Observer Editorial-June 2009

Fatherhood, Nation, and Emancipation


The nexus of fatherhood, nation, and emancipation is not obvious, we all agree.


If we looked harder and closer, however, we realize these things: that the Philippine nation has been fathered—and mothered too! —by the imagination to evolve a homeland that is free and emancipated from the clutches of oppression.


Even as we are reminded of June as the month of Philippine independence and the month reserved to celebrate the deeds of fathers around the world, we are bound to remember as well how the conception of emancipation involves nations and fathers.


For while nations are results of a political imagination to build a homeland of the brave and the free, nations carry with them as well the seed of contradictions, with that political imagination itself containing its own seed of destruction when the homeland is not for everyone but for a few.


Many nations—many nation-states—all over the world are still guilty of this thing.


While there is that public announcement that a homeland has been conceived as a ‘good place’—a ‘utopia’—not every conception has been coupled with practices that are intended to pursue the ends of the good place, which, in fine, also means the ‘good life’.


The solons of old talk of this as the common good.


The reality today is that this common good is not common as it is a common good for the few, indeed, an irony of ironies.


Many of the authors of all these forms of social injustices—the very reason for this absence of emancipatory practices—are themselves ‘fathers’ in the most literal meaning of the word.


Many of them are ‘fathers’ of nations, too.


Such contradictions are never more real when we look at nation-states with tyrannical leaders who claim that they are the most kind, most caring, and most sympathetic of the lot of fathers.


Such contradictions are never more real when we continue to be assaulted by domestic deaths because (a) men kill other men or (b) men kill their wives or lovers or intimate partners.


In this Day of Fathers, we can only hope for the best, our hopeful prayer our energy to go on believing that fathers ought not to forget their caring and nurturing side to build up families, people, communities, and homelands.


In this Day of Philippine Independence, we can only hope for the best for the Philippine homeland even as we continue to witness the rambunctious ambitions of fathers to turn the homeland into an Eden for the already cynical. 

Observer editorial, June 2009




Talaytayan MLE, Cultural Justice, and the Cause of the Philippine Nation


Talaytayan MLE, Cultural Justice, and the Cause of the Philippine Nation

 Aurelio Solver Agcaoili, PhD


On May 23, a new movement aimed to pursue the ends of Mother Language Education was born. This is Talaytayan MLE.


The movement makes use of two crucial concepts that have been left out in the framing of the philosophy of Philippine education: “talaytayan” or bridging and the return to mother language as crucial to the equipping of educatees with the fundamental life skills related to the world opened up by the competent and self-respecting use of one’s own language to combat illiteracy.


Of the many who are involved in the Talaytayan MLE, several individuals and cultural workers have lent their name to push for its founding.


In the initial meeting, there were six people who took part—with four of these having been involved in the MLE cause for some time: Dr. Ricardo Nolasco, former acting chair of the Commission on the Filipino Language; Prof. Ched Arzadon of the University of the Philippines College of Education; Prof. Arnold Molina Azurin, one of the foremost scholars on the Philippines and on the Amianan cultures; and this author. 


The basic idea in the Talaytayan MLE is the need to address the social inequities in Philippine education—inequities that are traceable to the privileging and entitlement of only two languages in the Philippines: Tagalog and English, with the other Philippines languages effectively ‘minoritized’ and totally marginalized.


The ‘minoritization’ of even the major languages is a result of the skewed cultural and educational policies of the Philippine government, with the brainwashing of educatees to make them believe that (a) their knowledge of Tagalog and English alone are sufficient to make them get by in life; and (b) their knowledge of their own non-English and non-Tagalog language and culture is not necessary in the formation of a national language and culture.


In the end, we have thus cultivated a certain consciousness among the young that provided a script for their automatic denigration of their languages and cultures.


With English and Tagalog having been accorded the status of being ‘prestigious’ languages and the other languages are practically useless, even the cultural workers who should—ought—to know better are doing exactly the opposite of what they are doing: they denigrate their own language and culture.


On the first list of cultural workers are teachers and writers and mass media professionals.


