Language

and Culture Reading Text

By Prof. Precy Espiritu

U of Hawaii-Manoa

Word Becoming World: the Grammar of Ilokano Dreams

By Aurelio S. Agcaoili, Ph.D.


Holding all other things equal, words are all we are—and have. The world, as it comes to us and as we receive it, is word—yes, word that creates and destroys what is, word that shapes and misshapes our thoughts, word that forms and deforms our way of seeing. In a manner of speaking, word becomes world—and it always does. The relation, thus, between word and world is one of both being and becoming. But both being and becoming, intertwined as they are, are eternal, perennial, continuing, unending, unfolding. This is the sense in which Intermediate Ilokano, Professor Precy Espiritu’s gift to the Ilokano, could be put in context. For in this book, she makes permanent the word of the Ilokano—his language, the very language through which he comes to know of himself, of his roots, of his being. She also puts into play that world inhabited by him, the very world where he takes spiritual residence, the world of his people in and outside the Ilocos of the past and the present. It is the same world where dreams and desires—his and his people’s—collapse with the future so that in this collapsing, dream and desire become word and world at the same time.

In this age of estrangement and exile, of diaspora and rootlessness, of collective amnesia and the glossolalia of chaos and crisis, the word comes to us in a balm, soothes us, and brings us to a healing, a certain wholeness, we who are residents of the linguistic world. This then makes us recollect ourselves and re-gather our thoughts. We are reminded that we can come home, with finality, indeed, to language—to a language which is us, to a language which is all we have. And for the Ilokano, this language is the one in which the soul and the spirit and the mind reside.


The Ilokano, his literature and history tell us, has always been a party to the national and now global diaspora. He has long been an exile in and outside his country, in and outside his language, in and outside his culture. This condition that has afflicted him has become almost a social malady. We see him, the Ilokano without a home, the Ilokano that is always in search of home. We see him in the most likely places; we see him in the most unlikely places. We see him roaming around in all corners of the globe, his roaming around sometimes aimless, sometimes senseless. He is omnipresent, this Ilokano émigré, a traveler seeking emplacement, a visitor seeking an appointment with time, that time of the heart and mind that takes root in stories, in language, in culture—in short, in that abode of the soul, in that indwelling of the spirit. He is in all places and in all times, this pursuer of lands and loves and lives. Because this has become his lot for so long, this Ilokano émigré: To keep on looking for a place in the sun he can call his own, a residence he can come home to, a place of rest and calm for his bones, and body, and his souls, too—for souls according to the folk stories he has declaimed in his heart and committed to memory—for souls on the look out for what is real beyond that which has been constructed and invented for him by the lords of his social life, many of these lords lying to him through his dream of the good life. His dream takes on the form of the marvelous sometimes. He calls it lung-aw, yes, the dram named after his god of the time before time, the god of appeasement, satiation, progress, development, contentment. Otherwise, he calls it kinabaknang, the fabled riches he can never have in the homeland, the wealth that will always elude him, running away from him for as long as the big man of his land, the naturay, the agtuturay—will remain looking only after his own interest, his own welfare.


For we sort out the world and life and experience and community according to the taxonomic promises and possibilities of this language which is ours, true, but which we share with those who have the pathos to commune with us, the passion to see us as a people through the lens of our words, our logos, our pagsasao. For indeed, as in other communities, imagined or real, the world that we know s only made possible by word, by our words, by the language which mediates all of our understanding, by the logic of sounds and syntax becoming ours, becoming us, oneing with us. Word becoming world—this is the situs of Professor Precy Espiritu’s Intermediate Ilokano. Through this and because of this book, the first of its kind that does not—and rightly so—exoticize the language of the Ilokanos, the grammar of our Ilokano dreams will finally take shape and form, meaning and substance, content and truth.


Part of the radical positioning of the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature of the University of the Philippines is to look at all Philippine languages and Filipino cultural practices as instruments through which the Filipino people express their view of the world. This world-view, in reality, is in the plural—world-views—since Filipinos express their own understanding of the world in more than a hundred languages. The challenge for this academic department was to teach the main languages and literatures of our people and thus, at a certain point as a faculty of that department, I taught Ilokano language and literature in both the graduate and the undergraduate programs.

Prof. Espiritu’s book, Let’s Speak Ilokano, rescued me at a time when I did not know how to start teaching my own language to students who was to study my language for the first time as an academic requirement in both the bachelor’s and the master’s program. Now I realize that it is not easy teaching your own language and literature. This act demands a lot of self-reflection, so much amount of self-questioning, so much assessment of instructional method and methodology.

In the teaching of the Ilokano language, certain hermeneutic principles guided me along the way. First, I had to accept that the Ilokano language, even if it was also conditioned, preconditions Ilokano thought. Second, understanding Ilokano thought does not necessarily require any extra-linguistic given. Third, Ilokano language learners learn the language better when they are equipped with a certain mastery and grasp of the “structure” of the Ilokano sense of the ontological and the cosmological. I see all these principles present in Intermediate Ilokano.

What is the relevance, then, of this newest book of Prof. Espiritu?

One thing is clear: That Prof. Espiritu has blazed a trail for all of us. There is so much virtue in what she did with this new book: She went where there is no path to follow and she left a trail. Espiritu’s contribution is to show us the way to a productive teaching of Ilokano by making us realize that we ought to look at the language simultaneously from the framework of its being a part of a convention and a discourse. Language as a convention tells us of “categories and rules (that) have developed under the influence of the structure of interaction in society.” Language as a discourse related to its focus “on the social and cultural contexts in which (the Ilokano) language operates.”

Intermediate Ilokano, Prof. Espiritu’s gift to the Ilokanos all over the world and to all serious students of language education and teaching, is therefore, a must read.

