The Tagalog Son Responds to the Linguistic Injustice

Something curious is happening in the land of the ancestors and the forefathers and the foremothers--in the homeland.

And something like close to bonding is happening between my son and I.

The issues are intellectual and it is about the linguistic tyranny happening in the homeland and in the exilic communities abroad that are bombarded by the idiotic shows on The Filipino Channel being touted as the pulse of the masa, with its boob tube appeal on anything nostalgic about the country we can afford to go home to only once in a while because of the cost of visiting that looks like a runaway inflation each time.

Here is a case of popular culture, this The Filipino Channel, that pampers and massages the nostalgic egos of the kababayan down here, in the various communities where we are and where we are trying to find life despite the odds.

It is the same culprit, I dare say, that has served as the cultural apparatus of the Tagalist cultural appratchik to keep on with that abominable espousal of that adominable ideology that is as imperialistic and colonizing as the enemy they talk about: this little but insidious empire and emperor and colonizer in the WIKA petition for certiorari at the Philippine Supreme Court.

That made a statement--some media mileage--and the press releases earned accolades from unthinking Tagalists and their agents. The victor is here to stay, really, and we are not kidding.

My son writes: I know what you mean even if I was born and grew up Tagalog. Enough of these triumphalism of Tagalogs, he adds.

It pays now that I concentrated on philosophy of language for my philosophy research, he writes. I used to get away from what you were saying all along in your researchers, statements, and even in that Salaysay book that I tried hard to avoid--I resisted to read--but only to realize I could not run away from it if I were to do justice to the discourse of social justice and the philosophical issues in the national language.

I am taking this comment from my son as a compliment, coming from a Tagalog like him whose only claim to Ilokanoness is a small talk with his sister who know the everyday words of Ilokano, can perhaps pick up the conversation here and there, but guilty of not being able to carry through a good conversatiion with anyone.

Birth is accidental, I dare say.

How can it be that this son who comes from an Ilokano-Pangasinense-Spanish and presumably Yapayao father and an Aklanon-Waray-waray-Chinese mother is now Tagalog? The accident of birth, born in a hospital on Morayta Street in Manila. Jus soli, not jus sanguinis.

In the end, it is the sum of all, no, the product of what we are and that, therefore, no one has the right to say that Tagalog and its view of the world, is the supreme and ultimate view of what the Filipino nation should be.

And to think that the Tagalog language does not even have some indigenous concepts of social justice except when it borrowed--and appropriated--the Visayan 'tarong' to spell out the famous 'katarungan' concept in the Katipunan.

Tarong is as Visayan as one can get--and this is one model of the Filipino language that we all must explore and pursue and valorize, not the kind of schizophrenic P/Filipino that WIKA is talking about.

There are many of us like this.

And if would have been all right if there is ownership in these accidents of our birth.

But the trouble among Ilokanos at this time is that they cannot even own up their Ilokanoness, pretending instead that they are Tagalog, that they are half-Americans, that they are hapas and mestizos as the case of the many in Hawai`i.

You talk to many Ilokanos here and they cannot even be proud of themselves--preferring invisibility over assertion, absence over presence, silence and mutedness over dialogue and debate.

In exile, it is now a cultural crime to be identified as an Ilokano because it is more fashionable and high class to mouth the inanities of TFC and all those idiots on the boob tube, preferring the callow and the hollow, the vacuous and the empty, the pulp and the 'popular' from the thinking and meditative and contemplating kind of the languages of the other migrants down here such as the Ilokanos and the Visayan, two of those who labored it out in these islands, in silence and in solitude, in peace and quiet, and never in that capacity to boast that we see from the victors, whether here in this island of our exilic dreams or in the Philippines go on exile because of the double marginalization of the Ilokano children, of the Visayan children, of the massification of the Ilokano and other minds, so that this mass gets to be the mass on the dingy streets of Manila.

Tagalog has corrupted us all--and we allow this corruption to keep on corrupting our souls.

The logic of the times--an illogic--is this: It is embarrassing to speak Ilokano because the whole world of the Philippines, as that firebrand of an essayist in the Collantes Awards has declared, everyone is singing the National Anthem now in Tagalog.

This therefore proves that Tagalog has come to stay as the language of all the people of this god-forsaken country who, apart from the Tagalog, have to go through centuries and centuries of colonization and lobotomization, that, when one ethnolinguistic groups gets to become the colonizer, we have no right to protest, resist, and reclaim our sense of being and becoming, our sense of self and community.

Nakababain ngamin ti agilokano, the people would say.

Ibainda ti kinailokanoda, some others would say.

Mababaindan nga agilokano, others would add, because they are now here in America, and here, in this country, each one is busy learning American English and Tagalog which they are passing off as Filipino.

We realize this sad part of all these linguistic and cultural betrayal because of cooptation and the power of this new form of colonization: Many Ilokanos hide behind English and Tagalog--and they hide from the past that is also their present--these Ilokanos who have given up their right to think about the world in Ilokano, to dream in Ilokano, to express their love in Ilokano.

I share your pain, itay, the son says. Now I see better; now I understand better what you have been fighting for all along.

So you have to go through your linguistics studies then, I tell him. You need to help me in this struggle.

Well, maybe, yes. But I also want to study French apart from Ilokano, he says.

Go for it, I say. You need to open up to the world of the possible. You need to allow yourself to see other worlds. Forget the example of the Tagalista who are like the frogs in the well.

I now think that I have gained one Tagalogized mind to this cause of looking at the national language issue in favor of multilingual national languages.

Only multilingual national languages will do justice to the rich variety of our Philippine languages and cultures.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI May 3/07

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