Many teachers have a hand in this continuing cultural inequity, what with their active role in the production and reproduction of consciousness that puts a premium on the issue of nation and nationalism on the basis of the centrist conception of nation and the parallel centrist conception of what constitutes Philippine nationalism.


Simply put, many teachers are the very authors of this ignorance and this incompetence to provide a critique to this vicious circle of cultural inequity, what with their hollow mental disposition about the virtues of cultural pluralism and diversity.


Many creative writers and mass media professionals are, involuntarily in cahoots with the system that reproduces the consciousness that has transformed us into believing that it is impossible to imagine a nation with many languages and cultures, that it is impossible to pursue the ends of nationalism that is based on diversity and cultural pluralism except via a monolithic understanding of a national language and an equally monolithic understanding of national culture.


Many creative writers and mass media professionals produce cultural texts in the two languages of national privilege and national entitlement.


The poverty of this form of nationalism—the reduction of the expression of Philippine nationalism into a dubious ‘national’ language—has never been exposed in the past, not until this ‘multilingual turn’, not until this ‘multilingualism and multiculturalism turn’ that formally began with the initiatives of various non-Tagalog language groups and the re-conceptualization by the Commission on the Filipino Language during the term of the office of then acting chair Nolasco of the role multilingualism and Philippine education.


The recognition of the role of Philippines languages in the pursuit of a just and fair nation and the recognition of the variety of Philippine culture and the role of the various cultures in socio-cultural and economic development has made this multilingual turn possible.


Some sectors of the Philippine government have realized that we can no longer pretend that the continuing decline in the achievement test of educatees is a result of non-language factors.


One simple truth in education is so simple we do not need useless college degrees to understand: that we understand the unknown via the known, that the movement of human knowledge is always from the familiar to the unfamiliar in that hopeful note that the unfamiliar, in the end, becomes familiar.


Translated in linguistic terms—with language the most effective universal medium for understanding—the known are those mediated by our first language, also known as our mother language.


The unknown, on the other hand, are those opened up by other domains of knowledge within the first or mother language and those forms of knowledge opened up by our access to another language.


Tagalog, with all its other names, is not the first or mother language of many peoples of the Philippines, this we must honestly accept.


The intent of Talaytayan MLE is to provide a support organization for all advocates of MLE, for all advocates of cultural equity, and for all advocates of an emancipatory form of education in the Philippines.


In the end, Talaytayan MLE is for cultural justice.    

Published in "Kallautang," FAO, June 2009


Pathologies of Ilokano Poetics 10




One reality, ugly as it is, that Ilokano Literature must now begin to recognize is its deep roots in patriarchy.


Let’s do the definition game.


Ilokano Literature is that body of ‘lettere’ or letters whose written form can be traced back to the 1620/1621 account of the version of ‘kur-itan’, a form of a palimpsest, as found, for instance, in the Ilokano prayer “Amami.”


We know that this body of letters continues up to this day, with Bannawag and the radio as vehicles for its thriving and surviving.


We know that these popular media forms are limited, so limited we need to realize now that the extinction of the Ilokano language and literature is imminent, if we did not do something, if we just believed what the patriarchs are saying that our literature is here to stay.


We know that the country’s educational system, one of the main social institutions and cultural infrastructure that ought to assure us that we can keep our literature forever, is not there to support our effort to make it certain that Ilokano literature will be promoted and perpetuated.


This we know: that television, the most popular and most widespread of the pop cultural forms that is responsible for our collective dumbing down, does not even have sufficient respect for cultural pluralism and diversity in general, what with its skewed interest for profit and the fruits of the commerce of the language and culture of the center of power, essentially a Tagalog culture produced and reproduced in Manila.


This we know: that the educational system, run like a patriarchal institution, with its wrong assumptions about culture and pedagogy, such as its ignorant ramming into the throats of schoolchildren of its ignorant ‘bilingual’ education that favors only Tagalog and English as the tools for progress and development—we know that this educational system needs revamping and the policymakers need to be jolted from their insensitivities of the requisites of diversity as the only true expression of cultural and linguistic democracy in a multicultural and multilingual society like the Philippines. 


Given all these factors, we know for certain: that Ilokano literature, if not sustained, will go the route to extinction.


