A Lebanese learns Ilokano, and Ilokano translates Lebanese poetry. For my friend, Hsn Uche, who made it sure our paths must cross.

A Lebanese learns Ilokano, and Ilokano translates Lebanese poetry.
For my friend, Hsn Uche, who made it sure our paths must cross. 

IN THE 'The Three Princes of Serendip,' [1754], Horace Walpole talked about the princess of the narrative “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.” [The story, of course, is Persian, and is traced back to the meeting of cultures and languages and human times and time zones, and Serendip is Sri Lanka, or Ceylon, for you.]

I am not from Serendip but from some lowly barrio somewhere in my lowly Ilocoslavakia. But Ilocoslavakia is on steroids, and in so many ways, strutting like a cosmopolitan city of the old and the new, with its other princes acting like overlords of a fiefdom. Which gives us the grand illusion that our Ilocoslavakia knows what it is doing, with its announcements of the good things that have yet to come, announcements we have been hearing since the time of the 'sariugma.'

I was treading on holy ground, perhaps standing before the cathedral of the Sagrada Familia, when his first email came, Ismail. [In an earlier post, this is a name I gave him because I have not gotten his permission to tell the public who he is. And to honor that right to have him remaining anonymous in the meantime, I call him Ismail.]

Ismail--okey, I call him Hassan too, but the last name not included--asked if he could buy the Contemporary English-Ilokano Dictionary. He said he checked with an online bookseller based in the United States, but the bookseller does not ship to where he is now, this friend who does an important job somewhere in another land not his own.

I saw interest in that email, and some urgency, but I was not in a position to deliver the goods nor the service he needed. Like one poet who talked about a man's journey to some sense of self and meaning and telos, I had 'miles to go before going to sleep.'

And so I soaked up all the magnificence and grandeur before me, the magnificence and grandeur born of the gifts of humanity to make life one of splendor despite--or is it because of?--the bundle of contradictions in the intentions of men, in their acts, and in their dreams of extending empires and building some more while destroying communities and civilizations and human languages. I was in one of the hearts of imperial dreams and practices and misdeeds, and I sensed those even as I thought of Hassan's need to learn the Ilokano language.

'I have an Ilokano son,' he said, 'and I want to learn his language.' [I am paraphrasing him.]

'I have Lebanese dreams, and I shall follow the path of Khalil Gibran,' I wrote him back.

Gibran is a beautiful ghost that has haunted me since I got hold of his works. That was during college, when books were expensive, and I had to forego some meals to buy his books. In Los Angeles, I frequented second hand bookstores to grab every Gibran I could get, and gifted those copies to others. On the shelf of my office in the university, there are Gibrans and Gibrans, and no one is supposed to touch any of these, even if some Gibran is a duplicate of the other. The duplicate is always reserved as a gift, the original--meaning the first one with the huge Agcaoili on its inside front cover--is mine to covet forever and ever.

When we had those exchanges, with me acting like a secret agent, I learned he is from Lebanon, and my connection to Lebanon sprang out of thin air. A cousin worked there, and when she was still there, has asked me to visit her and bring me around. I said Yes to the cousin, but Lebanon went through a crisis of some sort, and my cousin came back to the homeland. But Gibran and his Lebanon stayed with me, has remained with me, and refusing to go away.

And then Hassan, yes, Ismail, came into the picture.

Now this dream of treading on holy ground comes alive again, springing like the eternal waters of our hope. And then Hasan, yes, Ismail, said: 'My brothers will bring you around.'

I sent him the dictionary and some other things so he would be able to learn the Ilokano of his Ilokano-Lebanese biological son.

And then he asked me: 'Please sign the dictionary.'

Which I did. And with a dedication too.

I remember the three princes of Serendip, and their happy discovery of many things, and I can only thank Hassan, or Ismail, for this serendipitous thing in our lives, his and mine--and his Ilokano-Lebanese son now living in the Ilocoslavakia of our dreams.

Hassan: May the Almighty of all our human languages and cultures bless you, your son, and your family more and more!

Possible burning of 'Dangadang'.

Possible burning of 'Dangadang'.

YESTERDAY, one of the better Ilokano writers who also write in Tagalog, came up with a list of books he cannot live without. 

That is your Sir Roy Vadil Aragon for you, that young person who consistently reaps those Palanca awards as if there is no tomorrow. 

I guess his career, this Sir Aragon guy, has turned into getting all those Palancas since the Palanca Awards started to recognize that yes, in the Philippines, there are other languages other than English (and Tagalog too!) for those who had colonized the language like 'em spokening dollah-dollah from the elitist schools with their spokening dollah-dollah starting when they set foot on their high-fallutin kindergarten when they did not have to learn their ABC because Sesame Street has done its wonderful job of transforming these kiddos of the rich into spokening dollah-dollah since the day they were thrown into the world, per Heidegger (that Nazi philosopher problematized this existential condition of all men and women and children of this human life). [Ooops, preceding this is a looooong sentence and I am not sure if it is a sentence at all! Sorry!]

Anyways, the point of the story is this: this Sir Aragon guy has placed in his list 'Dangadang,' the novel about our wretched life that I had the accident of authoring when moi was still younger and did not know anything about the world and social justice and democracy.

I commented on his list right off the bat: 'Sir Aragon: you included Dangadang in your list?' [Of course, I was surprised. I did not know that there is at least one Ilokano person apart from another I know that has taken the pains to read that novel I do not want to re-read any longer except the fact that I am trying--trying, that is the buzzword--to translate it into English.]

One critic from the Areneowwwww said the novel is too thick, and why is it that I did not bother to cut it into something like smaller pieces so that its 'materiality' would be something some people would not be afraid of.

I did not answer that critic. Writers are closeted critics of their own word, and I did not want to publicly admit that that novel could have been three novels, and I just made them into one, following the energy of the three persons of the Holy Trinity of my faith.

