Aurelio S. Agcaoili, PhD
University of Hawaii-Manoa
(This work is part of a larger work on Ilokano language, literature, and culture. The Tawid Magazine serialized a popular version of the work in its magazine and in its e-zine; another electric form is found in the author’s website).
These are my own peculiar way of looking at the lively and dynamic exchange of ideas on the Ilokano language at this time. The aim of this paper is to look at this lively and dynamic exchange and refer them back to what has happened in the history of the Ilokano language, the developments of the culture, and the discourses that have affected how we have received and respected and reclaimed the Ilokano language. While the issue on reception is bound-up by the circumstances of birth, the issue on respect for the language is contentious depending on the ‘ideological and cultural’ mindset of the Ilokano in question. The crucial issue that relates to the ideal of ‘reclaiming’ the language is one of a dream, and in the diaspora, the difficulties are ever more present even if we can also say that the Ilokanos in the Philippines are not in a better position to say that they are, in fact, committed to the reclaiming of the language for themselves, for their people, and for the future generations. My hope is to offer some cursory ‘notes,’ some ground to cover in the continuing and evolving discourse on what needs to be done to make Ilokano both a language of the present of the Ilokano people and a language of their future.
There have been a number of positions, voices, and attitudes and all of them are salutary. They all point to a mind that is thinking, reflecting, ruminating, and caring.
For me, serious thinking is thinking hard and critically and allowing reflexivity to come in and reside in the soul, the spirit, and the heart where fusion becomes the principle of each second of our thinking life.
On the matter about the issues relative to the ‘modernization’ of Ilokano language, I have been a witness to such serious thinking by way of the various positions, voices, and attitudes of writers, cultural workers, and thinkers of the Ilokano language. I have seen so much quality in them. As a teacher of this language and one of its practicing users as a writer, there is so much privilege in my having become a witness to this ‘renewed’ interest on things Ilokano even if I would also say that despair and frustration ought to be recognized in other areas such as the teaching of the language in basic education; the lack of respect accorded to the language by the very policy makers of culture and education in the Philippines—by the people in power who should know better; and by the neocolonial attitude of many of its inheritors, both young and old, in and outside the country. To date, to my knowledge, there are only two schools that currently have a program in Ilokano language teaching: the University of the Philippines-Diliman, in the Philippines, and the University of Hawaii-Manoa, in Hawai`i, the United States. While students of Philippine culture in the Philippines can work their way to some form of a ‘specialization’ in Ilokano by way of their courses and their research, such ‘specialization’ takes the form of working through a more elaborate, perhaps less committal, recognition of the importance of Ilokano in the larger scheme of things in the educational directions of the country. The University of Hawai`i`s bachelor’s program in Philippine Languages and Literatures has more teeth in providing a clearer, committed, and conscious direction to the teaching of Ilokano (Cf. Espiritu 2005).
These attitudes, voices, and positions have so much quality that we are reminded that all is not lost, that there is much relevance in this collective act to resist the onslaught of a neocolonizing power that plans to stay forever in the minds of the many who have learned the difficult lessons about the terrible impact of ‘language and culture homogenization’—this systematic act of state power and its agents and executors to make people think only ‘mass’ thoughts, one authored by the center of power and authority. There is a bonus in these attitudes, voices, and positions: there is care, there is a caring disposition which we all see in Roy Aragon, Joel Manuel, Joe Padre, Jake Ilic, Jim Raras, Jim Agpalo, and Nid Anima.
There are, of course, other previous voices we can allude to, refer back, and 'archeologize' and fall back to for guidance: Juan SP Hidalgo Jr, Greg Laconsay, Joe Bragado, the 'Bannawag voice', and scholars from the West who have taken upon this task of helping us help ourselves by looking into how our language behaves. We name some: Prescila Espiritu, Carl Rubino, and Lawrence Reid.
1. The Urgent, Critical Points
In the current exchanges, much of it by way of various blogs, I summarize the themes and provide my own view and/or response to the issue raised:
a) On the 'abecederia' or kur-itan or kurditan or alibata
Various literatures would tell you that the terms for the alphabet are many such as abecederia, kur-itan, kurditan, and alibata. Abecederia is Hispanic, kur-itan is of the Ilocos Norte variety, kurditan is Ilocos Sur (as seen, for instance, in the Candon, Ilocos Sur variety of Reynaldo Duque), or alibata is Greek-Arabic-Hebrew before it ever became Tagalog, or Filipino, or Ilokano as it came from aleph and beta. We note that there is an interesting story on the alif-be-ta/’alibata’ genesis of the Tagalog which can be seen in Paul Morrow’s account in which, quoting Paul Verzosa who became a member of the National Language Institute of the Philippines, coined the term ‘alibata’ at the New York Public Library. Morrow cites Versoza further, saying that Versoza “based it on the Maguindanao arrangement of letters of the alphabet after the Arabic: alif, ba, ta,” with the letter ‘f’ dropped “for euphony’s sake.” Morrow, of course, does not buy this strategy for inventing the unnecessary, as is the case of Verzosa’s, and does not use ‘alibata’ in his works on the Philippine baybayin.
