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

papa osmubal
oscar balajadia I AM afraid this is not a continuation of the series "O Dyo, Nu' ka Menibat?" (or "O Dyo" for short), but rather this is its end. My apologies for the title. I don't intend to ridicule the Amanu by giving this English essay a Kapampangan title. Nor do I want the title to sound exotic, which is always the case when one baptizes one's work with a name in a language quite unintelligible and foreign to the language used in writing the piece itself. Interestingly, writers who do that belong to two extreme groups—those who are too intelligent and those who are too dumb.

This essay is an epilogue—an obituary, if you will. The series "O Dyo" is folding and will no longer continue as planned. It was originally meant to be a long series. I was intending to make good use of my notebook entries through "O Dyo," but I have recently decided to call it off when boredom took its toll on me. Little did I know that the third installment would be the last of the series. I was actually midway into writing the fourth installment of "O Dyo." I stopped it at the very moment I realized it was not what I am happy doing. Boredom is a belletrist's worst enemy. "O Dyo" and my graduate journal of which it is part are on their way back to their final resting place. Those who got tired and sick of "O Dyo" can now smile, look up to the sky and heave that sigh of relief.

"O Dyo" is a portion of my graduate project in linguistics on the topic called "word-formation." It was just at first something that I had to do to meet the curricular tasks and requirements set in the course, until little by little it bourgeoned into something bigger than a mere school project. I literally mean bigger—and I am talking here of volume. At one time, it became a temporary hobby that gave me a lot of enjoyment, so it ended up occupying an entire journal in no time. Like my poems and other literary musings, "O Dyo" has no definite conclusion just as yet. Like my poems and other literary musings, "O Dyo" may never see the light of day again. This is the paradox in journal writing.

But why discontinue "O Dyo"?

I have a utilitarian approach to and view of writing. Rene Maria Rilke once explained to one Franz Xaver Kappus, an aspiring poet and military cadet with whom Rilke established a six-year correspondence, that writing is a matter of life and death. Of course, by writing Rilke obviously meant poetry. Rilke said in one of his letters to Kappus, and I paraphrase—If you can live without writing, don't write. I am in that situation—or rather dilemma. Without a doubt, "O Dyo" showed the Kapampangan in me, but not the belletrist. It never gave me the satisfaction and pleasure that I would always get from my other creative and literary endeavors. It felt like I wrote "O Dyo" for others—an offense in the literary school of thought that I am personally following. I used to write primarily for myself (and if it goes out to benefit others, so be it), and that is what I exactly want to do again. To turn to what my heart desires, I am decommissioning "O Dyo."

I am leaving "O Dyo" hanging without the full-stop, because it felt like sooner or later it might become an incurable addiction that will damage my creative interests. I have only a lifetime to do stuff that pleases me (and I have spent much of it with limited creative output so far). An endeavor like "O Dyo" doesn't end. It expands. It digs deeper. It begs for more, and then more, and then more, until you realize you have given the whole of your time to it and for it. Things like "O Dyo" are not creative; they are too tedious and demanding. But I have my priority—the thing that I will die without. And the muse is a jealous mistress, so they say. Admittedly, I love Kapampangan; it is just that I don't have an extra hand and enough room to translate that love into writing. By vocation and design, I can't be of service to the Amanu. I will never touch anything Kapampangan, unless it is for aesthetic purpose and reason. For us creative writers, though, it is not about what language one uses, but rather it is about how effectively and creatively one uses a particular language—dead, dying (Creole), pure (English, Tagalog, Kapampangan, Spanish, and whatchamacallit). And I thought linguists believe in that as well. As a creative writer, my languages of choice happen to be English and Tagalog. I am a cultural Janus—I know and understand the neutrality of languages in linguistics and creative writing; and I know and understand the demands of nationalism. It is just a matter of determining the boundaries. The grey shade where those boundaries converge is where creativity happens, and that is where the beauty of languages and the fire of nationalism are felt and realized as a personal experience.

I just hope that "O Dyo" gave Kapampangan linguists and lingua-cultural activists a kind of an example or a rubric, if you may, that they can follow for their study of the etymology of the terms in our Kapampangan lexicon. In Kapampangan linguistics, things like "O Dyo" don't exist in abundance just as yet, so it has to be promoted and nurtured. One needs knowledge of/in the contributing languages, power of analysis and a great deal of guts to do a thing like "O Dyo" and, of course, a little of linguistic know-how (which can be acquired by self-study), because one can't just hit in the air and pick up whatever falls down before him/her. I am now passing the baton on to those who are called, culled, self-appointed and engineered to do it. This baton is rightfully theirs because it is their calling—it is what they die without. I will go back to where I have always wanted to be. I have to create for myself, for my own personal pleasure. Meaning, I will never again be seen in this rather raucous Kapampangan scene which is already populated enough with blabbering kooks, so there is no more room for one like me. I can call my dabbling into Kapampangan writing as a sort of a short "vacation," a breather. It was an adventure in the wilderness—pretty close to Hades. It somehow refreshed my mind, sharpened my eyes and ears, and broadened my perspective. At the end of the day, it is not how Kapampangan you had been, but how much you enjoyed whatever you had been doing and how it affected your life. In my case, it is how I had treated my craft, not what kind of a Kampampangan I had been.