Sir Aragon came up with a kind response: 'Of course, manong,' he said. And this independent-clause-of-sentence that really made my day: 'Ul-ulsak pay.' [I do not know how to translate that Ilokano phrase except to attempt to put its context into English: 'I keep it with me all the time.' Or, whatever is its commensurate equivalent. Well, I do not know.

But Sir Aragon is also a critic, and one must caution oneself when dealing with writers-cum-critics: Do not fall into their argumentum ad populum. They could be pulling your left leg especially if your mind is a bit of the leftist side. Or, if you are left-handed person.

This leads me to another critic, one of our best in our Ilokano world.

The problem with this critic is that he knows a lot, and you cannot afford to display your ignorance because he can read your work from many perspectives, including the sociologico-historical.

He is a sociologist too, and do not ever say you are ignorant because he certainly will unmask you. Pretend that you know something about Marx, that you have read his Communist Manifesto, that you are reading Boudrillard and Badiou and all those names that my Ilokano tongue cannot pronounce.

I am referring to Dr Derick Galam.

We had an exchange this morning, and we talked about the problems of Ilokano life, and the problems extending to the Philippines, Martial Law, the memory of a life unforetold, and the continuing deceptions of the Philippine elite.

We talked about writers selling their soul to the cheats and the devil and the political elites.

And then he told me: 'The moment you cross to the other side, I shall burn your Dangadang!'

I told him: 'I want a Bacarra mansion overlooking the West Philippine Sea. A mansion perched on a cliff so I can smell the salty water.'

I hear him repeating his threat.

Of course, he did not repeat it, but I read his mind: 'I shall burn your Dangadang the moment I see you selling your soul to the Devil!'

Dear Namarsua of the miraculous!

My stepmother language is the dubious 'national language.'

My stepmother language is the dubious 'national language.' 

LET US SAY THIS and unmask this lie: One of the scholars of the University of the Philippines in Diliman has concocted a lie about his brand of 'Filipino' as native to or indigenous to the Philippines. 

Let us name him, and since he has passed on to the beyond, he can no longer talk back. 

But even when he was still alive, I have expressed ambivalence to the kind of ideology he promoted in the name of his nation and his brand of nationalism. That is Virgilio Enriquez for you, a topnotch scholar who brandished what he called 'liberation psychology' for the peoples of the Philippines.

From a philosophical sense, his was a big mistake. Leonard Mercado's attempt to use metalinguistics to get into the 'indigenous' philosophy of three huge ethnolinguistic groups (Visayan-Cebuano, Ilokano, and Tagalog) is flawed but it is far better than Enriquez's idealization of his Tagalog Bulacan as his own sense of 'Filipino' qua 'indigenous national language'.

Now, let us see the mistakes of Enriquez:

1. He says, in reaction to his colleague at the Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies: 'I must confess that I was touched and perhaps even aggrieved when told by a well-meaning colleague' that 'there is no Philippines.' [Virgilio Enriquez, Indigenous Psychology and National Consciousness, Tokyo: ILCAA-TUFS, 1989, xi.]

The colleague's sense of the phrase 'there is no Philippines' celebrated not a homogenous Philippines but a diverse one, and that, therefore, Enriquez's formulation of 'Philippine liberation linguistics' does not make sense.

His colleague was right. One cannot say that one swallow makes a summer, that his notion of Tagalog Bulacan as basis for the formulation of the conceptual grounds of 'Philippine liberation psychology' applies to all 185 indigenous ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines. There is such a thing as an intricate connection between culture and psychology and Enriquez conveniently forgot that.

But Enriquez responds to the charge of that ILCAA colleague: 'the statement (there is no Philippines) was meant to be interpreted from the anthropological point of view which emphasizes the 'cultural heterogeneity' of the Philippines and objectively characterizes the Filipino sense of nationhood or alleged absence thereof.' [xi]

And then his lifework, the one that constitutes his 'Philippine liberation psychology': 'part of the task ahead' is therefore 'to demonstrate that there is a Philippines'.

Enriquez's big mistake, the same big mistake of that associate professor of De La Salle who continues to treat advocates of multiculturalism as his vassals, is to imagine the Philippines as North Korea that speaks only one and only one language, thinks through one and only one language, and bow to one and only one liberating monster of a leader who does not know any better.

2. He say of the dubious national language: 'The article on language in the Philippine Constitution of 1986 definitely gives Filipino, the Philippine indigenous language, its rightful place vis a vis the colonial language.' [81]

Here we see clearly that Enriquez is wrong, and is passing off this wrong thing as the truth: Filipino as 'the Philippine indigenous language.'

This we must say: this is one big fat lie.

The truth of the matter is that this 'Filipino language' is not at all indigenous to the whole Philippines, but, when we are honest enough to admit that it is Tagalog, it is indigenous perhaps to Metro Manila the hegemonic center, and more indigenous to the Tagalog-speaking areas.

What we have got, ergo, is that this schizophrenic Filipino language is a stepmother language, and not a mother language of all peoples of the country but only to some of them.

Let us keep on unmasking many of the lies peddled to us by scholars, academics, and well-meaning members of the hegemonic intelligentsia. 

Our Redemptive Response to the Timeless Temptations of Tagalogism and to the Tyranny of Tagalogization

Our Redemptive Response to
the Timeless Temptations of Tagalogism and 
to the Tyranny of Tagalogization

Aurelio Solver Agcaoili

We pray we are not going to fall into the same trap of Tagalogism and Tagalogization again, not when we were made to believe—tempted and fooled—by the powers-that-were.

Tagalogism is an attitude—a mindset that has trapped us into a belief of a Philippine nation-state as revolving around a center and only this center is important.

As a mental disposition, Tagalogism is not about the Tagalog people, and many of them have nothing to do with, as many of them have been deprived of their own language and culture when, with a stroke of a pen, Tagalog as a language suddenly became something else.

The counter-discourse to Tagalogism is about how we revisit the definitions of ourselves, and how we express those definitions in light of our basic need for emancipatory knowledge of who we are as a Philippine nation made up of many nations, where we are, and where we are going.

