Support for Cultural Pluralism in the Philippines





                                  November 15, 2008

We belong to a language and culture advocacy group, the Nakem Conferences. The organization is composed of various colleges, universities, cultural organizations, writers, cultural workers, academics, educational administrators, and scholars on Ilokano- Amianan Studies and from the Amianan, or Northern Philippines.

Likewise, Nakem Conferences has been responsible for the holding of three international conferences on language and culture education, with researchers and scholars on the various cultures and languages of the Amianan and abroad in attendance.

We are issuing this statement to make it known that we are concerned about the continuing injustice in the respect, promotion, preservation, and teaching of our first and mother languages, our lingua francae, and other indigenous languages. We are concerned because of the cultural denigration that has been the lot of our students in the continuing ‘Tagalogization’ of basic education classrooms of the country. 

Nakem Conferences holds on to the belief in the basic principle of justice and democracy in education. In a multicultural society such as the Philippines, the principle of justice and democracy translates to the access by educands of the knowledge that is pertinent to them through their own mother language.

This principle of educational access through mother language starts off from the idea that formal education in whatever form is always a dynamic movement from the known, which is knowledge mediated by mother language, to the unknown, which is the knowledge mediated by other languages that the educands have yet to learn.

We have looked closely and critically at this issue of knowledge acquisition and education in the Philippines and we have come to the conclusion, based on our experiences as teachers, educators, cultural workers, and researchers, that the present set-up that permits our educands access to knowledge that they have to acquire through Tagalog and English alone and never through their mother tongue and the lingua franca  have closed the door to productive knowledge about themselves, their communities, their relationship to other peoples, and the competencies they need to know as they equip themselves with the skills required in their life of civics and citizenship. 


We at Nakem Conferences have given our full support for a congressional legislative initiative to address this need, with the Multicultural Education and Literacy Act of 2008 (or House Bill 3179) proposed by Hon. Magtanggol Gunigundo. Our support for that initiative establishes our commitment to multicultural education and to once-and-for-all zero in on the fundamental issues of Philippines education, issues that have not been given importance in the past but which issues are the main reasons why we are lagging behind in the basic skills that our educands must be equipped with.

We continue to support initiatives to advance the cause of multicultural education and to pursue the ends of cultural pluralism as a way of life in our country.

Multicultural education, and thus, multilingual education as well—in and outside our classrooms, in and outside the educational system—are practices that are not only liberatory but also what social justice and cultural democracy demands of us as a pluricultural and plurilingual society.

It is in this light that we are issuing this statement in order to give full support to all initiatives that advance these ends and to declare that the skewed and continuing two language-education in the Philippines—the education of our people in Tagalog/Pilipino/Filipino and English—is not sufficient to make good with our commitment to a socially just and fair, and therefore, emancipatory education.

Our partnerships and linkage at Nakem Conferences have proven that to insist on the right of our peoples in the Amianan to be educated in their own languages, to be educated in the mother tongue, and to be educated in the lingua franca is the way to go to fight for our indispensable human rights to our own languages and cultures.

In our case at Nakem Conferences and in the Amianan, we are clear about the importance of Ilokano as the mother tongue of many and as the lingua franca in most of the three regions (Region 1, CAR, and Region 2). We are mindful as well of the existence—and the need to assure that they do not only survive but also thrive—of various languages in the Amianan and their indispensable role in the pursuit of a liberatory education that we have been dreaming for so long for our people long deprived of the abode of their souls, their own mother tongue.


President, Nakem Conferences International Philippines

c/o Mariano Marcos State University

Batac, Ilocos Norte, Philippines



President, Nakem Conferences (International)

c/o University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Honolulu, Hawai’i, U.S.A.



(Statement sent via email from the address of Nakem Conferences, For questions about this statement, you can write us using this email address.) 

Prolegomena to a Foot-Long Subway Chicken Breast

Prolegomena to our Pop Culture Lives, 1

Today is a Sunday. 

It is the day the Lord could have rested if you are a Catholic.

You could not believe sometimes when the stomach grumbles and you look for bread with the Italian herbs or crispy garlic or honey or oats. 

In the midst of the recession of our sense of selves as if we have not left the country where there every family has contributed to the post-colonial slavery of hands and bodies and minds of lesser people like our own, lesser not because they do not have anything to offer but lesser because they have so much love and kindness and masochism in themselves, you look for that foot-long Subway chicken breast complete with the gay wrappings to hide away our frenzied lives, to hide away our modest inabilities like looking for another kindred spirit who, like you, can mouth expletives on the road to the Nazarene of Quiapo or to the Cathedral of the Angels in Los Angeles and immediately ask for forgiveness from the God who hears and sees and records our deeds. 

You ignore the grumbling of those intestines that remind you of past lives of want in the provinces and cities that had claimed you as its own,  you vagabond man who do not have any permanent address, in the homeland haunted by respectable thieves where they pass your laws about ethics of government service, in the land of your exile where there, you have your anonymity for company, something you lose, something you have lost, something you will never regain in between traffic lights in the busy streets that claim you when you sell your sweat to your work. 