(Partly written while on the teaching staff of the University of the Philippines-Diliman; part of the material was published as an introduction to the book; the latter part was written for The Weekly Inquirer Philippines, California, USA, Jun 20, 2005)

Pagka-Filipino at Ang Kalikasan ng mga Malayang Sining

Ni Aurelio S. Agcaoili, PhD
(Isinerye ng The Weekly Inquirer Philippines, Hul 22 & Hul 29, 2005)

Sa kaisipang kanluran nagmumula ang konsepto ng “liberal arts” o sa mas simpleng katawagan na “the arts”. Itong huli ay isang kolektibong pagtuturing sa mga gawaing makasining at masining tulad ng sining biswal, musika, literature kasama ang pilosopiya, kasaysayan, wika, sosyolohiya, antropolohiya, sikolohiya, at kahit matematika at ekonomiks. Ang kalikasang ganito ng malayang sining ay nag-uugat sa isang aktitud ng kanlurang mga lipunan at tao tungkol sa kalikasan ng paggawa.

Ang lahat ng may kinalaman sa pagpapawis ay hindi kasama sa liberal arts o malayang sining. Ang mga ito ay sa mga mabababang uri ng tao sa lipunan. Ang mga ito ay sa mga trabahador lamang. Ang mga ito ay sa proletariat na wala naman talagang papel sa buhay at lipunan kundi magsilbi: pagsilbihan ang mga taong malalaki at mayayaman at makangyarihan upang ang mga taong ito ay magkakaroon ng mga panahon at oras at espasyong material at psychic na maisulong ang kanilang hilig sa mga nabanggit na mga gawain at interest at aktibidad.

Ang “klasikong” pagtuturing sa mga malayang sining bilang mga “the arts” ay naglalayon na makalikha ng isang “free man”—isang malayang-malayang tao: malayang-malaya sapagkat hinding-hindi niya pinuproblema ang pag-iis-is ng kaldero, ng pagkukula ng puting uniporme, ng pag-aalmirol, ng pamamalengke, ng pagplaplantsa, ng pagwawalis, ng pagdadampot ng ebak ng alagang hayop. Sa isang “free man,” ang mga gawaing katulad ng mga ito ay “gross”: “Ay, kawawa naman the fish, tsinatsaktsak nito kalahati the belly” at “Look at the pig, it is so baboy, o!”

Ang “free man” dito sa malayang sining ng kanluran ay yaong hinding-hindi narurungisan ang kamay at palad sapagkat ang ibig sabihin ng dungis sa kamay at palad ay simpleng “gross”: pang-alipin, pang-working class, pangtsimoy at tsimay—sa madaling salita, hindi angkop sa uri ng mga malayang-malayang tao.

Ito ang masaklap na kasaysayan ng mga malayang sining na nagmula sa kanluran: isang malayang sining na nakapiit sa mga makikitid na mga asampsyon tungkol sa pagiging tao, sa pagiging komunidad, sa pagiging bahagi ng sanlibutan at sansinukob.

Maalala natin na bahagi ng mapanupil na tradisyong ito ang pagbalahura din sa konsepto ng “batas na natural” na inimbento bilang aparato ng kaisipan ng mga bansang Europeo na may mapag-imbot na hangarin sa mga bansang di kabilang sa kanilang itinuturing na sibilisado at kulturado at kristiyano.

Simple lang itong batas na natural kung uusigan at nag-oopereyt sa ganitong sitwasyon ng buhay: May mga batas ng kalikasan na hindi maaaring suwayin at mga batas na ito ay nasa pagpapakahulugan, pag-iingat, at pagkokontrol ng mga bansang kanluran na binasbasan ng diyos na olandes ang buhok, matangos ang ilong, maputi ang balat, matangkad ang sukat. Ibig sabihin, ang batas na natural na ito ay nagiging batas na natural ng lahat ng mga bansang kanluran na naniwala na binasbasan sila ng kanilang diyos upang galugarin ang iba pang bahagi ng sanlibutan at doon, doon sa mga lupain ng mga hindi puti ang balat at hindi olandes ang buhok, doon sa lupain ng paganismo at mga paniniwalang superstisyoso, doon ihahayag ang bagong balita, ang bagong mensahe ng kaligtasan—mga balita at mensahe tungkol sa mapanligtas at mapangtubos na puting diyos, olandes ang buhok, matangkad, balingkinitan ang katawan, matangos ang ilong. Sa ganitong angkla, nakakapagtaka ba na sa bayang ito ng kasawian at pangarap at kamalasan at pag-asa ay mayroong malaganap na sambayanang obsesyon sa paggamit ng mga kemikal na nagpapaputi sa balat (“Ang puti-puti ko na! Ang danda-danda ko na! Di na ako makikilala ng aking asawa!”), sa pagpapahigh-light ng buhok (“Burgundy para sa akin, please!”), sa pagpaparetoke ng hubog ng katawan (“Ibig ko ang katawang Naomi Campbell, gatingting ang hitsura!”), sa pag-inom ng mga growth ball (“Iba na ang matangkad! Maging basketball star tulad ni Alvin Patrimonio na kumikita ng limpak-limpak na salapi!”), at pagpapatangos ng ilong (“Pag yumaman ako, una kong patatangusin ang aking ilong. Pakokorte kong parang tuka ng agila, kasingtangos ng tore ng simbahan ng San Sebastian at ng kapilya ng Iglesia ni Kristo!”).

Sa ganito natin matatanto na bagaman malinis ang hangarin ng liberal arts—ng mga malayang sining—sa pag-iidealista ng taong malaya, mababahiran ang ganitong malinis na hangarin, makukulayan ito ng iba pang mga proyektong pansarili at makasarili ng mga bansang kanluran upang sa kanilang pagpalaganap ng kaalaman, katwiran, teknolohiya, pananampalataya at kultura, ang sa kanila ang naibabando, ang sa kanilang pagbasa at pagpapahalaga sa karanasan, relasyon, at mundo ang magdedetermina at magdidikta kung ano ang dapat, kung ano ang tama, kung ano ang mainam, kung ano ang mabuti, kung ano ang tatanghalin. Muhon ang titig kanluran; muhon ang karanasang kanluran; muhon ang halagang kanluran. Ang kanluran ang iniikutan ng lahat ng mga mabuti at tama at ang kanluran din ang tumbok ng lahat ng mga kaalaman at katwiran.