Tagalogization, on the other hand, is that long juridical, linguistic, political, economic, and cultural process that has made it certain that this trap, this temptation relative to the entitlement, privileging, and valorization of Tagalog, is going to continue to have its stranglehold over all of us, Tagalog and non-Tagalog peoples alike.

The enlightened Tagalog people are not the problem here; those who continue to have that triumphal attitude with the lording of Tagalog over all other Philippine languages are the problems.

For even among the non-Tagalog people, there lies among them poets and writers and academics and scholars and linguists who do not know that the entitlement of one language over another may lead to an exclusion that could be irredeemably damaging to the excluded languages and cultures.

The enemy is in every individual of the Philippines, in the homeland as well as in the diaspora.

And this individual is lurking—or hiding behind some abstractions we call ‘nationalism’ and ‘education’ and ‘literacy’, abstractions that, when devoid of the proper context, are there only to make superiority pronouncements and thus legitimize the exclusionary tactics of the center.

The beginnings of our linguistic and cultural Gethsemane can be traced to that Constitutional Convention that began in 1934 and ended in February 1935. That Con-Con could have taught us peoples of the Philippines and other peoples of the world the virtues of cultural pluralism and respect for language rights, this last one veritably an expression of unconditional respect for basic human rights. 

But the 1935 Constitution that came out of that convention of the supposedly most capable and most astute political leaders of the land co-opted with the powers-that-were was an occasion of falling from grace, a grace that could be given only to us by respecting our cultural diversity and by pursuing language pluralism as a way of life of a nation made up of many nations such as the Philippines.

The proceedings of the Con-Con bear witness to this fall that we are trying to rise from today, an act of courage on the part of all peripheralized ethnolinguistic communities of the Philippines, with the House Bill 3719 that hopes to remake the template of an oppressive educational system in the Philippines that makes everyone in basic education—and even in tertiary education—as cultural and linguistic zombies and robots of the Tagalog and English languages.

These ethnolinguistic communities have been peripheralized because we have come to believe that our salvation as a people is the glamorizing of a single speech, and the allowing of ourselves to be continually hoodwinked by the Marcosian dictum of ‘isang bansa, isang diwa’—one language, one nation—a dictum that worked like an incantation to the dictator and his speech writers, including some academics from the University of the Philippines serving as his think-tank and book writers and who passed on to him the French model of that abominable phrase, clearly not an original formula for state-crafting and nation-building. 

The failure of many of us to understand the spirit of cultural pluralism as the spirit that could have shaped our collective life is the same failure that we continue to commit until today, seventy-three years after.

And those people who are in the know—the very people who could help us free ourselves from the enchantment of Tagalogism and Tagalogization are sometimes the very people that tell us that we have no business fighting for our linguistic and cultural rights and that our only business is to speak the language of the center, act in that language, and dream in that language.

The powers-that-were that continue to incarnate and reincarnate as the powers-that-are and the powers-that-be in our midst and wearing many hats, entrenched as they are in the academia and in the corridors of power are to be judged by our ethnolinguistic communities as Pharisees and Sadducees of Philippine culture. Here come the conquered becoming conquerors, the colonized becoming the new colonial masters.

These people come to us saying the same things against our languages and cultures—and even against our sense of selves. And these people have no new argument to offer against our claim to the language of our own selves, identities, and particular lives.

The discourse of these same people is the same discourse we have heard more than seven decades ago except that now, with the lobotomized agents of uniculturalism and monolingualism in Philippine education by their sleeves and pockets, they are more boisterous now, their loud noises their bluff to make us cower in fear and accept their illogicalities and bad because unproductive gospel of monolingualism in favor of the language of the center.

If we looked at their discourses, we can see the same rehashed arguments, some of them empty of content as they are self-serving: (a) the valuing of regional languages is ‘impractical’ and that (b) we have to give ‘Tagalog’ language—the basis, they say, of the national language—a chance. We gave Tagalog one fat chance for seven decades and it did not deliver the goods except to destroy millions and millions of us.

These arguments come from people who know no other Philippine languages, even if some of them, as one has said, that they can curse in other languages.

Even this admission of cursing in a language not really your own is an admission of guilt: that you have no respect for languages other than your own because you cannot see these languages as the dwelling place of a people’s soul owning these languages except as your language for cursing. This admission is itself an admission of failure in the unqualified respect that we all have to give to language and cultural rights as an expression of our respect for fundamental human rights. What we have therefore are culturally entrenched practitioners of Tagalogism and Tagalogization—cultural agents of injustice—who can only afford to tell us that Manila is the center of the Philippine world and that whatever Manila does is the truth.

The call for a ‘national’ language did not come as a pure and pristine call for nation building.

The motives, as history would tell us, are a mixed bag of personal defense against the charge of multilingual incompetence to the outright internal neo-colonization agendum by the same people who were—are—announcing liberation to our people.

We go the route of Manuel Luis Quezon and his flawed preference for the Philippines ‘run like hell by Filipinos’ than by, say, ‘run like heaven by Americans.’ Using that and other language claims, he would argue for the process of decolonization by following the route of the nation-state model imported from Spain, Germany, England, and France. That was his template for the Philippine nation-state speaking a single language. In his own words, he went to Vigan, had the ‘misfortune’ of using an Ilokano interpreter so he could talk with the Ilokano people, and which experience humbled him so, and which, in many ways, prodded him to push for a ‘national’ language that he understood and he could use, to speak with the Filipino, who, in his imagination, would now be all parroting Tagalog words and phrases learned unimaginatively in many unimaginative Tagalog language classrooms. Read the subtext here—which subtext he also said in that speech in Letran College: imagine me a President speaking to my people using an Ilokano interpreter because I do not speak Ilokano. And so his imperial solution: let everyone speak Tagalog, the Tagalog of the President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.

Quezon, of course, conveniently forgot that for Spain and Germany and England and France to have become examples of modern-day European nation-states, they all had to suppress—and the operative word here is ‘suppress’—other legitimate languages and thus cultures of their territories, thus creating the questionable semblance—a dubious verisimilitude—that these countries had only one and only one ‘national’ language.