The stomach grumbles and you can hear the cries of your grandparents eking it their imagined newfound paradise in Alicia, in their homestead beyond that Isabela river that swells during the months of the monsoon rains and disaster, in that Linglingay of their dreams, elusive and magical and enchanting dreams that they would live on to imagine they have it pursued only to lose it among soldiers who carried long guns and death, amidst New People's Army and Communist Part of the Philippines cadres who came to teach about nationalism in the Tagalog language because these people are from the cities so far away, and there, in these cities, they speak English, they speak Tagalog, and they speak of strange freedoms and nothing else. 

You can just imagine yourself pointing this out somewhere, some time ago, and you were branded: reactionary. 

That was your 'R'-word, something close to the rotten bugguong you hate when uncooked but you love when boiled to give taste and texture to the marunggay and saluyot and uong of your dreams when you have started to live far away from it all, from the villages that had more real life than what you have got in the cities you have come to know, tentatively at best, and transiently at worst. 

Oh, that bugguong had your guts tested. 

This not the deodorized bugguong every balikbayan from the Ilocos-land is wont to bring back to Honolulu, by hook or by crook, including the patis--the fish sauce that comes out of it to the usual consternation of immigration officers who ask invariably what could that smelly thing on the balikbayan box is all about. 

The pre-deordorized bugguong I remember, of course, came straight from the filthy factories, its salty paste reeking of fish and the labor of its makers: the men who would stomp on the fish, boots on, in factory warehouses by Navotas City by the Manila Bay that has welcomed nothing but filth, the generous sweat of the men profusely dripping on the battered fish, with men and sweat and fish admixing to produce the bugguong for the pinakbet. 

Some would perhaps remember in Laoag public market those Lorenzana bugguong in cans and their other derivatives, imitators and impostors included.  

Their stomping by the Navotas bugguong factory men would become a ritual learned, like that icon of a ceremony of stomping of shrimps by Manila men in one Louisiana bayou down in New Orleans in the 17th century. 

It is the same ritual that lies there buried in the senses without names such that on lazy Sundays when the sun is up over here by the Manoa that looks to the ocean for that refreshing breeze and to the mountains for the industry of clouds to form images of anything one can imagine from abaleng, that larvae that crackles in the mouth for its sheer milky juiciness like the abal-abal and the simmusimmot  to zebra, that animal an infant would love to swallow for each stripes and color and friendliness. 

You sit down to write, but the grumbling begins anew.

You look out the window, and under the heat of the noonday sun, you imagine from the clear skies a scene straight from the Gospels of the Christians: the full course meal of the Last Supper, where the eucharist of sharing was covenanted to the people of God who were supposed to believe, and which someone did, but some would believe to betray the others, as in that man who love to count his silver coins for a reward, and all by trying hard to fake a kiss he offered to the man-god who is Savior. 

Merienda cena, ultima cena, noche buena--heck, all those images of food and you have nothing on your inherited ice box, a two and a half by two cream faded ice box that has seen the sorrow of man and his joys depending on the supply and demand of its contents. 

You open the box again. Two bags of Kona coffee greet you forlornly, reminding you that you have had four cups of coffee already since you woke up, one cup filled to the brim in your Waipahu home twenty five miles away, and three cups you needed to make you awake as soon as your reached your office to pick some writing again, or what passes off for one. 

You did not take a whit of a breakfast, you remembered.

You had a meeting with the writers association you are a part of and you were supposed to take charge of the play to be presented at the cultural program and you were supposed to cast them, the actors and actresses who will say your lines, sometimes unconvincingly as you have seen in the past, and sometimes lacking in nerve as you have always told your dramatists. 

And there, you had the food: katuday flowers, young katuday fruit, young marunggay leaves, young marunggay flowers, young marunggay fruit. 

And put this in: paria or bittermelon leaves cooked dinengdeng-like with aramang-a-kubbo with generous saluyot leaves and equally generous garlic cloves that dotted the otherwise landscape of dark, soupy thing that gave off that aroma of Ilokano life lived far away and in strange places.

And so you had to skip a breakfast, even if you felt like a king on a Sunday morning when you did not have to think of a rush hour traffic on the freeway that has another name: traffic jam, and traffic jam whichever direction you go, with the east-bound traffic towards the Diamond head worst off in mornings and the west-bound, where you go home to roost, worst off in the afternoons. Tough luck, this you have got, bro. 

You gulped your coffee, whitened by that ubiquitous and insistent mate of that morning drink, minus sugar you have learned to hate. 

Except if you have palinang or balikutsa or moscovado, the last one you pilfer from some other peoples parasabo or the balikutsa you get as pasarabo from Dr. Dedicacion Agatep-Reyes and Dr. Godofredo Reyes who never knew that their pasarabo to the Daproza couple eventually came to you. You think of something that is close to the concept of distance as the shortest when you go from point A to point B, you make my poetic day. This is not how it works with the poetry of kindness and generosity and the anonimity  of selfless giving. 

