An Open Letter to Merlie Alunan, Waray and Sebuano Poet

Merlie, aloha,

Your voice is a voice of reason and the more we have academics and poets like you who do not think only in accord with that narrow political imaginary afforded by Tagalogism and Englishism, the better for us all.

You are right: Florante at Laura is not the "Philippine Literature" what with its atrocious view of place. Its elegant language? Elegant in terms of what? Compared to Waray?

(This is an aside:

I could not understand why you hailed F and L in one commentary you wrote and forgetting Jalandoni and company in the process, the commentary appearing like a way to validate Tagalog dominance. But I could be mistaken. We writers 'from' languages from the regions continue to fight the good fight. But we can only do so much. Writers from the regions--I abhor that phrase 'regional language' because of its false assumptions--are expected to translate their work into Tagalog or English because we have to go 'mainstream', as if our very own people are not part of the mainstream. Whose mainstream,

The critical mass?

We have this mass. But this same mass is not in the league of Jose Javier Reyes who should know better with his aesthetics, if at all. Or that Gloria Diaz who can sleep soundly after mouthing that abominable line against Bisayans.

Of course, this mass has been effectively 'othered' by those false ideologies in the name of the Jurassic view of 'nation' with its requirement of one and only one language: Tagalog=P/Filipino!

What a waste, this idea of absolutely wrong form of isomorphism!

And to think that we have been paying tax money to develop the language that has been killing our soul, our very soul--that very 'national language' that has made us linguistic parrots and intellectual paupers, this, to me, is a mortal collective and social sin we all should not be forgiven unless we make drastic amends, and now.

Imagine if all these tax monies were used to develop as well our own mother and indigenous languages?

The view thus that says that other Philippine languages are not THAT developed does not hold water. We have been hoodwinked!

We need responsible accounting here.

And advocates of Tagalogism--not necessarily Tagalogs but essentially Tagalog-lobotomized many of whom come from the UP System, another of those institutions through which we have supported--propped up--this social injustice in language with our tax money.

The Catholic Universities are not better off, also a bastion of neocolonialist thought that valorizes the political imaginary of the center as well as the aesthetics of Manila and its suburbs.

Many of the literary big shots that made a career out of this prevailing cultural and linguistic injustice (they are interconnected to me, and are linked up with social injustice) need to be reminded that they are a party to this prevailing POV of what makes a Philippine nation.

Many of them lent their names and art to perpetuate this fossilized view of ourselves, a view, that when you scratch the surface, does not even include us who come from the 'margins' and the boundaries.

Fair is fair, and we never had a fair chance.

Now, we should ask for that chance. Our asking ought to be non-negotiable.

And so, let us roll our sleeves and work. Good luck to you and to your vision and mission of bringing back Sebuano and Waray and the other Philippine languages to the living waters of our own remembrance.

I am thinking of the creative uses of rage here. It is high time we brought this back again into our othered soul.

We need to live, and in fullness. And with our language articulating that full life. Nothing more, nothing less.

Your idea of Bisaya Day?

Forget it: this is an illusion mimicking the Linggo ng Wika ad populum strategy of whoever invented this sophomoric week that allowed us non-Tagalogs to speak Tagalog=P/Filipino without being fined for doing so.

This 'linggo ng wika' touted by the language lords and masters of KWF when it was not yet manned by minds with some idea of what culture and language pluralism is all about is a sham, one of the many that we have had to endure since 1935, the beginning of our country's neocolonial regime. We gave--and we still give--our blessing, remember?

No, our languages do not need a day. We are breathing it and it is part of our everyday. What we need is social justice that includes, with no conditions, respect for our languages and cultures.

A Agcaoili

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