Excerpts from “Salaysay”

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LINGUISTIC DEMOCRACY, IDENTITY, AND NATIONHOOD: The Case of the Filipino Aurelio S. Agcaoili, Ph.D.

Preliminaries

The purpose of this paper is to argue for linguistic democracy as a philosophical and critical apprach to pushing for the evolving of the Filipino language that will eventually be able to respond to the questions of identity and nationhood. The take of LD is cultural and linguistic rights. From these as the premise, LD moves to elaborate what gives in the formation of a national language, what theoretical and conceptual concerns are to be addressed, and what lived-experiences are to be factored in and inputted. The dialectic of LD comes parallel, eventually, to the dialectic of a nationalism that is not ethnocentric to a fault but open to the pragmatic realities of everyday life and yet respectful of the need to sustain the political and existential requisites of plurality of perspectives is what grounds the Filipino language as national, democratic, and socially just. I admit that I am exploring a new ground. I wish to forewarn you, therefore, that my argument is at best tenuous: as tentative as one can get in exploring new terrains lik e this. Historical scenarios and concerns Even at this time, despite the claim of language planners and “accidental” language engineers that we have evolved a Filipino language that is now understood by so many Filipinos, the Filipino language as the language of the people remains a site of struggle. Eight of every ten Filipinos speak it according to some “enthused”, “adelantado” writers and language scholars who know only the arithmetic of counting speakers from Aparri town to Zamboanga City but not knowing at all about what I call the more “substantive issues of the Filipino language”. In this overly populist way of looking at the Filipino language at present, there may be some dangers that include the failure to account the algebraic possibilities of misunderstanding other cultures, communities, and languages not to mention their systematic and calculated marginalization, othering, and extinction. I have a confession to make. I come from a language, community and culture from the margin: Iluko. Given this as my discursive framework, what has this sense of “Ilokanoness” got to do with the issues of the Filipino language as we have it now and LD as I propose? Let me tell you of my experiences with Iluko writers by citing their claims from everyday life. “Everyday life” is used here technically: it means that which we have in the raw, unpolished empirical data that we gather from the field and in our everyday transactions and negotiations. The claims are: • “I apologize for speaking in English because I do not know how to speak in Tagalog very well.” • “Pilipino or Filipino is Tagalog whichever way you look at it.” • “Nagta-Tagalog ka e nasa Ilokos ka!” I dare say that in the history of Phillipine struggle for liberation, the Ilokanos did not have much problem with the substantive issues of the Tagalog language. For Isabelo de los Reyes, Tagalog is a fact that one has to contend with if one were to go to Manila. But such is not the case for the “national” claims of the Filipino language because philosophically there are problems that we have to contend with, among them of which are the following: One, what is entailed in the everyday claim of facility to speak in a foreign language such as English? Two, what is entailed in the claim that Tagalog is P/Filipino? Three, what is entailed in the need to shift right away to the language of the place and people? This problem of entailment as a discursive frame to critique the Filipino language as it is today assumes, among others, that: • Language is not a tool that speakers manipulate, utilize, and discard; • Language is a medium through which speakers look at life, interpret it, read it, understand it; and • Language is the abode of the human and social psyche, the nonmaterial stuff of the speakers’ and community’s life. The big conceptual deal with language and with man is that of the linguistic nature of man. In a sense, we can begin to say with feeling and conviction, with passion and commitment that: • Language is human, and • The human is linguistic. The corollary concepts are intertwined and they strike at the core of the three issues I raised in this paper. In fine, they push for a rethinking of what is entailed in the claim for LD as the only plausible and rational framework through which we get to evolve a Filipino language that is national, democratic, and socially just. The story of today’s English language as a Germanic dialect called Anglo-Saxon tells