With this act of caring

With this act of caring,
we all have come
to this ceremony
of one lasting loving.

It is a circle we
have come into,
full and entire,
knowing and free.

And the circle is us
meeting up
and seeing
what seeing does
to our mind,
we who begin
to see all there is
what healing is.

It is wisdom
we gain
as we give back,
care more,
love back,
love again and again
even those who come
to our lives
for the first
and final time.

By the care
in our hands
we shall know
how much love
we can offer
how much we can give
some more
until the hurting
tells us
to not to stop
but give more
until none
is left for us.

In this life
we all have come
to feel the pain
of living and not being loved.
But it does not matter now.
It does not matter now.

In this life we
all have come to seek
we all have come to find
that which shows us
the colors of rainbows
in their riots
with sad sundowns
lonely sunsets
despair with no name
desolation without the heart
fear without the daring
aloneness without the courage
in the fire of longing
from a warm hand,
its touch soothing
even as the hours get to be
in an abyss without love.

Alone we were born,
as if in the lone bed in a corner,
cold, crying without the sound
when sickness strikes
and time becomes eternal
in our backs, sheets, legs
in our hearts
as we nurse back our bodies
to another act
of coming alive.

We see the same
in the homes we create somehow,
found somehow,
in the charts of the sick
we have come to seek,
care for, love,
them who need us
them whom we need more
in this mirroring of our lives,
our selves, our fates,
them in longing for longing
to come about at last
us in the act of loving
or of learning how.

It is not easy, this logic
of caregiving for the least
as we in the end
care for ourselves the least.

Then again, even evenings
give birth to mornings
and the hope we bring
is the same healing we sing,
sing of the morrows
that life in the spring will bring,
the same healing we sing,
as in the coming days,
bright and fulfilling,
the storms of the night long gone,
lost in the sun.

The wards of hospitals
the linen sheets
the eeire quiet of death beds
will not threaten us.

They will whisper to us
what human salvation is
what rewards redemption has,
all these to welcome us
to this full circle
of knowing finally how to care.

We will do best for the least,
to the least we give our best,
the least will give us rest
the calm of our souls, blessed.

A Solver Agcaoili
Honolulu, HI
September 30, 2006

(Written for the candle light ceremony, Health Care Career and Training Center, Dillingham, Hon, HI, Sept 30, 2006)

Rethinking and Revisiting Ethnicity: The Case of American Filipino

Ethnicity in Context

Compared to other nations and states, the United States, because of its being “a nation of many nations,” is undoubtedly the one with the most pronounced issues about ethnicity. While Europe at this time is experiencing the burden of assimilating non-European peoples and immigrants into their own societies—with a marked degree coming from the Islamic states of the Middle East—the ethnic issues in these Islamic countries are not as pronounced as those in the United States, with its own sad history of oppression and domination of people of color in many forms. The POC in the United States have remained colored, in skin as well as in sensibilities and sensitivities and thus their continued vigilance of their human and constitutional rights is of urgency and immediacy.

To speak about Filipinos in America is to speak about something that is not easy to take hold of. The term Filipinos, for one, has resisted definition because of the varying tensions and contradictions attached to the term when it is used to categorize a people outside America. Even in the Philippines, of course, there is a running joke—and it is racist at that—about Ilokanos. The story goes:

Man 1: Filipino ka, kabagis? (Are your Filipino, brod?)
Man 2:Saan, brad. Ilokanoak. (No, brod, I am Ilokano).

And because of the inferiority complex experienced by non-Tagalogs in the Philippines when they are face to face with the Tagalogs, here we go:

Man 1, in Ilonggo accent: Tagalog pala ka?
Man 2, in Ilonggo accent: O man bay, pareho pala ta!

Of course, we have to take the jokes as they come, racist or not racist. The clue there is to make fun of our foibles and our failures. And our idiosyncrasies as well.

The concept Filipino in America is porous, fluid, malleable, unbounded: it admits of many possibilities. We can go with:

1) the Filipino tourist in America
2) the Filipino tourist whose immigration papers have lapsed
3) the Filipino on a training visa—J-1
4) the Filipino a student visa—F-1
5) the Filipino on a working visa—H-1
6) the Filipino on the process getting his permanent residency—labor certification
7) the Filipino who is a green card holder
8) the Filipino who has gotten his citizenship
9) the Filipino who is local born—the Flip
10) the Filipino who is a mestizo
11) the Filipino is who second or third generation.

From this list, we recognize that there is not one kind but many kinds of Filipinos in the United States, and their immigration status somehow marks them. This means that, while we can begin to revisit and rethink about ethnicity in all of these categories, in the proper sense that is more political and cultural because of the spaces afforded to them, we can begin to trim down the list and account ethnicity issues

1) only potentially in J-1, F-1, and H-1 visa holders—as potentially naturalized Americans
2) actually in the Permanent Residents—as potentially naturalized Americans
3) actually in the Filipino immigrant who had acquired his citizenship
4) actually in the Flip or local born (also called the First Gen Fil-Am)—as natural Americans
5) actually in the mestizo who is a natural American
6) actually in the Second Gen/Third Gen Fil-Am.

In real terms, the term Fil-Am is only referred to the Flip, the mestizo, and the 2nd/3rd gen.

The Filipinos who acquired their American citizenship by the naturalization process are not truly, Filipino Americans but Fil-immigrant Americans.

New Indenture, New Oppression

If we look at these categories again, we can see clearly the to-and-fro of self-identity in all of them.

There is a tentativeness in the first six categories and more so in the first four categories, with no promise of a future except to go through the arduous immigration process of getting on to the next logical step: apply for a permanent residency. Even then, the processes, while they do lead you to the end—the citizenship—takes so much of resources: money, and more money, good luck (is the immigration officer kind today or did he wake up on the wrong side of the bed?), and time, this last seemingly taking them in eternity.

The tourist changing immigration status might need between six to 10 years, if he is lucky, before he can ever take a hold of his green card.

I have documented many Filipinos who went through this ordeal and in the 10 years of waiting, he could not go home because while there is a provision about advance parole—meaning a permission to go out of the US for a while and then come back—that does not give the person the automatic privilege to be accepted into US soil. I have read accounts of a father who have left the Philippines 16 years ago when the youngest daughter was only 10; the father did not have the chance to see his daughters grow up. Now all the daughters have moved on and have finished college and have started their own families.

From field data I have culled in my ethnographic work in the Los Angeles and Orange counties, I have become a witness to the new form of oppression and indenture many Filipinos go through as they try to scratch out a life in the United States as tourists, as indocumentados, or even as professionals with J-1 and H-1 visas. The indocumentados are worst off: they cannot even file a complaint with labor for fear that they will be deported. And with a family back in the Philippines waiting for every dollar that they earn here, we can just imagine the suffering that they go through each day.

Also from my field data, I have known of a group of working visa holders who have filed a complaint with the Department of Labor and for two years, such a complaint has yet to be acted upon by this department.

How do your revisit and rethink of ethnicity in light of this complicated and complex state of affairs?

First, ethnicity has nothing to do with the infrastructures and structures of oppression. An oppressor is an oppressor whatever race he comes from.

Second, ethnicity may be a ground for the agency for oppression, with the structure of domination and power over others linked up with the economic power one holds over others. In certain terms, we can think about of oppression by ethnic groups over others, say the oppression of whites over the people of color—and also oppression by Filipinos in America over others Filipinos in America. Here we are getting clearer with the ugly reality that Filipinos oppress other Filipinos.

Alienation and Estrangement

Of the groups of Filipinos in the United States, there is no more alienated and estranged than these three groups:

• The Flips of all kinds: the real Filipino Americans, the first, second, and third generation who had not had any chance to eat the dirt of the homeland and breathe its air.
• The mestizos—those who share only some percentage of the Filipino blood and who do not have that totality of consciousness of what is it to become a Filipino on a first hand basis.
• The indocumentados—the tago-ng-tago, the TNT who have not way to take part in the social and cultural life—not to mention the political life—of this country
except as a spectator from the margins.

If we go by the notion of liminality—that experience that is always in the boundary, we have in mind all these Filipinos above: the Fil-Ams of all kinds, the illegals/indocumentados, and the mestizos.

Of the three, there is no way the illegal, the TNT, and the indocumentados could ever share a world with the mestizos and the Fil-Ams. All are alienated and estranged—yet the kind of alienation and estrangement are not the same.

What concerns you perhaps, are the ethnic issues related to the Fil-Ams and mestizos. Perhaps there are some of you who could belong to the Fil-Ims—those Filipino immigrants who have to go through the process of acquiring their citizenship so they will become “full-pledged Americans.”

Among Fil-Ams of the first generation, there could no more shocking than the change in the mindsets.

Here, we deal with the realities of the everyday with these everyday yoke:
Of parents who speak the language of the homeland, of relatives who do the same, of parents who eat the same cuisine as those in Manila and elsewhere, with the ubiquitous bagoong and the adobo and the tinapa in the regular menu for the week. The smell of this cuisine takes hold of the spirit of the parents of these first generation Fil-Ams but such is not shared by the younger generation who have not learned to cultivate their tongue with some other tastes, including those coming from the fastfood restos that have become a landmark in all the neighborhoods. So we have here Fil-Ams who cannot appreciate any longer the dinengdeng with its smelly bagoong to taste—and may even abhor it. I have seen in many households how domestic wars arise out of this. In one household that I have been to, the smell of young garlic leaves being cooked is sufficient to start a word war between generations. In instances like this, the mother opens all the windows and doors, sprays Glade all over the house, turn on all exhaust fans and electric fans to shoo the odor away.

Here, I am proposing to rethink of ethnicity and revisit its parameters by going back to cuisine culture and its memories—and its hold on the questions of identity and identity formation.

The smell—call it aroma—of bagoong is not universal but particular and peculiar. It does not evoke the same feeling and passion even among Filipinos, for instance, even if we can generalize that many Filipinos do share the same cuisine culture. But the say ethnicity is linked with cuisine culture, for instance, would vary depending on so many variable, including the environment. Those who are farther away from the sea would not have the same passion for bagoong as those who are closer to it—or who have the access to marine resources.

The Fil-Am and the mestizos do not display this penchant for the material culture of their forebears—or their parents. Estrangement is a logical issue here as they are exposed more and more to things American: beefsteak, the burger, the fillet, the pancake. They do not simply share the same penchant for the daing, the bibingka, the pancit canton, or the puto. I have heard some young Fil-Ams saying: I do not want starch.

Ethnicity, Fil-Am, and Urban Culture in the Mainland

I think that with the nexus between being Filipinos ( watch out for the nose and the color of the skin!) and being American at the same time, the Fil-Am is perpetually swimming in the same river with two rivulets and then eventually moving into the same sea. The rivulets speak of the ethnic factors—some kind of dialectic of being Filipino and being American in an ever-discursive and continuing sense. The sea is the synthesis, the Fil-Am coming to terms with his being a Fil-Am: Filipino in many ways, and American in many ways as well.

Vctor Viesca talks of the marginality of Filipino Americans in the urban areas of San Dieo, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and account their being marginal together with the other colored peoples such as the African Americans, the Mexican—and by extension, the Hispanic—and the Filipinos. And yet,
he says, the formation of an urban culture is linked with the mainstream hip-hop musical culture. Disc Jockey crews, he calls. He writes: “Initially these DJ crews played and mixed electro funk and ‘Latin freestyle,’ a high energy dance music related to disco.” Eventually, the hip-hop culture linked up with being Fil-Am came to include ‘manipulating turntables’ called ‘turntablism,’ funk music, and graffiti art.

The cross-cultural dynamic of being a Filipino American has had a long story beginning, at least formally, with the Filipinos in the home country getting access to public education through all the tools of American education including the use of English as the medium of instruction. With the sending of pensionados—the Filipinos who were given scholarships to study in US colleges and universities on the condition that they had to go back to the homeland to become facilitators and agent in the transfer of knowledge and technology—such cross-cultural experience paved the way to what could be termed as the first step towards the gradual Americanization of the Filipinos whether they were in the Philippines or they themselves in the United States. The logic in these excursion and exposure is that the longer they stayed in the United States, the more the Filipinos became.

This eventually paved the way to what scholars call as cross-cultural hybridity—with the bearers of such a culture, logically the cross-cultural hybrids: the Filipino Americans. The hybridity accounts the Asian in the Filipino American, the Hispanic, and the American, the last one including the white and the colored American (read: the connection with the Buffalo Soldier regiment).

Jean Gier has this to say on this hybridity: “I am pretty rooted in the U.S. because I was born here, and didn’t travel much in my youth, but even Filipino Americans can’t entirely escape this network of far-flung relations. You get to know so many Filipinos who have global, even nomadic, existence. So I got curious about how they were using the internet. Was it helping to solve certain problems? Was it creating problems? What ‘shape’ was Filipino identity and nationalism taking on the Web?”

With the influx and intrusion of the new technologies of communication, there is an intensification of this hybridity, with the boundaries of the past now clearly collapsed and diffused—and even totally destroyed such that what we have, perhaps, are only traces that are readily erasable at the opportune time. But then again, the Filipino American who has come into an awareness of himself and his place in the scheme of things in the U.S. almost always assert his ethnic identity and pride and deliberately challenges the status quo that valorizes one identity over the other. The poet Eileen Tabios says of her ethnicity as not only a Filipino American but an Asian American: “I have lived mostly in the U.S. As one who has participated in the ‘Asian American’ literary movement, I am aware of how Asian-American poetry is perceived by the majority of critics, academics and those who form the dominant literary canon. Asian American poetry, like those by many writers of color, are mostly read based on content…”

What does this tell?

It tells of the continuing exclusion of the Other—the O in capital: the strange, the non-white, the non-Western—in short, the non-American. In effect, in art as in life, the Americans of color, the Filipino Americans included, must continually produce expressions of the artistic in terns of their ethnic orientation to make a ripple, make a name, and perhaps, land on the bestseller list. This is what happened to Carlos Bulosan when he came up with a book of tragicomic stories he titled, “The Laughter of My Father.” Here, in these stories are Filipino village folks whose view of the world is light and noncommittal and thus lacking in serious mien and thus are veritably something to be laughed at—and not something that we can use to ruminate, think, meditate, contemplate. We do not have those in the laughter as what we have, for instance, is a narrative of hunger and yet the father continued to keep his rooster, feeding it with the best grains. Hungry, the mother slaughtered the rooster and made the best chicken soup ever tasted by the family. The father realized only too late that that chicken soup was his rooster he loved so dearly.

So here we see: that the ethnicity of the Filipino is reckoned through his holding on to what has held him as Filipino in the home country, to what holds him a Filipino in America, and to what holds him as Filipino American in the present and in the future.

I call this the layered identity—multilayered if you wish.

Because we have to reckon the promises of the roots of the Filipino identity: the Asian roots, the ancient roots.

Because we have to reckon the Western—Hispanic, European, and American—influences.

Because we have to look to the immigrant experience as a factor even as the Filipino American must come to terms with the reality that the United States is not a homogenous country but a nation among nations, a country of the most varied people.