Sa pagdating ng mga mananakop sa atin , dalawang salansan ng liberalistang pag-iisip, sa aking tingin, ang nagbigay hulma at hugis sa ating mga malayang sining.

Una ang sa Kastila partikular noong ika-19 na dantaon na siyang dantaon ng kolektibong pagkamulat sanhi ng kilusang propaganda. Dito natin mahihinuha ang manibalang na konsepto ng pagkamakabansa.

Ang pangalawa ang pagdating ng mga Amerikano na nagpalawak ng sistema ng edukasyon na ang karakter ay pampubliko—pangkalahatan hindi lang pang-iilan di tulad ng sa mga Kastila—subalit ikinarsel naman ang kamulatan sa piitang taglay ng White Rabbit, bubble gum, Baby Ruth at Ingles. Umasa tayong mahihinog din ang manibalang na konsepto ng pagkamakabansa subalit magpahanggang ngayon ay tila natuyot na ang konsepto at hindi na nagkaroon ng pagkakataon na mahinog. Papaano natin maipapaliwanag, halimbawa, ang patong-patong na kabuwisitan at kaguluhang nangyayari sa atin? Papaano natin maipapaliwanag na habang ang ibang mga bansa ay puspusan ang kanilang politikal na hakbang tungo sa konsolidasyon ng lahat ng kanilang kayang gawin at kagalingan ay heto naman tayo, tayong mga Filipino na nagyayabang na tagapagmana pa man din ng dalawang tradisyon ng mga malalayang sining, heto tayong nakanganga at tuloy ang pag-eexport ng mga trabahante sa ibang bansa, tuloy ang implisito nating palisya ukol sa tiyakang pagwarak ng ating mga pamilya at relasyon, tuloy ang ating pagyakap sa glinobalisang pag-iisip hanggang sa mapagtanto natin na ang ating mga dalandan ay nangawala na at napalitan na ito ng tuwiran ng mga ponkan, peras, mansanas, at ubas. Magiging specimen na lamang ang ating mga prutas sa museo ng ating alaala, exibit sa galerya, o dekorasyon sa mga home economics building ng mga eskuwelahan.

Maririnig natin ang titser sa sibika o dili kaya sa nutrisyon: “Eto, kamias. Eto, aratiles. Eto, sapote. Eto, bungang araw! Eto, masamang bunga!” Pagkatapos, sapagkat kinakailangan idispley ang pagiging makabayan, magkakaroon ng mga pambansang araw ng mga nangangawalang prutas upang magugunita natin ang mga ito, maikikintal sa ating kamalayan habang tuloy ang pagngatngat natin ng Fuji apples na pagkalutong-lutong at California grapes na pagkatam-is-tam-is: “Ngayon ay araw ng mga balimbing!” “Ngayon ay araw ng mga pinya at papaya at saging na tubo!”

Kapag hindi natin binantayan ang takbo ng ating malayang pag-iisip at malayang buhay, darating ang panahon na rururok tayo sa maling direksyon at makikita natin na ang kalayaang tinatamasa ay di pala ito totoo, huwad ito simula’t sapul, nagkukunwari simula’t sapul. Ang kalayaan ng mga malalayang sining at mga malalayang tao ay di pinapatotohanan ng pagkakabisa sa mga araw ng mga nangangawalang singkamas at sigarilyas na ipinipinta ng isang walang pakundangan sapagkat walang pakialam na pintor. Ang kalayaan ng mga malalayang sining at mga malalayang tao ay wala sa paglikha ng awit tungkol sa mga nangangawalang baging at ilog at gubat ng isang kompositor na naninilbihan sa isang sugapang lider at mandarambong na kaalyado.

Ang Problema

Tagapagmana tayo ng tradisyon, tagapagmana ng kasayasayan. Isa sa mga minana natin ay ang tradisyon at kasaysayan ng mga malalayang sining na nakaangkla sa banyagang tradisyon at kasaysayan na nakabalangkas sa interes na hindi atin, mga kaalamang di kailan man ay atin, at mga halagahang malayung-malayo na maging atin. Ang lahat ng artikulasyon ng mga malalayang sining ay laging dayakronik: hinuhubog ito ng mga kapangyarihan at puwersa ng espasyo at panahon at kahit kailan ay hindi ito maihihiwalay sa kasaysayan.

Totoo ngang kay gandang pagmasdan ang kabuuan ng Simbahan ng Vatican, na kay kisig nito sa kanyang tayo sa kalayuan, na testigo ito ng eternidad ng pananampalataya ng Kristiyano. Subalit—ito ang malaking subalit—kailangan din alamin na higit sa engkantong taglay ng simbahang ito ng mga diamante at ginto at mga antigong poon ay ang puhunang pawis at buhay at dugo ng mga Negro ng Afrika na nilatigo ng nilatigo upang mabuhat ang mga gatrosong mga marmol na gagawing poste, ang mga bloke-blokeng marmol na gagawing dingding, at mga laksa-laksang gintong gagawing korona ng mga di nagsasalitang poon!

Kay dungis!—at dungis ito mula sa mga kabataang inutang mula sa mga batang aliping agad pinatanda ng walang pakundangang pagtatrabaho sa ngalan ng mga maliliit at malalaking poon, sa ngalan ng mga huwad at totoong poon!

Sa atin, hindi na tayo lalayo pa. Magarang tingnan ang Manila Film Center, sentro ng ating kagalingan sa malayang sining ng pelikula. Subalit hindi ba umaalingawngaw din ang hiyaw at iyak at pagmamakaawa ng mga trabahenteng natabunan nang ang ilang palapag nito ay gumuho at sapagkat kinakailangang matapos agad upang maihabol ito sa festival, ay, ayon sa ibang balita, kinakailangang tabunan na ang mga naguhuan sapagkat higit na importante and pagpapakita sa mga banyagang bisita na mayroon tayong maipagmamalaking sentro ng pelikula. Kung hindi mismo filmic ang kuwentong ito ay hindi ko na alam kung ano ang masining sa pelikula.

