A Perfect Model for Marginalization and Manipulation: The Making of Tagalog as National Language

The esteemed Bien Lumbera has said it at the 2006 Nakem Conference, with clarity of insight, that the awarding of the National Artist for Literature--a shameless and embarrassing preserve of the English and Tagalog writers--is an anomaly.

That, in my view of how the politics of culture and language is in the Philippines, is a sentiment that should awaken us all to the fact that in the cultural and artisitic life of the homeland, someone--some people--has shanghaied this honor and a cabal of pretenders to serving as the givers of this honor to whoever they pleased must be made accountable to this injustice that has gone on and on for years and years.

In a plenary address by Lumbera at the Nakem and published in "Essays on Ilokano and Amianan Life, Culture, and History," he mentioned the stalwarts of Bisayan, Hiligaynon, and Ilokano literature unable to even get past the recognition of the selection committee, a number of them given that token honor as 'finalist' or 'nominee' while the English and Tagalog writers have lorded it over, with their brand of aesthetics brokering what, in their own view, should be the 'national literature.'

The anomaly is glaring--and one reason brought out by Lumbera is the problem of access by the selection committee to these works. A well-meaning but uneducated solution proposed by many of the monolingual scholars is for these 'regional' writers to have their works translated to the languages the members of the selection committee know.

Translation is in itself laudable. But if the duty to translate what could be called part and parcel of the body of national literature is on the 'region' where these writers come from, what another form of anomaly is this? What another form of creative burden? And whose perspective is this demand to be seen? The lords and masters of national life are again demanding from us this servile, subservient, adipen-like, duty to give them hook-line-and-sinker what they want.

There are two question needing answers here:

1. How is it that the members of the selection committee are people who know only Tagalog and English?
2. How is it that the burden of translating to Tagalog and English is now in the hands of the producers of that body of literature? How come that this same burden is not asked of the Tagalog writers to translate their works to say, Ilokano, Bisayan, Tausog, Aklanon, or Maranao?

Again, we speak here of entitlements and privileges accorded for all times to Tagalog and English. And these entitlements and privileges, to say the least, are not just and fair.

One argument put forward by an academic why he advances the cause of Tagalog is that it is a language with its dictionaries, advanced grammar, informed scholars devoted to it, and its voluminous literary production. But of course! Here again, the little emperors say they have clothes but the light of day tell us they are as naked as the day they were born! Roy Aragon says of them: 'silalabus'. He has another more interesting term: 'butobuto a silalabus'.

The academic, of course, has forgotten, that in 1937, the major lingua francas particularly the first three (Visaya/Sebuano, Ilokano, and Tagalog) were almost in the same footing, with Visaya/Sebuano leading the pack by a good edge.

It was in 1937 that Tagalog was 'selected' by a language institute formed during the Commonwealth administration of President Manuel Quezon, with that language eventually declared as the 'national' language. With 70 years of government backing, support, and institutionalization--not to mention the taxes of non-Tagalogs to develop not their language but the language of another, we wonder how much can we push the argument of that academic who must have been afflicted with the myopia of the victor, seeing only himself with the lens of his eyes filled with the pus of the wounds he inflicted on the other regions.

In this linguistic and cultural revolution--a revolution that should make us sit up and be serious with our creative notion of what a 'nation' should be--we are putting forward the idea that for 70 years, this linguistic and cultural injustice has become the staple of the Filipino minds from the basic education to the university and only a few a making a whimper.

What is so sad is that even topnotch Bisayan and Ilokano academics, scholars, and cultural leaders have been hoodwinked into believing that this ambigiuous Tagalog masking off as P/Filipino is indeed the national language.

This cultural blackmail must be called as such--it is a blackmail that rests on what Tagalog can offer at this time after 70 years of getting all what the other languages did not get--nunca, zilch, ibbung. My grandmother has a way of saying about this: the other langauges did not get anything, 'uray no lugit'.

To add insult to injury, a cursory auditing of the topnotch linguists and writers of the country are clearly a party to this systemic marginalization of the languages of the Filipino peoples other than the sanctified Tagalog.

If the same kind of support, institutionalization, and propping up were done to Bisaya and Ilokano and the other lingua francas, could it have been possible that they now have their own developed dictionaries, literary writings, and grammar?