A quick glance at the intersection of at least three languages such as Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic would make us realize the play of concepts somewhere. We see that aleph and beta—the first two letters in Hebrew and Greek, with Hebrew Romanized and sounded off as ‘alef’ and ‘bet’ and Greek Romanized as ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’—could have been fused somewhere to account a latter rendition of the Arabic alphabet, with the first three letters alif, ba, and ta, which, if we believe Verzosa, could have been the basis of the Maguindanao alphabet. Granting that this route to the ‘alibata-ization’ of the purported ‘national language’ at that time, which was, by force of linguistic hegemony, clearly Tagalog, we see that in one instance, the fusing of the sounds allowed the process and power of neologism to come in to account a new linguistic and cultural human experience, for the benefit of the Tagalog language and, without perhaps intending to, at the expense of the other Philippine languages. The sounds, when combined, were made to behave in a Tagalog and/or Ilokano way, hence the word 'alibata', clearly, aleph-beta/alif-ba-ta, mispronounced and miswritten as it were, but now clearly appropriated. The notion of abecederia is the same thing: the a-be-ce of the Spanish language.
Every language is a sound, or more linguistically and anthropologically appropriate, a system of sounds. And the way to account the sound/s in a written form is arbitrary, convention-bound, historical, and cultural. In short, written accounting calls for a system, hence, some sense of constancy. And yet, to be democratic and just and fair, it must be an open system to admit change, some kind of a change that adds quality to human life.
We note here that the aleph-beta are the first two letters in the way the letters of the Greek-Hebrew alphabet have been ordered; the Arabic language appropriated this, in some sense, which is the reason why we caught it as well by force of trade and commerce, possibly by way of the Arab and Indian traders, which accounts for the Sanskrit influence of our language, such as the Ilokano word 'arak'. A documentation of this linguistic and cultural route would be an interesting area of research.
Every 'alphabet' is a linguistic, cultural, and historical convention. And it is also a political act and fact. This means that at some time in the past, some people have tacitly agreed to work things out this way and their way of 'working things out' this way became the convention. In acknowledging the ‘conventional’ in every language, we learn to accept that the way to ‘modernizing’ Ilokano is not through linguistic dictatorship or cultural authoritarianism. There is some kind of a political unconscious in every language and we must, at all times, be wary and ever ready to unmask those aspects of that political unconscious that are meant to deceive us. For language, as it were, is already a lie. We are to create another one and we are done in.
Any attitude that points to a generous and genuine idea of what democracy is, in concept as well as in practice to account an orthopraxis of what we are and what we want to be, ought to be the guiding light, our guiding light to modernize the Ilokano language. When we dream and pursue democracy, we extend that, in toto and thus without exception, to all that which concerns 'life': social, political, economic, cultural, and linguistic.
b) On the letters of the alphabet
There is today a very strong exchange of ideas on the new letters being recognized, for instance, by the Filipino language being passed off as ‘the national language’ even if it continues to also pass itself off as ‘the Tagalog-based national language of the Philippines’ and the incursions the various media, the internet included, into the consciousness of Ilokanos. This ‘globalization’ of sounds—and by extension, segments and elements of languages from all over the world—has created some kind of a linguistic, cultural, and more specifically ‘phonetic’ need to recognizing these new experiences, thus, the need to accept—or reject as the case maybe—these new sounds representing, in a micro-scale, new letters.
My take on this issue is simple: we take all of the sounds. And we have to be bold and daring to do so. In some ways, writers and cultural workers like Aragon, Manuel, Agpalo, and Padre have joined the fray to re-visiting and re-thinking about the letters of the kur-itan/kurditan and their position of accounting new sounds is the right way to go.