The symptoms are everywhere:


(a)   Teachers, whose salaries are being paid from our taxes, do not have the proper consciousness to even respect our literature, with their ignorance of their own literature and their discriminatory practices becoming the rule of the game in classroom instruction;


(b)  Students who do not know a whit what their Ilokano literature is all about, and knowing more about Harry Potter than them Padre Bucaneg and Leona Florentino Awardees and their works, if these awardees have something to show in the first place;


(c)   Ilokano writers of the patriarchal mode who do not know the relationship between what they do and the broader struggle to keep their literature and language not out of the classroom but inside the classroom for schoolchildren to have the courage and the boldness and the daring to say that their literature and language are as legitimate as another literature and language;


(d)  Ilokano writers whose claim to literature is the making permanent of trash talks in Internet sites and by coming up with unsubstantiated claims to embarrass others before the gawking public, some of whom do not also understand what the bigger causes are; and


(e)   The general population that do not even have the courage to own up their Ilokanoness, preferring instead to represent themselves as Tagalog or somebody else.


At the root of all these troubles, of course, is the continuing patriarchy in Ilokano literature.


It is that patriarchy in its production, with the male gaze the constant reference to what makes good Ilokano writing.


It is that patriarchy in its reception, with the male gaze the constant reference to the appreciation of life lessons (or their absence) we draw from various works.


Examples of these are replete in short stories about knights, in various forms, redeeming damsels in distress.


Examples too are those trash talks that now populate many message boards and c-boxes and some websites that do not know the connection between social responsibility and freedom of expression.


The trash talks are a form of patriarchy: they reveal the content of a patriarchal discourse that tells us, among others, that:


(a) Only the patriarchs have the right to speech, in their anonymity, in their chameleon power, in their double-triple guises, afraid as they are of the light, afraid as they are to be told that they are, indeed, the patriarchs whose sins have become our daily wages;


(b) The power to judge, convict, and execute are in their hands, and their power is absolute, and thus, they can judge, convict, and execute everyone they do not like in the Internet for EVERYONE to realize that them the patriarchs of Ilokano literature are the most powerful of the lot and that in their hands is the same power to say who are admitted into the enclaves of the patriarchy that is them in the first place, a patriarchy that is itself and old boys’ club, with one even suggesting that an awardee, too young to know what patriarchy is all about, should return his award; and


(c) This continuing publicity trial is the recourse of patriarchs of Ilokano literature to talk about their pretentious moral ascendancy and their right to exclude those whose view of things in Ilokano literature is not one for the senescent but one for a continuing, sustained struggle for and in the name of the Ilokano people.


There is one thing that we need not forget here: the younger generations of writers who have the capacity to do scholarly work for our literature, the younger writers who know the tools of literary history, who know what literary criticism is all about.


We sieve through the trash talks and we say: pity the patriarchs who know nothing but the motherhood phrases of Pharisees.


Let the hand washing of Pontius Pilate in Ilokano literature begin.


Bring out the Ilokano gimbal, the drum, and the rhythmic beats be dammed.  


This is the day of the patriarchs.


Let us bow our heads in perpetual ignorance and fanatic acclamation for in sum, Ilokano literature has become the enclave of ignorant patriarchs who have placed the law into their own clumsy, uncritical hands.     



A Poem of Sin at SM Marikina Starbucks

Today is another  
of my return after 
a long while.

The homeland is hot, 
blazing hot.

The weather is hell 
as in the heck
of our everyday 
stranger's life. 

The hot pandesal
at Pugon de Marikina 
is the size of roaches
shrinking to bite size, 
the price of wheat bread
no longer good 
for the exiled palate.

Now, I know this
even if in the emails
I read before flying back
I have been forewarned
of hunger in front 
of abundant Starbucks, 
with its swift and quick
offer of the good life,
cafe Americano
and the arabica of 
hallucinatory life
we live to the hilt
to anounce what drinks
are for the nation's gods
what drinks are that cost
the daily wage 
of those leading a life
that goes into Starbucks
to say hi to those pretending
to write poems but cannot figure
out what this free verse
of our miserable life 
is all about, this life
that has its prose
like metaphors of coffee
served via bottoms up.