Filipino American Ethnicity:
A Challenge

The challenge for the Filipino American and the Filipino immigrant in the United States is to be faithful to the requisites of ethnic identity and pride without denying their being part of a bigger body politic—the American society. The ground for such a commitment is citizenship. But citizenship does not preclude pride in one’s cultural origins but demands only a political commitment to country accepting you as its citizen.

(Note: This essay was first presented as part of my speaking tour, University of Hawai`i at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, Februrary 17, 2006; another form of this essay was published in batches by The Weekly Inquirer, USA).

A Solver Agcaoili
Honolulu, HI

Notes on the Modernization of Ilokano, VIII

One of the better metaphors and paradigms to understand the r/evolution of Ilokano language is from the religious literatures particularly the main religious texts of the established and organized churches.

In August, the writers Lorenzo and Sinamar Tabin, now based in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Unites States of America, gifted me with their latest translation work of “The Book of Mormons.” While I have not had the chance to look closely at their strategy for translation, I have an initial assessment, however tentative this is: that the translated work has the same elegance of language of the original work.

I am aware of the philosophical issues of translation, even the linguistic dilemmas that every translator has to face and resolve right on the dot.

My experience as translator and as a translation consultant in a number of organizations both government and private and both in the United States and the Philippines has given me a vantage point that made me realize that, to quote one of the pillars of Ilokano Literature Juan SP Hidalgo Jr in our long distance telephone conversation on September 20, 2006 “to translate is as difficult as to write an original piece.”

I remember that in my work as an associate of the Institute of Creative Writing of the University of the Philippines, I was tasked to render to Filipino (but the expectation was Tagalog!) the Ilokano poems and short stories selected for inclusion to the annual National Writers Workshop.

I admit that some of the entries were good you did not do much except to discover ways to have the worlds created in these pieces commensurate with the worlds in the translation.

But some were also not so good, and we did not have much choice.

My dilemma was whether I would have to endorse a not-so-good work as part of the National Writers Workshop or simply say “No Way Jose!” and our space for inclusion in the national discourse on writings from the regions would disappear fast.

I held out, following more of the strategy for recognition for many of our rising younger writers. I did not mind the mediocrity of some of the works but moved on from there and tinkered with the translation to let it appear that some of these works has some luster, quality, brilliance. I did not tell the younger writers this strategy, preferring not to offend at the early part of their thankless writing career in Ilokano.

I thought that my translation was a ‘better’ rendition of their mediocre original—and some writers even had the temerity of saying that my rendition in Filipino/Tagalog was far off from the Ilokano original.

The lesson I got from here is that: a bad original can be rendered good in the translation but you may be accused of making worse than the mediocre original.

I remembered that to defend myself in these literary and translation assaults, I had to give a long lecture on the hermeneutic basis of my translation technique and strategy. I do not know if I made sense but I thought that having heard me made them realize, the young writers and teaching fellows, that I learned my hermeneutics well and that I was not absent when I enrolled for my linguistics course.

This leads us to the strategy utilized by the Watchtower Bible Society that published what would popularly be called as the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ version of the Ilokano Bible.

This Ilokano Bible published in 1987 and is widely used by the Ilokano congregations of this religious group in Hawaii and in the Philippines, has the permission as well of the Philippine Bible Society, a kind of a symbol for authoritativeness in the translation.

If we look closely at this version of the Bible—and I must say that I am not a member of the Jehovah’s Witness but I share their passion for getting at the heart of the Word of God—we see two complementing strategies for the two covenants.

The Old Testament has all the orthography of the Ilokano-Castilian variety, with all the c's all over. The New Testament, however, has evolved a form of writing that is more recognizable today by our access to what may be termed as popular literature: comics, novelettes, the popular magazines, documents, newspapers, and the media.

Those in their twenties today, I am sure, cannot read the Old Testament in that form, and from a visual standpoint, the spelling would not work as it would not register well. Reading is essentially visual and seeing a word being written sometimes reminds us that somewhere that word spelled wrongly visually hints that.

There is an emotional and psychic investment in reading and I would say that I will never read Shakespeare again if the condition for reading him again is to read him in the original medieval Anglo-Saxon spelling. No, thank you. That kind of English does not sit well with my vision and with my mind.

This, I think, is one problem that the ‘reintellectualization’ philosophers of the Ilokano language has to contend with, a position that we see in the extremist position of Nid Anima and tempered, in some ways, by the more enlightened position of Juan SP Hidalgo, Joel Manuel, Roy Aragon, Joe Padre, Jim Raras, and Jim Agpalo.

I surface here a linguistic issue, one that calls for regression rather than progression, a return to Old Testament orthography in an effort to enrich the Ilokano language, forgetting the vast possibilities for progression to commence with the New Testament approach.

Let me be clear here: I am not espousing the Bible per se.

What I am putting forward is the trope, rich and enriching, that this Bible presents to us from a linguistic standpoint. And this linguistic issue concerns us as this presents to us alternatives to revisiting the manner by which we write, in a modernized way, the Ilokano langguage.

I am certain of the issues of the content of translation. One issue I have been harking on, for instance, is that point about the “Our Father”, a key prayer in many feudalistic, medieval and patriarchal religious groups.

One thing, for instance, has always made me extra vigilant: In the original Aramaic in which that prayer was recited by Jesus, was there a gendered reference to a God that is all-powerful and almighty? I have a guess: gendering and sexualization of a God is a result of the gendering and sexualization of that world invented by the West, a world categorized and hierarchized in terms of the male gaze, oblivious of other possible, and perhaps more fecund, gazes.

The same alternative gaze--or gazes--is what we need to rethink the issues connected to the standardization of the Ilokano language.

But this is beside the point now. At least for now.

A Solver Agcaoili
Waipahu, HI
Sept 23, 2006

The Spirit Exiling

There is, in the Ilokano way of reckoning and seeing things, an intricate connection between a soul migrating or going away or wandering with the body feeling all the aches and ills—the ‘dis-eases’—that attend to that separation of the material and spiritual in a person.

The idea is for the intricate connection between the body and the soul—and for the Ilokano of old, the soul is in the plural as the soul is not only one but four of them—to be always maintained as in a homeostasis. Once the intricate connection is severed, the ‘dis-ease’ begins.

And so we have a young child crying, as if calling out to his wandering soul, wandering aimlessly in the shadows, in the worlds beyond, in the universe beyond that which we know and see.

And so we have to cry out to the soul to come along, come back, and not to linger in the dark, in the places where it is not supposed to linger: “Umaykan, umaykan, dika agbatbati.”

The people of old called that the ‘mabatbati’ phenomenon, one that happens when the soul is left behind—or goes on exile, goes astray, goes on a journey without destination.

I see this lingering of the soul, its going away to some other places yet to be known as some kind of a metaphor for any immigrant in another land. With another niece, a former science teacher, going away to Singapore to find her luck in that land, I can only wish her with all the good fortune of the journey and this searching for a better life in some other people’s land.

I heave a sigh, and I feel this misery that has befallen us as a people even as I got to know that the president of the land is busy looking for investors in Hawai`i and the Caribbean and in some other places where the moneyed capitalists are.

When the president of the land came over for that centennial visit to be one with us in this centennial celebration of the migration of the sakadas to Hawai`i and staying for a night on Waikiki away from the plantations after her talk at the Filipino Community Center that was interrupted by the Anakbayan group shouting out the ugly truth about the state of the nation and our people but which group was pronounced by a television news broadcaster as ‘Enekbeyen’, we can only collectively heave a sigh.

The peso went down here to fifty per dollar—and somewhere the manipulation of the economy goes on.

This is good for the people, we say, this stabilizing of the peso.

Then again, who are these ‘people’?

Are the poor part of the ‘people’ these rich leaders in the entourage of the president of the land imagine?

Are the poor Filipinos part of the equation about business development and good national economy? Are they part of the agenda for an honest-to-goodness progress?

The children of the poor making up three-fourths of the nation have always been hungry, malnourished, starved.

Are we going to call out their souls?

Oh, where have our souls gone?

So today, from exile, I stand to watch other Filipinos leaving the homeland, one after another, in search for something more promising, some form of hopefulness, some form of an energizing power that would make them live again in fullness and joy.

I feel something within, something sorrowful, something sad, and something that is killing my spirit and unless I go away, that spirit would not know freedom and what it offers.

So I give my blessing to a niece who has to leave the homeland in order to find life somewhere as I give my blessing to all those who have decided to leave the country in order that the political leaders might have the chance to sell the Philippines abroad, sell the country for its meager labor cost.

A Solver Agcaoili
Honolulu, HI
Sept 21, 2006

Hapunan Kasama ang Makata

(Kay Ruth Mabanglo, makata, at Teri Ramos, linggwist, kapwa manlalakbay sa wika)

Hindi iyon paanyaya ng imperyalista.

Maliwanag ang mga parilalang binitiwan
ng makata sa isang hapag kainang
binasbasan ng magandang kalooban
at bahag-hari at tropikal na araw
sa puso ng mga mananalinghaga.

Ambon din ito ng simoy
sa mga berdeng bundok
na bumabalot sa pakiramdan
habang minamasdan
ang maagap na liwanag
sa isang buwan na magdamag,
singhaba ng paglagi sa pook
ng mga panaginip
na matagal nang binabalangkas
sa salita at ulirat.

Sa Manoa iyon naganap,
sa kabanatang ito
ng aking paglalakbay
sa mga taludtod
sa mga talinghaga.

Ang kainan ay sa maykaya:
banyagang ngalan ng atang
sa mga nangabubuhay
subalit walang buhay
sa paglisan sa bayan
ng kaluluwang naliligaw.

Ang pagkain ay sa mga bathalang
kakuntsaba ng kapangyarihan
ng dolyar at dalamhati:
kami na kung kumayod ng mga tunog
upang isulat sa puson ng mga panibugho
ay mga alipin
mga bagamundo
mga estranghero
sa heograpiya ng pasakit.

Sa nananahang puso
ng mga nawawalang pangarap
para sa sarili
sa bayan
sa kalaguyo ng isip
kami ay magbibilang ng mga halakhak
sa pagbabalik sa kinabukasang
parating pa lamang sa aming mga palad.

Paulit-ulit akong nagpasalamat
sa paanyaya ng mga kasama,
mga alagad ng wika
ng bayang dinuhagi
ng nagkandaligaw-ligaw
na pamagat ng tulang ayaw paangkin
sa salamangka
ng ngayong tanghaling-tapat.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa, Honolulu, HI
Setyembre 20, 2006

(Kinatha sa isip sa Ristorante Paisano, malapit sa UH Faculty Housing, Manoa)

Some Notes on the Modernization of Ilokano, VII

One issue at stake in all these debates, argumentation, and never-ending proposition-giving relative to the 'standardization' issue of the Ilokano language is what Joel Manuel calls 'reintellectualization.'

Of all the many younger thinkers and tinkers of the Ilokano language--and we thank this present generation of writers, educators, and cultural critics of Ilokano language and literature for taking on the cudgels of showing care and commitment for and in the name of our people--Manuel stands out.

I would come out with a random naming now of who is in his own class, veritably some of our best, with a portfolio of work/s to show that can even shame the older generation, well, some of them, who never read any other works anymore apart from their own and the manuscripts that they are asked to judge, believing that Ilokano literature is in accord with their own and only own image of what literature and art and aesthetics should be, their fossilized view of literature really fossilized: Roy Aragon, John Buhay, Arnold Jose, Pete Duldulao, Daniel Nesperos, Aileen Rambaud, Jim Raras, Dan Antalan, Ariel Tabag, and now this Jake Ilac. The fingers are sufficient--you can forget the toes or the Meralco posts.

What do they have in common? They love the language, they play with its possibilities, and they have no love lost in the foreign language and they can even write in it including that Tagalog being passed off as Filipino.

At one point, and as a result of such act of loving and caring for the language, Manuel proposed a method and methodology to the 'reintellectualization' of Ilokano, an intellectual position picked up in some way, in the way I would reckon the blogs and the exchange of ideas in them, by Aragon, Raras, Agpalo, and Joe Padre from Los Angeles.

Let us recall the linguistic, and may I say, ‘intellectual’ position of Manuel to, using his term, ‘reintellectualize’ the Ilokano language.

He says, based on the published/blogged account of Agpalo in kamalig.blogspot.com: “There are proposals for us to use the f, v, c, n, x and others. This is based on the Spanish. Oh yes, this is good because this will intellectualize more the Ilokano language. Like the following: unibersidad-universidad, pasilidad-fasilidad, interaktibo-interaktivo, eksorsismo-exorsismo, kualifikado-kualipikado, rebolusion-revolusion, pormal-formal, birhen-virgen, tekstura-textura, ekspresion-expresion.”

To explain his point, Manuel comes up with an elaborate technique and I quote him in the Ilokano original: “Kayat a sawen daytoy nga amin a natawidtayo a balikas iti Espanol ken English ket marespetar ti pannakabalikasna ken agingga iti kabaelantayo ti ispelingna, saan a kas iti inaramid dagiti Tagalog a nangikkat iti f, ken dadduma pay. Kadagiti napalpalabas a tawen insublida ngem kasla nakupad met ti Liwayway a mangipatungpal iti dayta.”

And then Manuel talks of how the revered Juan SP Hidalgo uses the same approach in Rimat, a magazine, now defunct, he used to edit: “Kas iti ar-aramiden ni Apo Johnny (sic) Hidalgo iti Rimat, isubsublinan ti respeto kadagiti balikas a binulodtayo, daytoy ket para iti in-inut a (sic) reintelektualisasion ti Iluko.”

The intent of Manuel to speak about ‘reintellectualization’ is laudable.

But there is a huge problem here: his notion of ‘reintellectualization’ follows the same Bonifacio Sibayan notion in his mistake to make Pilipino and its schizophrenic twin Filipino ‘intellectualized’, forgetting that each language, by its very nature, has its own sacred and secret way of intellectualizing the world.

From a philosophical point of view, ‘intellectualization’ suggests the ability of a language to explain what the world is all about, the world in general, in its most lucid and metaphorical sense, in its complexity, in its everyday and extraordinary nature.

I do not understand, therefore, why any language, for that matter, needs ‘reintellectualization’ from the outside, suggesting that the world created by the Ilokano language, for that matter, needs to be ‘reintellectualized’ from the outside and to do so, as claimed by Manuel and Hidalgo, following the Sibayan bluff to make the schizoid Tagalog-Pilipino-Filipino appear like that of any ‘intellectualized’ language of the world, and by that, we can presume, Sibayan was bluffing his way to make one mistake after another because, in his mind, he was looking to Spanish and English as his ‘intellectualized’ model of what an ‘intellectualized’ language should be.

My take on intellectualization and that abominable term ‘reintellectualization’ is that of the inherent quality of any language to have an ‘intellect’, a word from middle English, old French, and obviously from Latin, from the verb “intelligere” forming a past participle, intellectus. Here we see cognates: ‘mind,’ in its most generic sense, and obviously the adjective, ‘intelligent.’

My worry with Sibayan’s schizoid approach of Tagalog spinning off, in a rather forced way, into the schizoid Pilipino/Filipino, is that he did not have enough trust and confidence in what the Tagalog language could do, and rather than admitting that Tagalog (or that language form forced into our throat Pilipino/Filipino) did not have the contemporary terms to account the contemporary experience of the Tagalog people/Pilipino people/Filipino people (ano ba talaga tayo dito, ha!), he called for ‘intellectualization.’