The history of the oppressive power of the French Academy, a powerful cabal of Francophiles that cannot see that there are other languages of France beside French, is a proof of the oppressive power of Tagalog, sometimes passed off as Pilipino, or if one were from the more esteemed universities in Imperial Manila, this Pilipino is now Filipino, in accord with the dictate—read: dictate—of the 1987 Constitution. 

Quezon admitted this presidential dilemma—a classic dilemma of a ‘Tagalogistic’ mind, a mind that is content with the Tagalog view of the universe and that never tries harder to see other Philippine realities and Philippine worldviews afforded by other Philippine languages and cultures.

The Tagalogistic mindset, therefore, is ‘the’ implausible Philippine mindset.

With the illogical isomorphism in that equation Tagalog=Pilipino/Filipino—a curious thing that many knowledgeable linguists would reject for its flawed claims in a bioculturally diverse country like the Philippines—Tagalogism and Tagalogization have become the official path to creating the ‘new’ Philippine nation-state, a political dream that was valorized when the center of power came to Imperial Manila with the blessings of all the colonizers and their allies and collaborators, a political dream nevertheless that was also dreamed of by many ‘nations’ of the Philippines in the Visayas, especially when they declared their own republic that antedated any claims to an imagined Tagalog republic. In the North—in the Amianan—was the Candon Republic.

With the center of power—the axis of all power that remained undistributed until today—unable to communicate with those beyond that center for either because of lack of motivation as in the case of Quezon and all those other Quezons that came after him or because of linguistic and cultural incompetence, the center of power thus served as the French of France, the Madrid Spanish of Spain, the English of London, and the German of Berlin and elsewhere. Thus inaugurated the Tagalogization of all peoples of the Philippines, at least from the perspective of the sitting president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines at that time. Read through the proceedings of the 1934-1935 Constitutional Convention—but read the Jose P. Laurel version published by Lyceum of the Philippines, a version with only one copy at the Laurel Foundation Library. The other version published by the House of Representatives more than 30 years after the ratification of the 1935 Constitution is not as complete as the Laurel version.

The sentiments against what some people term ‘chauvinism in regional languages’ or ‘regionalism’ and that fossilized call for a ‘national’ language that is in league with other things ‘national’ such as a ‘national’ animal and a ‘national bird’ and a ‘national’ flower and a ‘national dress’ come to view when we look at the intents and purpose of the 2008 Multilingual Education and Literacy Act of the Philippines and the House Bill 3719 of Representative Magtanggol Gunigundo.

No, a people’s language does not operate the way a carabao, the national animal, would. Nor does it operate the way a national flower would like the sampaguita that is now missing, except in lurid streets in Manila where it is vended as a garland for the Child Jesus and the Mother of Perpetual Help.

A language is the abode of a people’s soul, the dwelling place of his sense of self, his sense of the world, and the sense of his dreams for both the present and future, for that present that is also a future. Deprive a people of that language and you have murdered them. Advocates of linguistic rights call this linguicide, or the killing of a language.

Lately, the Linguistic Society of the Philippines, an august body of well-meaning academics and professionals who are in the know about human cognition and its relation to the mother language, human knowledge and its relation to human and societal liberation, and the liberatory power of the language of our souls released a statement supporting literacy education in its multicultural form. We applaud the LSP for doing that.

In May 2008, delegates of 2008 Nakem Conferences held at St. Mary’s University in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, passed a resolution totally supporting HB 3719. That resolution, published in a scanned form at the Nakem Conferences website, was handed over personally to Rep. Gunigundo in July 2008, at a consultative assembly participated in by Nakem Conferences.

The participants of the 2008 Nakem Conferences understood where multicultural education should begin: in their classrooms. That was their rationale for the endorsement of the Gunigundo legislative initiative.

With the abominable cultural denigration that is happening in the Philippines—with many Filipinos (except the Tagalogs and Tagalogized) being made to behave and think and view the world as Tagalogs and these same people looking down upon their own mother languages and their own cultures and the peoples who do not behave and think and view the world like Tagalogs—the teachers and academics and cultural workers of Nakem Conferences saw that HB 3719 is the only way to go to once-and-for-all claim for the peoples of the Amianan and all other peoples of the Philippines the fruits of linguistic democracy and cultural justice.

In sum, HB 3719 argues for a multicultural education for the Philippines, a template for education that values the basic human experiences of peoples, experiences that are mediated by their own languages and not by other people’s languages, and grow from that experience in keeping with the duty to relate to and with other people to form a community.

The educational template of the Philippines is one that does exactly the opposite: students are schooled in the language of other people’s languages, with their schooling basically a rote memorization afforded by Tagalog (well, for Constitutional reasons that some would like to read: P/Filipino) and English. Thus we have students who never learned who they are and yet are expected to learn other people’s sense of who they are through the second or third languages, Tagalog and English, languages that are constantly rammed into their throat as soon as they get into their classrooms, the ramming consistent and legal but never moral and culturally just, until they all become cultural and linguistic parrots.

It is something curious, thus, that while many of the nation-states of the world that followed the route of the fossilized view of ‘national’ language are revisiting the linguistic injustice and cultural tyranny that they systematically effected in order to glorify their nation-state a la Napoleon who had to deny his being Corsican in the name of the glorious French language, the Philippines is still going the route to ‘national’ language, a concept that valorizes, privileges, and gives entitlements to one and only one language.

We can grant here, tentatively, the virtue of ‘national’ language as defined by well-meaning scholars of Philippine languages as the imagined medium of communication among the peoples of the Philippines.

But we cannot close our eyes to the fact that in an effort to do so, taxpayers’ money and the scarce resources of the country have been used to promote, sustain, develop, and teach Tagalog (well, now, they call it with another name). Except for token support from some government agencies for token awards or grants for some token cultural programs, no support of the magnitude given to Tagalog has ever been given to other Philippine languages, major or minor. The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines provides for the its translation into the major languages. We do not know if, apart from Tagalog, that Constitution has ever been translated into the languages of all the peoples of the Philippines so that, like the claim to the Philippines as some kind of a working democracy, people could say, in their own language, that their basic human right to their own language is guaranteed by their own Constitution. This means that this failure is itself a proof of unconstitutional acts of the Philippine Government, its pertinent language and culture agencies included.  

