eK! is electronic Kabalen, a web-exclusive Kapampangan journal of ideas

papa osmubal
oscar balajadia I MET through the internet individuals who are concerned about how Tagalog or the use of Tagalog badly affects other regional languages and dialects. They regard Tagalog as an apocalyptic blaze that threatens to engulf other Philippine languages and dialects. They take this issue as writing on the wall.

I know of some peope who even go a step farther, suggesting that Tagalog should be boycotted outside of its own turf, the Katagalugan territory or the Tagalog region.

They are not taking this linguistic issue lying down, especially with the internet—one of the most potent tools activists, writers or old fools have nowadays—at their disposal. As endemic as it is in this age, sooner or later, online friends and acquaintances will surely be requested of their John Hancocks to support the noble campaigns and protests. (I might have already received a couple or so of these signature solicitations in the recent past, although I must have missed them as I methodically get rid of most of my emails without even verifying who their senders are. Every email is a spam whenever I am in a bad mood.) Or you will see them at their blogs, websites and e-groups, in all formats, preaching their gospels. Alleluia! You won't believe it, but some of them are already around!

They have reason for doing that and for believing what they believe in. And being a Kapampangan, I for one share their concerns.

These individuals believe that Tagalog is encroaching on other regions and endangering the other native languages and dialects. This is a sad and bitter fact that we all know of. This fact becomes even sadder and bitterer to me because my language, Kapampangan (which my townsfolk adoringly call Amanung Siswan), is in the most vulnerable position as it is separated from Tagalog by just a highway, a bridge, and a rice field, leaving it with no fortified defense at all. At least the other regions have distance, bodies of water, or mountains for their shield. Pangasinan and the Ilocandia, for instance, have Pampanga as their fence against Tagalog. The Ilonggos and Cebuanos have hundreds of islands and seas insulating them from Tagalog. That is why the bitterest opposition against Tagalog must come from Pampanga, from Kapampangans like me. But why are not Kapampangans voicing their concerns about the situation in the north where the Ilokanos are clandestinely inching their way into some Kapampangan bailiwicks like Tarlac?

Whoa! Hold your horses! By the jumping Jesus, put down your swords and keep your cool!

I iterate I am a Kapampangan, and a true-blue one at that, but I don't ever claim I have bitterness whatsoever towards Tagalog. As far as I know Tagalog has done nothing wrong to me. If there is anything I have towards Tagalog, it is mercy. Yes, mercy!

I have always been reminding my friends that a good Kapampangan is a good Filipino: Ing metung a mayap a Kapampangan metung yang mayap a Pilipinu. This same dictum is what I religiously follow in my dealings with everything that is Filipino or whatever concerns what the world now knows as the Philippines. This is the reason why I personally don't see anything Filipino about opposing Tagalog, much less boycotting it or getting envious of its putative developments and successes as a privileged language, or a "killer language" as what some linguists dub it. In a fragmented society like the Philippines we need one language that will unite us, and it just so happens that Tagalog is the one that was culled. It could have been Kapampangan or any of the other local languages or dialects.

But then, as Filipinos or citizens of what the world now knows as the Philippines, what do we do to support and preserve Tagalog? What do we really know about Tagalog, its condition, and its imminent fate?

In linguistic analysis and in reality, Tagalog is in no bed of roses. It is in no better condition than that of the other languages or dialects still existing or languishing in our country. It needs our action and support (or activism) as much as the other languages and dialects in our country do. Tagalog will actually be no more in a short period of time. This is inevitable. It is fast disappearing and therefore needs saving as well. The Tagalog that we have now is not the Tagalog that our neighbors (or ancestors, if you will) had and spoke. It is but the remains of what Tagalog used to be. The Tagalog that we know now is but a Creole language—the hybrid of what once was Classic Tagalog (Katutubung Tagalog or Sinaunang Wika), Spanish, and English. Like all of our other regional languages and dialects, the Tagalog that is now with us is a Frankenstein creature—without its known parents, without a definite identity, abandoned in the cold and dark by its own maker.

Tagalog is in much graver danger of getting extinct. It is in fact paying the heavy price of being our country's national language. Its own location is where its impending doom lurks because the National Capital Region (NCR), the torque of its influence, is the main port of entry of all new foreign ideas, both technological and political, especially those from the United States and other English speaking nations that are NCR's biggest economic partners. This means that any linguistic intrusion that happens in the Philippines is first felt in the NCR, and Tagalog is the very first among our indigenous languages that is heavily affected.