us so much about why Filipino needs to evolve. Anglo-Saxon is now extinct but by the power of appropriation, English has become the leading and imperialistic and hegemonic language of the world. From here, we draw lessons that may be of help to us in: (a) Assessing where we are now in so far as Filipino is concerned and (b) Articulating what more should be done in order to evolve a “linguistic system” called tentatively Filipino that responds to the extralinguistic parameters of (b.1) nationalism and nationhood; (b.2) democracy; and (b.3) social justice. I raise these issues not to provoke a divide between linguistic camps (read: pro-English versus pro Filipino) but to assert the need to sustain a moral and social obligation to push for a Filipino as the language of the nation, a Filipino that fulfills exactly the extralinguistic parameters of identity (nationhood), of the political (democracy), and of the moral (social justice). How do we put in context, for instance, the Gullas bill and the Cebuano position of “going back to Sebwano all the way” (read: rather than to the “imperialist”, Tagalog-centered, Manila-biased P/Filipino) other than a tyrannical attitude (read: linguistic tyranny as opposed to linguistic democracy) that argues, fallaciously, that Gullas and the Cebuanos are a bunch of region-oriented (read: regionalisitc) zealots out to wreck havoc on the people of the whole Phillipines (except those in Cebu and those influenced by it)? How do we understand now the phenomenon of other Phillipine languages dying gradually and marching towards extinction (read: except Tagalog and English) other than the fact that these, by forces both national and international, linguistic and extralinguistic, have been systematically “othered”? These languages are not of the “nation” and therefore have to be excluded; they are not the “standard” and therefore have to be stricken out; they are not economically practical and therefore have to be labeled unacademic and therefore are to be forever not allowed entry into the hallowed halls of the schools where consciousness and mindsets of the future generations are shaped, formed, nurtured. Solving the Puzzle called Filipino Philosophically, the kind of Filipino that we have right now is threading the path of linguistic tyranny. It hews on a bad logic of isomorphism where the equations of “Filipino is Pilipino plus: and “Pilipino is Tagalog plus: are maintained, sustained and nurtured so subtly nobody seems to notice that there is something unruly and irrational in the whole exercise. Unwittingly, the government through its many legislations, has been a party to the commission of what I call “naturalist fallacy”. This fallacy argumentatively holds that Filipino is/should be “naturally” Tagalog. This position has beset the spread and development of an honest-to-goodness kind of a Filipino whose linguistic system fulfills the parameters of existential-identity requisites, the political criterion, and the moral measure. In the 70’s and towards the 90’s until today, Ernesto Constantino and later on Consuelo Paz proposed what they termed as “universal borrowing” to address head on the basic linguistic questions of evolving the Pilipino language now called Filipino. The history of language planning in the country bears us out: Only a handful took the Constantino-Paz proposal seriously and so today we deserve what our mind could take us. We have questions about the Filipino language today because we failed to address the philosophical problems that dogged us since Quezon’s legislative act of making Tagalog the national language. What we had then as we do still have today are acts that have skirted the basic issues I raised and are worth repeating at this juncture: (a) We have not honestly answered our existential and identity questions; (b) We have not bravely responded to the call of the political obligation to make our national language democratic; and (c) We have not committedly and courageously replied to the call for a morally-oriented because socially just and fair language of the masses of our people. An instantia by which attempts to make our efforts as language teaching professional warped by other considerations beyond the requisite of nationalism and democracy and justice is the ambivalent, toing-and-froing sense of CHED Memo 59 of 1996. A nation in its right mind does not allow itself to be used by imperialists in sheep’s clothing by declaring that the literatures (read: plural literatures) may be taught in a language alien to the masses of our people. This to me, is a vicious exercise, and the cycle of oppression and colonial programming in more novel and subtle forms continues to this day. The