There is nothing wrong with regionalism in the Philippines.

The territorial basis of Tagalogism and Tagalogization as unruly phenomena of Philippine collective life is a region as well.

The fact that at this time only a handful of urban centers are developed is a clear proof of the underdevelopment of the Philippines—or that more sinister fact of uneven development. This underdevelopment/uneven development is entwined in how we continue our political, economic, and cultural life—with Imperial Manila as the center of the Philippine universe, and thus with Tagalog as ‘the’ language of power.

When a country talks of democracy but has only one language to claim as a developed language, when it has only a few city centers as developed centers, and when it has only one place from which all political powers come from, then, that country has no business calling itself a democracy. Truth is: it is not. That country is a cultural tyrant; that country is a linguistic despot.

The genesis of our misery is that we believed in the lies of the past and we permitted these lies to frame and structure our political, cultural, and economic life. The currency of these lies is that this nation-state that we have built is made up of only one nation (one read from Imperial Manila) and that it is impossible to speak of various states that could make up that nation among nations. What goes with that currency is the dubious position we have accorded to Tagalog, a position that has made many our people fall into the trap that Tagalogism is the governing applied philosophy of all peoples of the Philippines and that Tagalogization is the only one true process we have to go through in the pursuit of the ends of the Philippine nation-state.

With HB 3719, we are going to put an end to the systemic and systematic miseducation of our people. And soon.

Our peoples of the Philippines have decided—and this decision is wrought in the language of their souls. And that language is their language. 

The Linguicide Society of the Philippines.

The Linguicide Society of the Philippines.
A FORMER STUDENT OF MINE in a specialized college for the priesthood--name withheld for security reasons--has called my attention to the fact that these language terrorists (1) accusing that the advocates of multiplicity in the country are under the employ of the US Central Intelligence Agency and (2) calling these advocates to be shot in the head pointblank are in fact members of a band of losers called The Linguicide Society of the Philippines.
This apt phrase is not mine, but Professor Bart Gacrama's.
I was amazed at the kind of creativity he has that I wondered if he has turned away from critical philosophy and after years of not having seen each other after presumably losing his philosophical innocence in my class, has instead succumbed to the seductions of a kind of capitalism that is mindless, and it is mindless because it has no sense of the moral.
Of course, I asked him that. And bluntly so.
He bluntly told me, his tone a reprimand: 'Philosophy is a jealous lover, sir!'
He still called me 'sir', and I am sensing he has forgiven me for accusing him of becoming a traitor to The Cause because he has turned capitalist, or has started to serve the ends of capitalistic universities like those we know in the heart of Kamaynilaan. Some of these schools have become the breeding ground of this Linguicide Society of the Philippines.
The use of 'linguicide' to account that group is unequivocal.
It simply means that systematic erasure of other languages of a diverse country like the Philippines through wrong public policies on language, language education, culture, and general and professional education per se.
Many of the members of the Linguicide Society of the Philippines are sporting the title 'associate professor' and truly, they have come to profess anything but justice and fairness for the othered languages.
What we have are their tyrannical ways of pursuing their narrow sense of nation, state, and nationalism--all at the expense of our country's multiplicity, all at the expense of cultural democracy, all the expense of linguistic justice, all at the expense of emancipatory education.
So, here we are.

Ladies and gentleman, The Linguicide Society of the Philippines!

Panata ng ibang-ibang makabayan.

'Panata ng ibang-ibang makabayan.'
INIIBIG ko ang Filipinas, ang lupain na nagsimula sa pagkilala sa sariling dangal, pero ngayon ay nagkakait ng dangal sa iba lalo na sa mga hindi nagtatagalog at nagpifilipino, lenggwaheng kanyang isinasaksak sa lalamunan ng lahat na mamamayan.
INIIBIG ko ang Filipinas, ang lupain ng mga naghihimagsik at pag-aaklas na ang mga naunang paghimagsik at pag-aklas ay yaong sa mga komunidad etnolinggwistikong nasa labas ng alkitrang at sementadong gubat ng Kamaynilaan at Katagalugan.
INIIBIG ko ang Filipinas, ang lupain ng mga ayaw sa dayuhang mananakop pero ngayon ay sinasakop ang buong kapuluan at ginagawang uto-uto nga ibang komunidad, ginagawang payaso ang iniibang pamayanan, ginagawang tau-tauhan ang di sumasang-ayong sa kanyang tiranikong pamaraan sa ngalan ng nasyonalismong peke sapagkat para lamang sa pinipiling iilan.
INIIBIG ko ang Filipinas sapagkat sa kabila ng panggagago sa ibang lahi na wala sa kanyang listahan ay ibig ko pa ring itong magbago, maging nasyon estado ng katarungang panlipunan, ng demokrasyang kultural, ng mapagkalingang diversidad na muhon ng tunay na kairalan, at ng edukasyong nagpapalaganap ng tunay na kalayaan.

Iniibig ko ang Filipinas. Pero hindi niya ako inibig kahit kailan.

The work of defending ourselves, the work of defending our own languages.

The work of defending ourselves, the work of defending our own languages. 

THE ADVOCATES OF MULTILINGUALISM in the Philippines--those I am working with--have these common principles:

1. That all languages of the Philippines are necessary and these make up what we are as a nation of many nations. 

2. That every language we have got, about 185 of the indigenous and 11 of the foreign ones per Ethnologue 2005, are urgent for our political survival.

3. That inclusion--or inclusivity--that principle that follows the substance of what the social contract is all about, remains the primary principle in accounting each other's life in this homeland of many nations.

4. That diversity is what makes up the Philippines and no less.

In contrast, those people responsible for the 'Linguicide of August 2014' have called for:

1. The banishment of those who do not regard the Tagalog language as the P/Filipino national language.

2. The shooting in the head pointblank of those 'regionalists' whose only sin is that they believe in the four common principles listed above.