So you take that last drip of Kona coffee you brewed and you run towards the first floor from your fourth floor office. 

You have learned to hate elevators, and you did well, and this does you go, as you pant like mad dogs as soon as you reach the fourth floor as the first floor depending on where you are going.

You decided to vote for your sanity: grab that foot-long of a Subway and live, bro, live.

Forget the wars of Kabul, Baghdad, and Southern Philippines.

You have to listen to your body, appease its spirit, and learn how to feed it with a foot-long of a food people call here Subway.

As you run, you calculate the cost: the gas to drive to the Subway store, the cost of the foot-long, and the energy expended to decide on which foot-long to gobble up to appease the hunger you remembered when you took that four-day bus ride to Williamsburg from Los Angeles, thousands of miles away from the West to the East.

You remember as well what gluttony is all about, and that this has not been removed the list of sins that Christians are supposed to confess regularly so they can earn point for salvation in Heaven. 

You remember too that if you ordered one foot-long, that would be equivalent to about four hundred pesos, in Philippine currency, and about the cost of a one-third cavan of rice.

You felt guilt getting in out of hand, and getting into your soul, into your mind, into your vulnerable conscious and you felt the relentless grumbling of your stomach.

Would you say now the prayers to ask for guidance?

Would you trade in the promise of the foot-long Subway and settle for something in accord with the demands of Sunday?

You said to yourself in whisper, the sound almost imperceptible even to you: Go, grab, bro, grab that fulfillment of your dream.

And which you did.

You ran straight to the store from the parking and you are next in line. 

You surveyed the meal and the list that makes you imagine what American culinary culture is all about even in the Hawai'ian islands far from the Mainland that now experiences the recession of taste buds and beds on the backs of homeowners who have lost their home.

You say with confidence: chicken breast, pepperoni cheese, honey oats for bread and roasted, put in all the oil you can pour, the vinegar you can pour, the salt you can sprinkle, the pepper you can grind, and all the perks of veggies, the better if you can put in all the Subway garden: jalapeno, green pepper, yellow pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, all the leaves, and all the onion rings you can put in that foot-long of a darling of a bread. I could have said as well: tie the bread with a rubber band so you can put in some more of those leaves. Of course, I did not say that, but the Mexican lady, young and college-type, read my mind: she kept putting all those perks and joy filled my heart.

How much, I asked her, and I started to believe in angels. In the meantime, I forgot how starvation wage also known as minimum wage in the United States, as elsewhere including the land of my birth, has kept two kinds of people in this land of milk-and-some-honey: the first kind are the Washington types who can enjoy all what freedom is all about and the second kind are the counter-people type like this maker of my foot-long Subway bread who, despite her backbreaking work, is able to keep an ammunition of grace and smile, her sense of dignified labor despite all an armory of her belief that one day soon, one day soon, she will graduate from all these and she will start to order for herself one foot-long of Subway bread, perhaps the one with the Italian herbs and spices, her toasted bread filled with turkey slices and bacon, and American cheese.

You went back to work by stopping to work: you declared a ceasefire to all these that beset your days of celebration.  

You declared a holy hour of a break from all these that stand in the way of your gustatory delight.

You open your foot-long of a honey oat and you forget your dream of famine and want. You forget Darfur and the Philippines as you told yourself, warned even, that you have to live.

Honolulu, HI
Nov 23/08

Language Struggle, 7

(Note: This is part of the continuing exchange among advocates of our linguistic and cultural freedom.)


Dear Ched,

I see that you have been able to quickly come to terms with the sentiment of some language advocates about why they could not picture why MLE is one tentative panacea we can imagine to fire up our struggle for equity and cultural justice and linguistic democracy. 

The literary allusion to the Trojan horse, with Troy and its soldiers at the back of our heads as this protracted language and culture war rages on, is representative of the history of our disenfranchisement, with the concept of 'our' here clearly non-Tagalog peoples and places of the homeland accidentally we call the Philippines. 

In recognizing this historical fact, we cannot say--by force of a sweeping argument--that this sentiment of cautious non-alignment, even non-involvement and non-engagement is moral and valid, legitimate and historically-grounded. 

It is, Ched. And it is real. The politics or its lack of our disenfranchisement has become everyday, even if we refuse to recognize its pervasiveness. 

More than 70 years of marginalization and disenfranchisement is equal to three generations of deprivation: three generations that can be accounted back to my parents and passed on to my children. 

I stand in between as a middling witness to these falsities that have been passed on as truths to my parents, to me, and now, to my children. 

And I am terribly, terribly sad for all our sad peoples and for our sad republic. 

Those of us from the ranks of MLE advocates, by the way, are from the ranks of the middle-aged people who, probably early, had that inchoate unease in our early years of reading "Pepe and Pilar" in Tagalog and English and all other fantastic stories that valorized our feudal sense of things, including this feudal view of language in its early form, with Tagalog as the symbolic 'father' of our abilities and social capacities to communicate to and with each other as a nation-state.

