Quo Vadis, Ilokano?


Aurelio Solver Agcaoili

(Presented at the 1st MLE Conference, “Reclaiming the Right to Learn in One’s Own Language,” Capitol University, Cagayan de Oro City, Feb 18-20, 2010.)

Introduction: We Make the Road

The poet Antonio Machado the liberation educationist Paulo Freire loves to quote talks of the road we must make, one that does not exist prior to our journey. “Caminante,” he admonishes the traveler, “son tus hellas el camino, y nada mas; caminante, no hay camino, se hay camino al andar.” (“Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more; wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking.”)

Indeed, this is true for us at Nakem Conferences advocating for cultural citizenship, cultural nationalism and pluralism, education to social justice and democracy, and diversity. There never was anyone ready to point out to us where the road to this advocacy is to be found. The reason is simple: there was no road to point.

For the complete article, click on Agcaoili MLE Task Talk.

2 thoughts on “Quo Vadis, Ilokano?

  1. Seems like we Filipinos are fated with this overweening desire to follow someone else’ lead–never mind that the leader’s direction or example does not fit us in so many ways–like when our Ilocano writers followed the Deped order which in the 50’s decreed that the national language, Filipino/Pilipino, stick to the orthographically-challenged 20-letter Tagalog ABAKADA. Ilocano writers through Bannawag, if I remember correctly, were among the first to adopt the Tagalog ABAKADA hook, line and sinker. As if changing from “Ilocano” to “Ilokano” and “Ilocos” to “Ilokos” elevated our degree of nationalism (what nationalism?) even as we look up there and see “Ilocos Norte”, not “Ilokos Norte”, engraved in stone at the provincial capitol. Never mind that during our every waking hour we deal with names and words using the English and Spanish alphabets which use 26 or more letters–far richer than the ABAKADA. Ah, after all is said and done the pretense does not make us any better or more united as a nation, does it? Seems like the almost 400 years of colonization under Spain and the US have irreversibly gotten to our national psyche, altered our DNA as a people, Ilocanos not exempted… We, including those avowed ultra-nationalists, are simply confused one way or another. [Case in point: those who were colonized who passed on their culture to even their ultra-nationalist modern progeny also passed on the usage of the words, ‘po, opo, ‘ho, oho, Apo (Ilocano), which were likely imposed during the Spanish era to distinguish the colonizer from the colonized, to differentiate the oppressor from the oppressed. Ever wondered why some mountain people who were never under Spanish control don’t use ‘po, opo, ‘ho, oho, Apo (Ilocano), for which they are to this day summarily given the grief of being called “uncivilized” by their “Christianized” counterparts? A quick check reveals that ‘po, opo, ‘ho, oho, Apo (Ilocano) have no equivalent in Spanish or English in the manner or frequency with which they are used in every day discourse by Filipinos.] With the ascendancy of Tagalog, er, Filipino, as the national language, we, Ilocanos are even more confused. We’re Ilocanos all right, but we like to think we “belong” as if blending is not going to kill and banish our own unique culture, like we’re more patriotic if we speak Filipino instead of our mother tongue. We like to think continental if we speak English in our own pidgin way–we even rationalize it as being competitive in the global market (read as foreign exchange remitting OFW who prop our lousy mismanaged economy; isn’t it a shame that our government at the very top looks to bolster our fragile economy externally, instead of strengthening it internally?). In the process, we are systematically and effectively de-learning Ilocano, our very own mother tongue. A lot of us, this one included, even profess we can’t speak good Ilocano anymore, and of course the linguistic experts are quick to remind us that that’s the sure way Ilocano is going to follow the way of the dinosaurs… Does the word, “chameleon”, suggest itself?

  2. He is the author essayist poet scholar and novelist was born in Laoag City Philippines and became an American citizen and the current resident of Honolulu HI who wrote Break Free was written in several languages English Tagalog German French Russian Greek Arabic Turkish Hebrew Hindi Chinese(Mandarin/Cantonese/Fujianese)Japanese Korean Spanish Portuguese and Italian all books and writings to be awarded the Pulitzer Awards Peabody Awards Nobel Peace Awards and other citations becomes a well known literary figures throughout the world……Thanks for the information . From:Wayne

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