Despite the total absence of government support, with only the commerial interests of media kingpins providing some faux motive to cultural and literay development and promotion, Ilokano, Bisaya, and Hiligaynon have come to stay. The Bikolanos have, during the past years, realized that they are dying and now they have begun to go through the rite of self-resuscitation, that through grace and gifts, have come to their senses that the last spasms of death need not happen.

One conceptual culprit is the continuing use of "regional literature," a concept that is applicable to all literatures but Tagalog and English. The Palanca as an institution is guilty of this, with its token recognition of the 'regional literary productions' in Ilokano, Sebuano, and Hiligaynon, and the literary work confined to the short story.

Something is wrong here. Tagalog is as regional as Tausog and Ilokano and Ibanag.

The more applicable term is this: 'literature from the region'--and this term applies to all, English included.

For English is a regional preserve of the regionalist we call academics, some better educated political leaders, the priests and their allies, the elites, some passable artistas with the penchant for some cutesy-cutesy ways, the nuns in their mossy convents, the colegialas with their pretensions to taking part in the rigodon de honor and the polite society that uses English among themselves and talks in Tagalog to their househelps and modern-day slaves.

If there is something that we can deduce from all these at this time, it is this: that veritably the declaration of Tagalog as the basis of the national language is a ruse, a lie, a manipulation and that this isomorphism that holds that Tagalog-P/Filipino is one sure way to our marginalization and then to our cultural and linguistic death.

Ask the Ilokanos who are embarrassed to admit that they are Ilokanos.

Ask the Ilokanos who say they only know English.

Ask the Ilokanos who claim they only know Tagalog.

A, these mistakes will go on and on and on.

A. Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/May 4-07

8 comments:

Kristian said...

Hi Sir! the same ca(u)se is true with us here in Bikol. i'll add you in my links. here's my blog: www.santigwar.blogspot.com

ariel said...

thanks, we link up with all the other cause-oriented groups as well. i will hook you up with DILA and SOLFED.Ang Diyos ay suripot sa gabos. Mahalo nui loa.

Kristian said...

wow, how come you know the word suripot and gabos....? may i know your email sir? here's mine: boronyog@yahoo.com

ariel said...

i am sending you my email ad. i am interested in other people's languages.

Kristian said...

cge po. ill wait for it.

Norman Madrid said...

Hi,

The fix to the language problem is the rapid development of the Ilocandia economy. Venting our frustration is okay but won't be a complete solution, only the start of it, and only a small start.

Hawaii Ilocanos can lead at the complete solution. The key is a Plan to ignite the Hawaii-Ilocano imagination with a Plan that would make Ilocandia surpass Central and Southern Luzon at economic growth and equal Hong Kong soon--even surpass it. (Hong Kong's real income is $36,000 annually versus $5,500 annually for the Tagalog region and less than that for the Ilocos.)

The Plan must build not only Ilocandia but also the wallets of Ilocano Hawiians; that is, they must see a good investment return of 40% annually or so or else their time is wasted.

With economic success as above, Ilocanos won't need awards and recognition from the Tagalog regions.

Ilocanos would have the wealth to give out their own awards more prestigious than in the Tagalog regions and develop their own Ilocano textbooks, libraries, magazines, TV/radio stations and universities.

I would like to exchange the elements of such a Plan with you. To me, you'd be a valuable ally located in Hawaii, the Ilocano state. In turn I could add value being located in NY as the financial capital of the world and with my economics outlook and knowledge.

I am a Columbia University graduate from Ilocos Norte. I have taught economics and finance at the CUNY, New York University and the U. of the Philippines.

The Plan that I advance borrows elements from:

1. Warren Buffet, 2nd richest man on earth; an MA economics grad from Columbia U; he is, in my opinion, one of todays' Top 3 builders of the world.

2. HSBC, the world's most admired, best run bank. It is now 17 times as big as the entire Philippine financial system; yet it grew up in a Hong Kong only 1/3rd of 1% in area compared to the Philippines.

3. Bermuda, world's #1 at income per capita

4. Luxembourg, #2 after Bermuda

5. Hong Kong, richest economy in Asia, overtaking Japan in 1995, at income per capita

6. China--it has followed the policies of Hong Kong.

My general Plan is outlined in the home page of this group at Yahoo:

www.groups.yahoo.com/group/epic25.