Nagmumulto raw ang mga namatay sa guho, sabi ng iba.

Nagmumulto sapagkat sila itong mga walang pangalang taumbayan, walang kapangyarihan, mga kababayang mahalaga lamang kapag bilangan na ng boto tuwing eleksyon.

Nagmumulto sapagkat tila napakalayo ang agwat ng malayang sining sa panahong iyon ng pagkaguho at ng linggwa frangka ng sining na iyon. Ibang wika ang gamit—ibang kaisipan ang pinairal. Ibang wika ang gamit—ibang paraan ng pagkilos ang sinundan, isang pagkilos na malayo sa hinagap ng mga mahihirap, malayo sa hiraya ng mga duhagi.

Ibig sabihin, ang malayang sining na ating itinatanghal sa ngayon ay kailangang suriin, sitahin kung kinakailangan, analisahin ang motibasyon, isiwalat ang kapalsuhan taglay nito na ipinapangalandakang totoo.

Ang krusyal sa konsepto at realidad ng malayang sining ay hindi yung konsepto at realidad ng sining kundi yung konsepto at realidad ng malaya.

Ano ang malaya?

Kailan na ang malaya ay malaya?

Malaya ba ng dulang napakateatrikal dahil kumpleto ang rekado at kasting kasama ang helicopter na naglalanding at Cadillac na umaarya ang kinang kung ang kuwento ay tungkol sa sakripisyo ng isang inang gustong maging Amerikano ang kaisa-isang anak sa sundalong naging pansamantalang mangingibig? Saan ba natin susukatin ang laya at kalayaan sa mga sining na nagsasabing kasama sa malaya?

Lampas sa mga bansag at sa laro ng mga pangalan, saan ang simula ng laya at saan ang bawnderi nito sa hindi malaya? Naidedeklara ba ng laya at kalayaan sa mga malalayang sining?

Edukasyon at Malayang Sining

Hindi totoo kung gayon na ang malayang sining ay tuwirang malaya at mayroong siyang mga lisensiya upang itakda ang kanyang pansariling definisyon at konstruksyon ng realidad.

Ang laya sa malayang sining ay nasusukat sa kanyang kakayahang dumistansiya sa umiiral na makapangyarihang definisyon ng realidad.

Lagi-lagi na ang tunay na sining ay rebolusyonaryo at rebelde, rebolusyonaryo at rebelde dahil hinding-hindi ito kampiyante sa mga nakagawiang paglalarawan kung ano nga ang magandang buhay para sa higit na nakararami sa isang bayan.

Ang malayang sining ay rebelde sapagkat nagpapanukala ito ng ibang-ibang pagbasa sa realidad, mundo, relasyon, karanasan, lipunana, kasaysayan. Ang larawang ipininta ni Delotavo tungkol sa “Itak sa Dibdib ni Mang Juan” na nagpapakita ng aykon ng Coke na tila nagguguhit espada at itinatarak ito sa isang tila wala sa sarili na gusgusing mama ay nananatiling isang makapangyarihan komentaryo tungkol sa malawakang sistematikong pagpatay ng mga kapitalistang multinasyunal sa bansang pinagkakalakalan nila tulad ng Filipinas.

Ang malayang sining ay likas na rebelde sapagkat hindi ito kailan man kumporme sa kung ano ang nandiyan: kakaiba ang kanyang pagtuturing, extraordinaryo ang kanyang pagtitig sa mga bagay-bagay, kontra-agos ang kanyang paglalayag sa dagat ng mga kaalaman, kabatiran, pang-unawa. Higit sa lahat, rebolusyonaryo at rebelde ang malayang sining sapagkat kinikilala nito ang pinipiping tinig ng masa—ng mga nakaraming pinagkakaitan mismo ng kasaysayan, kinikilala nito na sa masa siya nagmumula at sa masa rin magbabalik. Ibig sabihin, ang malayang sining, higit sa lahat, ay pagmamay-ari ng mga nakararami, pagmamay-ari ng taumbayan, naaangkin ng sambayanan, inaangkin nating lahat.

At sapagkat ang nakararami ay hindi nag-iingles, sapagkat ang taumbayan ay sa linggwa frangka ng bayan nakikipag-usap—ang puno’t dulo ng lahat kung gayon ay ang pagtuturing na ang tunay na malayang sining ay pinapamagitan ng wala nang iba pang wika kundi ng wika ng marami, ang linggwa frangka, ang Filipino.

Papaano maangkin ng taumbayan ang pilosopiya bilang malayang sining kung ang pilosopiya ay sa banyagang wika ang limi? Ang malaya sapagkat mapagpalayang malayang sining ng pilosopiya ay dapat laman na sa Filipino ito itinatanghal at wala nang iba.

Papaano mailalarawan ng literature ng opresyon at pakikipagtunggali kung sa banyagang wika ito nasususlat? Hindi kaya mauuwi lang ito sa isa pang dispalinghadong pagbasa ng mga akdang pampanitikan tulad ng dispalihadong pagbasa ng ilan sa Noli at Fili ni Rizal, na, sa kasamaang palad, ay sa wika ng mga mananakop nasulat? Sino nga ba ang kausap ni Rizal? Para kanino nga ba ang panlipunang diskursong taglay ng kanyang mga akda kung ang taumbayan mismo ay hindi nakakabasa sapagkat di naman nakakaintindi ng ganoong mga akda na nasulat sa wikang hindi naman kanila?

Naaalala ko sa isang kumperensiya. May isang batam-batang instructor ang nagtanong ng ganito: “Mayroon nga bang Filosofiyang Filipino?” Sa simula’y di siya pinansin. Deadma. Di ko ma-teyk ang ganoong pag-iisip. Pero nooong mangulit ang mama, winarningan ko siya: “Panahon na upang galangin natin ang sa atin. Panahon na upang kilalanin natin ang ating mga ugat, ang ating pinagmulan. Lahat ng mga lipunang may sining at kultura at wika at kasayasayan ay mayroong Filosopiya. Hindi katulad ng filosopiyang natutunan natin mula sa ating mapanakop na guro sa klasrum. Filosopiyang tunay ito na nanggagaling sa kaibuturan ng ating mga puso, kaluluwa at pagkasino bilang mga tao, bilang bahagi ng isang pamayanan.”