We must see that this feudalism in Tagalogism--not simply the imposition of a language that is incidentally Tagalog but the whole illogicality of that pedagogic and pedantic political exercise by a Tagalog president and his relentless reincarnations even in the country's premier Colleges of Education eventually graduate into fascism, when Tagalog gained ascendancy as 'the' language of the nation--is a symptom to a problem. 

And with Tagalog and Tagalogism being accorded an army and a navy, Philippine linguistic fascism has another name, and it is fetishistically sporting it so: Tagalogism and Tagalogization in the form of the 'nationalistic' fantasies of creative writers, cultural critics, and even national artists who do not represent our sense of 'nationalism' that can account the pluralism that is us, the diversity that is our social resource, and the difference that is our virtue and redemption.

Now, with MLE eliding into something other than its being MLE, with inequity theoretically framing it under the guise of a statist nationalism that is largely viewed from the obnoxious conception of nation-state from the center, you--we cannot--trust an alternative like this one that is not grounded on this long history of inequity and this equally long history of struggle of our marginalized peoples. 

In one of our GUMIL Conferences in the 90's, I was responsible for putting up a conference where Ilokano scholars participated and shared with writers what they thought of the systemic marginalization in the writing of our Philippine literature, with canons that are dubiously pro-Tagalog, except for the story of Lam-ang and other tokens just so they can remind us, these critics and canon writers that they are 'including'. 

But we must remind ourselves that this token inclusion is a neocolonial master's way of saying, here is your carrot and candy, now do not speak up against us because, indeed, we have included your Lam-ang and you have not right to say we forgot.  

The lesson here is the assurance that this decades and decades of systemic and systemic inequity will be addressed squarely by MLE, and sadly, even if you did not care to admit it, one tactic to do that is clearly political. We call this the redeeming power of inclusion so we can do away, once and for all, this exclusion that has marked what we are as peoples of the homeland.

If MLE failed to do that, then rightly so, we have a Trojan horse. 

Let us not forget that we have not been forewarned of the evils of Tagalogism and Tagalogization under the guise of the nation and the state--under the guise of nationalism. What we have been promised is the redemptive power of speaking a common language that has caused not unification but a chasm that has divided us more and more.  

We must remember--and remember with clarity, that the intention to build a nation was what justified the imagination of a 'national' language, however dubious that was, because, among other things, it was grounded on a fossilized view of the nation-state that was largely based on Quezon's idea of the 'polis' as the of the hypervaluated examples of the dancing four sisters of 'egalite, fraternite, liberte' who are at the same time the purveyors of colony and empire--these dancing four sisters being held as exemplars of what we can do to ourselves in terms of state-crafting and nation-building: Germany, Spain, England, and France. 

Remember that we were building up a nation in making 'Tagalog as the basis of the national language' and we paid the salaries of people, who under the guise of that purpose, became the very people who oppressed and continue to oppress us by denying us of our linguistic rights and cultural freedom. 

Remember that we were building a state in making 'Tagalog as the basis of the national language' and we paid for all the Tagalog grammar books (remember Lope K. Santos' 'Tagalog balarila' and its illusions about a universal balarila of our salvation, that dubious grammar of our freedom?) and Tagalog dictionaries (schizophrenic as they are since many of them could not even figure out if they are indeed Tagalog or Pilipino or Filipino, except of course, that dictionary that passed itself off, in the sense of a eureka, that here at last is a 'Filipino' dictionary because some words from Hanunuo Mangyan and other languages have been included, and that 'pinakbet' has entered into its lexicon) and the salaries of teachers of Tagalog in our classrooms. 

Oh, how we venerated Tagalog at the altar of this skewed notion of nation and this equally skewed notion of state!

Here is what we can do: we need to clarify that intentions alone do not make our act ethical.

Intentions are never the final arbiter of what is moral and justifiable because they account the basic freedoms we are fighting for. The ethical adage remains: Bonum ex integra causa malum ex cucumque defectu.

We can keep on announcing our good intentions--as all the Tagalogistic fascists are saying and claiming in the name of the country they cannot even spell in accord with the demands of cultural pluralism because of historical ignorance and because of their ignorance of the notion cultural diversity as the source of our national conversation and ergo, national communication, with that Tagalog logic that says that since Tagalog has no 'F', then, as it is always the case, the spelling of the homeland should be 'Pilipinas' and not 'Filipinas'--but good intentions alone would not advance our cause of human freedom if these intentions did not find their context in the larger view of what we want to achieve with and for our people. 
I offer a philosophical questioning that I hope will guide the praxis that we ought to draw up, as this praxis gains ascendancy with the vigor of its truth, first and foremost, and with the energy of its ideology, only secondarily. Or it could be that we forge in our struggle the melding of the two to account our renewed orthopraxis:  

1. We need to establish clearly what this MLE is all about in terms of some basic distinctions we have to do: (a) the role of MLE in redeeming ourselves from all these inequities that have been our lot since 1935, and thus, this act would elevate our pedagogial purposes from plain pedagogial pedantry (which to me, is an inutile imagination as we have to put back politics in our MLE classrooms) and (b) the role of Mother Language in Education (MLIE), which is not the same, conceptually, as plain and simple Mother Language Education (MLE). 