The question here is: Does the Tagalog language lack the capacity to discuss and explain in an intelligent way what the world is all about? Or was it the case that Sibayan was so handicapped when he was confronted with the ‘astronomical’ ‘astronomy’ issues related to the planet Pluto as it is the case now?

Ha, Sibayan did not do his job well: he simply did not understand what intellectualization is all about and here comes this concept again about intellectualization that means only borrowing someone else’s terms in the effort to intellectualize/reintellectualize your language.

Now the huge problem: we are following the same Bonifacio trap and calling, among others, to ‘reintellectualize’ our own.

At best, this is bad trip as it suggests the low regard, unconsciously, I suppose, Manuel and Hidalgo have for the Ilokano language. One big problem I have is that I cannot even believe before my very eyes that they do know the consequences of this concept of ‘reintellectualization’ as they are both pillars in their generations of Ilokano language use, being both top-notch literary figures in their own league. We do things with words—and Manuel and Hidalgo might have forgotten this reality with words—and language for that matter—as our own mode of action.

The equation being proposed is that ‘reintellectualization is equal to retaining the spelling of the borrowed word as much as you can’—an equation clearly proposed by Manuel, following Hidalgo, and in some light, by Joe Padre, one of the better exiles in Los Angeles who think thoughts in clear terms about what and who we are as a people with a language worth our loving wherever we are. Aragon takes up this proposal, and Agpalo as well, and both experiment with their works.

The equation lacks conceptual validity: what Manuel is doing is not ‘reintellectualizing’ but allowing the Ilokano language to open to the possibilities of appropriating words that we do not have to account our new experiences.

And this is not peculiar to Ilokano language alone, as this is being done by all languages—and they do not call this ‘reintellectualization’, a demeaning word, subservient, colonial and colonizing, and carries with it the burden of allowing oneself to become an appendage of another linguistic and cultural empire. In the end, we have allowed this new hegemony, cultural and linguistic, to come take hold of our minds, our intelligence, as if our Ilokano language does not and cannot reveal a mind and intelligence.

I could be accused here of nominalism here, that philosophical position as ancient as ancient Greece, that position that holds, among others, that the ‘name/nomen’ counts—and is the only things that counts—to account reality.

Then again, I am holding my ground: what Hidalgo, Manuel, Agpalo, Aragon, and Padre are doing and proposing is not intellectualizing but appropriating, that phenomenon in which borrowing is necessary, even expedient and urgent for the ‘contemporizing’ language, speech, concepts in order to account contemporary experience by borrowing words, terms, and concepts, and making them your own, and not returning it.

Wrong diction there by the ‘reintellectualization’ group of philosophers. Theirs follows a Sibayan empty boast of the need to intellectualize and reintellectualize Tagalog. That is Sibayan’s conceptual problem which we should have not picked up and repeated. Let Sibayan’s Tagalog/Pilipino/Filipino commit all the blunder there is in evolving a truly Filipino language from a false rhetoric of what ought to constitute a ‘national language’.

In appropriating, we do not have to be subservient to the language we are borrowing the terms from and not returning but claiming it as our own.

We need to be careful here with the registers of the terms we are using, as these registers carry with them the weight that is not only linguistic but extra-linguistic as well: historical, cultural, economic, political, and philosophical. No, we do not allow this to happen again.

But let us see some merits in Manuel’s procedures for appropriating, and I have been doing the same thing myself, in a number of my writings, both in Ilokano and Filipino (not Sibayan’s impossible Tagalog/Pilipino): n (enye, how do you write this Roy Aragon, using my Dell laptop with a battery that heats up after one hour of use?), x, f, z, ll.

But you have a problem here: you cannot use them all in all instances when their sounds do not allow for a complete entry into the phonetic system of the Ilokano language.

The first duty is to be faithful to the existing phonetic system and what that system can allow. And when, in the pragmatics of our speech and language, when that sound that we are introducing is not really there but needs to be there, then that is the only time for us to introduce a new ‘phone’, a new sound, but always, always, always, in keeping with other linguistic and extra-linguistic variables.

The clue here is an intelligent, critical scrutiny, and not some borrowing that is not well thought out just to respect the term/word of the language where that term/word was borrowed. In appropriation, there is more to just respecting the original term/word without taking into account the phonetic system of the borrowing language and its structure of accounting sense and meaning.

As well pointed out by previous critics of the Tagalog language being passed off as Pilipino/Filipino, the problem with the Tagalog imperialists and advocates of hegemony is that they forgot the history and the political imagination present in the word “Filipino” to account both the nation and the people—and thus, the national language, such that, in their ignorance of the dynamics of such a history and political imagination, they rammed into our throats their term “Pilipino” to account for the language and “Filipino” for the people (or is it the reverse now?).

If you look at the “Filipino language” program of many universities in the Philippines and abroad, such as the University of Hawaii and the University of California (Los Angeles, Berkeley), we see clearly a schizophrenic program run and managed by people who have no clear notions on what linguistic imperialism and hegemony are all about and what constitutes linguistic democracy. And these are the Tagalog “imperialists” passing off new notions of “linguistic and cultural empire” without intending to but doing it just the same anyway.

We are crying foul about linguistic empires and emperors and here, in our own midst, are the new linguistic emperors and their linguistic empire. We do not want to repeat the same mistakes even if we want to dream of a richer Ilokano language, with vaster possibilities for the future generations.

It is easier when you do not have the sound and you include that sound in the current phonetic system as is the case of x and z. I use both to account the Ilokano examen, examinasion, text, texto, textual, zero, zeta, zigzag.

The reason is simple: we do not have the x sound, and the ‘ks’ combinatory might account it but it is not it and here again, you are using two letters instead of one, a real waste of ink, energy, and mind. And trees and nature and natural resources, if you get the drift. The clue here is: economize, economize.

And the z? Oh, put in there, please.

But does this work with the other sounds, with all the sounds we are borrowing. No. Our duty is not to betray what the Ilokano language offers. Our duty is to make it richer, fuller with meaning, and more open to the vast possibilities of the present and the future.

Next, I will discuss the phonetic problems in appropriation to answer some of the key points raised by the ‘reintellectualization’ philosophers of our language.

A Solver Agcaoili
Honolulu, HI
Sept 13, 2006

Some Notes on the Modernization of Ilokano, VI

This essay argues for the need to spell the borrowed words in accord with the spelling and phonetic system of the borrowing language. This argument is based on the urgency of going through appropriation in a true fashion and not in a "tapliak-tapliak/sumrek-rummuar" way.

In particular, it argues for the illogicality of retaining the spelling of the borrowed word in Ilokano when such a word admits the possibility and actuality of a spelling in accord with the spelling and phonetic system of Ilokano. It argues further that there can be exceptions to this rule, but the exceptions are, by themselves, exceptions.

In the act of appropriating--a technique, method, and theory espoused in hermenuetics--there is a certain dynamic that needs to be understood properly: that when an existing language happens not to have the term/word (in classical philosophy, these are not the same but I am using these in a generic sense)for a new experience and that another language happens to have it, or happens to have invented it ahead of the others and that invention has gained currency, then we do not have have to crack our head to avoid borrowing it but simply borrow it. Ditayon agimbabain, ala.

Coming up with our own is a waste of time, and there could be some cognitive, epistemic, interpretive, and linguistic problems generated if we keep on trying harder just to 'remain faithful' to the terms or words or concepts of the language we are borrowing from.

In a tongue-in-cheek way, we have a running joke about the Tagalog language trying to be faithful to the words afforded by Tagalog, but as always, one cannot always succeed, as is the case of the following foreign words: chair, men's brief, and ladies' panty.

Your guess is as good as mine in terms of what impossible terms could come out: salumpuwit for chair because we do not want the Spanish cilla/silya. But what about the brief issue? And the ladies' panty? One can be irreverent here--and I refuse to become a laughing stock by remaining faithful to the key concept of "salo". Ha! Add this to the bra issue--and there we go!

The "Pilipino" method of "kung anong bigkas, siyang baybay--the manner it is spoken is the manner it is written"--is not a franchise of Pilipino or its genesis, as claimed by the uninformed advocates of what Tagalog is in terms of the r/evolution necessary to account a national language for the Filipino people.

That procedure has been used by languages long before--and is easily documented by going back to the history of a word or a concept for that matter--and as the whole thing is seen in the context of a bigger dynamic we could call "a study of the history of ideas."

The idea for adopting the spelling and pronunciation of a foreign word in the manner and form a term/concept a word is spelled and pronounced in the borrowing language is the way to go.

Why so?

One, the word/term borrowed gets to assume a more 'naturalized' position/entry in the lexicon of the language and thus, would not any longer, looking strange, foreign, and 'unnatural/unnaturalized'; this will pave the way for it to become totally 'natural' in the borrowing language.

Two, this approach would make the borrowing one of ownership, which is a condition for the term/word to get to become a 'natural' lexicon of the language.

Three, the appropriation becomes complete as the borrowed wprd/concept/term cannot be returned as it has been spelled by the borrowing language such that, the language from which the original word came about cannot any longer claim as its own even if, conceptually and linguistically, it came from it.

When a foreign language/term/concept is retained, you will encounter many problems such as:

1) Can the phonetic system allow it to be pronounced in the original way it is pronounced? It is likely that the borrowed word is pronounced differently, as is the case, of "computer." Check the English dictionary and you will see that the way it is pronounced in its its roots/etymology is not the same way the resulting word is pronounced, and this resulting word 'computer', for instance, could not be pronounced in the same way in Ilokano.

2) Can the spelling system allow it? It is unlikely that the spelling system allows it and that is the reason why the borrowed word must be spelled as well in the same spelling system of the borrowing word.

The 'reintellectualization position' of some philosophers of the Ilokano language does not hold water in toto: in some ways, that position can hold but in more ways than one, that simply cannot be sustained.

The loses are more than the gains. And if they do insist on this--on retaining the orginal spelling of the borrowed word because of (a) nostalgia for things American and Spanish and what not, including perhaps Arabic now where many Ilokanos go and return to the Ilokos with their Arabicized concepts and/or (b)respect for the language from which the word is coming from--then they must account a new phonetic, lexical, and spelling system, then they must account as well how to go about appropriating in a true fashion a new concept to account our new experience without importing extra-linguistic variables.

This is where their big and huge problem lies.

So there. I hope that this will address the issue raised and continually being raised.

A Solver Agcaoili
Honolulu, HI
September 16, 2006

Manong Amado

Ken Manong Amado Yoro, kas pangbayad iti adu nga utang a naimbag a nakem

1. Allintok
Inamadmo no ania ti allintok,
Insuratko kenka a dagus:
Panagkatangkatang daytoy
Ti agallaalla a nakem
Ti ubing a saanton nga ubing
Umaddang a saan iti pitak,
Daytay man maigamer
Iti risay-baboy wenno mapanen
Wenno dagiti awanan nagan
A sinsinan-gubat wenno linnemmengan
Iti nadungngo ngem tapuktapok a paraangan,
Duduayyaen ti silnag ti bulan,
Daytay naumbi a lawag a sumarot
Kadagiti agkoro a garakgak
Dagiti ubbing
Iti bislak a pagsiato
Iti tuwato no kapudot ti tiempo
Iti abalabal no panagtutudo
Iti layus a mangikisap kadagiti gabat,
Rugit, peggad, alikaka, buteng, danag
Iti panagdaliasat iti waig a nariper,
Daytay libeg ti saning-i ken saibbek
Iti yaadayo, ipapanaw iti puon ken ramut
Tapno maisadsad iti puyupoyan
Dagiti sierto nga allintok
Iti tangatang kas iti dakulap
Iti pannakapnek dagiti ragsak.

Ay, umaddang nga agallintok,
Agallintok nga umaddang
Ti ubing a di ubing
Ti amin nga ubing a di ubing
Isuda a mangan uray awan saing.

2. Ayat
Nia ket, manong, sika ti kampeon
Ti maipapan ti sarita a daniw
Ti kammayet nga ipakdaar dagiti saltek
Iti agmalem a panagkebbakebba ti langit!

Kasano koma a sawek ti madagullit
Nga isusuek ti raya ti init
Iti agur-uray a danum
Ti madagullit a panangbagkong ti tudo
Iti sikakayang a talon
Ti panangaklon ti kabbukar a rosas
Iti arbis wenno arimukamok,
Ikutanna daytoy iti barukong
Ulsanna kas maladaga iti saklot
Lallalayan kas inauna a di makaturog
Ilili kas inaudi nga agpaspasugnod.

Agayos ta sumuknar ti atiddog a karayan,
Agkumbawa santon ikutan ti baybay
Idinto ta ti rabii tagibienna ti aldaw
Idinto ta ti aldaw tagikukuaenna ti sipnget
Ket iti panaginnagaw ti sipnget ken lawag,
Marugian ti orasion ti managsarsardam
Nga apiras, di mangikankano, makigingginnanas.

3. Arte
Testigoka, manong, awan patinggana a testigo
Ti darikmat. Agbibiagtayo iti apagapam
Ngem tukmaam ta riputem dagiti kanito
Kadagiti antigo a linabag ti daniw
Nga isursurat. Dimon sa ketdi ammo
A kadagiti agkabannuag nga agbirbirok
Kadagiti paulo dagiti daniw
Kadagiti karayan a pagkugitan
Kadagiti aripit a pakaikalian ti subukan
Kadagiti kabayawasan a pagkettelan
Iti makalawas a panaglunit ti sugat
Agbirokda iti pagdayas kadagiti balikas
A putarem kadagiti kaunasan
A putarem kadagiti makapabang-ar a rabii
A panagmaymaysa iti Oahu,
Ti isla nga abong dagiti amin a lagip
Nga imbatim iti ili
Nga iruknoy iti sabali.

4. Araraw
Agretirotayo iti kalendario
Dagiti regta ngem di mamingga
Ti panagsariwawek ti barukong.
Naganan ti anghel a kasisigud
Ti tagainep uray no adda tadem iti uloanan
Wenno bawang a nayimpardible iti puso.
Agpasiar dagiti batibat sagpaminsan
Ngem sumiripsirip da laeng kadagiti rekkang.
Nasimbeng ti panunot ti tao a nakapudno
Nargaan ti turog ti mannaniw
A nagaddakayo-apo.

Berdugo Benditado

(Kuna ti damag: dua nga ubbing ti natirgas, natay;
maysa a masikog ti natirgas, natay; ti sikog, natay)

Dakami dagiti tallo nga ubbing a pinatay ni ayat,
Daytay man ayat a kurimaong ti anges iti agpatnag,
Tallo nga ubbing nga inlili dagiti arasaas iti kannag
Tallo nga ubbing a pinadso ti daradara a kararag.

Itan makitami dagiti eksena iti rinnupakrupak
Itan ta iliblibot dagiti obrero ti pannakigasanggasat
Bangkaymi a di makarikna iti bisin ken tulakak
Kararuami a makikakaasi iti kontra signos ni rigat.

