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papa osmubal
oscar balajadia THE KAPAMPANGAN is annoying. Well, not exactly. He (let me call the Kapampangan "he" from hereon—apologies to those who prefer otherwise, as I am just following what my own nature dictates and for another reason that will be revealed to the reader as s/he continues his/her reading)—is sort of upfront and polite at the same time. No, that is not it. Maybe what I want to say is that he is belligerent and peaceful at the same time. He can't be in between because he likes the extremes. The Kapampangan curses just to show affection and appreciation. Give him something, and he will thank you with a cuss word. You can hear him say, "Dipaningalte, niyaman na nining linutu mo!" Should I have just said he is sarcastic? But what difference would that make? But still, that is not it. Humanity hasn't yet formulated the term that can exactly describe the Kapampangan. He is the most conservative citizen in the Philippines and yet is also the most radical—he poses the greatest threat to the very republic of which he has been the President three times and counting. No wonder one can find siblings in one Kapampangan family living under one roof and yet are brandishing ideals of contrasting colors. Remember the Abad Santos brothers? They are just one (or two) of many examples. The Kapampangan is called dugong aso and yet he is a strong and noisy drumbeater of Filipino nationalism. He builds and destroys. He was instrumental in building the colonial governments and he was instrumental in destroying them. That is the mystery and wonder of the Kapampangan which puzzled even the Spaniards and the Americans.

The Kapampangan can display all his emotions in just one short sentence. He can be heard saying, "O rugo, igkat nakung pate." That sentence is altogether loaded with humility, belligerence, violence, anger, kindness, politeness, you name it. That sentence means much more than what it sounds.

Rugu is a word that emits humility. But it also scorns. And yet, it scorns more than it shows humility. If somebody did something that one doesn't really approve of, the latter would collectedly say, "O't dugu depat mu ini?" It is a calm and saintly way of saying, "What the 'eff' did you do that for?" It is a polite cuss word.

Dugu or rugu could have possibly been the perennial Kapampangan alternative F-word, as it were, even before the Spanish straightforward puta (bitch) got into the Kapampangan quotidian vocabulary, spawning the famous anakputa (anak na ka ning puta, or son of a bitch) and tanaydamo (or putanaydamo and puta ya ing inda mu, which is also the equivalent of "son of a bitch," as the main concept shows that one's mom is a bitch). Looking at one of its usages, dugu (rugu) is sort of similar to the English "darn," "dang" and "bugger," although those lack some linguistic finesse and calmness that dugu (rugu) has. Dugu (rugu) is not noisy and nervous, because it is not an interjection. Long ago, when the Kapampangan was close to throttling someone, he must have used dipaningalti (digpa'ning alti—"got struck by lightning"), instead of the kind-sounding dugu (rugu). Dipaningalti is a pure Kapampangan cuss word, and it must predate the Spanish-influenced tanaydamo and anakputa.

One might find dugu (rugu) more poetic and diplomatic, and yet one can feel the weightiness, intensity and energy of frustration or anger it discharges. This is one of the instances of the Kapampangan's display of irony. It is the Kapampangan's subtle ability to show both his green, red-eyed monster and his shining, winged angel at the very same time. The use of dugu (rugu) seems peaceful and yet it emits violence—a subtle violence, so to speak. This is the Kapampangan's linguistic ploy of trying to hold off his temper while making sure his violence is felt. He lives up to his self-imposed nickname: the tiger, the lion—a feline, so calm and yet so cold-bloodedly fierce.

The word amun, which more or less means "dare" or "challenge," exists in Kapampangan vocabulary but not used in the Kapampangan day-to-day life—at least in the time of my youth. When I was young I was never challenged or dared to a fistfight—e ra ku emunan. That is too daring and impolite, and the Kapampangan seldom goes that far. Rather I had been invited; I had been asked—Igkatan da ku. Yes, literally. And the agkat or pamanagkat ("invitation" or "request") was channeled through a third party to make sure it was effective and impossible to turn down. Ing managkat pate or the one who would invite or ask me for a fistfight, was, as we obviously know, the bigger guy, the bully. Why the third party? It is because the Kapampangan doesn't like to lose face before others. The Kapampangan doesn't want his virility to get damaged. Ing managkat tumbukan or the bully wants to make sure the other guy doesn't turn down his agkat/pamanagkat tumbukan before the others. The Kapampangan will risk his health to keep his virility intact. For that reason, agkat/pamanagkat tumbukan is never turned down, especially if it is sent through a third party. And there is petty politics going on with the involvement of a third party. The third party—he or she or they, as the case may be—will not just act as the channel of the agkat/pamanagkat, but will also be the arbiter and jury of the pate. The third party can also take sides and help either one in ganging up on his opponent. And because they are Kapampangans, sometimes the story doesn't end there. Anyway, what do they call it pate for? But the Kapampangan is not your everyday troublemaker or basaguleru.