KAGURO or Katipunan ng mga Guro sa Filipino, a national association of teachers of Filipino, has begun spearheading a campaign against this continuing tokenism accorded to the Filipino language. The effort, though concerted, is not enough. Something as radical as the KAGURO awakening and commitment has to be done as well by other sectors and professional groups. Conclusion: An Urgent Call To be a Filipino language professional at this time is to be at the crossroads of struggle, commitment, and vocation, necessarily a vocation to citizenship in the truest sense of the world. The FL professional is convinced that unless the Filipino language is able to address the existential, political, and moral parameters of the national language issue, all efforts at “nationalizing” Filipino will be eroded by counter-efforts to subvert it. It is high time that we fulfilled the requisites of a liberating because national and democratic and just language. It is high time that we broke our silences. TEACHING ILOKANO ETHNOCOSMOLOGY THROUGH ILUKO LITERATURE Aurelio S. Agcaoili, Ph.D. Introduction The purpose of this paper is twofold: one, to establish the philosophical foundation for the teaching of Ilokano1 ethnocosmology (as mediated by Iluko2 literature) as a means to teach Iluko language, and two, to demonstrate how the foregoing is done. This paper takes its inspiration and conceptual framework from various sources such as: (a) Espiritu’s technique and procedure of simulating “real-world experiences that are acted out in the classroom”3; (b) McCarthy and Carter’s conception of “language as discourse” as a perspective in language teaching,4 and (c) Fairclough’s notion of language teaching as an activity that must be premised on “language awareness,” the term broadly understood as “knowledge about language” or the “conscious attention to properties of language and language use as an element of language education.”5 On the practical side, my having been involved in the teaching of Iluko language and literature from the undergraduate to the graduate levels has give me the vantage point to understand, in a more critical way, the need to look at language teaching beyond the rules of correct sentence. I realized that if I wanted my students to learn to express themselves in Iluko after two semesters of coursework, I must do these things: (a) to expose them to communities where the language is spoken “naturally”; (b) to make them “discover” the rules rather than being “told” of the rules of acceptable expression, and (c) to make them aware that learning Iluko language is not simply learning “ania ti naganmo” (what’s your name?) or “papanam?” (where are you going?) but includes learning and understanding the world revealed by language, which, in Hans-Georg Gadamer’s sense,6 requires intercoursing/interpenetrating with the world of the text – in this sense, the world/s created by language with its innumerable, infinite possibilities. In the teaching of Iluko language, I have always been guided by certain hermeneutic principles, to wit: (a) the language, even if it were also conditioned, preconditions Ilokano thought (or mindset/mentality); (b) understanding Ilokano thought does not necessarily require any extralinguistic given; and (c) learning Iluko is facilitated more by a certain mastery and grasp of the “structure” of Ilokano sense of the ontological and the cosmological, hence, the cultural. Ilokano Language Teaching and Learning in the Philippines Only a handful of tertiary institutions in the country offer Iluko as a formal academic course with credits. Iluko literature, as mandated by certain requirements imposed by the Commission on Higher Education, is much more privileged (even if it were also marginalized, what with a prevailing Tagalog-centered understanding of what constitutes national language, literature, and culture). I submit that there are enlightened, rational, and committed attempts at “nationalizing” Philippine culture at the present through the initiatives of government and civil society but the key here is “attempts” (read: try or try as much as we can or give a token recognition of the contribution of “regional” cultures, languages, and literatures). This is where the reality of hegemony comes in – a reality of dominance and acquiescence and acceptance because it is “easier” to do so, it is more “productive” to toe the line, it is more “rewarding” to speak the language of the center and the powerful, it is more “profitable” to mouth the gospel of culture managers and administrators. The sad and pathetic reality of the country is that it has a number of cultures and literatures and languages and that so many of these have yet to