This recession is killing me
kills my facile claim to poetry
and I need to kill back
to come alive from this heap
of murderous cups of coffee
tea or capitalist lies.

So there is no way 
to get even, I realize,
with these terrors of a return
except to keep running away 
from the couldron of a country
of our pains, pesos on recession
and faith in foreign food going wild.

So we run to where 
the air conditioned air is
this running dictating 
how much dwindling dinero
we need to survive
our rat's lives 
how much quivering cash 
we can dole out
to whoever is the capitalist 
that preys upon our not-so-sweet
of non-innocence 
a city we have lived
a city that has robbed us
of our decency has defined.
It is at the SM Starbucks
that this first sin comes alive:

brewed coffee tall and tangential
the cost of a day's work
for these young men and women
whose sin is they have names
as so far away from the city
far away from the palace
far away from where they make laws
far away from it all like mine. 

I get a glimpse 
of how is it to live
one pandering, 
pauperizing life.

For once, I am courage:
I make finalmente 
some Starbucks choices 
between a grande of sorrow
or a tall glass of bitter Marikina lives.

Brown Starbucks sugar 
or a choice of sugared honey 
to make me forget instantly  
that in the land yonder you flew out
we sell our soul to the highest bidder
even as our hopes for a better life
nosedives with 
our hope for an afterlife
with or without Starbucks.

Tall, sir, or grande 
or what lies, sir?

This American English-speaking 
crew of a college girl calls out
to my drunken desire. 

I have the laptop for security 
to keep me company while alone
to make me kill the hot hours
to wean me away 
from committing the first act
to a  suicide with all the notes
from committing to a promise 
for a profit-driven 
crack at a cosmic
charade of sliced cakes
for a queen whose devotion
to justice is for the democracy
of Starbucks coffee 
and our commercialized 
chatter of a malling mind.

The college girl of a crew
asks in afterthought:  
latte, with the fancy ice cream
with its fancy offer of a refreshing 
chill that lasts forever
after you have thrashed your first cup 
your hundreds gone to the waste bag?

I have no clue, 
I say. 
In Honolulu,
I run away from all
these hacks of Starbucks life.
In the cold mountain mornings
of my solitary exile's life,
I drink marunggay
soup with the vow
of a celibate cup
and saucer
and a plate that sing
with zing of fulflled loves.

I scan the smiles 
of middle class
men and women 
absorbed in the absences
of their strange loves, 
their fragile fingers 
on keyboards of mute laptops
with all the gesticulations
of grace and grandstanding menu
of upper middle class brew
of our sundered national class.

Here are the clues:
the poor like me 
ask what you like
the rich like them 
saunter in their long roads
to fulfill their elite desires
going extra wild.

Just add 15 pesos, sir, 
and you have it all, sir,
you will drink 
your green tea
with all its antioxidants
and all the glories of a wi-fi'd mind.
Delight, sir, delight
is what you get
in this ambient corner
of our Starbucks 
that gives you the fantasy
of a real love.

I say, bring 'em on.
I say, let me sin.
I say, let me be bourgeois
for this afternoon, just for once.

I think of the heat on my chest.

I think of the small war 
I have waged, have to let go.

I think of this poem 
I am going to write
its title in honor 
of the men and women
who pamper me 
with their coffee lies:

Starbucks for the rich
Starbucks for the moneyed
Starbucks for the sophisticated
Starbucks for the yuppie
Starbucks for the alternative 
to a city life. 

And so I let go.

I nod to let her 
ring the register
with my pesos gone, 
this currency
of our faked lives.

Some chocolate, 
in-house, sir,
dark, sir, 
creamy and 100 percent, 
its beans
from Aceh to save the lives
of Sumatrans.

I think of Aceh 
I think of Benguet
I think of Kalinga and Apayao
their beans that 
of my morning brew
that leads me out 
of Manila dreamland.

Two hundred sixty five pesos
is your bill, sir, 
and please, please
pay with your life. 

