She does not know it, but she is an amazona: woman warrior, the stress on both words. She is a visionary too like Manang Precy Espiritu who, for 33 years, made it sure that the Ilokano language and the culture that goes with that language would be taught at the University of Hawai`i.
When I was a bit younger, I heard her say about the national language--the P/Filipino as the national language--as schizophrenic because it cannot even admit that it is, in fact, Tagalog, and that it is only masquerading as P/Filipino.
Of course, she was then a more senior colleague at the same department where we both taught the cultural and intellectual skills needed to love the homeland, more senior than my sophomoric view of what the national language was. But I had learned philosophy of language earlier, and so many things began to bother me, things that had something to do with arrogating a language with that singular honor that, from hereon, based on the e-mail of the higher ups and the gods from the mountains, from hereon, Tagalog now Pilipino now Filipino should be the national language.
There was abracadabra here. I do not know if in the name-changing, some saliva was used to create some kind of an enchanting moment where all those with brains simply forgot that they had.
So part of my self-questioning about the national language was provoked by statements like the one of Manang Lilia.
I dabbled a bit with those 'schizophrenic' and other psychoanalytic terms when in the walled life, we were taught about the human project, a.k.a. human development and the 'clinical' life of the religious soul.
I like those terms we import from therapy to account the abnormal character and condition of the culture and language situation of the homeland.
For indeed, when a Hiligaynon becomes so busy becoming Tagalog by mimicking the way Tagalog is spoken on TV and in Manila, there is something clinically wrong here.
In our more recent telephone conversation, she told me of the sad fact that our language and culture struggle was being misunderstood by the big shots of the University of the Philippines Diliman.
I have anticipated that our struggle would come to this: that it would come to a misunderstanding and that it would come to a confrontation of the issues that we would like to settle. But I have not anticipated that so many of the brilliant minds of the best university in the country would not see the raison d'etre of this struggle by non-
Tagalog speaking peoples of this land.
A S Agcaoili