In a shrinking world, we cannot deny the drone and dreariness of the 'globalized' sounds of the present, this Present as Presence suggesting sounds from Czech Republic to Hezbollah in Beirut, thanks to the far-reaching arm of CNN on our cable. So what is the way to go? Admit Z in zero; X in X-ray, J in Jesus and Jerusalem, Ch in China, C in pancit Canton and Castila, and all the others. In this way, you enrich the language. Our ethical act should be one that enriches us all and not one that renders us impotent, inutile, and impoverished.
c) On Ilokano being pure
This is an impossible position, and the facts of linguistic and cultural exchange and diffusion do not warrant such a position from some quarters suggesting that we have to guarantee the purity of the Ilokano, the same kind of purity that it had in the past. That idea about Ilokano as a completely fenced off, completely insular, fully isolated linguistic phenomenon, clinically deodorized and Lysol-ed/Gladed is untenable. The facts of the case about Ilokano having had an encounter with various cultures and languages show otherwise.
We need to admit that this position contains some form of ignorance; we need to unmask this ignorance and unravel what a mangled faux meditation on what a ‘pure’ language and ‘pure’ culture ought to look like. To look at one’s own language as having some kind of ‘pristine’ quality is laudable but when the facts of the case say otherwise, we cannot hold on to this illusion for long unless we want to go through the motions of ‘compensation', one way of self-defense in order to hide what we lack. A language is not made richer because it is pure; a language is richer because it is able to meaningfully mediate the world for us to see and see with clarity of vision.
There is no pure language—and neither is there a pure culture, unless that language, in fiction as well as in fact, is so historically and geographically isolated that its speakers have not have any form of contact with other speakers of another language since time immemorial. All of human acts, customs, traditions, and languages are 'polluted'. Here and there we borrowed something and we never returned.
d) On ket/ken—and other remnants of the Spanish language
I present an argument here: That the way to go to modernize the linkers and/or conjunctive markers `ket' and `ken' is not to go back to the way they wrote two generations ago, with their Spanish penchant for the impossible 'Q' for 'quen' and 'quet'.
The way to go to modernize our language is to adopt the 'k' sound more obviously in keeping with the kur-itan/kurditan phones and with the more contemporary usage of many publications, to include Bannawag, Sirmata, Tawid, the Bible with many versions and other textbooks and literary materials. Here, widespread usage dictates.
We have to accept the dynamic of language use and usage: that those who use it in writing will eventually win out, at least for a time, until some other stronger forces will challenge that and unless a real, hard to undermine-kind of standardization has been put in place. The English language went through this a lot; its history of appropriating words and concepts from many source languages is a fountain of lessons for Ilokanos. The argument about allowing linguistic defilement to destroy what the Ilokano language has got is not in keeping with what happens everyday.
The clinicalized and deodorized way of looking at the Ilokano language is borne by a certain nostalgia for that which is untenable and illogical today, but nostalgia nonetheless for a time of that past that is not any longer our own time in the first place. And this time is not even ideal because it evokes the real defilement that we have to resist, and keep on resisting—this colonization and neocolonization of the Ilokano mind.
The principle for relevance of the praxis of language is its ability to express the mind-set/s, world-view/s, and perspective/s of the current users and not the way some people two or more generations ago thought of how the language ought to look like and to be written. Appropriation is the key: we borrow, take it as our own, and do not, not ever, return.
One thing that ought to govern us all in the collective attempt to 'modernize' Ilokano is to figure out a way to economize the way this language expresses itself and not to be extravagant with the expression. With the stereotype about Ilokanos being spendthrift and tightwad, why put in 'qu' when you can use 'k' instead, and more direct at that? Modernizing language is making it short, simple, and to the point.
2. Languages in history/history and language
Old languages tended to be represented in long ways and forms. They can even be reduplicative, verbose, ornate, florid, snaking unnecessarily towards hills and valleys and plains of thought instead of following the route straight ahead. Newer ones tend to economize their expression. Think of text/texting as a form of language. We see a lot of possibilities here.
This is also the principle of good writing, which opens to us a new way of looking at the literary. The 'Qu' is unpoetic; 'k' is. For one, poetry seems to be more exciting because it follows this rule on economy of expression. The prosaic—is—prosaic. That is why it remains true to say that: a good short story should have, first, the kernel of a poem, and, second, the kernel of a novel. The cue and clue here is the required economy of expression as part of the aesthetic strategy.
One example I could tell right off is Roy Aragon's "Indong Kagit". That is one perfect short story: poetic, and containing your novel's seed of creation and construction; his could have been one chapter of a good novel that indicts our society's injustices. The stories that are coming out, for instance, are not in accord with the notions of 'modernizing language' but following the prosaic excursions of the 'scientific world' that tries to explain everything even if some things need no explaining anyway.