3. The aggressive and terroristic labeling of those advocates of multilingualism as agents--'under the employ'--of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States.

We are a country of diverse peoples, diverse languages, diverse cultures, and diverse nations, and we are defending ourselves every second of our life against these authors of Linguicide of August 2014. Every second.

What country has done this rampant injustice against their own people other than the Philippines?

We are worried about that Ramon Bautista guy calling some women of Davao City 'hipon' and we are not worried at all about this fundamental injustice that has pushed us back to the Dark Ages.

Our sense of the ethical must be in the wrong places? 

Ethnic cleansing and then some: Or, why August has become the month of linguicide courtesy of the state and its apparatuses.

Ethnic cleansing and then some: Or, why August has become the month of linguicide courtesy of the state and its apparatuses.

I LOOK AT ALL THE posts starting August 1 and now, towards the third week of August, these posts saying alleluia to the national language with its dubious name have peaked to a proportion that can only be termed as tactics of ethnic cleansing.

The fact that some academics of the University of the Philippines--academics whose salaries are being paid for by the peoples of the Philippines, peoples that include non-Tagalogs--are evangelizing everyone on television that the time has come for all peoples to the Philippines to bow to the altar of their own brand of nationalism is making this spectacle of glorifying a national language that intends to homogenize all of us is a gruesome spectacle.

A screen grab of one national language ideologue, Mark John M. Isidoro, by Al Mandane, and posted on Plurilingual Philippines (retrieved 18 Aug 2014), talks of an ethnic cleansing that can only come from people who cannot tolerate other voices--the othered voices--of the non-Tagalog peoples.

Below is Isidoro's inelegant Tagalog of his rant: "Sana yung mga ayaw sa Filipino Umalis nlng sa Pilipinas hindi nmin kayo kailangan dito kung ganyan kayo.."

Now, if this is the kind of an intellect we are faced with, we who are advocating for a multilingual Philippines, we should now begin to run away. 

We will have a run for our money. For sure.

Let us rewrite his uneducated schizophrenic Tagalog post: 'Sana, yung mga ayaw sa Filipino (ay) umalis na lang (sila) sa (Filipinas). Hindi namin kayo kailangan dito kung ganyan kayo.'

Ah ha: the occupiers! Real internal colonizers. 



By Aurelio Solver Agcaoili  

Below is the point-by-point response to the opinion piece of  Michael David San Juan, ‘Debunking the PH language myths,’ Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17 August 2014. San Juan is associate professor of De La Salle University. 

The issues, eight of them, are listed in open and close single quotation marks. I have looked at this issues he raises as facts, not myths, and hence the introductory phrase, 'Fact Number'. 

Fact Number 1: 'Filipino is not an imposition of  “imperial Manila.” The multilingual composition of the Surian ng Wikang Pambansa, or the Institute of the National Language (INL), established in the 1930s to recommend a Philippine language as the basis for the national language, proves that this is nonfactual.’   

The truth is, this San Juan guy does not know his facts:

First, it is not Filipino, but Tagalog, that was imposed in 1937. 

Second, the list of names that constituted the INL does not prove the point that Tagalog was not imposed. All these members were sold to the 19th century idea of nation state as espoused by Quezon, a nation state patterned after the late 19th century nation formation efforts of some countries of the West, notably Germany, Spain, France, England, and in some other ways later, Italy. Quezon, in the Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of 1934-1935, has precisely expressed this idea. 

Third, San Juan needs to read the Proceedings of the 1934-1935 Constitutional Convention, and understand the spirit of the debate and the active protestations of the delegates, and understand too, the abracadabra that happened in the insertion of the phrase one of the existing languages of the Philippines as "the basis" of the national language. He cannot come up with the composition of the INL as a proof in much the same way that he cannot prove that the current composition of the Commission of the Filipino Language is sympathetic to the cause of multiplicy, diversity, and pluralism. 

Fourth, he slants the issue. 'Filipino' today, is an imposition of the hegemonic center, his Manila and Bulacan (the latter where he is from?) and the facts of the case are clear.

In 1935, the ground for the imposition of Tagalog was drafter, and in 1937, that ground was realized through an executive order, and then eventually a law. Anyone who tries to understand honestly what happened between 1935 and 1937, when that law ‘imposing’ Tagalog was enacted, would honestly admit that Tagalog was imposed. The evidences are very clear, and to lamely use the composition of INL as the proof of Tagalog not having been imposed is must be honest to admit that there is no validity in this statement. A fallacy is committed here. One swallow, we must remind San Juan, does not make a summer. 

Fifth, the national artist, Rolando Tinio (from Nueva Ecija) admits this abracadabra which this San Juan denies to death.

He is not intellectually honest, this San Juan. He must read Tinio’s Language Matters: Where English Fails and there read the direct admission of Tinio of this abracadabra.

Sixth, he needs to understand the account--the hidden motives--why Quezon wanted the national language so much, with his idea of 'national language' culled from Spain, France, Germany, England, and later on, Italy. He must read, this San Juan guy. It looks like he does not fully understand where the bigger issues of the fascistic nature of his national language comes from.

Seventh, he needs to understand that Quezon, when he went to the Ilocos, when he gave as speech at Letran College, when he went to the Visayas, has talked about a national language which is his own Tagalog. He was so incensed why he needed an interpreter to 'talk' to his own people. Ah, he could have used English, right? Parale is a good way for San Juan to start reading. Did he read Parale at all? Or, Andrew Gonzalez' Language and Nationalism

Of course, Tagalog was imposed.

When a country has more than a hundred languages, and a single language is instituted as a national language and give that language an army and a navy, and give it all the resources of that country to have develop at the expense of the country’s other languages, that is a clear case of imposition especially so when such was dictated upon as a language to be taught in all Philippine schools.

In the past, this was called Tagalog; now, with the ruses approved by San Juan, it is called ‘Filipino’.