No offense meant, but frankly from where I stand I can see that there is something bigger and deeper than these noisy Kapampangan squabbles. To be enclosed by stubborn regional issues like Kapampangan is suffocating and, in the utilitarian way of looking at things, it isn't worth the trouble, the effort, the time and the wit. Regional issues are quasi-impossible to resolve—because it is the social will of the people that one is going up against. That social will automatically teach people what to do when they are hungry or deprived of necessities and rights. Kabalens don't really care about their language and its impending doom, because they are dead worried about where to get the bread to put on the table at every meal time. Abraham Maslow had a very strong explanation to this. Karl Marx had an argument for it. The problem with the regional lingua-cultural activists is that they are not much into sociology and economics, which tackle people's wants and needs and how those wants and needs shape their culture and society. Kapampangan linguistic issues that make sense in the campuses, forums and cultural organizations mean absolutely nothing to the famished people. And one can't always put the blame on the constitution and on Manuel Luis Quezon. Don't laugh when I say MLQ's sons and grandsons can deliver well-meaning explanations of their surroundings only through English.

The Filipinos (or the Spaniards in the Philippines) did not enforce the use of Spanish; they tried their best to deprive the natives of it. The Filipinos (Spaniards in the Philippines) knew that if the natives learnt Spanish, they would use it to fight for their freedom. They were right; now they are gone, and we (whom they called Indios and salvajes ) became the "Filipinos," because we chose to own the Filipinos' language, their mentality and ways of doing things. The natives did that for practical reason. That is what I call social will. Now the social will of the people is teaching the Kabalens to learn other languages so they can defend themselves against the agents and forces of tyranny and corruption that deprive them of so many things. Knowing the languages of the agents and forces of tyranny and corruption is the first step to self-defense, because the purpose of learning languages is survival, no more, no less. That's true, and that explanation comes from no other than the linguists themselves. In fact, the Kapampangan issue has more nonsense brouhahas and unnecessary bloodletting than logical resolutions and contentions. I see this Kapampangan thingy as a mere fad, it will go in time like the many fads we have seen come and go. Fads are strong mental-manipulators. They are like fever; they are here today, very hot, burning, flaming, and then before you know it they are gone. I also see this Kapampangan thingy not being different from meaningless religious bickering and stuff like that—there are those who talk just for the sake of talking and there are those who listen without thinking and scruple. Somehow not getting on the bandwagon is the best thing an intelligent man has to do.

Before completely folding and putting "O Dyo" back into its dusty box and before I leave behind this Kapampangan thingy, let me address one thing which an acquaintance called to my attention. It is here and now that this should be done because there will never be a proper place and another opportunity for it. In the first installment of what turned out to be a three-part series of "O Dyo," I wrote: "ing 'tumud,' 'mitud' ampong 'tud' penganak no ning amanung 'matira' ampong 'mituran,' a lalto anak na no man ning amanung Kastilang 'tira'." This acquaintance of mine told me that "mituran" cannot be from Spanish-derived words "metira," "matira," or "tira." In "O Dyo" I gave a few formulae on how to analyze and construct words, and using one of those she contested that "mituran" comes from root word "tud," so the word formation appears to be like this: "mi" + "tud" + "an" = "mituran."

Applause. Applause. Yes, if you look at it that way, it is correct. In fact, I initially looked at it that way. But in linguistics there is a thing that linguists or scholars call as "backward-formation." It is simply like digging and pulling out the root word from the word that is already in existence. Which means the root word did not give birth to the word, rather the pre-existing word gave birth to the root word. The vanilla kind of example to this is the word "edit" which, linguists say, was derived from the word "editor," and not the other way around as people might think. Meaning, there did not use to be a word "edit" in English lexicon until people (whoever) grafted it from the word "editor." The same thing happened to the word "donate," which came about through the word "donation." "Donation" gave birth to the putative root word "donate." Our Kapampangan word "tud" was born through the same process, through "backward-formation." As I look at it, there did not use to be "tud" in our Kapampangan lexicon. We thought it to be the word that gave birth to such words as "turan," "mituran," "mitud," "atud." But I don't quite see it that way. In my analysis "tud" came after those words appeared through the Spanish "tira," "mitira," "matira," "tiraan" and "atira." After the appearance of the words "turan," "mituran," "mitud," and "atud" via the Spanish "tira," "mitira," "matira," "tiraan," and "atira," we conceived the word "tud," which we now might think of is their root word. In my own way of looking at things, "turan," "mituran," "mitud," "aturan," and "atud" are a kind of corruptions or derivatives of the Spanish "tira," "mitira," "matira," "tiraan," and "atira." In short, our word "tud" came to be as it is now through what linguists call as "backward-formation." Kapampangan linguists should study our words closely because I think we have countless of words in Kapampangan that have been formulated through "backward-formation." I hope this clarifies my contention and I stand by it until more convincing explanations are brought forward to prove me wrong.

So, folks, that's it. In my decision to continue scaling my own personal Parnassus, I am now washing my hands off things Kapampangan. And on that note, "O Dyo" is signing off and calling it a day


[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: 8:37 AM 2/10/10 | More of this author on eK!
Nextnext