Our opposition (in whatever degree, of whatever nature) against Tagalog will not do any good for our global culture. It will rather expedite Tagalog's disappearance and will consequently erode our national heritage, of which the language is an essential part as the hand is to the human body. Going against Tagalog is going against our own kind.

Is it really the fault of Tagalog that our other local languages and dialects, for unknown reasons, lack strength and innate defense before and against other languages? The strength of a language depends on the strength of the culture that gave birth to it. But then again, the strength of a culture is in the education and determination of its people to preserve it. Whose fault is it then?

One should keep one's language in its purest possible form while one learns other foreign languages. One has to keep one's culture and one's own language where nobody can touch them. In a diglossic society such as our country, that is a must. In a multi-cultural archipelago like ours, that is everyone's responsibility.

It is a mutiny of sorts to not recognize and preserve Tagalog. As law-abiding citizens, we need to support our Constitution that stipulates that we use and respect our national language that, although to the frustration and indignation of many, happens to be Tagalog. What are we grossing out and fretting about for over the legal enshrinement of Tagalog as our national language, while we pathetically ignore the fact that English is given more privilege and prestige by our very own Constitution?

Tagalog is nothing more but a victim like Kapampangan and other indigenous languages and dialects. The real "killer languages" in our country are Spanish and English. Combined they roughly comprise about half of each existing regional language or dialect. It is even surprising that no one has/had the initiative and courage to cleanse our languages and dialects of the "killer languages" and save ours from "linguistic cannibalism and murder." Our languages are devoured alive, from their skins to their marrows, by Spanish and English, both colonial languages that thrive in our country because of our support or perhaps ignorance. We have harbored them.

As a citizen of what the world now knows as the Philippines, I always remind myself to avoid borrowing from Spanish and English when I write or talk in Kapampangan. What and where one borrows reflect who one is, what one stands for, and of what one's spirit and mind are molded or made. I am from the place that the world now knows as the Philippines, and if I need to borrow, I do so from my brother or my next-door neighbor, not from total strangers, much less from intruders who forcibly break into my own house. Well, I will borrow a scoop of rice from my brother or neighbor, not from someone who don't even know how to cultivate it.

[About the author. Papa Osmubal is Oscar Balajadia of Magalang, now Macau resident and married to a Chinese local. He has been a Catholic seminarian, Catholic missionary, bookstore staff, teaching assistant, and teacher. Currently at daytime he is the Assistant Librarian at The International School of Canada in Macau, while at nighttime he moonlights as part-time teacher and tutor. His poems have appeared in various anthologies and publications, online and hardcopy. He has work archived in the University of Columbia Granger's World of Poetry and other places. A work of his will also appear in the forthcoming W.W. Norton Poetry Anthology of Contemporary Voices from the East. He is a contributing writer to Chick Flicks, Our Own Voice (OOV): Writing from the Filipino Diaspora, and other publications.]

-Posted: 11:25 AM 1/9/08 | More of this author on eK!

Ernest Turla (ernieturla@...) writes...

I don't like Papa Osmubal's article. I think he is a Tagalista!

-Posted/Via Email: Wed, 9 Jan 2008 18:26:14 -0800

Dr. Eusebio Z. Dizon (Scientist III/Archaeologist, National Museum of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines) writes...

A very good essay, but the question is what is the origin of the Kapampangan and Tagalog languages?

As far as my prehistoric and archaeological data is concerned, I think, that both Kapampangan and Tagalog came from the Austronesian language family, originating from southern China and Taiwan and coming through the Philippines by way of Batanes and northern Luzon (i.e Cagayan Valley and perhaps Ilocos Region and the Mountain Pronvinces).

The Kapampangans were the better known sailors and boatbuilders who may have been the early groups who sailed to Indonesia by at least 3,500 years ago; instead of the other way around, as we thought before from the received wisdom we had from Professor H.O. Beyer.

Now, on the basis of accumulating archaeological evidence from Batanes, we argue that the movement of the Austronesians were from north to south, and this would include the Kapampangans.

I am not sure though if the Spanish or English languages have anything to do with the "contaminations" of our own Austronesian languages.