become part of the canon of national culture. It is not that nothing was ever done. It is just that so much have to be done and yet so few are being done. The effort, thus, to teach the major languages and literatures of the country, mainly from the lowlands, can mean two things: one, as one of the “attempts” at evolving a national (read: not necessarily nationalist) culture, and two, as a token act of including the othered cultures of the country (read: “regional,” meaning, not coming from the center; meaning, coming from the periphery) to be spared of the charge that the national culture is the culture of a few imposed upon the many. Fairclough’s project of critical language awareness comes to mind here: “I assume that the development of a critical awareness of the world, and of the possibilities of changing it, ought to be the main objective of all education, including language education…”7 This “critical awareness of the world” as revealed by language can not be had when there is that dominance in the working of the world, when only one language is permitted to be used. In the Philippines, it is still a practice among sectarian schools to fine students caught speaking in their own native language. Some catholic schools still have English campaigns all year round. In a country that is still trying to discover its identity after centuries of miseducation and colonial programming, it is quite symbolic and empowering for the people to discover and understand each other via their numberous languages. In the same vein, Salazar speaks of a national culture that is grounded on what is redeeming and redemptive precisely because it comes from the people and makes of the people as its telos: “The culture…of the nation is a well-spring, true and inherent, because it comes from the creative life and dense experiences of those who make up society and advance its cause.”8 Either that the teaching of Philippine languages, Iluko included, (a) is an honest attempt at finding, in a calculated way, the rightful mix to create a culture that is not only national but nationalist, liberal and liberating or (b) is a token act meant to placate the regions remains to be seen. In the meantime, students who are non-native speakers graduate from our courses in Iluko, Sebuano, and Hiligaynon and begin to understand more of our people by understanding their ethos as embedded in these languages. With a plurality of languages and literatures in the country, how do we teach these apart from translation into either English or Filipino? There are clear pedagogical and cultural issues involved here. First, how do we translate the mind of a people expressed in their native language into a language which is not theirs? Second, how do we resolve the perennial problem relative to a betrayal and corruption and probably pollution that happens in the translated text? Payne argues for the impossibility of translation as a metaphor for admitting that there is more to language than just a collection of lexical entries in the dictionary: “It seems to me that the world’s languages all resemble infinitely complicated grids, and the basic patterns of these grids scarcely ever coincide, and even the units that make up the grid – the words and the silences – for it is worth remembering that all written languages have words and spaces between the words – even these words and these silences never or very rarely coincide.”9 What then is revealed is that the world, to be understood, must first become a word and that the word, in an ontological sense, must word a world. This world revealed is, according to Mish, language.10 Benveniste says of the same thing when he argued that language and though are coextensive, interdependent, and indispensable to each other.11 Based on these premises, the teaching of Iluko, therefore, is approached more productively when there is that critical and conscious inclusion of the world – the ethnocosmos – Iluko reveals. Ethnocosmology in Iluko Texts Beyond the textual is the discursive, the argument of a people of what they are, what their world is, what meanings they assign to experiences and relationships, what concept they have of the transcendent and so on. In the case of the Ilokanos, I used five representative literary pieces to illustrate their understanding of the world: de los Reyes’ essays on the “Goddesses” and on “Psychology,”12 Hidalgo’s “Uniberso Ti Taengna/The Universe His Home,”13 Rambaud’s “Kadus ti Ugaw,”14 and Daniel Nisperos’ “Imortal.”15 In the “Goddesses,” Reyes speaks of the following: (a) maibangbangon, (b) sangkabagi, (c) anito, (d) Angngalo, (e) Aran, (f) Apo. In “Psychology,” he talks of the: (a) karkarma, (b) ritual of “Intayun, intayon,” (c) a-aila, araria, anioa-as, (d) naluganan, and (e) lambong. In “Uniberso ti Taengna/The Universe His Home,” Hidalgo mentions: (a) apo, (b) tikbalang, (c) anghel, (d) Ama, (e) kararua, (f) uniberso, (g) law-ang. Rambaud, on the other hand, talks of (a) kadus, (b) ugaw, (c) pagarian in “Kadus ti Ugaw” whereas Nisperos, in “Imortal,” says of (a) atang, (b) atong, (c) balsa a lungon, (d) kulalanti, (e) dung-aw, (f) “Maykan, Ronnel, dika agbatbati.” What we do next is we construct a cosmos of the Ilokanos out of these key concepts. (See Figures 1 to 6 for the schema of cosmology from the works explored). There is a certain pattern in the texts: that of the cosmos which is for two dimensions, the dimensions not separated and neither separable but integrated and complementary. This is the same cosmos understood and interpreted by Ilokanos since the time of de los Reyes (circa late 19th century) until today (the range of time is more than a hundred years). Rambaud’s ugaw and Nisperos’ kararua implied in the expression, “maykan, Ronnel, dika agbatbati” affirm this constant return and reference to the ancient, primeval cosmos invented by Ilokanos of old. How then do we present this ethnocosmology and use its elements as the takeoff point for teaching Iluko to more advanced students? The clue comes from the strategy proposed by Espiritu when, in six of the 15 lessons making up her Let’s Speak Ilokano, she included, in her notes, a sub-topic on “culture.” There is no elaboration on what she meant by her “cultural notes” in her “Notes to the Teacher” but she gives a suggestion when she said: “Sufficient cultural notes have been included to enable the student to understand cultural points in the dialogs.”16 In her lesson 1, for instance, Espiritu explains the cultural ramification of showing respect and verbalizing this: “Ilokanos are very careful to show respect when speaking to someone, especially if that person is older or is of a higher social status than a speaker… Ilokanos show respect by using the plural pronoun – yo (your [plural]), when addressing older people, strangers, and people of higher social status than themselves…”17 Espiritu goes on to explain the terms that are otherwise “difficult” to translate into English because of the cultural loss that comes as a result: “nanang” and “tatang” even for people who are not your biological mother and father, “manong” and “manang” for those even if they are not your older brother and older sister, “adding” for those even if they are not your younger brother or younger sister. We take off from this Espiritu strategy and then begin to picture a world inhabited by Ilokanos or at least, a world made possible by their language. We begin by looking into the familiar, by establishing the denotative in the selected terms drawn from the five literary texts. My initial strategy is to ask my students to figure out if the words are root words or if they have affixes in them. For instance, the words maibangbangon and sangkabagi. The clues are bangon and bagi: rise or get up and body. The questioning begins: (a) If maibangbangon is meant the indigenous healer of faith healer, what is the reference to the act of rising? (b) Is the maibangbangon/bangon concept related to the naluganan? (c) How is the maibangbangon as a concept connected to the anito, sangkabagi, the apo, the al-alia, the anioa-as? (d) How is the lambong related to healing? (e) Who is Angngalo? Who is Aran? (f) What is a karkarma (spirit)? (g) Why is it necessary to say, “Intayun, intayun” (Let’s go, let’s go)? From this set of questions, we can begin to understand the other dimension of reality in the Ilokano mind. I surmise that maibangbangon evolved into a metaphor from the literal sense: “That which is being made to rise or to get up.” Maibangbangon as healer alludes to what happens to a healer when he is possessed by a spirit (espiritu or kararua): he becomes very stiff and drops on the floor when he is not lying down, and must therefore be made to rise or get up, (preferably to sit on a chair), must remain in that state of being possessed during the course of his healing. The one who is made to rise (maibangbangon) is therefore called a healer.18 The sangkabagi19 is denotative “of one body.” The word carries a myth. The sangkabagi is a group of other-worldly individuals who look like people, and who ride on a barangay (a small, wooden boat used for fishing) that sails in air. When on a mission, they pick individuals who would become their allies in healing the sick. The individuals chosen would undergo naluganan (literally, on ridden on) or possession, his consciousness becomes altered, loses his former self, becomes an ally of