2. We need to eventually trod upon sacred ground when we will work out tactic. We do this by being mindful of some other related concepts, particularly issues related to the community where we find our MLE classrooms. These issues are first language, lingua franca, and second language.

With this MLE initiative, we are going to fiercely guard the ground we have claimed for ourselves. 

It will not be easy guarding it, as many of the enemies are also us--they are, in fact, coming also from our ranks. 

Of course, there are the plain enemies whose intent is to make all of us 'Tagalog-speaking' nationals in the country that is in truth and in fact, linguistically and culturally plural.

One of the points they will raise against us is this: how are we going to communicate to each other as a nation-state, as a people, without Tagalog (well, tell me, let us not kid each other now: ask the respectable linguists and they will tell you that darn truth about P/Filipino, because in reality, we have been held hostage by this equation: Tagalog=P/Filipino)?

Our response should be this: communication is motivation, and the best motivation is equity, justice, fairness, democracy, and respect for human rights. 

And our languages are our fundamental human rights.

And the opportunity to be educated in our languages is one educational motivation--and educational resource--we can put in place. 

Frankly:  I do not understand why every one is so worried about the extinction of the tarsus when no one is crying foul about the extinction of our languages. A report from the Ethnologue says that we have lost four of our languages already. Which language is coming in next?

Now, we have to be continually cautious of Trojan horses. 

We are not playing victim here--but if we do, can we ever blame the victim for what happened to her or him? 

Let the ember of this struggle continue to fire all of us. 

Aurelio Agcaoili
Marhay na banggi sa indo gabos! 

Benjie, I am not representing Commission on Higher Education or any of its interest. Ched is short for my full name- Maria Mercedes. My family's roots are from La Union, Ilocos, Nueva Ecija, and Pangasinan. I also lived in Benguet, Manila, Laguna, and Bicol. 

Now I understand the wariness of some of you about the MLE initiatives and why you are calling it a trojan horse. I see your point that it is indeed possible that certain interest groups would piggyback on our efforts to promote their own agenda. This warns be to be more careful 
so that such will not happen or else MLE which is supposed to demarginalize pupils will end up reinforcing another marginalizing force. This is why we need your help because you have the eye to discern the tactics of such groups. As I said, our only intent as educators is that all children would be educated in their mother tongue so that they would develop critical minds to discern and address injustice in their midst. Btw, to situate MLE in the larger discourse of education reform, please read the transcript of the UP Centennial Lecture on Education Reform which is linked to our MLE blog 
http://www.motherto ngue-based. blogspot. com/

Thank you, Apo Maestro Agcaoili, for the Nakem's support for the MLE alliance and for being among the first to sign our online petition. I see that that the alliance would be participated by groups coming from language/culture, education and other development- oriented groups. I 
hope, too, that such alliance would be felt even among virtual communities. 

Sa indo gabos, Dios mabalos sa indong pagtabang.

Ched Arzadon 

Language Struggle, 6

Dear Ched, 

I share the fear that MLE would just be a trojan horse for tagalog education. The entrenched position of Tagalog would make it that way. Unless very concrete policies and institutions to promote other languages in consonance with MLE, Tagalog in the guise of MLE will have its way in this linguistic genocide. My support for MLE is conditional on these pro local 
languages policies. The operative term is normalization (in general use) of the other languages. These
languages should be officialized, used in print and literature, and in media to protect their vulnerability to Tagalog. Unless concrete steps are taken toward these ends, MLE is a Trojan Horse. 


DILA@yahoogroups. com, "ched estigoy-arzadon" wrote:

Since there is a continuing discussion about motives underlying the petition I posted for 
mother tongue based learning or multilingual education (MLE), please allow me to share the context in which the manifesto came to being. I helped craft the manifesto, along with two of my friends from NEDA Education and Manpower Development Division. We're together in the Teacher Education and Development Program yahoogroup where the MLE framework has been the topic for months. We crafted the manifesto as part of our personal advocacy for MLE. Mine was crystallized when I attended meetings sponsored by SEAMEO where MLE programs initiated by DepEd and NGOs were presented. I was drawn to MLE for its efficacy in affecting learning and for addressing the needs of marginalized learners. 
Being from the education sector, it was clear in my mind that the manifesto we put together was all about catalyzing 
EDUCATION REFORM  in the country. It was actually right after the UP centennial lecture on education reform that the manifesto was finalized. Lobbying for a language bill was just a fraction of my concern. If you visit my blog  http://demarginaliz ingeducation. blogspot. com/ you would find that I wrote how MLE as a pedagogical approach would be implemented now (with or without an enabling law) in all learning situations including in catechetical and Sunday school classes. 