Or we revisit the classic Johnny SP Hidalgo piece--classic because it is a pillar in short story writing--"Bituen ti Rosales." We read up on the grammar, the semantic promises, and the vast semiotic possibilities of that piece and we see that here is an aesthetic landmark whose meaning/s escape/s us all. I have probed Hidalgo's art and it escapes me. I have written about his poetic project in his poems and in his paintings and both escape me--the poetic in the painting and the painting in the poetic.
Here, it is not a question of going through the 'motions of Bannawag orthography' and allowing it, before our very eyes, its collective act of 'defiling' our language. Bannawag has its own interests to protect. To accuse this popular magazine of defilement—a magazine that has become an institution in Ilokano literature—is not according to form. Here, we see Nid Anima's impossible--impossible because it is ahistorical--concept of 'defilement'.
We account the subtexts here: (a) a pure Ilokano language; (b) an undefiled Ilokano language; (c) a pristine Ilokano language, untouched by human hands, colonization, pollution, diffusion, cross-cultural encounter and exchange. Tell me about the Ilokano/Tagalog word 'arak/alak' and let us see whether the illusion of grandeur about a pristine and pure and primeval Ilokano language holds water.
We need to see the wisdom of the present, that wisdom that we use to write the words in question. We need to drop the Qu in quen and quet and put ‘k’ instead for the reason that the more economical the expression, the better is the possibility that communication happens. Do we ever recall why in the documents the "Qu" form of our linker and conjunctive marker had become cumbersome, until probably the 60's and so the documents would shorten them, writing them as simply 'Qn' and 'Qt'? This, to me, is the clue to orthographic economy.
Why bother going back to the Doctrina Christiana's imperialist and colonizing agenda when we do not need it in this respect? Unmask the empire and the colony—and in extensu, the imperialist and colonizer in sheep's clothing in the Ilokano language. It is high time that we did this. If we do not do it now, when are we going to do it? We take only what we need along the way as we march on, together with our Ilokano language, to the beating of the drums of Ilokano language modernization and development.
3. The question of a ‘pure’ language and debunking Anima
If we look closely at the arguments presented by Nid Anima in his one-man act of crying foul against the defilement of the Bannawag people of the Ilokano language, we could come up with a riposte that argues as well that his 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, thus, flawed as it is, eventually self-destructs.
There are certain things that we have to look into here—in the way he presents the logic of his argument.
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.
a) 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.
b) 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.
c) I am skipping his vengeful afterthought on Bannawag. The Bannawag people can defend themselves.
d) 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 that any Tom, Dick and Harry could take in college. He cannot distinguish clearly between “language” and “dialect”—or cannot even explain in what contexts these are being used. 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 neocolonial mind and mindset in operation, and without that mind and mindset knowing that it has been colonized anew. 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?
e) 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.”
He then contrasts this with word coiners of the ‘Iluco’ language, saying “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. Wrong move, as appropriation does not operate this way.
4.0 Initial notes on enriching the Ilokano language
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.
Appropriation—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.
We think of the borrowed words of English here—the words borrowed by the English language from so many sources and which it never returned but eventually made to behave as its own. Did the words ‘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 term for ‘computer’? The answer is, yes, they have. The Japanese term for ‘computer’" has been derived 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 determines which lexicon is kept and which one is dropped or thrown away. 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.
f) 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.
5. Responding to the commitment to modernize Ilokano
Why we need to respond to these detailed issues being raised is a commitment to ‘modernizing’ the Ilokano language. By modernization, I mean here the need to adopt the language to the changing needs of the times in order to account the experiences that are currently not ‘sayable’—both in oral and written form--within the context of the linguistic system of Ilokano. The resurgence as well of interests on things Ilokano in the Philippines and in the diaspora is also a factor that adds up to the urgent need to respond to these issues about the language and the culture in the language.
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 to me. 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 to 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 much later on, can suggest some bluff—or could be a real 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 University of the Philippines-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, and 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? —a Katipunan set of documents attesting to the membership of the signatories of the documents 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, in their own blood.
At the UP Main Library, I read up on 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 as Lailo Romances of the ICRI Writers Cooperative, or Juan SP Hidalgo’s literary projects, or 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 lifework 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.” I would also add: “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?
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. This is the reason why there are these varying voices, attitudes, and positions. Then again, have we arrived at a point where we have a sufficient repertoire so we can now move on to standardizing our language in an academic sense?
So what do we do with the borrowed words? I argue 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 manner that is historically appropriate.
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.
6. Appropriating appropriation
In the act of appropriating—a technique, method, and theory espoused in hermeneutics—there is a certain dynamic that needs to be understood properly: that when an existing language happens to not 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 to crack our head to avoid borrowing it but simply borrow it. 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' underwear.