the sangkabagi by ministering to the sick. He diagnoses the sick; the sangkabagi gives him the medicine for each of the sicknesses. The anito is an old concept that dates back to the pre-Christian Philippines. There is a rich variety of conceptualization of the anito from one ethnolinguistic group to another. Among Ilokanos, the anito may be (a) the living spirits of and in nature and/or (b) the spirits of ancestors long gone or who have gone to the beyone, to the sabali a biag (another life).20 The reference to the (a) is concretizer by the appellation of “Apo” to elements of nature, such as “Apo Daga” (“Lord” Earth), “Apo Init,” (“Lord” Sun), “Apo Baybay,” (“Lord” Sea), and “Apo Bulan” (“Lord” Moon). In (b), the anito is connected to the concepts of al-alia, ar-aria, bunggaria, anioa-as (referring to the ghosts). Ghosts as spirits of the dead materialize and show themselves when they (a) want to tell a message to the living or (b) have not succeeded in making the journey to the life-after. In any of these circumstances, a ritual is required: the panagatang, the offering of atang (an offering consisting of boiled gelatinous rice, boiled egg, some native wine, cigar, and betel nut. The panagatang, thus, establishes the link between this world of the living (daytoy a lubong) and the world beyond (sabali a lubong), two dimensions of lubong (cosmos), two complementary dimensions of the world. Hidalgo,21 in a more transcendent sense, calls this cosmos as universe/uniberso: “entire, whole” (pakabuklan), “the whole body of things and phenomena observed or postulated (pakabuklan ti amin a bambanag ken paspasamak a maimatangan ken manpanunot),”22 and dramatizes the idea by making a creator (the speaker in the poem) speak of his creator who has come full circle, past man’s history (even if he had to insert Himself in that history) in order to become the Eternal once again: “Say no more, Lord, we pass you by/ For ever since you mounted that tikbalang/ A light you have become and all/Boundaries your playground an haunt, yes/You have attained your ancient rightful place.” This sensitivity to the transcendent, this acceptance of the transcending aspect of life, is what makes the mature Hidalgo, in my opinion, one of the better poets of Iluko literature. Hidalgo’s metaphor of heaven in law-ang, the boundless space above, incomprehensible at times, situs of power external to man, the locus of the holy, with this holy (nasantuan/kinasantuan) essentially cosmological.23 A set of questions necessary for language teaching is called for at this juncture, such as: (a) In what sense is the term apo used in the cosmological scheme of things conceived by Hidalgo? (b) What other senses can we use the term apo? (c) Why is unibero related to Ama (as a proper noun) and to anghel (as a Christian category)? (d) Why is lang-ay conjoined with ayuyang? (e) Where is this punganay a kaikariam? Why? (f) When would somebody ever reach this kaikairian? (g) What does this kaikarian have to do with man/woman’s kararua and the atrophying of this kararua? (h) Why is there a shift in the meaning of law-ang in paragraph one (as heaven) and in paragraph two (as outer space)? (i) What is this parmata all about? What has this gift got to do with man’s understanding of angels “(pointing) at your Father/ to create other dimensions”? The possibilities of the transcendent is suggested by the creative powers of the highest of the apo – the Ama – in Hidalgo’s cosmological construct of the hierarchy of being/ Being: the being as the particularization and individuation of Being, the absolute, this Being that governs all of creation including that parmata of an apo (Lord)24 transcending his humanity; transcending history, going beyond the boundaries of space and time, and culture, this last as suggested by the Ilokano way of showing respect and manners when traveling: “Lumabaskami pay, apo!”25 The expression “We pass you by” is a declaration of greeting, recognition, and affirmation of common humanity and is necessary in establishing relationship, in community building, and in demonstrating that the utterer is indeed addaan nakem or has good breeding and character. The same expression indicates the expansion and extension of space – and therefore time as well: we pass you by, we leaver you where you are, we are going to some place, we bid you goodbye, you say goodbye to us and you may even say in blessing “Dios ti kumuyog” (may God be with you/May God be your company) or “Dios ti agaluad” (May God be your protector). The Rambaud poetic strategy and sensibility draws its insight froma rural mindset and experience that includes the mythical, the folkloric, and the preliterate structure of