-Posted/Via Email: Wed, 9 Jan 2008 19:23:46 -0800

Dindo Gonzales (of Philippines) writes...

I get across to similar websites. There are a lot of Kapampangan websites or yahoo groups with the same advocacy. In one website they have slogan saying, "FILIPINO is NOT our LANGUAGE. Of course, FILIPINO is our NATIONALITY!

I read the messages posted in some of these groups or websites, their members and founders are the same and connected to each others. They are all living in US, Canada, Australia, UK, etc.

These are the Pinoys who left the Philippines and embraced the citizenship of the American, Australian, and Canadian. That's why one of their advocacy is pushing English as their second language. They are similar to "MAKAPILI," pinapapatay nila ang Tagalog at gusto nila English.

They want Kapampangan to be included in the school curriculum so that they can sell Kapampangan Dictionaries and Poetry books authored by them.

Pronto it's business!

-Posted/Via Email: Wed, 9 Jan 2008 21:05:55 -0800

Jason Paul Laxamana (of Angeles City, Philippines) writes...

Is this essay even backed by research?

First, language is alive. No language is pure. Even pre-Spanish Kapampangan has Mandarin and Indian borrowings. Even American English has borrowings! What you are concerned with is "Balagtas Tagalog" and you appear to be anti-"Creole Tagalog," but the thing is, both are Tagalog, and that is fine, because that is part of language development. If you speak Manila Tagalog, you're still a Tagalog speaker, because Manila Tagalog (Filipino as they call it) is a dialect of Tagalog. NSO statistics have shown increase in Tagalog speakers since the Japanese period (appointment of Tagalog as National Language).

Do you even know what National Language is? It means it is the language symbol of a country. It means, the Philippines is only symbolized by one language, and of course, it's Tagalog. Only a passive person will come to accept that in a multilingual country. India has 20 national languages. Canada has two. Many other countries have adopted several languages as national language.

So if you're concerned with "having a common language to use in interregional communication," that's where OFFICIAL (not national) language comes in, and I'm fine with Filipino and English when it comes to that, as even India has two OFFICIAL languages (some Hindu language and Hindi English).

I don't mind the entrance of Ilocanos in Tarlac as much as I do with the Tagalization in e.g. Angeles, because first, the Ilocanos did it on their own without State force, unlike in Tagalog where it is propagated from every insititution possible, beginning from SCHOOL to GOVERNMENT, from FAMILY to [some] CHURCH, from MASS MEDIA to MEDICAL INSTITUTIONS. So, the Ilocanos are fighting a fair fight. Kapampangans, on the other hand, are being TAGALIZED, and it is supported even by Kapampangans themselves (and you seem to be like one of them).

To Dindo Gonzales, I wouldn't mind if people make business out of language. It has become one of the income generators of Tagalogs, who began to sell books and literary publications beginning from God knows when. Why are you demonizing business in the Kapampangan language? Maybe you are a conservative who wants to sanctify Kapampangan "let's not commercialize our culture." If Kapampangans have nothing beneficial to draw from language, what for? Sheer pride?

English is a killer of our languages? Do you know why we support it instead of Tagalog? Because we need it for global communication, and possibly, even interregional communication. Then, instead of Tagalog, we learn our own language, Kapampangan. Thus, we master both KAPAMPANGAN, our native language, and ENGLISH, a language for the outer world. So instead of learning three languages, we practically learn only two. If a Kapampangan wants to learn Tagalog, let it be his choice, but don't force it.

Law-abiding citizens? Do you know that RP is a signatory to UNESCO's stuff on human rights, where heritage preservation (that includes language) must be spearheaded by the State? Or no? Or do you even know how to define FILIPINO? I can quote Komisyon Ng Wikang Filipino's chairman: IT, no, THEY'RE [supposed to be] THE LANGUAGES OF THE PHILIPPINES, thus, deserve preservation especially from their speakers.

This is a poorly researched essay. It presents claims not backed by research. For example, what is your basis that it is English and Spanish that kills our languages (or maybe you're only referring to Tagalog)?

In short, what I see in this author is a mere law-abiding citizen. The thing is, some of us question the law simply because we see loopholes in it.

-Posted/Via Email: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 15:23:24 -0800

Alfonso Velázquez (of Mardrid, Spain) writes...