The Kapampangan has basaguleru in his vocabulary, not because that's what he is. Everything is well and fine until the Kapampangan is pushed too far. E me susugiran. Or he will kill you. Paten na ka. The Kapampangan did not use to have basaguleru in his language. It is a loanword from Tagalog. It is a composite of basag (which means "broken," or "to break, to crush"), ulo (which means "head"), and er / ero / era (which is a Spanish affix that denote "doer" or "person"). Basagulero is one who engages in head bashing and breaking. But that is too childish and boyish for the Kapampangan. That is why he has the equivalents for basagulu and basaguleru, which are pate and palpipate respectively. The Kapampangan doesn't just bash and break heads. He does more than that. He means business. Pate has something to do with the words "kill" and "death." Now I know why a Kapampangan mom would keep on reminding her kid not to engage in a fight—"e ka makiPATE." Elders would advise a youngster not to be palpiPATE. Take note of the word construction. One Kapampangan who knows his language well can immediately notice the passivity that the word palpipate has in it. The word suggests that things happen to a person and this person doesn't will those things to happen. Which simply means the Kapampangan does not go around looking for trouble. It comes to him; it befalls him. And when trouble comes to him, he finishes it off. The difference between the words basagulu and pate is astronomical and exponential. The basagulero should tremble and piss in his pants before the palpipate.

As a boy growing up surrounded by books and Catholic statuettes, I was neither palpipate nor basaguleru. But I never turned down any single agkat or pamanagkat tumbukan. So long as I had been "invited" or "asked" (inagkat ), there seemed to be no problem at all, because I had my late father for counsel and my Ima 's malasantos for forgiveness. "O kasi rugu ya naman ing inagkat da," my Tatang would quip. Pate must happen at all cost. It was inevitable. Being the bigger guy and, thus, knowing he was holding all the aces in his hands, ing managkat pate or the bully would just approach me to personally switch on the green light for the pate to start—ume na kung salatan a bayag. That's a no-no among the Kapampangan male species, regardless of age, religion and social status. As a Kapampangan, the bully knew that I was going to risk my health rather than to just let him play and juggle around with my balls. And being also a Kapampangan, I made it a point that he could just try to crush my skull as finely as Johnson's baby powder rather than to let him gently caress my precious jewels. Do everything but don't touch the Kapampangan's eggs, or else there will be a raucous bashing and breaking of eggs—mikabalbalan bayag.

The Kapampangan will do everything to defend his bayags. Many a time when I was very young, I would not make bullies go through the trouble of disturbing the privacy and silence under my pants. I would politely accept every single agkat / pamanagkag , and I made it sure that each had to be returned generously. My politeness and generosity paid off. It was sure easy enough for one to judge who came out victorious by just looking at my face—and my clothes, if I still had any on me after the scuffle. But if one looked into my heart and what it contained, one would easily know who had the better and stronger argument. But that was shortly before I officially became a teenager. That was before I was the pacifist that I would become. I am perhaps one of those lucky (or rather, reflective) individuals who found the way to peace and tranquility early in life. Since I entered my teens, I had never gotten involved in any more balbalan-bayag because I never gave or showed any reason for others to touch or bash my balls.


[About the author. Papa Osmubal is Oscar Balajadia of Magalang (Well, don't get fooled by that name), now a Macau resident (Sorry, where?) and married to a Chinese local (How? How come? Why?). He has been a Catholic seminarian (OK, he once opened a book at an exam in Latin and Romance Languages—but who in frigging hell did not?), a Catholic missionary (Oh, the rosary is the answer to our country's economic problems and to your alcoholism and addiction to nicotine!), a bookstore staffer (Yes, sir, listen here, we know it is urgent, so your book is on its way from Guangzhou and will be here in 8 months!), a librarian (Oh, it's Friday the 13th and I am not putting 666 as Dewey call number on this bloody book!), and a teaching assistant (OK, pal, I know you prepared for the exams so I will check and mark them!). He is currently a teacher (yawn) and has an M.A. in English Studies (yawn even more, nod off, and then snore) from the University of Macau (sorry again, where?).]

-Posted: 4:45 PM 12/22/09 | More of this author on eK!
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