In my eagerness to gather support, I sent the appeal to all my e-groups, including those I found in the search engine of 
yahoo that advocate culture and language development (like DILA). I posted the appeal in this group not knowing fully well the dynamics and extent of language politics that exist among language experts like you. I'm  learning a lot from you. Thanks for those who have patiently explained some historical background. I am sorry if you felt that I was imposing the manifesto in disregard to your experiences of linguistic injustice. That was not my intention. Well, though some of you may not affix your signature, based on your exchanges, I feel that you  are one with us in advocating for culturally and linguistically  responsive education. 

Dios ti agngina.

Ched Arzadon

Quo vadis, Ilokano?

Ti Sungbat iti Saludsod a ‘Papanam, Ilokano?’

(Panglukat a bitla para iti 2008 Fall Drama, Video, ken Musical Festival ti Ilokano Language and Literature Program, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Art Auditorium, Nov. 22, 2008)

Ita a bigat, sungbatantayo ti saludsod a karit—wenno ti karit a saludsod—a tema daytoy a festival ti Programa iti Lengguahe ken Literatura Ilokana iti daytoy a tawen.

Narikur ti saludsod, kas paggaammotayo.

Idi sinaludsod daytoy ni Apostol Pedro ken Jesus iti dalan nga umadayon iti Roma idi mabigbig ni Apostol Pedro ti nagparang a Jesus nga idin ket nabayagen a nailansa iti krus, sinugbatan ni Jesus, segun iti sari-ugma, kinuna:

“No saan a maaramid amin a rumbeng nga aramiden, agsubliakto idiay Roma tapno mailansa manen iti maikadua a daras.”

Ni Pedro ti nagsubli idiay Roma, a kaduana ni Nazarius, a segun iti estoria, ket nakailansaanna met iti krus.

Ngarud kayatna a sawen iti panasaludsodtayo ket daytoy: a ti papanantayo ket addaan pannubok.

Addaan kadagiti karit.

Addaan kadagiti agur-uray a pannakailansa, iti wagas a pangngarig.

Gapu ta iti daytoy a dangadang tapno makapartuattayo iti espasio para kadagiti tattao nga Ilokano ken taga-Amianan iti ili ken iti diaspora ket naruay a naitalali dagiti awan sarday a karit, sakrifisio, ken pannakailansa.

Daytoy ti gapuna a rumbeng koma a kankanayon a sisasaganatayo tapno mabigbig no ania dayta a saludsod maipapan iti no sadinno ti pagturongantayo, no sadinno ti papanan ni Ilokano, no sadinno ti papanan dagiti amin nga Ilokano.

Gapu ta adda dagiti panangtuntontayo iti diversidad ken kadagiti plurikultural a biagtayo.

Kankanayontayo a tuntuntonen daytoy, ditoy Hawai’i ken iti Filipinas.

Ngem agingga ita, ditoy kas met laeng iti pagilian, ket nasken pay laeng ti panagsardengtayo nga agsusususik iti nakaro para iti bassit-usit a suli ti daga a tuntuntonentayo para kadagiti bagbagitayo, ken kanayon, kankanayon a maidurdurontayo iti pader ken iti bukodtayo a bagi.

Panagkunak ket masapul a rugiantayon ti mangsungbat iti dayta a saludsod, Papanam, Ilokano? panangsungbat nga addaan iti tured, takneng, ken awan-panagamak.

Idiay Filipinas, ilablabantayo ita ti pannakaisubli ti Ilokano kadagiti amin siled ti pagadalan nga Ilokano ken kadagiti lugar nga Ilokanosado iti Amianan.

Ditoy Hawai’i, ilablabantayo met dagiti kalintegantayo babaen ti awan ressat a panagexperimentotayo kadagiti amin a posible a wagas tapno iti kasta ket masiertotayo a ti lengguahe ken kultura nga Ilokano ket saan laeng nga agbiag no di ket agbiag a nasaliwanwan ken addaan iti dignidad.

Masapul a rugiantayon to mangirupir ken mangilaban ken mangdawat kadagiti lingguistik ken kultural a karbengantayo uray no sadinno ti ayantayo.

Masapul a rugiantayon ti mamati manen kadagiti kapasidadtayo.

Masapul a rugiantayon ti mamati kadagiti bukodtayo a bagi kalpasan ti adu a tawen a pananglalaistayo met laeng kadagiti kulturatayo, daytoy a naadaltayo a pananggura kadagiti bukodtayo a bagi, kontra iti lengguahetayo, kontra iti kulturatayo.

No adda man banag a mabalintay a maadal manipud iti festivaltayo ita nga aldaw, isu daytoy: a ti sungbat dayta a saludsod, Papanam, Ilokano? ket naigamer iti grasia ken basbas ken panangafirmar ken panagrespeto iti kabukbukodan.

Naimbang nga aldawyo amin.

The Answer to the Question, “Where you going, Ilokano?”

Our distinguished guests, the members of the faculty of the Ilokano Language and Literature Program, students of our program, both Ilokanos and Ilokano-descended and non-Ilokanos, friends, ladies, and gentlemen:

This morning, we respond to the question which is a challenge—or a challenge which is also a question—the theme of the festival of the Ilokano Language and Literature Program this year.

This question is complex.