Siak tay maudi a sikog ni inada, tay awag ti amak,
Siak a tartaraudi koma dagiti aggibusen a peggad
Siak nga inaklon dagiti amin a bisin, amin a lib-at
Siak a suni dagiti manangngaasi a mamagparparigat.

Ay, ay, ti kansion ni ina, timtimudek a denggen ita,
Kansion ti masikog kadagiti amin a nasapa a sapata,
Kansion met laeng ni ama, tatang ti riwriw nga araraw
Kansionmi amin itan, dakami nga impatli dagiti aldaw.

Siak daytay ubing nga indaton dagiti ling-et,
Dua a tawen a rag-o iti dua tawen a sipnget
Dua a tawen a sangsangit ti dios a balangkantis
Dua a tawen a nagar-arapaap iti dua nga arbis.

Addaak itan iti terminal dagiti tawtawen
Patingga ti uged dagiti amin a panagbisin
Iti rangkis dagiti tulag, iti tanap ti barengbareng
Agtinawen nga ipupusay iti ungto ti bariwengweng.

Naimatangak amin dagitoy kas ti pannakaimatangko
Ti labes dagiti karayo iti sarita ti naipaanod a barko,
Papel a pagluganan dagiti anek-ek a mapan iti palasio
Anek-ek a pilawen ti presidente, aramidenna a babato.

Awanton ti Jason, kuna ti babai a mannakabalin amin,
Awanton ti Jason, ikarik ken isapatak a napnuan laing,
Paksiatekto ti kabusor iti paulo dagiti daniw a bangking
Pagpugaekton dagiti mannanakaw iti sarita ti nasanting.

Itagbatko iti bato, itagbatyo iti kawaw nga uloyo,
Gibusek ta gibusek daytay gingginamol iti kapuyo,
Patappuaken ta patappuakek ti agukop a kalbaryo,
Pagbalinek nga aglaplapunosan ti bisin iti sarusaryo.

Dagita, dagita a nagita a balikas ti innak man naimdengan
Manipud iti babai a mannakabalin, agindeg Malakaniang,
Babai a puon ken bubon dagiti matikawtikaw a bendision
Isu met laeng a babai a presidente itan dagiti kabron!

Anian, anian a panangpaksiat ti naipagteng a napasamak,
Anian a pannakaumsi dagiti padak nga annak ti adu a rigat,
Dakami amin a dinusa dagiti babaonen ti babai iti tirgas,
Daytay man makakissiw a panagkamat iti anges, mangikipas.

Isu nga itan agballasiwak kadagiti waig ken angin,
Wanawanak ti kaikarian ti kalluto nga inapuy iti asin,
Sakaek ta sakaek dagiti palludip dagiti bituen,
Isuda a nangikari kadagiti sagawisiw iti saem.

Siak tay kararua ti ubing nga aglima a tawen,
Daytay man nakilinnumba kadagiti pangaem,
Nakikammayyet a nangiwagayway iti ar-arapaapen,
Nakitunos iti sam-it ti riaw, "Saan a kinukusiten!"

Iti kablam ti tirgas, nakatarayak koma't daras
Ngem ta narigat ti umanges ken agkuripaspas
Nalang-abko nga insegida ti sabidong a ranggas
Daytay man met laeng sabidong ti Mendiola a rapas.

Idiay, idiay, idi panawen ti sabali pay a babai,
Isuna a babai a kinawesan ti ili iti panagari,
Intumbada manen dagiti adu nga ammami
Isuda a makisinsinnanggol iti pitak ken rabii.

Anian, anian, ta maulit manen ita ti pakasaritaan,
Madagullit manen ti estoria a napait, nakas-ang
Dakami nga ubbing, dakami koma ti mangiwanwan,
Dakami met ti iramanda iti balubal, pagang-angawan.

Allintok ni Anib

(Para ken Anib, putot ti rebolusionario a rugso)

Putotnaka itan ti panawen, sika a bunga dagiti kas-ang.
Kas idi punganay, karawaem dagiti allintok iti balitang.
Maysa-dua, agduadua nga addang, isemam ti tangatang,
Sika nga inanak dagiti derepdep nga agkatangkatang.

Ala ngarud, barok, sikanto kadi ti mangilaklam-am,
Agbalin a diputadomi iti riniwriw itan a dangadang.
Birokemto kadi dagiti tugot dagiti adu nga ammam,
Dakami a makipagputar iti daradara a kaipapanan.

Ala ngarud, barok, sikanto lattan ti mangiramraman,
Mangikasa iti pistola kadagiti naidaniw a pagbabakalan,
Mangitagbat iti kampilan iti gibus dagiti pakasaritaan,
Mangitangguap iti basi ti balligi iti paulo ti dalidallang.

Sikanto latta ngarud, barok, ti markado a gerero iti walang,
Daytay man mannakibalubal a mangbirbirok iti kaipapanan,
Makisinnanggol kadagiti mannibrong a rabii ken kaibaan,
Makikontrata iti maiparipirip a balikas iti naladaw a sardam.

Yagawam ngarud ti agallintok, yagawan ti umaddang,
Sika nga anak dagiti adu nga innam a mawayawayaan,
Sika a saksi ti adu unay a paidam ti agtalimudaw a dulang,
Sika a karab-as dagiti rikna a mangikamakam iti leddaang.

Agallintokka iti bannawag, agallintokka iti puseg ti awan,
Sika a bannuarmi, mangisawang iti pannakaiwanwan,
Sika a tagibimi, mangirakurak iti pinal a pannakaisalakan.
Sika a kukua ti ili, kontra-signos ti pannakaiyaw-awan.

On Nasudi Francine's Idea of Her Father’s Exile

I thought it hard, this one, as it hit me so hard. On the day of her birth anniversary, the four-year-old-turning-five young and inquisitive daughter asked me if I would be at her birthday party. Her mother had promised her, as was last year, to have her party at her small school.

I said, in frankness and sensitive to the possibility that she might not understand, that I did not think I could make it.

Hawaii is so far away, anak.

Bakit kasi ang layo? she asked, resisting the thought that she would not see me on her birthday party.

All my classmates will be there. Sayang, ano, papa?

I am so sorry, anak.

Pero susubukan mong umuwi, ha, papa?

Suddenly there was a lump on my throat. I held back the tears. I looked out the window and the vast Pearl Harbor greeted me with the luminosity of the afternoon glow, the last lights of the breezy afternoon refreshing me a bit and reminding me that that was not the time for crying rivers.

I remember I have known what tears are made of for the many years that I have stayed away from my family in all the special occasions that a family ought to be together and enjoying each other’s company: the New Years, the Christmases, the wedding anniversaries, the birthday anniversaries.

I remember the first daughter telling me two Christmases ago: “Do not worry, pa. Tomorrow, on December 26, Christmas would already be a day away. It would no longer be Christmas. We can make it together, can’t we?”

I did not answer my younger daughter. There are things that need not said. There are things that are better understood in the gaps and silences of speech, in that muted quality of language.

I left the younger daughter when she was just a year old, not knowing where I was going in much the same way that I did not know exactly if I would ever make it in the United States.

I was just trying my luck when in 2003, two years after that second EDSA, I realized the country was not going anywhere.

As in the 1986 EDSA People's Revolution, I had hoped for bigger things, for better days, for brighter mornings. I was willing to give the new administration one chance to prove that the Filipino people were first in the order of priority to making things different for the country and our people.

The hopes turned to dust. Nothing.

Panic grew in me. The first born was in college and had chosen to study elsewhere, away from the Diliman campus of the State University. It could have been easier for us all, less financially draining. But the Los Banos with its mountains and forests and hills beckoned and had blessed him and so there he went, living life in the best way he knew how and depleting our financial reserves quickly. I had no right to complain and neither was his mother. Children are on loan to you and parents are duty-bound to lead them where life holds so much promise.

While struggling to put food on the table and send the children to school to have their education, the writing bug bit me hard as well, and each night, each night, I would feel guilty not having been able to write a line or two.

It was one of those nasty and terrible bouts of guilt because the curse and blessing of writing had to be recognized and having recognized that curse and blessing and doing nothing in return made me sad, so deeply sad I wished I had not learned how to imagine what a good poetic line looked liked.

In between teaching, I would write on anything and about anything, always discovering where the poetic promise lay and where the food money would best come from. With a salary from the State University that was barely sufficient to give you a decent meal, the gas money would have to be sourced from some place, the tuition money from payment of a commissioned work, the books from some consulting fees you were able to scramble.

Panic grew on panic.

I realized I did not have the time to sit down and gather my thought and think thoughts about my art.

And each day that I went through all these rituals of survival, hell was breaking loose and was always on the road.

You go through this and you blame yourself.

You blame fate.

You blame the country, the government, the politicians, the president, all presidents, all congressmen, and all senators. I did all of these.

Ha, I was going bonkers?

Enough, I told yourself. I could only take in so much Calvary.

And so I left the country to find peace in some place I hardly knew from Eve, passing by Honolulu, and ending in Los Angeles, this last one the city of my terrors and surprises, the city of my sad poems and joyous stories.

Ano, papa, uuwi ka? The end of the line was clear I could hear a pin drop.

I do not think so, I said.

Bakit naman kasi di mo pa ilipat ang Hawaii dito? Ang layu-layo kasi diyan e. At saka, umuulan dito. Umuulan din ba diya? May bagyo pa. May bagyo ba diyan, ha, papa?

I counted the saddest second of my life: 1-1000, 2-1000, 3-1000…

I had to hold my feelings. I told her in a firm and loving voice, “Happy birthday, anak. Enjoy your cake and friends. Enjoy your ice cream.”

“Opo,” she said. “I love you, papa. I miss you. Ba-bay.”

I heard the click of the phone so far away.

Night had gathered at the Pearl Harbor and in the hills in the west.

A Solver Agcaoili
Waipahu, HI
August 20, 2006

Some Notes on the Modernization of Ilokano, V

There is a certain resurgence of interest on things Ilokano in the Philippines and in the diaspora.

In the many gatherings that I have had the privilege to be part of and participate in the discussions, some as a speaker on the many topics of interest to these participants, the issue of standardization of the Ilokano language has always been of special import.

It was at the University of the Philippines’ College of Arts and Letters that I had had the first chance to look at the Ilokano language with a certain self-reflexivity.

As is the case of every person born of the language, you get the feeling, high and intoxicating but as empty as an empty boast when you know full well that you have been, by the force of the historical accidents of your birth, to the language born.

You get the feeling that you have the privilege, the perk, the pelf—and you can wag your tail and do not care about the world, not a whit. Like a lion, you roar, but the roar, you realize can suggest some bluff.

When I got to teach a doctoral course on Ilokano literature—yes, Virginia, the literature of the Ilokanos is being taught at the university, in the undergraduate program on a cycle, on a rotating basis; in the master’s program; and in the doctoral—I felt panic as if I have not known what panic was all about. It was, in a tongue-in-cheek way, panic on panic.

What to do? The teachers and scholars and writers would be in my class, some of them my colleagues in the department, some of them from the other topnotch colleges or universities. They all came to UP Diliman for the fact that UP Diliman, of all the many universities of the country, has the best of the intellectual resources of the nation, the republic, the country all rolled into one. The social and intellectual expectation was too much to bear. That gave me the jitters. I did not want to make a fool of myself.

So I had to scour the UP Main Library. I had to look in every corner and when I could not satisfy my curiosity, I went to the Rizal Library of the Ateneo and to the National Library on Kalaw.

In these libraries, I realized many things. At the National Library, I saw a bundle of “Revolutionary Papers”—was it RPI that they called then?—obviously a Katipunan set of documents attesting to membership to the nationalist movement. One of the membership documents I saw was one signed by an Agcaoili, in an elaborate handwriting, and saying that it was signed, as with the rest of them, with their own blood.

At the UP Main, I saw that famous debate on the Ilokano language by the “Ilokanistas” of old, in the 30s, 40s, and onward. I saw the Ilokano version of the “Silaw” series of novelettes, the same kind that we would revive at the Lailo Romances of the ICRI Writers Cooperative, Juan SP Hidalgo’s literary projects, and another by the Milan Enterprises. At the Rizal Library, I saw Santiago Fonacier’s unreadable—read: unreadable, and unreadable because the Ilokano rendering is too darn bad and incomprehensible—translation of the Noli and the Fili.

This knowledge of the Katipunan documents from the National Archives of the National Library would forever haunt me, and in my writings, in poetry as in the short stories and my ambitious novels, this would inform and shape my aesthetic life-work forever.

In all these old documents, I have come across the Ilokano language written in the way people in those times would look at the grammar and semantics of their own knowledge of who they were and what they wanted to pursue.

In short, I saw all those “qs” and “cs” and all those hispanicized expressions that, even if they contained some sense of clarity, were also inviting confusion. There was some elegance in the nostalgia of a “beautiful Hispanic past” if this were romanticized and idealized as some kind of a period of Ilokano history where only the good and beautiful and the true things happened.

But the social reality was not so.

The Spaniards betrayed us by conniving with then imperialist upstart United States and we know what the deal was: $20 M dollars for our liberty, for that one fat chance to declare our independence from Spain.

No, the Catholic Spaniards had more sinister notions about empire and religious mis/evangelization and setting us free would make a mockery of their “superior status” as a colonizer, this status the very reason for some of us unenlightened Ilokano scholars and writers to keep on holding to our “qs” in the “ket” and the “ken” and the “cs” in the “caramba” and “carajo”.

But who says “caramba” and “carajo” still? I have not heard this in Vigan in a long while and neither in Laoag. Let those who have so much love for the useless remnants of the language cry foul and say, “You, you arrogant young people who never respect the past.”

I imagine I would answer back to the accusation to that charge of linguistic betrayal: We are easing out the “qs” in the “ket” and the “ket” and in other words because we know more of the social and linguistic history of the Ilokano language than those who insist on the relevance of irrelevant fossils. “We want to think—and we want to think clearly so we want to simplify our Ilokano language the best way we know how. As it is, the language is already difficult to learn even if you speak it. Why add another cross to the already heavy cross of learning your own language because in reality you do not know enough about it?”

That answer, of course, is also addressed to me. I do not know much about the Ilokano language. Perhaps I know enough to have that empty boast and that empty stance. But I am willing to listen and learn if somebody can pinpoint to me a clear logic for doing so, with proofs and persuasive argument.
So do we need nostalgia as a principle in the accounting of what ought to prevail in standardizing the Ilokano language?

Come on, Ciriaco, you are funny and you are kidding. Come on, Miss Virginia, shake off the dust on your skirt and go where the sun rises. As they say in Los Angeles, “No way, Jose!” No way, Ciriaco and Virginia!

What do I tell the people who ask about standardizing our Ilokano language? Do I see a problem here? What can I say as a writer? What can I say as a teacher of the language?

I have only one answer: We have a tacit standard Ilokano. Discover it, use it, and listen to it so you can help out in the evolving of a richer and more dynamic repertoire of the language.

And I tell them as well: What we need to do is reaffirm its power and its legitimacy—and we go from there. I admit there is no explicit standard at this time, hence, these varying voices.

Then again, have we arrived at a point where we have sufficient repertoire so we can now move on to standardizing our language in an academic sense?