consciousness of the Ilokano to issue a critique of Philippine society. Kadus is a container sewn by hand and made of cheap flour bag. Rectangular or square with a strap of the same material, it is worn over the shoulder. Ugaw, on the other hand, are small people, resembling dwarfs, who go from place to place to gift people with their kadus filled with riches. In the hyperbole of Rambaud, he narrates of a mayor (the popularly elected head of a town) who was able to trap with his fishnet an ungaw. The mayor claimed the ugaw stole rice, mother hens, and seeds. The ugaw came from another space, another dimension – a paraian (kingdom). In that kingdom, the ugaw was an exemplar, a big entity. The ugaw asked for its freedom to avoid embarrassment and shame. People said that there was still and ugawin the fishnet but this time around the ugaw was so small it the was the size of a thumb and it could get out of the fishnet’s holes but the mayor kept on telling to all: “Daytoy ti mannanakaw!” (This is the thief!) We know what happens next to the political leader in the exaggerated narrative of the poet: (a) agluton sangasinublan (he cooks on a vat); (b) balaynat’ balitok (his house has become one of gold), (c) pagdigosna diro ti uyokan (he takes a bath using honey), (d) karisonna pumalaud, pumaamianan (his cart goes west, goes north), and (e) daganat’ di malayaw ti bullalayaw (his land can not be spanned by the rainbow). To account what this hyperbole is all about, there is a need to locate the ugaw and its kadus in the mindset of the rural Ilokos, certainly a world apart if compared with the scientific and rational and objective world of the urban areas and the cities. By the mythic creation of the world of men and women (tattao) and the world of other entities (sabali a pinarsua), we locate the pagarian ti ugaw (the kingdom of ugaw) as a different world and yet it is not totally different because the ugaw can come into the world of people and steal from them, according to the mayor. The play of metaphor begins when we establish the connection between stealing done by the big ugaw and their conniving with the holders of power in order to go scot free. In the fishnet (we have here allusions to the repressive apparatuses of the state, such as the police, the courts, and the justice system), the abominable thing happens: the big ugaw has been replaced by the small ugaw and the mayor became very rich. The clue to understanding what Rambaud, in fact, is saying, is to critique the political life of the country, how benefits are dispensed, how the small people are exhibits that mask the failure of the country’s justice system, and how those blessed with political clout are really laughing their way to the bank, what with their gold and land and goods and connections. From the borrowing of the mythic by Rambaud, we can invite the language learners to learn the rich cultural subtext of “kadus ti ugaw” (bag of the dwarf) in the attempt to account the politics of self-enrichment and opportunism best demonstrated in a country professing democratic ideals and Christian values such as the Philippines. Some of the questions below could be used to inspire probity among the learners. (a) What is kadus ti ugaw all about? What is ugaw? (b) What do the statements mean: b.1. Agpauyo ti ugaw; b.2. Alaen ti ugaw; and b.3. Madi ti naugaw? (c) What values are there in the concept of ugaw? Is ugaw bad? Is ugaw good? Why? (d) What does dakkel nga ugaw (a big ugaw) mean? Who could this dakkel nga ugaw be? (e) What does bassit nga ugaw (a small ugaw) mean? Who could this be? (f) Why did the mayor say that the small ugaw is the stealer of rice, mother hen, and other food? (g) Do you find the poem a kind of an allegory of Philippine political life? Why? Nisperos’ “Imortal” banks on the promise of an afterlife for Ronnel, who, as a trainee in a state required military training program for college students, was made to cross a big river by his commander who promised him his coffin if he would not make it (“Kukuakton ti lungon!”). That the death itself happened in the act of crossing a body of water (“ballasiwenyo a Karayan Gaang”) make the description of the tragedy more pointedly pathetic. The poignancy of the sorrow we see all throughout the lines makes us question the inhumanity and callousness of the state’s “war machine” as represented by the commander. The ritual of death and burial among Ilokanos relate to a mythical past with ethnocosmological relevance. The view is that when a person dies, he goes to another world, presumably the world of spirits (lubong dagiti kararua). The kararua is supposed to stay there in the eternity of time (iti agnanayon a panawen) if it is worthy