Let your soul, sir,
be intact, sir, 
so you can come, sir,
again and again, sir, 
so we can trick you, sir,
into believing, sir, 
that our lies, sir, 
are your truth, sir,
and your truth, sir, 
is also ours, sir.

I bring out the crisp bill
long hidden in the recesses 
of the Seiko wallet with all the luck
I bought for a lifetime of self-reward.

Luck has it that I have kept
the snake skin after
centuries of seeing the capitalists
come to life, resurrect forever
to haunt us alive.

A Solver Agcaoili
May 21/09/SM Marikina


Daniw ti Nagtalawataw

(Mairuknoy iti 2nd Grand Reunion ti Sinaitenians Association, Hawai`i Hilton, Honolulu, HI, Agosto 11, 2007. Agyamanak ken Dra. Estrella Pada Taong iti panangdawatna iti panagdaniwko.)

Datayo dagiti nagtalawataw iti ili, immadayo kadagiti saning-i
Ta adda makaigapu: agbiroktayo iti ugaw kadagiti bambanti

Ngem awan, kabsat, kailian, awan gasat kadagiti bituen
Awan man laeng bandos ni ayat ken naimbag a nakem

Uray ti langit, ay, patiem: awan panangngaasi ti lulem nga ulep
Awan ay-ay iti bulan, awan panangayilakikaka nagpanes nga angep

Ta iti ili a pinanawantayo, kastoy ti nasugpet a sarsarita
Basingkawel amin a pait panagsaksi dagiti nagabay nga agsapa:

Agragut ti bannawag iti pammigat nga agbalin a pangngaldaw
Ket pangngaldaw a naikari linabid dagitoy dagiti parparawpaw

Awan gasat kadagiti pinggan kas iti panagkalamri ti dalikan
Ket anghel de la guardia ti balikas isu ti kiraod iti pagbagasan

Siasinno koma ti di agbalaw, kas pagarigan, siasinno ti mayat?
Ti agkudaap a manglanglangan wenno ti manglangan ken ayat?

Baybay-amon ti maila a rugso iti sellang wenno atong iti pus-ong
Ken ubing a karayo dagiti ramay a no maidengngep bibig sabidong

Ta matalimudawka met laeng a mabisinan iti nangliway a pangrabii
Kas pannakapugsat anges no ti imnas nga ar-araken di mangngaasi

Isu nga isurodatayo dagiti pasamak iti dana ti panagbayanggudaw
Isu nga iti sirmatatayo ket amintayo, kakailian, napuruto nga ullaw

Ditoytayo a naisadsad, iti ballasiw dagiti amin a panaganikki
Taaw ti adda iti baet dagiti barukong ti pimmanaw ken imbati

A ngem ta nasaysayaat bassit ditoy: adda maibarday a bigat
Maibilag iti agsapa a dagiti darepdep mayarkos, maipakalatkat

Agkamkamattayo man kadagiti kanito, makilumlumba iti oras
Adda agas dagiti bannog a mangyaw-awan kadagiti pampanaas

Iti lasag man wenno iti panunot, iti nakem wenno iti barukong—
Ay, kastoytayo iti ballasiw dagiti lagip, duogantayo a dalluyon

Kadagiti danum tayo nga agtatapaw, sumurot iti agus
Makikinkinnarinio iti apres iti umuna ken maudi a layus

Gabattayo man a naisadsad wenno pul-oy nga immadayo
Wenno ubing a rabii ti amian nga iti pakasaritaan naikulbo

Numan pay, agbirbiroktayo met iti kaipapanan ti agnanayon
Datayo nga immadayo tapno agpapas nga agimas iti indayon

Ammotayo: saan a mamingga ti ili a pinanawan, saan a mauma
Agabel dagiti agpuerong a dadaulo iti sinasalamangka a padaya

Paulo dagitoy dagiti sarsarita di ugma nga idasarda iti agsapa
Pangsinam-itda iti bubussog dagiti riwriw a panagmalmalanga

Masaksiantay dagitoy—kas iti panagsubli dagiti uken a taul a taul
Kadagiti lugar ti poder a no mansuen ti agsao ket sangabaul

Ta piman aya a biag, ta piman aya nga ili a pinanawan
Dina ammon ti mangipinta iti bullalayaw a marismarisan