A Solver Agcaoili
Waikiki, HI
September 9, 2006

Our Manner of Thanking Manang Prescila, Teacher

Like the anitos
of our ancestors,
we implore you,
elder sister Prescila, our teacher:
bless us more
with goodness.

Bless us more with an urge to see,
with strength of soult
that will keep us company
in this road
to this other gospel
you renewed for us.

Linger not, we tell you now,
doubt not.

Step right off to have
that first steps in the dance
of the spirit in its dancing
of the sweet song, our sweet song
of that tune lulling us to sleep,
the music of the kutibeng
you reclaimed.

To the heritage
all things will go back,
all as in a gift, an inheritance.
In the language of the silence
you have left behind
in the sacred room
of the countless memories,
there, there we look
for the ways to freedom
there we do the rite
to undo our going away.

A lot we owe you, a lot of this
your act of redeeming us
from the language that confuses,
this clear construction of meaning
like the twin books of love
you honored us with
in these you wrote
with all of your caring for

The mind like the twists
of words in each pain,
each persistence, each hardship,
each triumph,
each joy, its sorrowing.
Ay, ay, all of these we all call out now
to become witnesses,
living and loving you in return,
joining us in thanking you
for the nurturing of what is us.

We count the fingers of years,
the long and numerous fingers
of the ceaseless decades
of your sustained giving,
this endless valuing
of that which counts
in the alphabets
of our homing or exiling:
Ay, ayna, but our hearts get tired
our hearts retire for not knowing

For you, elder sister and teacher
of all the glory
you showed us the way
to the crossroads
of that which is enchanting.

You leave behind this heaven you saw
from the sound
of going through the night
till the early hours
of the morning
we take from you
the magic of the Word,
the only thing that is salving.

Honolulu, HI, September 9, 2006. Read during the retirement banquet of Prof. Prescila Espiritu, the nurturer and sustainer of the Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Progra, UH Manoa.

Some Notes on the Modernization of Ilokano, IV

The bone of contention in this piece is this: the sounds in Ilokano are important and indispensable in the accounting of new experiences, the experiences that are ever-new because of the march of history.

Simply put: there is no place for the purist mind to remain in that illusion of purity of the Ilokano language when that mind cannot even prove that, among others, the reality of "computer" and "text messaging" existed during the time of Pedro Bukaneg.

Purism or its attendant attitude is Nazism without any courage and boldness and daring and systematic way of seeing and doing things. Which is even worse than the
Auschwitz and Dachau of this abominable social movement that murdered men and minds,
civilizations and cities, and truths and story-telling.

Before a language becomes a play of letters, it is first and foremost a play of sounds.

Ceteris paribus, language is sound, the play of sounds coming into a euphony and cacophony, into silence and noise, into fullness of meaning or its lack, into sense and non-sense.

The onomatopeia in language, still quite evident, as in the Ilokano "sarimadek/saradaddeng", for instance, clearly tells you of some beginning or some evolution from an imitatory past. I hear sounds of the foot here, sounds of the ground, of the wooden floor, of the sounds of the mind unable to decide for himself. That is the same way with purists of the Ilokano language in our midst who believe that they got the Ilokano language from an email or fax from God. I think that they should better get that needed "murmuray" if not the "kidag", that friendly jolting of the rib.

Did our early ancestors feel the need to communicate in a manner and mode rooted in the sounds of nature and yet transcending it?

How do we deny an imitatory past when the crowing of the rooster is still "tartaraok" whichever way you look at it?

I am aware of some "cultural" variables here, and the play of cognition is linked with the play of culture--and the play of sounds in a specific culture such that we can render the same "objective phenomenon" of the crowing of roosters in various ways depending on how a certain culture, and thus, language, perceives the "objective phenomenon" (read: the "crowing" example; here, the play of language qua sounds comes really into play: "tiltilaok" for the Tagalog, "crow-crow" for English.)

What gives here? Why the disparity?

Simple: perception is not one and the same--and cognition as well.

You move from one culture to another and you see how cognition, or its bigger philosophical possibilities, i.e., epistemology, gets to read and understand and order the universe within and out--the universe which is material and physical, the overwhelming universe of which we are only a speck, and the universe which is inside us, that world within which forms part of what we are, individually as well as socially and collectively.

What does this mean? What does this say about the "naming" power of/in language?

Simple: language is a convention, and thus always arbitrary.

It is not one kind of a gift from the heavens, some kind of a manna from somewhere, even if we do acknowledge that there could be something sacred and divine in language. But this is another story.

What I am saying is this: that some hypothetical agreement/contract-signing is in operation in the way language gets to grow and develop as is the case with its beginnings.

The key is the term "hypothetical" and is meant to account the fact that when one is born into a language--yes, we are born into a language as we are born into a culture and into a society--we become inheritors of that language and even if we did not sign the social contract, the fact of our birth has poised us to become a signatory of that social contract.

It is one of those accidents of human life--this being born into a language--that we cannot do without, like that of our parents, one we cannot choose precisely because we were never given the chance to choose in the first place.

I understand the fear--well, call it the linguistic paranoia of the many Ilokano writers and observers of Ilokano culture--when they say that, in an exaggerated way, we have to look for an Ilokano word for "computer" because if we do adopt "computer" in the Ilokano language, this language will be polluted, will be rendered impure, will be adulterated.

There is smallness in such a mind, whoever owns it.

And this same mind has no sense of the delightful drumbeats of history and its technologies.

The first question here is: are we to draw up a descriptive word in Ilokano in order to account this objective experience of "computer" in our midst? What descriptive word are we to use?

For the sake of argument, we can try--and I am trying hard now just to go into the small minds of the purists and those who do not know how to think and think clearly: "Ti computer ket maysa a makina a pagan-andaren ti kuriente(mark this "kuriente" word as well) a no agsuratka iti daniw iti Ilokano ket ugedanna amin ta dina met piman mabasa ti Ilokano ket iti panagkunana ket biddut amin nga ispelling (mark this "ispelling" word again)."

What happens here?

This is plain and simple crucifixion. And it is not even a Good Friday yet. Why say in a long, convoluted way that which you can say in one, single, and lone (but not lonely) word, that word we use: computer/kompiuter? Are we to spell it with a "c"?
Ha, that is a non-issue, if you have read my previous pieces.

Here, we are making a mockery of ourselves--and we live in that grand illusion that "computer" in English is one grand "pure" and "pristine" and "primeval" English term.

Here as well, we are as colonial as the person next to us, oblivious to the fact that English and other Romance languages, for that matter, borrowed much from Latin, but Latin, in its poverty of concepts and cultural experiences despite the braggadocio of its conquering emperors, borrowed much fromt the Greeks. But are the Greeks the genesis of everything? No, clearly, because it borrowed also from other sources.

The English word computer, for instance, did not even sound like its etymology: com + putare, although it approximated the sound of "com" depending on whose English your are using. (Yes, there are "Englishes" if you do not know it: the English of the abominable Simon Cowell when he insulted Jasmin Trias in his kind of English one hates, with the cockiness of the accent that made the whole of India a colony and neocolony until now and Hollywood and that sub-culture of pop culture we call "American Idolism" as against the prim and proper English of the prim and proper Hillary Clinton as against the "Philippine English" of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as against the "Ilokano English" of the former president Fidel Ramos).

What was the original meaning of computer? Oh well, it was simply not referring to the machine but to a concept: "to be together in mind" and "to reckon something".

So what to do? What lessons do we get from the "history of words"?

Simple: read history well and put to heart its lessons.

Do we have to maintain the original spelling?

What original spelling do we talk about?

Language is already confusing as it is always a lie, as this lie is based on mis/representation. Why add another confusion? Come on, Ilokano advocates, get real. Forget the company of Nid Anima and his pupils who all argue on the basis of a "glorified and glorious Ilokano language" during the time of the frailes and Isabelo delos Reyes and Leon Pichay and Pascual Agcaoili. They are all confused. Or they are all--all--babbling, as in a Babel.

One, you cannot maintain the original spelling for always. You have a real problem there. If your system of sounds, based initially on the kur-itan/kurditan does not account that or does not reckon it as in the "putare" of the Latin, then you have no business maintaining that spelling as you are, as a matter of fact, allowing confusion to set in. How do you say, in Ilokano, "Computerize the poem of Jim Agpalo"? Simply say: "Ikompiutermo ti daniw ni Jim Agpalo."

What do we have here?

You have borrowed the concept, you formed it into the image of the Ilokano language by making it behave as if it were your own, and you did not return it. This is the real sense of borrowing, the real sense of appropriation.

I guess that if it were true that the revered Juan SP Hidalgo, as claimed by other commentators, has pushed for the retention of the English/foreign spelling in accounting these new experiences in Ilokano culture and from our language, then the revered Juan SP Hidalgo is veritably mistaken.

There is no reason why we should be afraid to appropriate words that we do not have. The English language is an example of the best bastard and rich language we ever have.

What about "text messaging." Oh, come on, say: "text mesedying." Do I have to explain?

A Solver Agcaoili
Dept of Ilokano and Philippne Drama and Film Program
U of Hawaii at Manoa
Honolulu, HI
Sept 8/9, 2006

Agwarsitayo iti Bagas

Agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak
Pangbugtak kadagiti karkarna ti bislak
Daytay pangitali iti sangasako a ragsak
Sandi dagiti arapaap a mailusaklusak.

Agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak
Yunatayo dagiti diputado dagiti libak
Dagitay man nakakurbata nga aginsisiglat
Mangumkomision iti kinirog a rigrigat.

Ay, agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak
Isarunotayo dagiti senador dagiti beklat
Warsiantay ti senador, sapsapuen ti akak
Agas buy-ong a di nagbannog, agas ti kirat.

Ay, agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak
Iramantay ti palasio dagiti kari ti perdi a pirak
Ti palasio a kasingin dagiti naisalda nga utek
Ti palasio a Malakaniang ti arestado nga agek.

Ay, agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak,
Pangpadisi amin a mangmangkik, amin a sinalbag
Dagitay man paraimula iti buteng iti bayakabak
Mangibalud iti pagguuray a bendision iti agpatnag.

Ay, agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak.
Warsi a pangpaksiat kadagiti saraaw ti pinggan
Warsi a pangbuggiaw mannanakaw a kaibaan
Saraaw ken kaibaan, kontra signos ti paggaak.

Ay, agwarsitayo iti bagas, bagas a baak
Nasamay daytoy a pangdalus di ikankano a tulag
Nasamay a panagpartuat manen iti baro a biag
Sandi't inarasdasda nga aldaw a napusaksak.

*Paset ti koleksion nga "Agwarsitayo iti bagas."

Panagyaman ken Manang Prescila, Maestra

Kenni Propesora Prescila Espiritu, iti aldaw ti panagretirona, iti Unibersidad ti Hawaii iti Manoa, Septiembre 9, 2006. Naibasa iti bangkete a naangay a para kenkuana.

Kas kadagiti anito ti puli, kunaenmi ita kenka
Manang Prescila, maestrami: degdegam ti pia.
Degdegam ti regget ken karadkad ti karararua
A kadkaduami iti daytoy a pinabarom a kassaba.

Dika agbati, kunami ita kenka, dika agduadua.
Dika agsarimaddeng iti yaaddang tapno agsala
Dagiti espiritu iti kumpas dagiti nasam-it a dayyeng
Daytay makayepyep a timek ti napasubli a kutibeng.

Iti puli nga agsubli ti amin, amin a kas daton, kas patawid.
Iti lengguahe dagiti ulimek nga imbatim iti sagrado a siled
Dagiti ribo a lagip, sadiaykami nga agbirok iti salakan
Sadiaykami a mangaramid iti kontra ti pannakiyaw-awan.

Adu ti nakautangan, adu a pannakaisalda-gatang
Kadagiti tikaw ti sao, ti semantika ti kaipapanan
Kas iti singin a libro ni ayat a nangilalaeman
Nangikitikitan kadagiti amin a pagimbagan

Ti nakem kas iti likawlikaw dagiti balikas ni sanaang,
Ni anus, ni rigat, ni balligi, ni ragsak, ni leddaang.
Ay, ay, amin dagitoy ket awaganmi ida a sibibiag a saksi,
Kaduami a mangibalangat iti korona ti inka panagtagibi.

Bilangenmi kadagiti ramay ti siglo dagiti pammateg,
Di maungpot-ungpot a panangikankanawa iti bileg
Dagiti kur-itan iti panagindeng wenno panagtalawataw:
Ay, ayna, ngem agretiro ti pusomi nga agam-amangaw

Ta sika, sika manang a maestrami iti adu a dayaw
Sika ti paraisuro iti naruay a kursada ni kayaw.
Ibatim ita ti langit a nakitam kadagiti timek ti agpatnag
Allawatenmi ti anting-anting ti sao, kakaisuna a kalasag.

A Solver Agcaoili
Septiembre 9, 2006
Honolulu, HI

Some Notes on the Modernization of Ilokano, III

I could have titled this piece as: “Or why Nid Anima’s position on the Ilokano language does not offer a plausible perspective on how we are to view the language and how are we to develop it.” His position is as flawed as anyone arguing from the basis of ad ignorantiam.

There are certain things that we have to look into here.

One, his guerilla methodology or his lack of method in pursuing the logic of his cause, if he has any--or in pursuing both his logic's end and his cause.

Two, his position lacks a neat and nifty understanding of what scholarship ought to look like such that we can hardly believe him when he tells us things that are not backed up by solid research but by impressionistic impressions.

Let me point out the facts from the paper he read at the 2002 GUMIL Filipinas-GUMIL Oahu Conference held in Honolulu, Hawai`i and which was reissued by Jim Agpalo in his blog, kamalig.blogspot.com.

1. On the Jose Villa Panganiban directive, he says: “A directive by the then Director of the Institute of National Language, Jose Villa Panganiban, brought about the cause of protest. This possibly occurred in the late 50’s or early 60’s.”

Here we see a classic Anima way of putting ideas together in a manner and fashion that is truly convoluted.

If we go back to the meat of the two sentences, we do not know exactly what is being referred to.

Is he referring to the Panganiban directive or to the protest that came after or both?

Why, for heaven’s sake, did he use the phrase “possibly occurred in the late 50’s or early 60’s”? How are we to believe him if he cannot even tell us exactly where he is getting his facts? “Possibly” has a lame reference—it has empty claims. It is at best impotent in the context it is used by Anima.

2. On the scope of that directive, he says: “The scope of that directive embraced as well as encompassed all local languages and dialects, including Ilocano. (JVP) theorized that the local dialects derived their origins from Bahasa Indonesia, which uses the letter k, and thus must conform—for authenticity’s sake.”

Here we go again.

We see here a confused mind and a confused reasoning.

Does Anima really know what he is talking about?

Does he know the basic difference between a language and a dialect?

In the first instance, he talks about the Panganiban directive “(embracing) as well as (encompassing) all local languages and dialects, including Ilocano.”

In the next instance, he talks about “the local languages (deriving) their origins from Bahasa Indonesia.”

We cannot argue along fuzzy lines. End of story here. At best, this is bad scholarship.

3. I am skipping his vengeful afterthought on Bannawag. The Bannawag people can defend themselves.

4. He then talks about the genesis of the Iluco language, which he inconsistently referred to in the first part of his argument as “Ilocano”.