Humihingi, kung gayon, ng malayang sining ng sariling wika upang tuwirang maging malaya at mapagpalaya. Ang historikal na sirkumstansiya ng malayang sining ang siya mismong nagtatakda na wala nang higit na angkop na wika ang malayang sining ng at para sa taumbayan kundi sa linggwa frangka ng taumbayan.

Sapagkat sa linggwa frangka lamang nagaganap ang talastasan—at ang malayang sining, sapagkat ito ay mapagpalaya, ay likas itong bahagi at daluyan ng talastasan.

Sapagkat sa linggwa frangka lamang nagkakaroon ng katuparan ang kabatiran na lampas sa mundong nililikha ng sining, higit lalo na ang mundo ng hiraya na kakakakitaan ng pag-asa ay nagiging klaro, konkreto at totoo kung naiintindihan ito sa wika ng bayang may karapatan, higit sa lahat, sa hiraya ng laya at bansa.


By Aurelio S. Agcaoili, PhD

(Serialized in the The Weekly Inquirer Philippines, Jul 22, Jul 29, & Aug 5, 2005)

There are a number of interlocking events that somehow helped me “to see” this phenomenon I call as “cultural (re) decolonization.” First, for a number of years I was a vowed religious in one of the Italian orders that came to the Philippines during the early years of Martial Rule of then President Ferdinand Marcos. Second, three years after leaving the religious life, I became a member of the formation team composed of Italians and their Filipino confreres. In 1992, I left my work in this religious order to pursue other interests but my interest on Italian orders and congregations had by then expanded beyond the order of which I was a member. In a sense, this paper is a critical reflection of what I have seen so far.
But what exactly is this phenomenon of cultural (re) decolonization that I am talking about? Simply put: it is a phenomenon in religion, in missionary work among Catholics in particular, where the task of evangelization (again) takes on two instantia or moments, the first instantia in the nature of recolonization and the second, an attempt by indigenous religious, trained and formed by the neocolonizers to redecolonize/ decolonize themselves.

Let me clarify some issues related to these concepts I am using in this paper.
First, this recolonization as a result of the evangelization efforts of Italians can be traced to so many interrelated factors such as: (a) the genuine attempt of Italian religious to share what they have to the Filipinos, (b) the genuine attempt of Italian religious to share their being with the Filipinos and not so much what they have, (c) the claims, both conscious and unconscious, by Italian religious of the built-in, “natural,” “fundamental” superiority of their culture and lifeways compared to those of the Filipinos, and (d) the economic and political power the Italian religious wield in the early years of their evangelization efforts.
There are crucial points raised in the distinction of evangelization attitude and disposition as either sharing what you have or sharing your being. A missionary fired by the desire to share what he has might be thinking of geographic/ territorial landmarks he must build for (but not with) the people. This is a case of prioritizing monuments over minds, buildings over bodies. In contrast, a missionary who sees the mission as a place of communion—of “the essential coming together of minds and hearts,” to borrow the metaphor of spiritual writers—does not have but simply be: simply be present among the people.
Second, decolonization—or redecolonization—as the case maybe, is an afterthought, an act of “redemption” after one has, from hindsight, understood that somewhere there had been a violent occupation in the territories of the mind and consciousness, after one has realized that a colony need not be a land or physical space but can be the way one has come to hermeneuticize reality and experience. This act to decolonize is a response to the “violence of love” from evangelizing and is thus an act, on a moral end, by the colonized, who, metaphorically, are the indigenous religious, the native members of a foreign missionary group.
Let me clarify, too, that when the indigenous religious struggle for decolonization, the “self-redeeming” act can be so subtle and sometimes unnamed, which is also a problem. But here the struggle is not dependent on the name: the reality is before the term, the experience is before the word.

The attempt to decolonize can be logically extended and include previous experiences of colonization and in this respect becomes, on the second level, beyond de-Italianization. For instance, decolonization may include de-Americanization and de-Hispanicization. I call this re-decolonization, with the emphasis on the prefix, because the phenomenon factors the subtle “violence of love” inflicted by the previous colonizers.

What I intend to do then in this paper is to account, by way of narrative analysis and data from the field, this phenomenon of re (de)colonization.

This wave of missionary work by the Italians in the Philippines is but a part of series of missionary efforts of the Catholic Church all over the world. As the churches from the First World developed in terms of economic and human resources capability, as their resources became one of surplus, missionaries were sent to other shores, other nations that were in need of listening to the good news. Even from this end, we see here an economic principle at work—clearly a demand and supply scenario that formed the basis for the narrative of tacit struggle woven by the indigenous religious. The “other nations” were what were administratively called by the French as “Third World”. So Europe has a surplus of holy men and vowed religious who were, in the name of God, to go to Asia, to Africa, to Latin America: Send them there—and fast, faster than the devil, because the devil might do the harvesting before the church can do it. Minus the transcending element of “the call”—the vocation, so to say—this is how to reduce in simple terms the relation between the churches of the First and Third Worlds. The churches of the First World are very rich because the economies of the nations in these churches are very rich. The churches from the Third World are not necessarily poor but with undeniably a large number of poor members. There is a certain qualification here. When churches are taken as institutions and organization with legal personalities, they can be seen as either prosperous or poor. The lay members are not, ordinarily, counted in this operational definition. The story is different when the churches are seen “as communities of the faithful”—a theological and mystical concept, a sense left out intentionally in this paper.

For heuristic purposes, and to underscore the place of the Italian orders and congregations in the local church of the Philippines, the “waves” of evangelization can be divided as: (a) the Spanish wave—circa 1565 to 1896; (b) the American regime wave—circa 1900s and onwards and (c) the Italian wave, circa the seventies. During the American rule, there was a liberal opening of the local church to other churches, Catholic and Protestant, American, as well as European such as Belgian, Irish, and German.

