As is expected, the problem with many Ilokanos is themselves. Myopic and lobotomized, they cannot even appreciate the wisdom of their forefathers, this wisdom that is a product of the ages.
In my long years of research work, teaching, and community service, I have come across Ilokanos, in the Philippines, in the United States, and elsewhere who are not happy with their identity as Ilokanos.
One more sinister example is at the universities and colleges, in the Mainland US, Hawai`i or the Philippines where we have academics, who, in their convenient and comfortable ignorance, prefer to be dominated by that neocolonizing idea that Tagalog is the way to go to this dreamed-of 'isang bansa-isang diwa' delusion of grandeur that is as despotic as the Aryanists of the past, who, in their wild fantasies, of course, believe that purity and not pollution is the sure road to redemption. So we have Ilokano academics who would rather be known as someone else, members of some superior tribes somewhere who can lay easy claim to the illusions of a maharlikan civilization as Eddie Ilarde the historically compromised senator wanted us to believe in the 80's.
Some academics at these universities and colleges should have pushed for a clearer understanding of the roles of the multiple languages of the Philippines in the advancing of "Filipino" as defined by the 1987 Constitution but they did not. Sadly, some of them even had played hide-and-seek in their attempt to push for this Tagalogization of all Filipino minds, believing withou questioning that Tagalog has reached the pinnacle of its being P/Filipino without realizing that this thinking is schizophrenic.
We must also say at this point that many language educators are guilty of this wholesale and wanton destruction of Filipino minds mediated by the multiple languages of the country.
But how much are we going to hold the linguists and language policy makers accountable for this lie hoisted upon us for so long?
And since this lie has been repeated for a long time, it has stuck up in the consciousness until such time that now we can no longer think for ourselves. How much can we account them, these accomplices?
This is the problem of one commentator of a previous essay I wrote. This Ilokano does not believe that Ilokano deserves a chance to be recognized and become a national language. One even had the temerity to say that this push for Ilokano as a national language will only divide us further. He does not realize, of course, that this hoisting of Tagalog=P/Filipino has divided us for the longest time.
Let me riposte this 'inferiority complex' that has afflicted these Ilokanos.
This is a syndrome--always and always so--of people who have undergone colonization and neocolonization for a long time.
The colonized and neocolonized will always feel that he is not worth the 'superior' standard of the lord and master and thus, all his life, what he needs to do is make it sure that before the lord and master, his ways are in accord with this superior standard. He lives co conform, and thus, he does not live at all because he does not live his life.
In Hawai`i, for instance, as in the Ilokos based on the reports of academics, the Ilokanos are ashamed to speak Ilokano, believing that English is the primary ruler and Tagalog the secondary one. This report is not new: it had been this way since the 60's, moving on to Martial Law, and now.
Teachers who trained under me in several teacher training institutes that tried to inculcate the value of heritage understanding via Ilokano literature reported to me that their students cannot be caught reading Bannawag or other 'local' magazines that are in Ilokano. These teachers cannot be caught reading the local Ilokano magazines as well, saying, among others, that this is so 'working class,' 'so promdi,' 'so baduy.'
So here, the equation is this: evil/badness/inferiority=Ilokano.
If in the process of educating students we punish them when they are heard speaking in Ilokano in the school grounds and more so in the classrooms, then, the sad fact that students will never admit their being Ilokanos is a logical consequence. But even before we deal with these student issues, we need to deal with the teachers as well. How many of the language and literature teachers do have the pride to speak and read and teach in Ilokano?
Again, in the many training seminars that I helped organized and put up, you end up regretting having asked the question from teachers.
Yes, the teachers are agents as well of this continuing inferiority complex--and with the carrot dangled before the students who can speak English and Tagalog, the inferiority complex gets worse.
This leads me to the issue of the commentator about Ilokano as national language and his insistence that this will only foment regionalism. There is, of course, ignorance here, with that presumptuous presumption that says that Ilokano encourages regionalism.
The argument here is that Tagalog is no longer a 'regional' language but a 'national' language.
But there is nowhere in the fundamental law of the land that says that except in the illusions of the Tagalistas and the Ilokanos who are more Tagalog that the Tagalogs, Tagalog is P/Filipino. This is a blatant lie. It is base as well.
This is the genesis of the lie that we have all along swallowed hook -line-and sinker, the line that Tagalog is now P/Filipino.
And many academics have made us believe so. And many government educators made us believe so.
There is a rule in the theory of acts that says that ignorance does not exempt one from his obligation to tell the truth and that there maybe a modification of his responsibility if his action was done out of ignorance. The crucial part here is this: that even if one were ignorant, he is always held culpable. Modification is not equal to having no responsibility.
The Ilokanos who despise their being Ilokanos are many. All of them do not know the value of language as the instrument for translating into clearer concepts the meaning of social justice.
We have many of them, these Ilokano academics who would rather be called 'Ingliseros' and Tagalog-speaking because to be known as such would give them access to the community of academics and scholars who know what neocolonization and domination and oppression are but could not see themselves as colonized, dominated and subjugated, and oppressed.
This phenomenon is found among Ilokanos, and it has now become common and everyday.
This ability to 'spoking English' and to 'speak Tagalog' is now the rule of the neocolonization game.
But it is safe to say that this phenomenon is found as well among the Bikolanos, the Tausogs, the Maranaws, the Kapampangans, the Pangasinenses, the Bisayans, or the Ilonggos. Oh, well, our tragic lives are intertwined, and there is no redemption here except to say what the Ilokano sakadas in Hawai`i said to the lunas, the oppressive plantation bosses, "Enaf olredi!"
My take is this: If an Ilokano cannot admit to himself that he is an Ilokano, the least he can do is to not to stand in the way of the Ilokanos in their struggle to re-claim themseves, and the identity robbed of them because of this linguistic and cultural lobotomization.
We need clear minds in this struggle.
A. Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/May 11-07