He talks about the flaws of the Panganiban directive, thus: “One, the Iluco as much as Tagalog language did not derive from Bahasa. Rather, they came of their own. They thrived, grew and flourished under Hispanic influence. Two, if the Iluco dialect must be subject to influence at all might it not be better if the influence is wielded by a superior language and not an inferior one? Between Bahasa and Spanish or English, there is no doubt as to which is more superior: it is quite obvious.”

Anima is confused about the Ilokano language “coming of its own” like Tagalog. Here, we see an Anima illusion of grandeur: that once there was a pristine and primeval language we call “Iluco,” his own term.

In the next breath, he speaks of “Iluco dialect.” Here, we see clearly a confused reasoning, sans logic, sans a solid understanding of the concepts of Linguistics 101 which any Tom, Dick and Harry could take in college. He cannot distinguish clearly between “language” and “dialect”.

In another breath, he speaks of “superior language” such as Spanish and/or English and an “inferior one” such as “Bahasa”.

What are his standards for saying that a language is more superior to the other—or conversely, more inferior to the other?

Here we see a neo-colonial mind and mindset in operation, and without that mind and mindset knowing that it has been colonized.

And then, what “Bahasa” is he referring to? Does he understand the very concept of “Bahasa”? Does he know that “Bahasa” is not only for Indonesia?

5. He talks about the “English language” growing by accretion—and then the dynamic of this accretion such that “the word coiners arrived at the exact term required.”

And he contrasts this with word coiners of the Iluco language, saying that “their counterparts in Iluco does it through sound association and arrive at something absurd and ridiculous. For instance, they adopted football into putbol. There is nothing in this word that denotes and/or connotes with foot and ball. Ditto with birth certificate locally represented as bert sirtipikit.”

Anima is clearly confused here, mistaking “accretion” for fidelity to the character and behavior of the word being borrowed such that it ought to have that character and behavior as in the original. No change, no manipulation, no linguistic intervention is ever allowed here.

The formation of affixes, the coining of new words via word combination, and the invention of new ones are a product of the times: they are needed which was why they have to be thought out and put out before language users to use—or even to dismiss. To account sound association as ridiculous is to miss a fundamental point in “appropriation” as the key element in the concentric development and progress of a particular language.

Appropriating—also called borrowing and then owning it without returning to the source—makes sense only when what is borrowed is made to act and behave in the way the borrowing language acts and behaves.

Think of the borrowed words of English here.

Did they completely and totally and fully retain their spelling and pronunciation? Some, but many did not. What was more important is that all of these borrowed words had to conform to the acceptable sound system of the English language.

Anima, in his confusion, denies this same thing to Ilokano. Think of a bundle of contradictions here and we see in the twisted logic of the Anima conference paper that purports to teach us a lesson or two on the “defiling” of the Ilokano language.

What about his claim about football and its rendering into Ilokano as putbol? And that bert sirtipikit? I say: why not? His notion of connotation and denotation totally misses the point on appropriating. Do the Japanese have a concept of computer? The answer is, Yes, they have. The Japanese term for "computer" has been dervied from the English "computer"; it has been rendered in the way the Japanese language is sounded off. Who determines whether "bert sirtipikit" will not work? Oh, well, the community of Ilokano speakers. If they will consider this as something that will make sense to them, they will keep it. Otherwise, it will go the way of words rendered obsolete.

6. Towards the end, of course, Anima’s way of writing, with orthography all his own, is being offered as the salving and redeeming in Ilokano language and writing. Anima says: “I have taken the first step by writing my first book in Iluco, Tartaraudi ni Bucaneg, in the only manner it should be written. If you adopted the same in the writing of your own books, I strongly believe you and I can restore Iluco to its proper place.”

The huge problem with Anima is the huge ego in his huge project with no regard for the diachronia of the Ilokano language.

He has forgotten many things including the fact that in the attempt to offer something redeeming and salving, dictatorship has no place. What he does is to dictate to us the “correct and proper way” to write in Ilokano—and this “correct and proper way” is arrogantly passed off as the Anima way. And he says, "This is the only way to do it." He invokes Bucaneg, of course, forgetting that Ilokano scholarship is not even too certain of Pedro Bucaneg.

In fine, he invokes Allah. But this does not make his argument divine and coming from the heavens of his cloudy thought.

A Solver Agcaoili
Honolulu, HI
Sept 6, 2006

Linggwistik na Demokrasya, Mapagpalayang Wikang Pambansa, Panlipunang Katarungan at Dibersidad ng Wika at Kultura

A Solver Agcaoili
Unibersidad ng Hawaii sa Manoa
Honolulu, HI

(2ng Gantimpala, 2006 Gawad sa Sanaysay, Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino, Republika ng Filipinas)

MAGPAHANGGA ngayon—maraming taon mula nang hirangin ang Filipino bilang wikang pambansa—ay nakabuntot pa rin na parang madilim na anino ang isang uri ng kalituhan sa maraming mamamayang Filipino tungkol sa kung ano nga ba ang hugis at mukha at anyo ng wikang pambansa. Kakambal ng ganitong uri ng pagkalito ang mapanggahum na kapangyarihan ng wika ng sentro ng komersiyo, midya, administrasyong pampulitika, at akademya. Ang resulta ng ganitong kaayusan ay ang patuloy na pagkakait sa nakararaming mamayan sa kanilang demokratikong karapatan sa wika at kultura—pagkakait, kumbaga, sa mga batayang karapatang pantao. Sapagkat karugtong ng karapatan na mabuhay ng sagana at walang pangamba sa sariling bayan ang batayang karapatan na sipatin at unawain ng mundo ayon lente ng wikang itinatadhana o kinagigiliwan ng puso at kaluluwa ng taong sumisipat o umuunawa sa mundo. Minsan, ang historikal na aksidente ng kapanganakan ay nagiging basehan ng ganitong lente at marami sa mga pamayanan sa Filipinas na malayo sa sentro ng kapangyarihan at administrasyon ng kultura ang may ganitong kalagayan. Pambansa man o pampamayanan ang wika, alin man sa mga ito ay kapwa nagbibigay hugis at anyo ng mundo—ng daigdig sa labas at loob ng tao. Ibig sabihin, isinasalin ang mundo—at ganun din ang substansyal na karanasang pantao—sa kategorya at kakayahan ng wika na gawin pamilyar ang dambuhalang mundong materyul at mundo ng karanasan. Ang ganitong relasyon ay nagpapakita ng mahigpit na ugnayan ng wika at mundo: ang mga mundo ay binubuo ng wika, at ang mga wika ay naglilikha ng mga mundo.

Lito ang maraming Filipino sa kasalukuyang hugis at topograpiya ng Filipino bilang wikang pambansa sapagkat hanggang sa kasalukuyan ay nananatiling nakakulong ang artikulasyon at elaborasyon nito sa mga mga lumuting prinsipyo ng kabansaan, ng identidad, ng demokrasya, at ng panlipunang katarungan.

Isinusulong ng sanaysay na ito, kung gayon, ang isang argumento: na hangga’t hindi tinutugunan ng Filipino bilang wikang pambansa ang mga usapin tungkol sa pluralidad at dibersidad ng mga wika, kultura, at kabihasnan ng mga Filipino saan man sila naroroon ay mananatiling watak-watakin ang disinsana’y nag-uugnay-ugnay na mga wika at kultura at diwa ng Filipinas—at bilang resulta ay patuloy ang pagkawatak-watak ng mga Filipino. Ang pagkawatak-watak na ito ay nagbubunga ng mapansariling pagsasarili. Sa ganitong kalagayan, hinding-hindi kailan man mapagtatagumpayan ang mithiin sa pambansang kasarinlan.

Isinusulong ng ganitong argumento tungkol sa wikang pambansa ang kahalagahan—at ang kalagahang ito ay hindi puwedeng mababale-wala sa diskurso ng pagiging pambansa ng wikang Filipino—ang tatlong salik na tumutugon sa hamon ng kaisipan na “ang wikang pambansa ay binubuo ng mga wika sa Filipinas.” Ang mga salik na ito, sa aking tingin, ay mga conditio sine qua non ng pagiging wikang pambansa ng Filipino ayon sa isinasaad ng saligang batas: (1) bansa at kabansaan; (2) mapagpalayang demokrasya; at (3) panlipunang katarungan.

Ang ganitong tesis ay isang pagsisiwalat ng isang ideyal, bisyon, pangarap, at pangyayari sa pagnanais na, mula ngayon, ang Filipino bilang wikang pambansa ay hindi na wika ng iilan. Na hindi na ito wika ng makapangyarihang radyo at telebisyon at pahayagan at ilang pang mga industriya ng kaalaman at kulturang popular na pagmamay-ari ng mga nasa sentro ng kalakalan at kapangyarihang politikal. Na hindi na ito wika ng iilang taong nakapag-aral sa mga lumuting baybayin ng mga lumuting probisyon ng mga lumutin nang pagtatangkang isabatas ang hugis, anyo, at mukha ng wikang pambansa.

Ipinapaalala ng ganitong tesis na ang proyekto at programang nakatuon sa pagbubuo ng isang tunay na “Filipino bilang wikang pambansa” ay hindi-hindi kailan man tumatanggap ng panggitnang daan. Ano mang uri ng pagbabago at pagsasakatuparan ng mga kahingian ng mapagpalaya, sapagkat panlahat, na pagbabago ay hindi tumatanggap ng mga kompromiso at negosasyon at akomodasyon mula sa mga puwersang laban sa tunay na kalayaan at kasarinlan.

Lahat ng uri ng pagbabago kasama ang pagbabago sa depinisyon ng Filipino bilang wikang pambansa ay hindi maaaring magsimula sa wala, sa zero—samakatwid, humihingi ang bawat pagbabago ng radikal na pagtingin sa mga wika at kultura sa Filipinas. Ang radikal na pagtingin na ito ay may kinalaman sa definitibong pagkilala sa lahat ng mga wika at kultura ng bansa, pagkilalang totoo, pagkilalang walang labis, pagkilalang walang kulang, pagkilalang nagpapahalaga sapagkat nagbibigay ng puwang at espasyo para sa lahat.

Sa pagsasaproyekto at pagsasaprograma ng Filipino bilang tunay na wikang pambansa—at sa tunay na Filipino bilang wikang pambansa—mahalaga rito ang pag-uusig sa kalabisan, sa oportunismo, sa kasalanan, at sa kabalintunaan ng kasaysayan. Mahalagang balikan ang nakaraan at suriin ang sistemasidong pagsasanaturalisado ng isa o ilang wika ng sentro bilang wikang pambansa. Sa pagsusuring ganito, ihahayag ang mali upang maitama ito at mabigyan ng kaukulang tugon ang katanungan tungkol sa inhustisyang ipinataw—at patuloy na ipinapataw—sa nakararaming mamamayan.

Sa panibagong artikulasyon at elaborasyon ng Filipino bilang wikang pambansa—ng tunay na Filipino bilang tunay na wikang pambansa—magpapanibago ang pilosopiya ng wikang gagamitin at sa pagpapanibago ng pilosopikal na basehan, tiyak na may masasagasaan.

Ang bagong pilosopikal na basehan ay humihingi rin ng pagsasakripisyo mula sa mga institusyon, indibidwal, at komunidad ng mga mamayang mulat at malay upang maisakatuparan ang pagsasabansang tunay ng Filipino bilang wikang pambansa.

Walang panggitnang daan sa pagpapalitaw sa Filipino bilang wikang pambansa. Ang panggitnang daan ay instrumento lamang ng panibagong manipulasyon upang maisulong ang mga tagong adhikain ng mga kalaban sa kalayaan at kasarinlan, mga tagong adhikain na mithiing nananatiling nananahan sa puso at kaluluwa ng nakararaming mamamayan sa kabila ng katusuhan ng naghaharing uri.

Tutugunan ng tunay na Filipino bilang wikang pambansa—at ng Filipino bilang tunay na wikang pambansa—ang mga tanong tungkol sa pagsasapalsipika ng diwa ng mga mamamayan ayon sa makitid at mapang-angking parametro ng mga makapangyarihang pawang mga awtor at pasimuno at aktor ng di na mabilang na kuwento ng kawalan ng katarungan. Gayon din na ibubunyang ng tunay na Filipino bilang wikang pambansa—at ng Filipino bilang tunay na wikang pambansa—ang kabalintunaang inilalakong totoo, tama, at ligal. Ang kabalintunaang ito ay ito: isang uri ng “Filipino bilang wikang pambansa” na, una, hindi naman “Filipino”, at pangalawa, hindi naman “wikang pambansa.”

Ang sa una ay ang pagpapanatili ng gramatika ng manipulasyon sa wikang pambansa—isang gramatika ng manipulasyon na sintagal na ng kuntsabahan sa pagitan ng mga elit sa ekonomiya at ng politika kasama ang kanilang mga dayuhang panginoon. Lihis ito sa reyalidad ng dibersidad ng mga diwa at isip mula sa mga napakaraming linggwistik at kultural na pamayanan sa bansa. Ang gramatika ng manipulasyong ito ay nananatili ring balarila ng pananakop sa kaisipan ng mga hindi taga-sentro ng kapangyarihan.

Ang pangalawa ay ang tuloy-tuloy na pagtanggap bilang tama at naayon na ang karanasang kultural at linggwistik ng isang pamayanan ay siya rin karanasang kultural at linggwistik ng lahat ng mga pamayanan. Maliban sa mapanlahat at mapanakop ang ganitong pag-iisip, isinasantabi nito ang pag-iral ng iba pang mga pamayanan, ng iba pang mga diwa, ng iba pang mga isip, at ng iba pang mga wika, tunog, alaala, gunita, at sistema ng pagpapakahulugan. Sa isang bansang tahasang multikultural at multilinggwistik, ang ganitong uri ng pilosopiya ng wika ay walang saysay, hindi dapat binibigyan ng saysay, ang saysay—kung meron—ay winawalang saysay.

Ang kabalintunaang naganap—at patuloy na nagaganap—sa kasaysayan ay isang uri ng maskaradong kabalintunaan na ipapalaganap at ipinapalawig bilang katotohanan ng mapagharing kasaysayan ng mga elit ng wika, kultura, kapangyarihan, at kaalaman na kahit kailan ay hindi ibinilang ang kontribusyon at pagsasapraktika ng masang nag-iisip at mulat at malay—ang uri ng masang tunay na tagapagtago ng pangarap para sa bansang awtentikong nagsusulong ng mga ideya tungkol sa pagkamit ng isang malayang bansa at kabansaan.

Bansa at Kabansaan

Kakambal ng wikang pambansa ang usapin tungkol sa bansa at sa kabansaan.

Kailan man, ang bansa ay hindi isang tapos na usapin, hindi isang artifak ng kasaysayan o ng mga relasyong politikal ng mga grupo ng mga tao na, sa kaso ng Filipinas, ay kadalasan ay ang kwalifikasyon sa paghahari ay ang kahusayang makipagkurratsahan sa mga nanghuhuthot na dahuyan, mga mangangalakal na ignorante sa etikal na responsibilidad ng puhunan, mga banyagang among imperyalista na ang tanging ambisyon ay sakupin ang mundo at angkinin ang sansinukob sa pamamagitan ng kanilang mga ideya tungkol sa kanilang demokrasya, panlipunang katarungang sila ang unang benefisyari, at kabansaang umiikot sa kanilang imahinasyong politikal na sila ang sentro ng mundo, na ang lahat ng mga bansa sa daigdig ay sa kanila dapat iikot tulad ng pag-ikot ng mga planeta sa araw.