The Spanish wave brought about a Hispanicization of Filipino religious sensibility. This means that the Filipino way of looking at the transcendent, the world, and life for that matter, was eventually modeled after the pre-shaping and pre-forming power of the Spanish language and culture brought by the Spanish officials and by the members of the mendicant and friar orders and by the clerics. Here we see a Hispanic cosmology, a Hispanic epistemology of God, and an ontology defined by the west.
The American regime wave began with the metaphor of benevolence, the white man and the McKinley declaration of bringing civilization to the Philippines. This metaphor of benevolence was further reinforced by another McKinley metaphor of “manifest destiny”—the manifest destiny of the American nation to colonize (or occupy) the Philippines a divine mandate, one that assumes the structure and power of a vocation, a calling. While, the consequence of the Spanish wave was the formation of a colonial structure of religious sensibility, the American regime wave brought into this Hispanicized sensibility an open-market/ free market dimension, what with the entry of other religious sensibilities other than the one formed according the ethic of Protestantism.

During the American wave, “turfing” became part of the sensibility, a carryover of the Spanish period, a missionary activity demanded by the tacit ideology of religion as a market/ marketplace of evangelical services. This turfing took on two related forms: (a) geographic and (b) charismatic. In (a), the religious orders/ congregations were assigned mission areas, the Belgian fathers and sisters, for instance, missioning in the Cordilleras in Northwest Philippines. In (b), these orders/congregations missioned based on the specific requirements of their apostolate, for instance, health care work, education, care for unwed mothers, and the like. By the 70’s, a geographic missioning had become clearly saturated; so many orders/ congregations were already entrenched and rooted in the localities that new missions could not be had without coordinating with the “original” missioners. Being first or original in the mission areas virtually became the moral basis for the social power the missioners wielded over the localities and over the people in these localities.

With the Philippines a saturated market, the missionary form left was the charismatic: most of the foreign orders/congregations were engaged in specific apostolates that expressed the charism of their founders.

In all of these waves, there had been attempts at decolonizing, with the Spanish wave producing the sentiment of separating from the Catholic Church and forming an independent, nationalist church after the Katipunan declared independence and declared war against Spain and after the three priests Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora were martyred.

The American regime wave brought to the surface the need to Filipinize the churches and makes them “local” expressions of their “mother” churches. The ranks of the Protestants churches is a clear example, with the label “Filipino” almost always attached to the proper name of the local churches. The colonial relationship, however, remained—and it remained uncriticized. It was assumed to be not a problem; it was not a problematique worthy of study, research, reflection, and action.
But the winds of change brought about by the turbulent 60’s and the 70’s in the Philippines became the context for a new critique and reflection. The Universal Church had just concluded the Second Vatican Council and the radicalized church people in so many parts of the world, particularly the Philippines, Africa, and Latin America, were looking at religion as an instrument for “national liberation,” sometimes understood to mean decolonization, or as in the case of the Philippines, a series of decolonization (termed in this study as redecolonization).

This is the historical context in which we can locate the Italian orders and congregations and see them as unconscious and perhaps, unwilling agents of a new wave of occupying people’s minds. The ethical principle says it all: “Bonum ex integra causa malum ex cucumque defectu.” Applied in this study, we do not necessarily have to impute a bad motive or intention for every defect that we see or for every result that comes as a consequence of missionary activities. The absence of a conscious defective intention does not, however, render every consequence good.

From the series of interviews and informal takes I had with Filipino seminarians and religious of Italian orders and congregations, I culled seven narratives that underscore the colonizing and decolonizing efforts of both the Filipino and the Italian religious.

The first story of “seduction” plays up the role played by the idealism of the young, their Messianic desire to be redeemers of the world even if they are only escaping their poverty.

I came from a poor town in Bohol. I knew only fishing, the song of Yoyoy Villame celebrating our poverty, and the tuba (coconut wine) to spice our otherwise dreary days. One day, a group of Filipino seminarians, in their late teens and early twenties, with an Italian priest, came to our school to talk about the nature of religious vocation. They rattled me with their Latin etymology of vocation and they surprised me with the zest and vigor by which they talked about how they were touched by God, how they were called to this special life of service to the poor, the deprive, the marginalized, the oppressed, the sick, the imprisoned—how, in this service to other men, in becoming man-for-others, we become more human, more fully human. The way they talked, they seemed like the educados of the town, the professionals in the municipio, and the politicos during campaigns. They were so brilliant—that’s how they appeared to me. I wanted to be brilliant. I wanted to end the dreariness of the rural life. I wanted to be a seminarista who could tell the Latin etymology of religious vocation.

The seduction of language, the tacit power of symbols in a country where division and poverty are taken as “natural” phenomena or “facts” of life—these are at play in the mere mention of Catholic vocation to the religious life—those are at play in the more mention of Catholic vocation to the religious life as a special service to the poor, the deprived, the marginalized, the oppressed, the sick, the imprisoned that these words have, by themselves, become the constants in the recruitment activities of religious orders and congregation. This is communication with an added agendum: to win recruits to the cause. To be able to do so, the order or congregation ahs to speak the language of commerce: put in an investment (service) and you reap a profit (joy of serving one’s fellowmen).

When I got into the seminary, I was an upstart from the provinces. The first thing I realized was that of the 20 or so seminarians in our first years, all were from the provinces. So when you get into a place where variety is the norm; you tend to flock to the same group speaking your language. I am a Bikolano—so I would seek the company of my fellow Bikolanos. The Ilonggos, they’d do the same thing.

