Ilokano as a National Language, 6

I argue for one thing: that we have to put an end to the hegemon--and this hegemon is the lie so pervasive that no one is able to think clearly anymore: the hegemon that Tagalog is isomorphically 'the national language' as this is the basis of Pilipino, which, by abracadabra, became the 'Filipino.'

With so much of intellectual resources in the academe and in the country, only a handful of scholars and language teachers have been able to see the sleight of hand here--the magicians of 'national language' so busy in the last 70 years trying to prop up that idea that the Philippines has now 'a national language' and it is P/Filipino.

I say: this is a linguistic lie--and this has been going on for so long we need to exorcize our minds, call the anitos and heal ourselves from this systematic/systemic forgetting inflicted upon us by so many to whom we have entrusted our cultural and linguistic resources as a people.

We have been hoodwinked.

The interim solution to this issue is this: let us agree to a normalization of the linguistic terror and trouble we have inflicted upon our people.

The road to 'normalization' has to be blazed, and the blazing demands a declaration that (a) the government made a mistake in declaring Tagalog as the basis of the national language, (b) that the current P/Filipino is none but Tagalog in another guise and therefore it is not another language but a dialect of the same language, as it is the case, and (c) that other major non-Tagalog languages existing as lingua francas must be declared as national languages now.

One tactical strategy we ought to consider and soon is this revisiting of this phenomenon of Tagalogization of all things Philippine. We will all end up parroting the same, and in this systemic forgetting that we have become a party too, we will all look at the world with the single lens Tagalog provides until one day we cannot anymore find the road back into our hearts and souls and minds because we have mortgaged all these in the name of a national languages that is not national but only made national by the edict of people who did not regard the meaning and substance of diversity.

There is this slow genocide happening in the Philippines and in the immigrant communities abroad, and with the commercial cooptation of the media by way of the cable channels, forgetting has become a passion. It has become the very logic of making people remember the imaginary nation but not their own dreams in their own language, not their hopes in the own language, not their passions in their own language.

This has a name--and the name is peril in Philippine paradise, a peril indeed as no other peril of another name.

This imposition of a mind over other minds is one Gulag we have made for ourselves, and the more sinister issue is that we are not saying that we are hurting, that we have been pained, that we have been bleeding, and the hurting and the paining and the bleeding are costing us our cultural and linguistic lives.

Certainly, language and culture are not rice.

Certainly, they do not count in terms of minimum wages.

But language and culture are food for the soul, for the mind that remembers, for the spirit that yearns and longs for community, for membership, for association, for a regathering.

But language and culture are the wages of being human, and as wages, they are to be there to make speak the unspeakable, say the unsayable, dream the undreamable, express the ineffable, language that which resists language so we can all speak again, say again what we want to say, dream again what we want to dream, express what we want to put into words, and verbalize that is beyond alphabets, and sounds, and words.

All these, I think, are those that matter.

Without them, we are nothing. No-thing.

So let the Ilokano language speak again for us, mediate our world, and hit right into our soul as a people.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Apr 26/07

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