Ang bansa at kabansaan bilang proyekto at programa ay nililikha--obrang di matatapus-tapos sapagkat walang katapusan, laging isinasagawa, isinasakatuparan. Organik, buhay, humihingi ng buhay, gustong mabuhay, ang bansa at kabansaan ay umiiral sa imahinasyon ng mga mamamayang mulat at malay sa mga bisyon at misyon at adhikain ng nakararami sa kalayaan at kaunlaran para sa lahat.

Ang bansa bilang isang imahinasyong politikal ay tulad din ng Filipino bilang wikang pambansa. Ang paralelismo ng dalawa ay hindi isang aksidente kundi nanggagaling ang usapin at diskurso ng wikang pambansa sa ideya mismo ng pagiging isang bansa. Ang kabansaan ay suma ng lahat ng mga nosyon sa pagiging bansa kasama ang wikang malaya sapagkat nagpapalaya, makabansa, pambansa.

Mayroong isang dinamismo sa ganitong relasyon ng bansa at ng wikang pambansa sapagkat inuugat ang nosyon at konseptuwalisasyon ng wikang pambansa sa proyekto at programang politikal ng isang grupo ng taong naglalayong makabuo ng isang pamayanang nagsisilbing tahanan mismo ng kanilang mga pangarap, panaginip, adhikain, damdamin, saloobin, nakem, buot.

Ibig sabahin, ang ganitong pamayanan ay may kakayahan magbigay ng taguan at kublian ng anito ng mga ninunong anito rin ng ngayon at kinabukasan, ng espiritu ng pakikidangadang sa ngalan ng kalayaan at kasarinlan, at ng kaluluwa ng lahat ng nais at pagsinta para sa sarili at sa iba. Sa madaling sabi, merong daynamik ang diskurso ng Filipino bilang wikang pambansa sapagkat nakabatay ito sa daynamik mismo ng diskurso ng bansa, at samakatwid, ng kabansaan.

Sa higit na praktikal na pagtataya, kung ang reyalidad ng pagiging isang bansa ay ang mayamang reyalidad ng pagiging marami at pagiging iba’t-iba ng wika, kabihasnan, at kultura ng mga komunidad na bumubuo nito, hindi kung gayon angkop na iisa o iilan lamang ang mananaig na expresyon ng mga bagay na maituturing na pambansa tulad ng wika. O dili kaya ang kultura na itinatakda lamang ng sentro ng administrasyong pampulitika tulad ng pagkokonsiyerto ng mga musikerong nakaamerikana at pagbabaley ng mga baylerinang ang tanging alam na sayaw at galaw ng paa ay nagmumula sa mga kosmopolitang dambuhalang siyudad sa Kanluran. Tulad ng mga musikerong ang alam ay si Mozart at si Bach, ang mga baylerina ay nasa ganoon ding hugis at anyo ng kamangmangan: hindi kailan man nila alam o inalam ang arikenken ng mga taga-Hilaga o singkil ng Kamindanawan, tulad ng di pag-alam ng mga musikero ng kutibeng ng mga Ilokano o ng plawtang kawayan ng mga Kalinga o Yapayao.

Ang ganitong konseptuwalisayon ng demonstrasyon at pagsasapraktika ng kultura na tumatanggap sa mga istandard ng iba at banyaga subalit walang kakayahang pahalagahan ang sariling mga expresyong pangkultura o dili kaya ang pagpapanatiling pikit-mata sa mga sinaunang at/o katutubong expresyon ng diwa ng ibang mamamayan ng bansa ay isang sutil na gawain.

Sutil, sapagkat walang katinuan.

Walang katinuan sapagkat hindi kumikilala ng ibang uri ng kaalaman, kapantasan, kabutihan, kagandahan.

Kakawing, kung gayon, ng usapin tungkol sa Filipino bilang isang wikang pambansa—ang tunay na Filipino bilang tunay na wikang pambansa—ang samu’t-saring usapin tungkol sa kayamanang alay ng mga wika sa bansa, mga kultura sa iba’t ibang pamayanan, mga diwain sa mga pagsasapraktika ng mga kahingian sa pang-araw-araw na buhay.

Magpahangga ngayon, nananatiling Tagalog at maka-Tagalog ang balangkas ng ”‘tunay na Filipino” bilang “tunay na wikang pambansa.”

Ang ganitong kaayusan ay kontra-produktibo sapagkat ipinipiit nito ang kaisipang higit at lampas-lampas sa kaisipang taglay ng isang maliit lamang na bahagi ng bansa at kabansaan. Ang ganitong direksyon ng pagsasakonseptuwalisa ng wikang pambansa at ng bansang malaya na pinapamagitanan ng Tagalog at maka-Tagalog na diwa ay nagbubunga ng walang katapusang isteytment tungkol sa pagiging Tagalog ng wikang pambansa at ng kulturang pambansa.

Sa paglalahad sa usaping ito tungkol sa “pagiging Tagalog ng Pilipino” at ng “pagiging Tagalog ng Filipino”—at ang ekweysyon nitong “pagiging Filipino ng Tagalog”—ay isang dungis ng adhikaing mapagpalaya sapagkat nagpapalaya. Tuwi-tuwina ay inuungkat ito ng ilan sa mga may tinig sa pampublikong saklaw ng aksyon. Hindi maitatatwa ang maliliit na katotohanang taglay ng ganitong isteytment. Nagkasala at patuloy na nagkakasala ang mga tagapagtaguyod ng ganitong pag-iisip, mga tagapagtaguyod na nilalambungan ng mga isip ng isang uri ng kompleks na ang ngalan ay walang-pangalan sapagkat ayaw nilang aminin. Mulat ang mga ahente ng ganitong kalakaran at kaayusang mapaniil sa kahingiang etika ng pag-aamin: ang pagpapangalan ng panlipunang sakit na dumadapo sa maraming mamamayang hindi mulat at malay sa kahingian ng bansa at kabansaan, ng linggwistik na demokrasya, at ng panlipunang katarungan.

Kapag nirakisa ang mga instrumento at aparato ng kaalamang pambansa na minemedyeyt, halimbawa, ng ikinakalakal, itinataguyod, at ipinapalaganap na “Filipino bilang wikang pambansa”, naroon ang mga sintomas ng kawalang katarungan—at ang mga sintomas na ito ay nagpapakita ng isang malala sapagkat mapangsaklaw na sakit panlipunan na itinatago sa pamamagitan ng sistematisadong pagbablakmeyl sa mga kritiko ng ganitong kaayusan at kalakaran.

Madalas ang reaksyunaryong depensa upang blafin at bansutin ang mapanlikhang kontraryong isip na ganito. Pansinin, halimbawa, ang mga modelo ng kaalamang isinasaksak sa isip ng mga kabataan mula sa murang gulang hanggang sa ang gulang ay di na kayang mag-isip ng malaya sapagkat ang isip ay kinolonya na ng mga lumuting pilosopiya tungkol sa wikang pambansa, sa pambansang literatura, at sa pambasang kultura.

Mayroong lihim at tusong pananakot sa mga instrumento at aparatong ito ng kaalaman at sa mga salik at sangkap sa produksyon at reproduksyon nito. Ang mga tinataguriang panitikang Filipino, halimbawa, ay madalas hindi mga “panitikang Filipino” kundi panitikan ng isang sentro ng kontrol, administrasyon, produksyon, at reproduksyon ng kaalaman. Ipinapakabesa ang mga piyesang ito hanggang sa ang mag-aaral ng kabihasnang Filipino ay masilo sa lihim at tusong sistema ng pagkontrol sa naghaharing wikang ipinapalabas na wikang pambansa subalit wika lang naman—at, in extensu, panitikan lang naman ng isang rehiyon na nagkataon ay sentro ng kapangyarihan.

Ang ganitong aksidente ng heograpiya sa pagiging bansa ay nagiging basehan at sanhi ng isang heograpiya ng sakit at pasakit, ng patuloy na kolonisasyon sa isang paraang banayad at di-halatain, at ng tuloy-tuloy na pagdomina ng ilang grupo ng mga kababayang Filipino laban sa ibang mga kababayang wala sa sentro, mga kababayang nagkakasya sa gilid sapagkat itinutulak sa mga gilid-gilid ng lipunan.

Ang mga gawaing ganito ay nangangailangan ng masinsinang pagbubunyag, paglalantad, at pagtatanggal ng maskara.

Nangangailangan ito ng diretsahang pagpapangalanan sa mga ahente ng bagong kolonisasyon sa isip at kamalayan; nangangailangan ng paghuhusga sa mga gawaing nagiging simula ng bagong kalupitan at kalabisan at kaapihan, mga pangyayari at reyalidad na walang lugar sa isang lipunang may paggalang at pagpapahalaga sa sarili sapagkat sumusunod sa mga batayang prinsipyo ng pagsasakatuparan ng buhay panlipunan.

Sapagkat gawaing malupit ang pagtatakda ng iisang uri ng katotohanan, identidad, kairalan, kaisipan, at kamalayan kung ang tunay na tototo ay ang pag-iral ng daan-daang wika at kultura ng iba’t-ibang Filipino sa iba’t ibang pamayanan.

Sapagkat isang uri ng kalabisan ang pagpapanatili ng dominasyon ng iilan sa higit na marami.

Kahit sabihin pang ang marami ang nagdodomina, hindi pa rin ito katanggap-tanggap na pamantayan sa pagbubuo ng isang mahusay at matiwasay na lipunan. Ang dominasyon ay dominasyon ano man ang uri. Wala itong lugar sa isang bansang nagsisikap magiging totoo sa kanyang sarili.

Sapagkat gawaing mapang-api ang di pagkilala sa iba; sa di pagbibilang sa iba’t-ibang wika, kultura, at kabihasnan ng bansa.

Linggwistik na Demokrasya

Pundamental na karapatan ang lengguahe at ang kulturang taglay nito.

Kasinghalaga ng karapatan sa wika ang karapatang mabuhay na mapayapa, ng walang takot at pangamba, ng may kaunlaran at katiwasayan.

Kung ang demokrasya ay estilo ng buhay sa lipunan, isang estilo ng buhay na humihingi ng pagbubuwag ng kapangyarihang taglay ng iisa o iilang kamay upang maikalat ang kapangyarihan ng pagpapasasya sa nakararami, ang linggwistik na demokrasya ay lohikal na karugtong ng ganito ring ideyal ng sama-samang pagpapasya kung ano ang mainam at mabuti para sa nakararami kung hindi man para sa lahat.

Sa demokrasya, ang kapangyarihan ay wala sa sentro kundi nasa kamay ng mga diputado ng mga kasapi sa lipunan, mga diputadong ang kakayahan ay walang kulang, mga diputadong kayang arukin ang kaluluwa at espiritu ng mga mamamayan, mga diputadong nagsisilbing tinig ng mga walang tinig, nagsisilbing mata ng mga walang mata, nagsisilbing lakas ng mga walang lakas, nagsisilbing kapangyarihan ng mga inagawan ng kapangyarihan, nagsisilbing gabay ng mga nawawala ang landas. Sa buhay pangkultura, ang mga wika ay tila mga diputado sapagkat ang mga wika ay mata, ilong, pang-amoy, panlasa, lakas, tinig, boses, kapangyarihan at pandiwa ng mga may-ari sa mga ito—o ng mga taong pagmamay-ari ng mga wika.

Sa demokrasya, ang instrumento ng pag-iisip ay sang-ayon sa diskurso ng mga mangungusap na pare-pareho ang kinatutungtungan, pare-pareho ang prinsipyong pinanghahawakan na pinagmumulan ng talastasan. Ang tunay na wikang pambansa ay nagbibigay ng ganitong kondisyon at hinahayaan na maganap ng buong-buo ng talastasan ng lahat ng gustong mag-uusap-usap at hindi niya ito kinakategorya kung ang nakikipagtalasan ay Ifugao, Mangyan, katutubo o politikong makapal ang mukha na ang tanging alam na wika ay wika mapangsakop.

Sa demokrasya, nililinaw ng mabuti ang mga batayang prinsipyo na naghuhudyat ng makatarungang pag-uusap, ng palitan ng kuro-kuro, ng kumbersasyon, ng dialogo.

Ibig sabihin, pinapamagitanan ng talastasang demokratiko ng isang wikang pambansa sapagkat sa pamamagitan nito ay nakakapangusap ang nakararami kung di man lahat; pinapamagitanan ng talastasang demokratiko ng isang wikang pambansa sapagkat wala itong bahid ng pananakop sa utak at isip at kalooban, isang wikang pambansa na, sa kubling tahanan nito sa kululuwa ng mga mamamayan, ay malay at mulat ang mga nangungusap.

Ang isa sa mga senyal ng pagiging tunay na pambansa ang isang wika ay ang kakayahan nitong magsilbing tahanan, kublian, at taguan ng kaluluwa at puso ng bawat mamamayan. Hanggang hindi nararating ang binabansagang “wikang pambansa” ang ganitong katangian, mananatili itong estrangherong wika, wika ng pagiging exiling panloob, ng pagiging bagamundo mula sa sariling tahanan ng unang wika hanggang sa mawalay ang landas ng kaluluwa, ng puso, ng identidad, ng pagkatao.

Sa pagsasagawa ng kahingiang pandemokrasya ng pagpapayaman sa Filipino bilang tunay at totoong wikang pambansa, kailangan dito ang walang pag-aatubiling pagkilala sa pangyayaring ang bansa ay binubuo ng mga samu’t saring wika at kultura at ang kapangyarihang taglay ng wikang pambansa—ang kapangyarihan nitong magiging mapang-ugnay sapagkat nag-uugnay—ay nakabase sa pagsasangkap sa pagpapayaman sa wikang pambansa na gamit ang pagkapangyayari ng dibersidad na ito.

Hindi maaari dito ang dulog at lapit ng balasubas na nakaraan—balasubas sapagkat hinayjak nito ang mga utak at isipan ng nakararami at kinidnap nito ang tinig at pangalan ng iba pa.

Hindi maari ang dulog at lapit na nagbabando sa kahusayan ng isang wika laban sa iba at ang pagsasabi na ang ibang wika sa bansa ay walang kakayahang gawing intelektwalisado ang diskursong naglilikha ng kaalaman. Ang ganitong mala-kolonyal na aktitud at disposisyon ng utak ay walang papel sa isang demokratikong talastasan sa kung papaano gawin demokratiko rin ang Filipino bilang tunay na wikang pambansa.

Ang pagpapanatili sa tiraniya at diktadurya ng isa o iilang wika at ang kaakibat na pagmamaskara sa tiraniya at diktaduryang ito sa pamamagitan ng mga teknik at metodo ng kalakal at promosyong pampubliko ay isang mortal na paglabag sa inisaad ng isang demokratiko sapagkat makatarungang buhay panlipunan. Ang mortal na paglabag na ito ay walang karampatang kapatawaran, walang katumbas na pagsisisi na ang katapat ay ang pagpapatawad.