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 translation issue about ‘men’s brief’ and ‘ladies' underwear’? People have laughed at this cheap form of clowning that is based on a fallacy of accent and amphibology, in a sense, and one can be irreverent here—but this whole exercise is for a not-so-good fun about translation and its horrific incommensurability problems.
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 many other 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.
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 word/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:
a) 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 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. Our Ilokano ‘r’ is not the same as the English ‘r,’ whether American or British.
b) 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 language.
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 gains are less than the losses. And if they do insist on this--on retaining the original 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; and 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.
7. A take on ‘reintellectualization’
One issue at stake in all these debates, argumentation, and never-ending proposition-espousal 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. These new thinkers and tinkers—critical and creative—include: 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 in Manila’s crowded streets where Ilokano is spoken side by side with Tagalog, Cebuano, and English, as in the crowded streets of Los Angeles, San Diego, Honolulu, London, New York, and San Francisco.
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.” (This means that all words that we inherited from the Spanish and English must be respected in the way they are pronounced and as far as we can accept their spelling, unlike the way the Tagalog removed f and other letters. In the recent past, the Tagalog returned the letters they removed but it seems that Liwayway is too slow to follow that.)
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.” (Like what Johnny Hidalgo of Rimat is doing, he is giving back the respect to the words we are borrowing, and this is for the gradual re-intellectualization of 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, Pilipino/Filipino, rammed into our throat—did not have the contemporary terms to account the contemporary experience of the Tagalog people/Pilipino people/Filipino people—what are we really here, who are we?—he called for ‘intellectualization.’ He argues that unless we can have knowledge—and his notion of knowledge is in the academic sense, and in terms of degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate—fully mediated by the schizophrenic Tagalog/Pilipino/Filipino, we can never, according to him, reach an intellectualized ‘national language.’
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 linguistically and culturally handicapped when he was confronted with the ‘astronomical’ ‘astronomy’ issues related to the planet Pluto as it is the case now? Has Sibayan forgotten the bigger issues related to the sociolinguistics of the national language and the abominable history of our colonial mis/education via, and because of, the foreigners’ language/s? Here we see that 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 the vagabond intellectual would call as it suggests the low regard, unconsciously and unintentionally, I am sure, 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 unconsciously and unintentionally 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 itself 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 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’—modernization—of 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. This school of thought 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 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, 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 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, a method and procedure to borrowing that wants to respect the term/word of the language where that term/word was borrowed by not changing it at all. 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, 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 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.
8. Tentative Notes to a Conclusion
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 the Ilokano poems and short stories selected for inclusion to the annual National Writers Workshop.
I admit that some of the entries were good that I 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 I did not have much choice except to render them better in the translation without losing sight of the core of meaning in the terrible Ilokano original.
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. I preferred to not offend them 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 remember 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 the young writers and teaching fellows realize 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 in its most general sense—we see two complementing strategies for the two covenants.
The Old Testament has all the orthography of the Ilokano-Spanish variety, with all the c's and q’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 used several centuries ago. No, thank you. That kind of English does not sit well with how I look at the literary.
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, and being blind to, the rich 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 language.
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: the 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 properly revisit the issues connected to the standardization of the Ilokano language.
Agcaoili, Aurelio S. “Notes on the Modernization of Ilokano,” series, asagcaoili.blogspot.com; also serialized in Tawid Magazine, September- November 2006.
Agcaoili, Aurelio S. “Linguistic Democracy, Identity, and Nationhood,” in A. Agcaoili, et al., Eds. Salaysay: Essays on Language and Literature. Quezon City: Kaguro & Miriam College, 2001.
Agpalo, Jimmy. “Ti kurditan, ortograpia, lenguahe, kdp,” serialized in kamalig.blogspot.com; also, Tawid Magazine, August-November 2006.
Espiritu, Precy, “2006 Nakem Conference to highlight Ilokano language and culture,” The Weekly Inquirer, United States of America, 27 Oct-2 Nov 2005 V1N18, (B1).
Foronda, Marcelino Jr. A. “A Bibliographic Survey of Iloko Linguistics, 1621-1974 with a Preliminary Bibliography of Iloko Linguistics,” in M. Foronda Jr. Kailokuan: Historical and Bibliographical Studies. Manila: Philippine National Historical Society, 1976, (pp.74-133).
Manuel, Joel D. in Jimmy Agpalo, kamalig.blogspot.com.
Morrow, Paul, “Baybayin—The Ancient Script of the Philippines,” http://www.mts.net/~pmorrow/bayeng1.htm.
Oct 10, 2006