The triumphalist revisionism of San Juan must called as such: triumphalist revisionism.

Fact Number 2: 'Filipino is only Tagalog.'

It is true that 'Filipino is only Tagalog.' 

Any linguist worth his salt--let us ask foreign linguists so their loyalties are not questioned--and they will tell you of this kind of crap San Juan is reproducing. The University of California Los Angeles calls its courses, Tagalog. Other universities abroad are calling this language being passed off as Filipino as Tagalog. Let us be intellectually honest here.  

San Juan, in that opinion piece--read: this is his 'opinion'--is saying that it is true that the vocabulary of Filipino is still Tagalog and that there is a need to enrich that vocabulary to make the Tagalog language Filipino.

He cites, of course, Almario's dictionary of 'synonyms'—a synonym comes from within a language, but not outside that language, unless nativized--and his argument fails in this area big time.

He cites the position of Leoncio Deriada on the 'assimilation' of more non-Tagalog words into the Tagalog language to make it more Filipino.

Both Almario's and Deriada's positions are wrong theoretically and practically.

One cannot make a new language by a sleight-of-hand technique and tactic, which San Juan wants us to do dishonestly.

He talks of  'vocabularies'.

An enriched vocabulary of a language is an enriched language, and not a new one.

To distinguish one language from another, there is one primary rule: mutual intelligibility.

If San Juan is really a language teacher, advocate, and scholar as he claims in his being an 'associate professor', he should know these rudimentary things.

There is more honesty in Rolando Tinio than in him.

Oh, by the way, his exhibiting of the Ilokano term, 'dawa,' is wrong. Dawa is the edible seed in Almario's dictionary? Come on, San Juan! Ask Ilokanos around and they would tell that you are telling them half-truths!

Fact Number 3: 'Filipino is detrimental to other Philippine languages.'

Of course, let this be said:

First,  that with the imposition of San Juan's illusory 'Filipino'--why can't he be honest and say that this is really Tagalog?--so many non-Tagalog peoples all over the country have learned only the language of Tagalog and the literature of the Tagalog peoples spread all over the Southern Tagalog regions, and with Metro Manila as its axis.

To test this, let San Juan ask an Ilokano child if that child knows how to write in his Ilokano language, converse intellectually in that language, and understand the world around him in that language.

Let him ask as well a non-Tagalog child if that child meaningfully knows anything about his own literature and let him discuss that in his own language.

Because San Juan has never done this--he is deploying his own logic of convenience and comfort to valorize his Tagalog under the guise of 'Filipino' of his own 1987 Constitution (ah, he should read the proceedings of that Constitution too!), he only comes up with motherhood statements about 'national language' and 'learning' and 'national standards in achievement tests'.

Who cares about achievement tests in his dubious Filipino?

Everyone cares about achievement test in English, but the Department of Education (Deped) should not do that not in the early grades. Which means that this is a problem of Deped, and not the problem of non-Tagalog peoples fighting for their right to their languages and asking that they learn in their own language. 

Second, that the imposition of Tagalog masquerading as Filipino has only resulted to the illiteracy of our non-Tagalog students. The evidence he presented is not in favor of his position, but is, in truth and in fact, in favor of the need to educate our peoples in their own respective mother languages.

Third, that the best way to educate the citizens of a country is through their own language. San Juan, being a teacher, has conveniently forgotten the rule that we can never know the world more intimately and more meaningfully through a strange language. It is is always the L1 that makes sense as the mediating instrument in that epistemic act of mediating the ontological. San Juan's failure to know this is not the problem of the non-Tagalog peoples; it is his big time failure as an academic.

Fourth,  that the Philippines is a signatory to so many international covenants on language, culture, and education rights. I am not going to enumerate all these here. The fact is that San Juan misses the point in not recognizing that because of this imposition of Filipino, we have not been honest to our peoples, we have not respected our international obligations, and that we have inaugurated a big time lie now passed off as truth courtesy of people like him. He needs to read up on our international commitments as well.

The inauguration of our non-Tagalog peoples of their sense of who they are, their continuing illiteracy of their own linguistic and cultural resources in the name of the name of San Juan's beloved 'national language', and the homogenization of all peoples of the Philippines is the best gift of San Juan and all people like him to a country that is plural and multiple and diverse.

This gift is a bomb. Linguicide continues with him. 

Fact Number 4: 'It is more practical to use English than Filipino as the lingua franca.'

Of course, this is absolutely true.

The fact that this San Juan guy is writing his piece in English for the Inquirer is one heck of a proof that invalidates his claim about need for English in our collective life.

The word 'practice'--if this has not been vulgarized by him--hermeneutically demands a sense of the theoros. More so if we deal with practice that is pertinent, and pertinent because it is true.

Theoros, in that mythology among the Greeks, gives an account of the gods looking down on the affairs of mortals, and from their perch, meditate, contemplate, and reflect about what gives, in the heavens as in the day-to-day life of peoples under their care. 

These are the same gods who have allowed Hermes to invent human language, that Hermes guy who is both a commerce-man (a business tycoon now) and a liar.

A research by a Filipino linguist teaching in Malaysia has proven that there is no economic benefit of knowing Tagalog in Malaysia. I would say, by extension, not only in Malaysia but abroad in that general scheme of things. 

Now, unless the country stops sending OFWs abroad--and where else to send them but in Gaza, Syria, Libya, Middle Eastern countries, and elsewhere?--with USD 2.3B remittances as of the latest report from the government--then San Juan can continue with his delusion of grandeur that his schizophrenic Tagalog/Pilipino/Filipino makes sense as the lingua franca.

His 1987 Constitution--the one he loves to quote to prove his point in a pointless way--has talked about the need for citizens of the country to have access to that Constitution through their own language. I am not aware of a translation of that Constitution in Ilokano. I am not sure of the other languages. This means that this Constitution itself is not true to what it wants done.    

One of the Recto daughters complained about the making of Tagalog as the national language and I rephrase her: ‘What can I learn from Tagalog?’