Ang pagsasapilit na pagbansag sa tiranya at diktaduryang ito bilang “pagmamahal panlipunan” at ang pamumulot sa mga pailan-ilang konsepto ng mga Mangyan, ng mga Ilokano, ng mga Igorot, ng mga Kalinga, ng mga Tagbanwa, ng mga Isinay, ng mga Ibanag, ng mga Ivatan, ng mga Sebwano, ng mga Bikolano, ng mga Pangasinense, ng mga Pampango, ng mga Waray, ng mga Tausog, at ng mga Maranaw, halimbawa, at pagsasama sa mga ito sa kasalukuyang leksikon ng wikang Filipino upang mairepresenta ang mga diwa ng mga Mangyan, ng mga Ilokano, ng mga Igorot, ng mga Kalinga, ng mga Tagbanwa, ng mga Isinay, ng mga Ibanag, ng mga Ivatan, ng mga Sebwano, ng mga Bikolano, ng mga Pangasinense, ng mga Pampango, ng mga Waray, ng mga Tausog, at ng mga Maranaw ay isang uri ng kawalan ng pagpapahalaga sa kahingiang pandemokrasya ng wikang pambansa. Ang pakunsuwelo-de-bobong gawaing ganito ay naghuhudyat ng kakitiran ng isip at ng kababawan ng kaalaman sa paglikha ng isang lipunang demokratiko sapagkat kinikilala ang pangarap at nais ng lahat ng mga mamamayan, mga pangarap at nais na ang dulo ay ang pagtatatag ng isang lipunang makatarungan sapagkat demokratiko, at demokratiko sapagkat makatarungan.

Panlipunang Katarungan

Hinihiling ng reyalidad ng dibersidad pangwika at pangkultura ng bansang Filipinas ang puspusang pagkilala sa taglay na yaman ng iba’t ibang wika at kultura sa pagbubuo at pagpapaunlad sa tinagaturiang pambansang wika at kakambal nitong pambansang kultura. Esensyal na bahagi ng kahingian ng panlipunang katarungan ang pagbibigay ng puwang sa inietsapuwerang wika at kultura.

Ang katarungan o kinalinteg—mula sa “tarong” ng Binisaya at “linteg” ng Ilokano—ay susi ng paglikha ng lipunan, ng ano mang lipunan. Ang kontratang panlipunan ay pundamental na tipan ng mga mamamayang ang nais at pangarap ay makabuo ng higit na organisasyon na may kakayahang tiyakin sa bawat mamamayan na ang kanyang karapatan na mabuhay ng matiwasay at masagana ay mabigyan ng paggalang at katuparan.

Sanhi ng mga bagaryos ng panahon at pook—sanhi ng mga di inaasahang puwersa ng kasaysayan—at ng mapanlinlang na mga ahente ng kapangyarihan, naging lihis ng kasunduang panlipunan. Ang resulta ay ang pagkakaroon ng isang lipunan ng mga tuso at pinagtutusuhan, ng mga marurunong at mga minamangmang, ng mga nagtagumpay at ng mga bigo, ng mga naghahari at pinaghaharian. Imbes na ang unang prinsipyo nito—ang pagsaalang-alang sa pagkapantay-pantay sa lahat ng karapatan at tungkulin—ang nanatiling muhon ng lahat ng mga relasyong panlipunan, naging anino na lamang itong unang prinsipyo—at ang pangangaino nito, sa kamaang palad, ay tila naging sa lahat ng mga panahong ng mga dayuhang mananakop hanggang sa panahon ng mga kababayang mananakop sa kasalukuyan. Naging pangit na pangitain ang aktuwal na kalakaran sa lipunan. Naglikha ito ng paghahati-kati at ang malalim na siwang sa pagitan ng mga makapangyarihan at pinaghaharian, sa pagitan ng mayayaman at ng mga naghihikahos, at sa pagitan ng mga may tinig at mga pipi ang nagsilbing pader laban sa pag-iisa at kaisahan ng diwa at isip tungkol sa bansa at kabansaan.

Makikita, halimbawa, ang kongretong larawan nito sa isang lipunang kay liit ang bilang ng napakarami at sobra-sobra ang kayamanan subalit napakakaunting yaman—kung meron man—ang hawak-hawak ng nakararaming mamamayan.

May tawag ng mga mapagpalayang ekonomista sa ganito: ang penomenon ng akses sa mga resorses ng produksyon. Itutulak ng sanaysay na ito ang konseptong ito sapagkat inilalarawan nito ang kawalan ng panlipunang katarungan sa kasalukuyan: ang kawalang ng akses ng nakararaming Filipino sa mga resorses ng lipunan kasama ang mga resorses na may kinalaman sa kultura at kaalaman.

Sa madaling salita: sa paghahati-hati, naging dalawa ang wika, at hindi iisa, at ang wikang pambansa—kung meron man sa reyalidad—ay isang pakunsuwelong probisyon ng batas.

Walang pagkapantay-pantay sa akses sa resorses sa kalinangan: iba ang praktis pangkultura ng mga mangmang at maliliit, mangmang sapagkat minangmang ng mga institusyong pangkaalaman ng di makatarungang lipunan at maliliit sapagkat sadyang binabansot ng mga makapangyarihang at panginoon ng kagalingan at kahusayan sa paniniwala na sa pagbabansot sa isip ng mga ito, mananatili silang tau-tauhan sa lipunang nilikha para sa lahat upang makinabang ang lahat.

Narito ang hating kultura: isa para sa mga may kakayahang ekonomik na bumili ng tiket para panoorin ang ispektakyular na palabas ng “Miss Saigon” na nagbabando ng kadakilaan ng puso ng isang sundalong Amerikano sapagkat sinalba niya ang kanyang anak sa Vietnamese na si Kim sa pamamagitan ng pagdala niya sa anak nila sa Estados Unidos, upang doon sa Amerika ng mga matatapang at mga malalaya, doon ay magkakaroon ang batang lalaki ng pagkakataon na mabuhay na matapang at malaya at ibaon sa limot na ang kalahati ng kanyang pagkatao ay ang dugo ng kanyang inang nagsakripisyo para sa kanya. Naroon sa palabas ang aktuwal na paglapag ng helikopter sa entablado at ang mga maykayang bumili ng tiket ay namangha sa magarbong palabas na nagkubli sa diskurso ng gera, sa pagwasak sa pambansang kasarinlan ng iba, sa paglalako ng isang uri ng demokrasya na ang definisyon ay ayon sa labis-labis na kapangyarihan ng kapital at kalakal at kapangyarihan pangmilitar.

Ang pagmamaskara sa ekskursyon ng ganitong uri ng kultura at kaalaman sa pamamagitan ng ganitong magagarbong palabas ay walang pinag-iba sa tuloy-tuloy na pagsasalamangka ng isang uri ng “Filipino bilang wikang pambansa” na magpahangga ngayon ay di rin nagrerepresenta ng samu’t saring naisin at adhikain ng samu’t saring linggwistik at kultural na pamayanan sa bansa.

Ang paniniwala na narating na ng kasalukuyang wikang Filipino ang yugto ng pagsasabansa ng wika ay isang paniniwalang humihingi ng lantarang pasubali.

Sa kasalukuyan, ang Filipino ay hindi pa tinutugunan ang kahingian ng panlipunang katarungan sapagkat ang tanging katarungang kanyang tinutugunan ay ang makitid at limitadong nosyon ng katarungan ayon sa mga mayhawak ng poder, ng kalakal, ng industriya ng kultura, at ng industriya ng kaalaman.

Nananatiling walang akses ang taumbayan sa sors ng kaalaman na nasa labas ng kanilang pamayanan sanhi ng walang puknat na salamangka ng Ingles at ng Inglisasyon ng mga institusyon at ahensiyang nagtitiyak na ang kaalaman at kapantasang nililikha at pinapalawig sa kasalukuyan ay siya pa ring kaalaman at kapantasan ng status quo—kaalaman at kapantasan na nagtitiyak na ang mga benepisyo ng buhay lipunan ay mananatiling kinokorner ng mga kasapi sa naghahari at mapangharing uri.

Nananatiling walang akses ng nakararaming Filipino sa mga mapagpalayang ideya at ideyal sapagkat nananatiling pipi at bingi ang mga libro tungkol sa kalayaan: pipi at bingi sapagkat banyaga—at banyaga sapagkat karamihan sa mga ito ay sa mga banyagang wika pa rin nasusulat. Ilan kaya, halimbawa sa milyung-milyong ipinagmamalaking nakakapagsalita, nakakaintindi, at nakakapagsulat sa kasalukuyan anyo ng wikang Filipino ang nakabasa na sa mga batayang literatura at iba pang sulatin tungkol sa mga teorya ng mabuting lipunan, ng matiwasay na buhay, ng makatarungang lipunan?

Itinatakda, halimbawa, ng batas ng bansa ang pagsasalin sa Saligang Batas sa mga pangunahing wika ng Filipinas upang magkaroon ng akses ang taumbayan sa mga batayang prinsipyo ng buhay panlipunan, upang maisapuso ang kahingian ng pagtitipan, upang maihanda ang sarili sa tungkulin sa bayan habang hinihingi rin sa bayan ang tungkulin sa mamamayan.

Pero ilang mamamayan ang nakakaalam sa mga probisyon ng Saligang Batas ayon sa sorpresa at pangako at rebelasyon ng kani-kanilang wika?

Papaano mababatid ang puno’t dulo ng kontratang panlipunan kung nananatili itong banyaga sa kaluluwa ng nakararaming mamamayang hikahos, banyaga sa kanilang isip, banyaga sa kanialng diwa, banyaga sa kanilang lenggwahe at ang tanging may akses sa mga ito ay mga nakapag-aral, mga residente ng mga kapitolyo at munisipio at Malakanyang at Konggreso at Senado, at mga propesyunal sa batas na nagpapahiram at/o nagkakalakal ng kaalaman at kahusayan upang ang kasalukuyang kaayusan ay mananatiling nasa kamay ng iilang mayayaman, iilang makapangyarihan, iilang marurunong?

Pagtatapos: Tungo sa Filipinong na Tunay na Wikang Pambansa

Mahigpit na magkakawing-kawing, kung gayon, ang Filipino bialng wikang pambansa at ang salik ng bansa, kabansaan at identidad, ang salik ng linggwistik na demokrasya, at ang salik ng panlipunang katarungan. Sa madaling salita, ang pagsasatotoo at ang pagpapatotoo ng Filipino bilang “tunay na Filipino” at ng wikang pambansa bilang “tunay na wikang pambansa” ay nakabatay sa kakayahan ng wikang Filipino na tugunan ang mga tanong at hamong ng pagiging bansa, ng demokrasya, at ng katarungan.

Napapanahon na upang harapin ng wikang Filipino ang isyu ng dibersidad. Kung noon ay nagkakasya ang Filipino bilang Tagalog/Tagalog bilang Filipino sa akademikong pagmamasahe ng mga institusyon ng mga kaalaman at ng mga walang manhid nitong mga ahenteng nagpapanggap na mga iskolar ng pambansang wika, ngayon na ang panahon upang seryusohin ng Filipino bilang wikang pambansa ang kanyang tungkulin sa buong bansa at hindi lamang sa makitid at makipot na bansa ng mga makapangyarihan sapagkat nasa sentro sila ng administrasyon ng kultural na buhay.

Ang sistematisadong pagtalikod sa pambansang tungkulin na ito sa pamamagitan ng pagwagaygay sa usapin na buo na ang “tunay na Filipino bilang tunay na wikang pambansa” ay mauuwi sa, at manganganak lamang ng, isang libo at isang bangungot—napakaraming bangungot na kung tutuusin ay hindi na kayang lampasan pa ng pagal ng diwa ng nakararaming mamamayan.

Ang higit na dapat iwasan nino man na may pagmamahal sa pagbubuo, pagpapayaman, at patuloy na paghubog ng isang tunay na wikang Filipino na tunay na wikang pambansa ay ang pagiging triumpalista—at pagpapakita ng tagumpay, ang pagsasabi na ang usapin tungkol sa wikang pambansa ay tapos nang usapin.

Sapagkat isang obrang-laging-di-tapos ang bansa, ganoon din na obrang di-tapos ang wikang pambansa. Magkasalikop ang dalawa: ang wikang pambansa ang daluyang ng lahat ng mga dakilang konsepto at ideya tungkol sa bansa at sa pamamagitan nito ay nagagawang pagmunian ng bansa ang kanyang mga hakbangin, ang kanyang mga naisakatuparan, ang kanyang mga kabiguan, ang mga kabalintunaang kanyang kinasusuungan sa mga nagdaang panahon at sa panlilinlang ng kasaysayang inangkin ng mga tuso sa kapangyarihan.

Ganoon din na hindi puwedeng ihiwalay ang wikang pambansa sa mga tanong at isyu tungkol sa demokrasya sa isang dahilan: ang wikang pambansa ay isang pambansang resors na walang kapalit at kung gayon ay hindi maaaring pakawalan hanggang sa maglaho ito sa mga mauulop na isipan ng mga nalilitong mga mamamayan.

Ang tokenismong lapit sa pagsusulong at pagpapalawig ng wikang pambansa ay walang saysay sapagkat hindi ito makatarungan. Kinikilala lamang ng tokenismo ang pailan-ilang salita ng maraming mga buhay na wika at kultura ng mga pamayanan sa bansa at isasali, bilang pakunsuwelo, sa “buo ng leksikon ng wikang pambansa”.

Ang ganitong mapang-utong gawain ng mga iskolar at adbokeyt ng wikang pambansa ay isang uri ng indolensiya ng utak, isang katamaran ng isip at nakasandal ito sa lohika ng pagiging kumbinyente ng pagdaragdag sa “wikang pambansang naroon at tapos na” na pinapasubalian ng sanaysay na ito.

Higit sa lahat, ang gawaing “pagdaragdag sa tapos ng leksikon ng wikang pambansa” ay walang kakayahang magsuri sa balangkas ng diwa ng kabansaan, ng gramatika ng pagiging isang bayan, ng sintaktika ng pagiging isang demokratikong lipunan, at ng semantika ng pagiging tunay nga ng Filipino bilang tunay na wikang pambansa.

Ang kakayahan ng Filipino bilang pambansang wika na tugunan ang salik ng pagiging bansa, ang salik ng demokrasya, at ang salik ng katarungan ay tiyak na magiging pangontra sa saping dumadapo sa isip at kamalayan ng maraming Filipino sa ngayon, isang saping nagbibigay ng kalituhan, ng pagkawala ng landas, ng desperasyon sanhi ng kawalan ng kongkretong lenggwahe ng kasalukuyan at kinabukasan.

Kung gayon, kailangan ng tunay na Filipino bilang tunay na wikang pambansa ng sariling pagtutubos sa pamamagitan ng boluntaryo nitong pagbubukas ng kanyang daigdig at mundo sa daigdig at mundo ng iba pang mga wika at kultura ng bansa. Ito lamang—at mangyayari at magaganap ang sariling pagtutubos.

Honolulu, HI
Hulyo 2006