When the Apostle Peter asked Jesus on the road going away from Rome when the apostle recognized Christ who had since then died on the cross, Jesus answered him, according to the folklore, this way:

“If things are not done just fine, I am going back to Rome to be crucified the second time around.”

The Apostle Peter went back to Rome and there, he was crucified.

Thus, what our questioning means is that ahead of us are trials.

Ahead of us are challenges.

Ahead of us await crucifixion, metaphorically.

For in this struggle to create a space for our Ilokano and Amianan people in the homeland and in the diaspora has been fraught with endless challenges, sacrifices, crucifixions.

This is the reason why we must always be ready to recognize what is in that question about where we are going, about where is the Ilokano going, about where are all the Ilokanos going.

Because we have claims to diversity and pluri-cultural lives.

We always claim this, in Hawai’i and in the Philippines.

But until now, here as well as in the homeland, we have yet to stop fighting fiercely for that small corner of the earth we have claimed for ourselves, and always, always, we are being pushed against the wall and against ourselves.

I guess that we must begin to answer that question, Where are you going, Ilokano? with courage, with boldness, with daring.

In the Philippines, we are fighting for the return of Ilokano in all Ilokano classrooms, in the Ilocos and in the Ilokanized areas of Northern Philippines.

Here in Hawai’i, we keep the fight for our rights by continually experimenting with all possible ways to make it certain that Ilokano language and culture will not only survive but thrive with dignity.

We must begin to assert and fight and demand for our linguistic and cultural rights anywhere we are.

We must begin to believe in our capacities again.

We must begin to believe in ourselves again after years and year of cultural denigration, this learned hatred against ourselves, against our language, against our culture.

If at all there is something we can learn from today festival, it is this: that the response to the question, Where are we going? is one steeped in grace and blessing and self-affirmation and self-respect.

Good day to all of you.

Hon, HI
Nov 22/08

Language Struggle, 5


(Below is an exchange I had with Ched Arzadon, one of the key advocates of Mother Language Education/Mother Language in Education)

, aloha:

You have our assurance, from the ranks of many enlightened Nakem Conferences, Timppuyog Dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano Global, America, and Filipinas (TMI Global), and 
GUMIL Filipinas cultural workers, rsearches, teachers, and creative writers. 

This MLE has been our ranks' concern for so long, and we read this Manifesto in the way it ought to be read from our own end. Many of our people have signed the online petition as you might realize. I have signed, and I am number 25, if you care to know.

This politics of language thing is one concern that we have to look into in the alliance, and I am certain it is not going to be a walk in the park. 

But we will be there, armed with the hoped-for capacity to discourse with other language advocates with a certain humility to be present to others and with openness to truth and its demands before ideology. 

Let us all move on. We go 'divide et tempera', and we are all done in. 

Best to all of us.

Aurelio Agcaoili
Nakem Conferences/ UH Manoa

--- On Fri, 11/21/08, ched estigoy-arzadon <
removed> wrote:

From: ched estigoy-arzadon <
Subject: [DILA] Re: PETITION for 
mother tongue based learning
 To: DILA@yahoogroups. com
Date: Friday, November 21, 2008, 4:23 AM

Since there is a continuing discussion about motives underlying the   petition I posted for mother tongue based learning or  multilingual  education (MLE), please allow me to share the context in  which the  manifesto came to being. I helped craft the manifesto,  along with two  of my friends from NEDA Education and Manpower Development  Division. 

We're together in the 
Teacher Education and Development  Program  yahoogroup where the MLE framework has been the topic for  months. We  crafted the manifesto as part of our personal advocacy for  MLE. Mine  was crystallized when I attended meetings sponsored by  SEAMEO where  MLE programs initiated by DepEd and NGOs were presented. I was drawn  to MLE for its efficacy in affecting learning and for  addressing the  needs of marginalized learners. 

Being from the education sector, it was clear in my mind  that the  manifesto we put together was all about catalyzing
EDUCATION REFORM  in the country. It was actually right after the UP  centennial lecture  on education reform that the manifesto was finalized.  Lobbying for a  language bill was just a fraction of my concern. If you  visit my blog 
http://demarginaliz ingeducation. blogspot. com/ you would  find that I  wrote how MLE as a pedagogical approach would be  implemented now  (with or without an enabling law) in all learning  situations  including in catechetical and Sunday school classes. 

In my eagerness to gather support, I sent the appeal to all  my e- groups, including those I found in the search engine of  
yahoo that  advocate culture and language development (like DILA). I  posted the   appeal in this group not knowing fully well the dynamics  and extent  of language politics that exist among language experts like  you. I'm  learning a lot from you. Thanks for those who have  patiently expained  some historical background. I am sorry if you felt that I was  imposing the manifesto in disregard to your experiences of  linguistic  injustice. That was not my intention. Well, though some  of you may  not affix your signature, based on your exchanges, I feel  that you  are one with us in advocating for culturally and  linguistically responsive education. 