Me sorprende que considere que el español tiene algo que ver en la, según usted, decadencia del tagalo en Filipinas. Que yo sepa, y usted no lo ignorará, el español no es ni siquiera lengua oficial en ese país. Lo que probablemente usted ignore es que la prevalencia del tagalo en la actualidad tiene mucho que ver con la progresiva marginación del castellano en las Filipinas del siglo veinte. Después de todo, el filipino, como es llamado oficialmente, fue impulsado por los americanos desde los primeros días de la invasión. Antes de ese evento Filipinas ya tenía una lengua nacional, que era el español. No por otra razón escribieron en esa lengua todos los revolucionarios filipinos y fue la lengua en la que se escribió la constitución de la primera república filipina.

En cuanto a los préstamos del español existentes en tagalo y en otras lenguas filipinas, lo siento por usted, pero es muy tarde para eliminarlos. Tendría usted seguramente que empezar por su nombre y apellidos, y los nombres y apellidos de sus parientes y conocidos, y los nombres de la inmensa mayoría de los lugares, pueblos y ciudades que conoce. Es una tarea ingente que , comprenderá, supera a cualquier purista. Es más, tendría que crear una lengua que nadie entendería. No ignorará que la mayoría de las lenguas filipinas tienen cinco vocales. Fïjese usted, antes de la llegada de la lengua castellana, solamente tenían tres.

Le aconsejo que dedique sus esfuerzos a tareas más productivas. Defender el pampango sería ideal, habida cuenta que es una lengua minorizada en la propia Pampanga. Aprender castellano tampoco estaría mal. Así podría usted enterarse de muchas cosas interesantes de la historia de su país. Del tagalo no se preocupe, hombre. Hay muchos Manileños en el mundo!

-Posted/Via Email: Thu, 10 Jan 2008 18:04:56 -0800
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Aida Tanglao (of USA) writes...

Good essay Oscar! Ibye me ing lima!

Ali ne kaylangan ing pamanyaliksik nung ing panamdam mu at akakit ya ing yapse mu.

Ali marok ing ating titinda nung ding tinda mu makasaup la pin king pamanyagip Amanu o kaya kalinangan.

Dindam kuna naman a ing Pangasinan Language mararaig ya king Iloku. Ampo ing Tarlac a Kapampangan mitatambunan niya naman kanini at king Tagalog.

King panga-Creole na ning Tagalug, mekad nung malilyari ini Tarlac o king Pampanga, atanggap pang ali marok. Dapot nung malilyari ini king Bulacan, Quezon o king Rizal at Laguna a e na ita masanting.

Makatula, kanita ding ginawa keng panga medium of instruction o pamangamit king "Pilipino" anting amanu king eskwela adwa lang tumpuk. Detang buri ra ing basketball gawan yang salung bola; ing luklukan magi yang salung puwit. Ngeni ing milyari patye suglungan de mung syun syun agyang Kastila ya "Filipinu" ne kanu o Tagalug ne.

Neng mikamaganak la pu Doktor Dizon deng adwang amanung areni, e pu lakwas kaylangan ing pareo lang misalba king agyu pang mayakit a sadya rang kabandyan, ne po?

We cannot avoid the evolution of languages but by being afraid or by avoiding the purist label, or by taking the easy way of using loan words and resisting efforts to resort to our recall or make use of Father Ven Samson's translation of Friar Berganio's dictionary, we are hastening not only evolution but, worse, their demolition.

Perhaps, neither Spanish nor English nor Tagalog caused the dying of Kapampangan, nor Tagalog or any of the many dying Philippine languages. The speakers themselves may have caused it. The government may have continually been causing it. The elected and appointed officials may have continually caused it. Neo-colonialism may be causing it. Tyranny of the super-capitalists can principally cause it.

Those who think that Kapampangan is baduy and would rather talk Taglish caused it. Those who think that Barbie is beautiful, those who want their skin to be white, when it is supposed to be brown, those who want their noses to be longer. Those who are ashamed of their accents could cause it.

Those who may desire to divide the people and cause them to fight among themselves because of the so called languages preservation may not cause the demise of the languages but the fruits that these languages bear for high technology hence for the world's civilization.

Every language counts, I think this is the message of the International Year of Languages.

-Posted/Via Email: Fri, 11 Jan 2008 22:34:16 -0800

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