(Please cut and paste the above URL to your web browser's address box.)

My specific Plan for Ilocandia(Regions 1 & 2 and the Cordilleras Region)would consist of a re-focusing of the General Plan to Ilocandia.

I developed my ideas while working as an economist at Citibank and then JP Morgan Chase analyzing some successful economies of the world (Japan, Switzerland, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore) and some failed or mediocre or not very hot, hot economies-- Indonesia, the Philippines, Venezuela, Mexico, Australia).

Do write me for we could do many constructive things together beyond frustrated complaints. I need allies like you, but you must have a constructive, optimistic, philosopher-king attitude (the bright, philosophic academician who is a warrior entrepreneur). I hope you have some constructive nation building and fortune making proclivities and experience.

Did I say fortune making? Yes, because at nation building, profits and fortunes must be made to re-invest in rapid progress.

Of course, big fortunes could also be consumed , and that would be good if only in part and not too lavishly; re-investment must be the focus.

Are you from Ilocos Norte? I am from Laoag. Went to U.P. on a scholarship, then to the U. of Wisconsin on a Ford fellowship, and finally to Columbia University.

Correction: Please do not think that I am an Ilocano nationalist. No, I want the entire Philippines to prosper. But, from studying the geography, marine, and natural resources of the Philippines, I believe that Ilocandia has the best potential for long-term economic success among all the Philippine regions. It is an undiscovered mix of tropical and "temperate" or sub-tropical potential reflecting the fact that 50% of Northern Luzon is 3,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level.

Northern Luzon's potential also stems from its greatest proximity among all Philippine regions to the hothouse Tiger economies of Asia--China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

But, the Tagalog and Visayan and Mindanao regions also have great potential; the entire Philippines does. So, my general economic Plan has relevance to all of the Philippines.

I will explain more of my Plan in future email, if you write me.

I thank Ernie Turla and Manuel Faelnar for discovering you.

Norman Madrid said...

Hi Professor Agcaoili,

The fix to the language problem is the rapid development of the Ilocandia economy. Venting our frustration is okay but won't be a complete solution, only the start of it, and only a small start.

Hawaii Ilocanos can lead at the complete solution. A first step is to ignite the Hawaii-Ilocano imagination with a Plan that would make Ilocandia surpass Central and Southern Luzon at economic growth and equal Hong Kong soon--even surpass it. (Hong Kong's real income is $36,000 annually versus $5,500 annually for the Tagalog region and less than that for the Ilocos.)

The Plan must build not only Ilocandia but also the wallets of Ilocano Hawiians; that is, they must see a good investment return of 40% annually or so. Then they make the fortunes to finance their rise in Hawaii at business and politics. With a 40% annual return, $10,000 becomes $8 million in 20 years. Without a strong investment return, great progress cannot be sustained.

With economic success as above, Ilocanos won't need awards and recognition from the Tagalog regions.

Ilocanos would have the wealth to give out their own awards more prestigious than in the Tagalog regions. Ilocanos could develop their own Ilocano textbooks, libraries, magazines, TV/radio stations and universities.

I would like to exchange the elements of my economic Plan with you. To me, you'd be a valuable ally located in Hawaii, the Ilocano state. In turn I could add value being in NY, the financial capital of the world, and with my economics outlook and knowledge.

I am a Columbia University graduate from Ilocos Norte. I have taught economics and finance at the CUNY, New York University and the U. of the Philippines.

The Plan that I advance borrows elements from:

1. Warren Buffet, 2nd richest man on earth; an MA economics grad from Columbia U; he is, in my opinion, one of the Top 3 builders of the world today. He turned $100 into $52 billion in 50 years of investment success. He now influences the operations of 105 companies with $1.7 trillion in market value and 4 million employees. These companies build the world at banking, insurance, clothing, homes, shoes, paint, steel, medince, aviation, food, toiletries, hardware, metal pipes, homebuilding materials, oil, natural gas, manufatured homes, mortgage financing, aviation, chocolates. The Buffet Plan for investment success is well known and easy to copy;

2. HSBC, the world's most admired, best run bank. It is now 17 times as big as the entire Philippine financial system; yet it grew up in a Hong Kong only 1/3rd of 1% as big in area as the Philippines. It transformed the barren rock and opium den known as Hong Kong into the world's greatest earners of dollars per capita, at $90,000 per person versus only $12,000 for Germany, $10,000 for Taiwan and $4,000 each for Japan and America. The HSBC plan is not difficult to copy.