Uray kadagiti managlilipat itan a kapanagan ken aw-away
Kadagiti pul-oy nga umagibas sumuknor ti agkissiw a liway

Ta kastoy ti kaibatogan ti yaadayo ken panagsubli
A ti bungana ket ti daniw a makiinniliw iti imbati nga ili

Iti adayo, kunatayo, kas iti patigmaan, kas iti tulag a baro:
Ilalaen ti ili a kamposanto dagiti kadkadua, siudad dagiti anito





A Solver Agcaoili


Two things are clear in the brouhaha we call the ‘delusions of grandeur’ of one Pedro Bucaneg Awardee whose claims to literary glory are at best dubious. 


These are the two requirements for recognition by peers, to wit:

(a) a body of work, not some lousy writings here and there: a body of work that reveals or suggests to us the artistic vision of the writer, his philosophical insight on human life, and his unique interpretation of the intricate connection between human life and the aesthetics of human experience, and not some lousy commentary of a commentary of a commentary; and 

(b) an indubitable—and thus verifiable—contribution to the development of Ilokano literature, not contribution to its destruction by coming up with these power-tripping lousy open letters and equally lousy rejoinders to the rejoinders of lousy Ilokano writers whose claim to Ilokano literature is their ability to write endless chat messages that, at best, are all exercises in ad hominem and are examples of an illiterate addendum to other illiterate chat messages written by people whose courage is to sport a false name. Bring 'em on! 


On these two grounds, if we want to be real with how to address this brouhaha that we have allowed to pull us all down, I am calling for the reassessment and revaluation of ALL Pedro Bucaneg Awards and Leona Florentino Awards.

In that recall, we scrutinize the qualifications of all awardees, whether PBA or LFA. 

The scrutiny should be based on these two criteria and nothing else. 

In doing this, that flimsy minimum age requirement being insisted in a Pharisaical fashion by this Pedro Bucaneg Awardee who always wants to wash his hands like Pontius Pilate before the gathered crowds of unthinking citizens is not to be part of this futile exercise as it rewards age rather than achievement, is discriminatory and unjust, and is based on exclusion for exclusion's sake and not merit. 


The minimum age requirement—whatever is that—is one for the Dark Ages, medieval, mindless. 

The minimum age requirement is an exemplification of a patriarchal perspective on what constitutes good literature and good writing and good contribution to the development of Ilokano culture. 

Given the above premises, the claim of this presumptuous PBA awardee that age matters more than anything else is something that cannot be sustained and proven by the practice of GF of giving awards to writers during the last 41 years of the existence of this writers association. 

Historically, the minimum age requirement was never a requirement but the quality and merit of the work of the writer. 


The origins of that age requirement seems to be dubious.

If we review of the PBA awardees beginning 2000 based on the list in the 2009 Souvenir Program of the GUMIL Filipinas, the result yields one empirical fact: that a good number of those who have been awarded since 2000 are presumed to be not 60 when they received the PBA. 

There are examples of this fact even among LFA recipients. 


The insistence of 60 as a minimum age requirement can only tell us several things: 

(a) the ignorance of the organization of its own twin criteria of substantial body of work and substantive contribution to the development of Ilokano Literature; 

(b) the injustice of recognizing only those older people and yet leaving out the younger ones even if, as a matter of fact, some younger ones deserve the recognition more than the older ones;

 (c) the obsession of the organization to exclude those who have not yet reached the age of the patriarchs, them patriarchs whose posturing has nothing to do with the substance of their work and the merit of their contribution to Ilokano Literature but their feudal ability to ink up compadrazgo tie-ups with the rest of them patriarchs who still call the shot in the organization.


There have been organizational entitlements and privileges, and some of these have become built-in in the giving out of these awards, if we only want to be honest about this exercise that has surprised and terrorized us during the past years.


One pattern that is clear is that of a ‘multiple manufacture’ of awards in some years. 


I challenge those who have been involved in the giving of the awards to bring out the nomination forms and justification letters for all these awardees. 

To do the cleaning up, a special committee should be had.