Dios ti agngina.
Ched Arzadon

Language Struggle, 4


(Below is an exchange I had with Melanie Lapid on popular culture and the language struggle in the Philippines. Her email has been removed.)

Melanie, aloha:

You are right. Armed with our critical tools and skills, we go the popular culture way. Mindful of what we can and what we cannot do, that is how we are going to advance our cause.

We must admit this: we cultural workers have the ideas but we do not--at least from our ranks at Nakem Conferences--the power of the purse. That is where that 'industry' thing can come to be our ally. 

We need to fund this struggle, and fund it well, in terms of both concepts and currency, this last one meaning the cents that we need to buy the cup of coffee to make us stay awake, so that on the crossroads and on the wayside, we are not going to go astray or fall asleep or both--oh, the cents, the cents, the cents to perk us up so that we will not be enervated by all these wars, big and small, within and out, that we have to contend with each day.  

So there: engage and deploy--deploy and engage--but we are armed as well with the critique for that engagement and deployment. After all, there is war here, really. 

The better soldiers in this war are those who are ready with their ideations about the fundamental things of our struggle.

Best to you in the name of the anito of our languages and cultures.

Aurelio Agcaoili
Nakem Conferences

On Fri, 11/21/08, Melanie Lapid <
removed> wrote:

From: Melanie Lapid <removed>
Subject: Re: [DILA] Sisikat no reng amanung rehiun (The 
regional languages are on the rise)
Date: Friday, 
November 21, 2008, 12:24 AM

Thanks for your profound comments and kind words, Prof. Agcaoili. I agree with you on the possible pitfalls of culture as we know it getting sucked into the pop "culture" industry and all that it stands for. And I understand those who are wary about getting "contaminated," the risk of becoming "one of its own."

On the other hand, by not have anything to do with "shabby and inane" shows, we might be leaving the field open to our opponents by default. By holding on to our standards (cultural, literary, etc.), without being too snobbish as to avoid all contact with this sector, we will probably be doing the industry, and society, a service.  It
is there, so we might as well use it for our noble objectives. As you say, the better for us to promote our cause.


El dom, 16/11/08, Aurelio Agcaoili <> escribió:
De: Aurelio Agcaoili <>
Asunto: Re: [DILA] Sisikat no reng amanung rehiun (The regional languages are on the rise)
Fecha: domingo, 16 noviembre, 2008 3:01
You are probably right on that one note on the power of popular cultural forms as some kind of a tentative gauge for how much success we have gained. 
But believe me: popular culture is one tricky business as it is based on the ugly reality of 'industry' and how this industry turns culture into one of its own to
account what we teachers and students of cultural criticism call '
culture industry.' 

I do agree though that we have a moral duty to penetrate' culture and its industry to make our message known and that the more Kuya Germs we can win to take side with us--and the more of those shabby and inane Wowowee and Eat Bulaga take up our cause, the better for us to promote our cause. 

Between our silence--which can mean acquiescence, in truth, in fact, and in practice--and our getting into the mold of popular culture to tell that this systemic and systematic oppression and internal colonization has to come to an end and soon, this second one is a more productive option. The deal really is: let us roll our sleeves. 

Then again, we need critical minds to do critically-oriented pop culture.

A Agcaoili
Nakem Conference 

On Sat, 11/15/08, Melanie Lapid

From: Melanie Lapid

Subject: [DILA] Sisikat no reng amanung rehiun (The regional languages are on the rise)
To: DILA@yahoogroups. com
Date: Saturday, November 15, 2008, 3:47 AM
Sasabian dang ing kareng mass media, kareng bageng pangmalda, la lalto deng bayung pangimut.

Mipaintagun (king e ku sasarian) ketang milabasan a Sabadung bengi )(Duminggu na palang ganingaldo) a ayalis ke king Master Showman Presents/Walang 
Tulugan nang German Moreno ing TV

Magsalita ya i Ronnie Liang, metung a finalist king Pinoy Dream Academy. Pakilala ne 
ing kayang bayung CD ing Ngiti (Ayli). Anyang kitnan de ot inabe ne ing 
Kapampangan kareng kantang atiu karin, sinabi nang usu no reng amanung pang-rehiyun ngeni, masali no kanu kareng malda, uling tatagkil la king pusu. Balamu, bagya-bagya, akukwa ta na ing kekatamung pakirasan. Nung angga kang "Kuya Germs" miraras na iti, tutu pin sigurung malapit ta na karin.

They say that mass media, or popular culture, are a reflection of new movements or currents in society. 

I happened to watch, by accident, German Moreno's Master Showman Presents/Walang Tulugan last Saturday night (or rather, Sunday morning). Ronnie Liang, the Pinoy Dream Academy finalist, was introducing his new CD, Ngiti (Ayli)["ayli" being
the Kapampangan version of Tagalog "ngiti" meaning "smile]. When asked why he chose to include Kapampangan songs in the collection, he said that regional languages are now in, and hot with mass audiences, because they touch the heart. It looks like we are slowly beginning to achieve our objectives. If even "Kuya Germs" is reflecting
the trend, then, maybe we have almost arrived.