3. Bermuda, world's #1 at income per capita. All it did to get rich was attract a lot of foreign investors at global re-insurance and tourism. Nothing could be easier to copy.

4. Luxembourg, #2 after Bermuda. All it did was to attract a lot of global banks to manage global wealth from inside its borders. This is another easy model to copy.

5. Hong Kong, richest economy in Asia, overtaking Japan in 1995, at income per capita. What it did was use free trade policies to attract global exporters to its shores. Politically, Filipinos can't handle free trade. Yet, it works. We need lobbyists such as you and me to get Filipinos, or Ilocanos. into free trade.

6. China--it has followed the policies of Hong Kong. Now 65% of China's exports are produced by foreign multinationals.

The outlines of my Plan for Philippine and FilAm Progress is outlined in the home page of a Yahoo discussion group, namely:

www.groups.yahoo.com/group/epic25.

(Please cut and paste the above URL to your web browser's address box. Or, searh for this group using search terms such as "EPIC 25" or "Filipino multinational exports" or "FilAm investments".)

My specific Plan for Ilocandia(Regions 1 & 2 and the Cordilleras Region)is a specialized version of my General Plan for faster Philippine and FilAm progress.

The only thing the Plan needs is political support. That requires lobbyists who understand the Plan, perhaps you and others in addition to me.

I developed my ideas while working as an economist at Citibank and then JP Morgan Chase analyzing some successful economies of the world (Japan, Switzerland, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore) and some failed or mediocre or not very hot, hot economies-- Indonesia, the Philippines, Venezuela, Mexico, Australia).

Do write me for we could do many constructive things together beyond frustrated complaints. I need allies like you, but you must have a constructive, optimistic, philosopher-king attitude (the bright, philosophic academician who is a warrior entrepreneur). I hope you have some constructive nation building and fortune making proclivities and experience.

Did I say fortune making? Yes, because at nation building, profits and fortunes must be made to re-invest in rapid progress.

Of course, big fortunes could also be consumed , and that would be good if only in part and not too lavishly; re-investment must be the focus.

Are you from Ilocos Norte? I am from Laoag. Went to U.P. on a scholarship, then to the U. of Wisconsin on a Ford fellowship, and finally to Columbia University.

Correction: Please do not think that I am an Ilocano nationalist. No, I want the entire Philippines to prosper. But, from studying the geography, marine, and natural resources of the Philippines, I believe that Ilocandia has the best potential for long-term economic success among all the Philippine regions. It is an undiscovered mix of tropical and "temperate" or sub-tropical potential reflecting the fact that 50% of Northern Luzon is 3,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level.

Northern Luzon's potential also stems from its greatest proximity among all Philippine regions to the hothouse Tiger economies of Asia--China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

But, the Tagalog and Visayan and Mindanao regions also have their own great, special potential; the entire Philippines does.

So, my general economic Plan has relevance to the making of progress of all of the Philippines. In that case Cebuanos, Tausogs, Maranaws, Bicolanos, Kapampangans--and Tagalogs-- would all be wealthy peoples able to propagate their languages with big money--their money.

I will explain more of my Plan in future email, if you write me.

I thank Ernie Turla and Manuel Faelnar for discovering you. I hope you are a leader type for in difficult times in the Philippines and Ilocandia, we need strong leaders to make rapid progress.

Do write me. Let's develop an Army of intellectuals, investors, academicians, businessmen, civic leaders, Ilocano Hawaiians, and foreign multinational investors as allies for success at our "Ilocandia and Cebu and all Philippine Investment Plan for Rapid Tiger Progess."

All the best,

Norman Madrid in NYC

email: normanmadrid@yahoo.com AND
epic25@yahoogroups.com

To join epic25, send email with any message to:

epic25-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

ariel said...

aloha norman,
rugiantayo ngaruden.
agyamanak kadagiti kapampanunotam.