This committee must be able to withstand the pressures of compadrazgo in Ilokano Literature.

The committee must no believe in hearsays.

The committee must not believe in the threats of one desperate PBA recipient who always threatens everyone with maligning.

The committee must believe in the primacy of solid, hard evidence that invariably leads us to mediocrity or greatness.


These are principles that I insisted when the TMI Global Awards Committee was being formed.


I insisted on hard evidence—I call them proofs of the ‘body of work’.


I never even dared mention age as a requirement that some terribly insecure PBA awardees insist as the conditio sine qua non to greatness in Ilokano Literature. 


The Katimpuyog Awards, in principle, maintains a more or less stable and permanent committee for the reason that is obvious: this committee must be true to its role of ferreting out the impostors and pretenders from the genuine ones who deserve recognition even if they do not have the proper springs to pull and more so because they do not have powerful patrons.  


Let us start with the basics: a body of work, for that is the intent and the spirit of this peer-recognition exercise.


A body of work must be defined in all cases as never here-and-there feature stories or lousy columns or some other forms of work of questionable literary merit.


A body of work, by its definition, is the collection of most if not all of the creative writings of an Ilokano who is nominated for recognition. 


In that collection, we must be able to see that the various works are meritorious and not some grandstanding claims of a work that won an award or two because, let us, admit it now, some members of the board of judges were people close to the writer, tied by compadrazgo alliances or some other ‘derivatives’ that have something to do with knowing each other on a first-name basis or by the virtue of ‘spiritual’ (read: drinking) alliances that is traced to some histories that the younger generations do not have any knowledge of.


In the assessing of the body of work of the potential awardee and those whose award will be recalled, the invisible power of the cabal of power holders should have to be made visible such that those who have any tie-ups, such as the compadre or the comadre, should honestly say so and decline to serve in the Awards committee.  


First off, the members of the committee should bring out the archival document/s that relate to the nomination of all awardees.


Second, the members of the committee should rely on these hard, solid evidences, and not what is in websites that cannot even afford to protect nor respect the basic human rights of people.


In an effort to flush out all these, we have to look into the circumstances, in particular, of how, in heaven’s name, Gladys Menor, who was called a ‘neophyte’ of a writer by Ely Raquel, was nominated by Ely Raquel, and then was awarded the Leona Florentino in 2005.


The big question here is this: If Gladys Menor was a neophyte, why did Ely Raquel, now the president of GUMIL Filipinas, nominate Gladys Menor?


A corollary question is this: When Gladys Menor received that award and which she constantly flaunts, was she 60 years old?


We have not heard of Gladys Menor before, and as a Bannawag reader when I was in the grades, I did not encounter any of her writings in the 70s neither in the 80s when many of those in the pantheon of the LFA awardees were writing like crazy--and excellently--during those years.


In Hawai’i, Menor flaunts this award every time she gets the chance.


Now, let us see, let us see, if she deserves that.


O, there is this Pedro Bucaneg Awardee who is a Johnny-come-lately and whose name recall is via the backdoor of stage acting and useless column writing with no literary durability and timelessness and universality.


I wonder if he calls that clumsy stage acting as Ilokano Literature too.


Let us be real now.

Our effort to call for a change in the way we conduct the affairs of GF is an ethical obligation. 


We cannot tolerate this Marcosian tactics of some PBA awardees whose mindsets are puerile, pedantic. 


Need we also look into the Marcosian roots of the GUMIL Filipinas that some other patriarchs claim as one clean narrative of our noblest wishes to perpetuate Ilokano Literature in its most provincial and most parochial and most patriarchal sense? 


We have cowered in fear for so long, we younger generations of writers.


We have only sat at the feet of some of these patriarchs who have somehow forgotten what justice and fairness and truth are. Some of them even have that unending capacity to malign those whom they do not like. 


Let me be very clear: not every writer of Ilokano Literature is a patriarch in the most evil sense of the word.


Some are decent and self-respecting. Many of them are, in fact. 


Some know and are sensitive to the demands of democracy and justice in our literary practices.


But sadly, some deserve to be encouraged to self-destruct for the future of Ilokano Literature. 


Honesty and transparency are all we want.