The second narrative dramatizes the gradual loss of the sense of identity as the seminarian gets into the “new” world of religious life. Even in the face of the requirement of “community life” that, in an absurd way, imitates the ideal community of man’s evolutionary past, a community speaking in one tongue, the provinciano recruits holds on to his constructions of self and reaches out to those recruits who share this self-constructions. The Italian formators call this as “regionalism,” a mimicry of the colonial social analyst’s way of looking at the Philippines as “islands,” as “regions” and therefore, not as a nation. As far as the discourse on “internationalism” goes, the regionalism does not have a place, is antithetical to “communion,” is counterproductive to evangelization which calls for the global, for the tearing down of boundaries, for the glorification of the abstract.
Narratives 3, 4, 5 and 6 elaborate the colonizing strategies of the religious orders and establish the context in which efforts at decolonization/ redecolonization have been called for. From a literal pedagogical colonizing technique of “teaching the language to the masters” so that eventually the students would “speak the same language of the masters,” we see here some assumptions on power and relations, some colonizing mentality on spirituality and evangelization, techniques that were implicit in Hispanicization and “protestanicization” of the Filipino religious sensibility.

I remember the time when after studies at the central seminary, we would be herded to the lecture room of the formation house to study Italian language. At the time, the dominant thinking of a number of Italian congregations was to send the Filipinos to study theology in Italy. It was more economically practical rather than maintaining a theology school here. And for the Italian fathers, the Filipinos would be able to understand better the spirituality of the order if they knew Italian.

“Internationalness” of the religious community as a colonizing theme is obvious enough to see how this can be fatal to self-understanding, an essential element; I believe, to self-giving, the sine qua non to an authentic discipleship in Christ, to an inculturated mission work. The use of English as the language of the international community seems to be out of place in a country that is trying to firm up its definition about its own ontology. To penalize a seminarian by making him pray the rosary in English is an act rich in symbols of power and dominance.

The priest would always remind us of the international character of our order. They would always argue that our order was not Italian but German, American, Austrian, and Taiwanese as well. That was why we had to master English. That was why they had to bombard us with English subjects. English teachers would be hired to teach us grammar and pronunciation. And there would be English week and English campaign, as if we were in a convent school for elite ladies. They called that refinement, polish. Later on, I could not anymore distinguish whether our mission was really to speak correct English or to serve the sick. If we spoke our languages, we would be penalized: we had to pray the rosary in English.

What is missing in the ideology of the “international community” are the root words in the phrase: (a) national and (b) communis—common. If the sense of the national and the common in the international is not inculcated in the indigenous religious, if the experience of the nacion is not valued, could an indigenous religious ever go to other nations and announce the message in the culture and the language of these other nations?

I don’t remember any occasion where there was a serious study of the Filipino culture and society. My feeling was as a religious order with an “international character,” we had no right to be Filipinos anymore, that God was not Filipino, was never ever a Filipino. At times, I thought that God was Italian.

The loss of the concept of God in one’s own language is perhaps one of the destructive consequences of religious colonization. Inculturated evangelization recognizes God as not only the God of the Jews or the Christian but also the God of the Filipinos, and to be more politically correct, God is/as a Filipino.

The stress in community life is dialogue. But dialogue is always a dialogue of the heart and mind. How could I have a heart and mind in English?
In community relations, transaction is done in English. Those who had been to Italy, it is Italian. In both counts, I felt I was not relating well. I could not open up in Italian. My pain is not English—can not be Englicized. How would a community be possible when the ground is you are all strangers? The Filipinos trained in Italy would come back looking for pasta and cheese. We hated them, these Filipinos.

When as indigenous religious sees the poverty and misery around him and realizes that he does not know and has not experienced what these realities are, he begins to understand that his social positions is wrong.

The first time that I came to the seminary, I was amazed by the massive walls and imposing buildings and big lawns and shady trees. We were in a neighborhood that has never known poverty but quiet, contentment, inaction. You did not have to earn to eat. Those of us whose parents were financially capable paid a small contribution for board and tuition. Those who were poor had their expenses paid for by the contributions of benefactors from abroad and from the country. I remember, we had German shepherds for night security and paid guards to man our gates. And we had helps in the seminary paid below the minimum wage.

a. Italianizing the religious sensibility through language
The first impulse of Italian orders and congregations that were fired by evangelization without proper cultural preparation was always to impose. The entry point for missionary work was the study of the English language—and so many of them stopped there. In the order where I was a member, of the eight or so Italian religious, only one was using Filipino in his day-to-day ministry. All the rest were comfortable using English.

There are two problems symptomatized by the dilemma of a seminarian from the regions: (i) should I speak English as a condition for my being a good religious and ergo to eventually become a minister of the English-speaking Filipino population? Or (ii) should I speak the language of my people so that I will be able to minister them?

How the Filipinos resolved this is revealing: when among themselves, they speak Filipino; when with the Italians they either speak English or Italian.

b. The Politics of the Good News as Italianizing
When there is a privileging of the “international” language over the language of the people, the result is predictable: estrangement. What is passed off as good news is a strange message, couched in incomprehensible terms, expressed in a mode beyond the experience of the people. The gospel maybe international, even universal, but its receipt, to be relevant, is always historical, culture-bound, wrapped in the very language of the recipient. The use of English is already charged with power and dominance. This has been bad for the health of the spirit that believes in its own self-constructions and self-representations.

There had been token recognition of the “richness of the culture of the Filipinos” and the liturgical songs from the various languages of the seminarians were used in the mass and other important celebrations. The key here, however, is that this recognition is “token” and this fact of richness of the culture of the Filipinos had never been played on as a basis for an indigenized/inculturated expression of the charism/ spirituality/ apostolate—in effect the religious discourse of the order or congregation. To illustrate: the radical segment of the Philippine health care community of workers have long been into health policy advocacy and health care cooperatives and yet one Italian order involved in the health care ministry has yet to shed its hospital orientation and dependency on the pharmaceutical industry and on a biomedical technology that looks at medicine and health from a Cartesianist philosophical framework. In education, while the need is quality education for the masses, many Italian congregations are busy putting up Montessori-type of schools that cater to the moneyed and the powerful—all in the name of Catholic education. These are anomalies that are symptomatic of a basic failure at translating the vocation and the charism into practical terms, one that does not bank on the seductions of the promised social privilege and power and the economic reward of becoming a religious (Narrative 1).