Now, ask the same thing to all the language-deprived non-Tagalog peoples, peoples who are all deprived of their sense of language, their sense of self, and their sense of identity.

Bless us all, but I have yet to see a version of that 1987 Constitution in Ilokano. Now, talk about language access, and San Juan fails big time.

Fact Number 5: 'Using Filipino as a medium of instruction will negatively affect students’ facility with the English language'

There is a principle in education about learning, and it is about the movement from what is known to the unknown.

What is known is best known through the mediation of the language by which the learner gets to know the world.

From the lens of that world, the learner gets to move on to the unfamiliar, to the world that is yet-to-be known.

The problem in the Philippines is this: students are taught in two strange languages:

(1) in  Tagalog/P/Filipino and

(2) in English.

It means simply that the Deped is not doing things right, and it is a government agency that has done the most atrocious service to our people.

No other country in the world does this, especially when we deal with countries that have come to their senses on their obligation to fully educate their own citizens to become good citizens.

Good citizenship--and good because it is productive--is not a laughing matter; it is mediated by a citizen’s understanding of his role in the polis, and that mediation happens not in a strange language, but in his own language. 

The position, thus, of San Juan, merely parrots the same pedagogic mistake--and a big one at that--of the Deped, an agency called by an activist and critic, Mike Pangilinan, as DeafHead.

When a country teaches most of its students in two strange languages, no amount of teaching will ever become meaningful, and the achievement results will always be below par.

Now, what San Juan should suggest is for that basic education principle to be followed: move from L1 (the mother language of most of our students all over the country) to L2.

L2 here means English, that language that will give them jobs abroad, presuming that San Juan's Tagalized country will not stop sending about 3000 OFWs abroad each day.

Fact Number 6: 'Filipino subjects from elementary to high school are sufficient'.

Many activists in Philippine education no longer believe in this statement.

What these activists, of which I am a part, hold on to is the continuing education of our people in their own respective languages from basic education to university.

There are reasons why we hold on to this:

First,  learning is made more meaningful in mediated by the very instrument through which we look at the world. That instrument is the L1, the mother language of students. We have, at the very least, 185 native languages, and 11 foreign languages per the Ethnologue of 2005.

Second, there is no reason to educate our plural communities with the schizophrenic Tagalog/P/Filipino of San Juan. Such an education has reduced our non-Tagalog peoples to cultural and linguistic illiteracy. The facts of the case are from the field, and San Juan needs only to go around and check how linguistically and culturally illiterate our non-Tagalog peoples have become. Among Ilokano teachers, only a handful know the rudiments of their own language and their own literature. Ask our writers-cum-educators-cum-academics like Joel Manuel, Teofilo Damoco, Ruby Banez and they will tell you what is there in the field.

Third, if San Juan insists on the teaching of Filipino, it should be taught as a second language alongside other second languages of the Philippines, and foreign languages. Fair is fair.

In short, San Juan has no claim here.

Fact Number 7: "Countries that use foreign language/s as medium of instruction in college are more developed than countries that use their national language/s; our people’s English language skills bring huge foreign investments, hence English must be prioritized over Filipino."

This is the fact, one that San Juan, in his naivete, refuses to accept: that English brings in huge foreign investment.

All told, capital is money, and time is money too [Groys 2009], and with the world going gung-ho on capital, as is the case of his own Tagalog/P/Filipino playing footsie with the media capitalists of the Philippines at the expense of multiplicity, diversity, and pluralism, San Juan the academic does not fully understand that investments-with-a-moral-conscience is what we are in need of in a dire way. We need these investments so that we will no longer be exporting our people, some of them coming back dead. The data is four coffins per day.

We do not have this in his own beloved country; much of the money per all those DAP shenanigans, are in the hands of those elite who speak his brand of national language.

Now, he must open his mind to these facts:

First, that foreigners are setting up shop and attending school in the Philippines because of our English-language ability;

Second, that the Philippines is still the best business English country, and thus, this factor has led to foreign investments; and

Third, that employment of many peoples of the Philippines, the rate now at more than 10 percent, is by way of our peoples’ professional abilities alongside our ability to speak English.

These realities are beyond San Juan's comprehension. He should try becoming an OFW and see for himself why we need English as an international language so we can sell our souls and bodies and honor and dignity and self-respect abroad to the highest bidder.

Fact Number 8: 'Filipino is not yet intellectualized; it cannot be utilized as a medium of instruction in college.'

I am not sure where is San Juan getting these ideas about the charge that his 'Filipino' is not intellectualized.

There are two ways of looking at the whole thing re the issue of intellectualization:

1    First, the content of a particular language with respect to how it can provide an explicans to an explicandum re the self, others, and the world.

From a cultural perspective, every language has that capacity.

Now since we have 'yet to evolve' Filipino as a language, it does not have yet hat intellectualized character.

If he is referring to Tagalog, we grant that Tagalog and all our other--and othered--Philippine languages have that capacity to explain the self, others, and the world to us.

2    Second, the ability of that language to provide an explicans to all the domains of
professional knowledge from A to Z.

San Juan should show us a textbook in Human Physiology and Thermodynamics and we believe him.

Books, researches, and other things he says on the shelf (or shelves) of libraries--and presumably his own library--are a proof of the 'intellectual' content of his illusory language.

He must remember that these exhibits he is telling us in a triumphalist way following the ways of the Sadducees and the Pharisees have been produced and paid for by the taxes, sweat, labor, dignity, and self-respect of all peoples of the Philippines, his Tagalog people and non-Tagalog peoples alike.

The question is this: How is it that in a country like the Philippines, a country professing democracy, fairness, and justice--how is it that it has been able to produce only one and only one body of knowledge, that of his own Tagalog?

Fair is fair everywhere.

If you want our peoples to be integrated into the international community, as in our commitment to an ASEAN Integration 2015, we must prepare our peoples to be

First, professionally competent, and

Second, proficient in an international language.

The logic of this prescription is clear.

In the end, San Juan has no argument, and the Inquirer, bless it, wasted a page to feature his opinion piece.

17 August 2014/WPH