There is a confused understanding of the demands of the apostolate, as if all one has to do is to give and keep on giving because this amounts to being men-for-others. The sense of plurality of motives (symbolized by escape: “I wanted to end the dreariness of the rural life”) and by the social prestige that goes with priesthood in a society beset by anonymity and dehumanization) has to be factored in the effort to put some flesh-and-bone, some blood-and-tear, and some humanity, to the religious vocation. Coming from a complex tradition of the baglan, the catalonan, and the baylan—with the communal grounding these forms of indigenous “priesthood,” the Filipino Catholic whose priesthood is based on the abstract promise of the kingdom to come certainly faces rough sailing. An Italian priest has said it aptly: “I cannot fathom why many Filipino priests could hardly commit themselves to celibacy. The Filipino religious in our order have the same problems.”

c. The Love for the Nation as a Problem
Unknown perhaps to the Italian religious, they are Italian first before they are clerics, missionaries, or superiors despite their claims to “internationalness” of the order. There was disregard of the first languages of the Filipinos-on-formation and the instilling of foreign mindset via the competent use of alienating exercise (Narrative 2). This problem is aggravated by the use of colonizing technology: the use of Italian to understand and discover the roots of the spirituality of the order/ founder precisely because the writings of the founder are in Italian. Here the spirituality is seen as archival, an artifact waiting to be dug up. Here is an assumption that says that the spirituality is fixed, frozen, ahistorical (read: no Filipinization, please) and thus have to be transplanted, (with pot and soil and water, from Italy to the Philippines [Narrative 3, 4, 5 and 6]). The counter-reaction of Filipinos against “Italianized Filipinos” (read: Filipinos who had gone to study and had come back to the country acting more Italian than Italians) remind us of psychological and cultural injuries that require communal healing.

d. Semiotics of Space
The location of religious houses is itself an index of the solidarity the order or congregation has with the masses of the poor. A seminary located in an upper class neighborhood is suspect in much the same way a parish located in a plush village is suspect. For a poor country where the injustice of the social system and of the rich is the rule, social space is a symbol, walls are symbols, and the façade of the seminary is a symbol. Where there is much social inequality and oppression, and where evangelization requires the denunciation of inequality and oppression, it is an anachronism for convents and seminaries and religious institutions to be located in rich neighborhoods that are symbolic of the machinations of the privileged and the powerful. The childlike expressions of the religious—“You did not have to earn too eat”—is tantamount to the bourgeousization of the social and economic sensibility of the Filipino religious and this bourgeousization, when unexamined, becomes irreversible. The religious becomes too middle class for comfort and then in the end, he will not be able to comfort the afflicted because he will not afflict the comforted.

5.0 Summary and Conclusion
The coming of Italian congregations and orders to the Philippines beginning the seventies contributed to the Filipinos’ resort to religion as a means to comprehend the widespread chaos and confusion that resulted from the declaration of Martial Law and the suppression of dissent and opposition in the national discourse. From the seventies onwards, the founding of Italian congregations and orders in the Philippines has continued and these congregations have made their mark in attracting indigenous religious vocations.
A pattern emerged from these congregations’ or orders’ religious formation programs, the pattern traceable to the pedagogic strategy that was markedly colonial and colonizing: Filipinos in advanced candidacy to the vowed life were sent to Italy, (a) to learn the spirituality of their founder and (b) to get familiarized with the international character and content of missionary life.

Two things resulted from this pedagogic strategy: (a) the Filipino initiates felt out of place in these communities where they were sent for obvious cultural reasons and (b) the Filipino initiates felt discriminated upon and treated as “second-class” members of their congregation or order.

Many Filipinos reacted to this situation in these ways:
(a) by leaving their congregation or order in order to transfer to another,
(b) by leaving their congregation or order for good and then seeking employment in Italy or in other countries,
(c) by leaving their congregation or order and going back to the Philippines as lay, or
(d) by going back to the Philippines as “Italianized” Filipino religious who eventually perpetuated, consciously and unconsciously, the Italianizing and hence, colonizing ways of their foreign confreres.

This phenomenon of (re) decolonization eventually gave rise to:
(a) an unprecedented number of recruits from the rural areas, thereby uprooting these young Filipino recruits in two ways: (1) from the traditions and practices of their own local communities and (2) from the traditions and practices of their own country and people as these recruits came into an encounter with the traditions and practices of their Italian confreres;
(b) the slow but certain changes in the cultural elaborations of the religious sensibilities of the Filipinos as these sensibilities were challenged by the sensibilities brought to the country by the Italians;
(c) certain conflicts in the way of the faith was articulated given the dynamics of the receiving Filipino culture and people and as this same faith was challenged by political exigencies and national concerns.

The stress on “internationalness” in the expression of religious commitment without having laid the foundation for understanding faithfully, truthfully and comprehensively one’s own culture became an approach that was unproductive, anti-human, and anti-Filipino. Most Italian formators unconsciously transported a hermeneutics of enculturation that favors “universalism” without a basis in the particulars of the Filipino culture, religious sensibility, and tradition. The underscoring of Italian language were symbolic double whammy that spelled the final alienation of the Filipino recruits and religious from themselves, from their people, and from their nation’s dreams and aspirations—all in the name of “universal values” rooted in the discourses of the faith outside Filipino culture and history.
Today, after more than two decades, the Italian congregations and orders have learned their lessons. Many of them have transferred the reign of power to their Filipino confreres. Likewise, this missionary policies and strategies are now more and more drawn from the perspective of an inculturated religious sensibility that puts a premium on the unique sensibilities of the Filipino people, their culture, and their history. The redemption of the Filipino religious sensibility has come about with the recovery and reinvention of the identity of Filipino religious and their continuing hermeneutics of the charism and ministry of their Italian congregations and orders based on the needs of the Filipino people. This redemptive program emphasizes the right of the local churches to evolve and the right of the indigenous religious to interpret the spirituality and charism of their congregation or order according to the needs and aspirations of these local churches where these religious are found.