of dwelling in that world. What is presumed is a certain degree of goodness of the kararua, the person’s essence (kinatao ken kinaimbag; humanity and goodness). The kararua that can not make it (di makapudno) continue to roam the world of the living in what is called as panangararua (souling). The relationship between the living and the dead is one of analytical separation, not total severance even after the dead has long gone. The atang (food offering) signifies this: here in the atang memory is gratefulness and continuity of life, and the two worlds—that of the living and that of those who have gone beyond, those who have gone ahead are mad to encounter each other, meet somewhere, come to a connection in a way. The atong (the ember kept alive in front of the house of the dead throughout the wake) is another signifier of the living for the dead. The atong is supposed to light the path of the kararua so that it would not go astray. For the living, the atong tells that the dead is lying in state in that house where the atong is. Is it the case then that immortality is the ultimatum, the finality- the terminus of all fears and sorrows, the coming to realization of all visions and dreams and hopes, the end we are all poised to go to as some existentialist thinkers insist? In the ancient Ilokano mind, we have the image of the barangy (boat) and a boatman waiting on the bank of a big body of water for the kararua of the dead, hence, the reference to the “balsa a lungon” (a boat coffin). The boatman would bring the kararua to the other side of the big body of water. But the kararua is not granted a free ride: it as to shell out the exact amount of fare asked by the boatman which is why the dead is given fare money in the coins and small bills. How then do we us “Imortal” as a material for language teaching? Some questions that are of use are proposed: (a) What is to be immortal (imortal)? What is to be agnanayon a sibibiag? (b) How is mortal distinguished from immortal? (c) Who is Ronel? Why did he die? What did he say? (d) Who is the commander? What did the commander say? (e) Why is atong necessary in the wake? (f) What is atang? When do you have the atang? For what is the atang? (g) What kind of sabali is biag (other life, life here-after) is pictured by the poem? (h) Do you see any pannakaisalakan (redemption) in the poem? In Ronnel? In the commander? (i) What is the meaning of ‘maykan, Ronnel, maykan’? Some Concluding Remarks I have argued and shown that one of the ways by which Iluko can be taught with certain degree of effectiveness is through the use of literary works. The possibilities for simulating “real-world experiences” are more when the pieces are dramatized , recited, probably even reinterpreted and rewritten into a different genre. For instance, a skit could be written based on delos Reyes’ account of the “Goddesses” and of “Psychology.” Hidalgo’s “Uniberso Ti Taengna” can be made into a monologue, the kind that is akin to a prayer, or to an oracion, as in the way the plea and peaen to the anito of old is said. For a more productive teaching of Iluko, it is thus necessary to look at the language simultaneously from the framework of its being part of a convention where its “categories and rules have developed under the influence of the structure of interaction in society,” 26 and from the framework of its being a discourse where the focus is “on the social and cultural contexts in which (the) language operates.” 27 In sum then, the teaching of Iluko requires not only what Fairclough28 calls the equipping of “capacities” but the equipping as well of “understanding” by entering into the world created by culture preshaping the language. This is the reason why the productive teaching of Iluko needs to connect itself with the literary and the cultural. NOTES 1 By Ilokano, I refer to the people. The place is referred to as Ilokos. 2 To designate the language and culture, I use the term Iluko. 3 Precy Espiritu, Let’s Speak Ilokano (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1984). 4 Michael McCarthy and Ronald Carter, Language as Discourse: Perspectives for Language Teaching (London and New York: Longman, 1994). 5 Norman Fairclough, “Introduction”, Critical Language Awareness, ed. N. Fairclough, (London and New York: Longman, 1992), p.1. 6 See his work Truth and Method. Trans. and ed. Garnett Barden and John Cunning (London: Sheed and Ward, 1975). 7 Fairclough, “Introduction,” p.7. 8 Zeus Salazar, “Ang Pagtuturo ng Kasaysayan sa Pilipino,” General Education Journal, 19-20, 1970-1971, p.31. Also cited in Patricia Melendrez-Cruz, Filipinong Pananaw sa Wika, Panitikan at Kultura, Laura L. Samson, Ruby G. Alcantara, Monico M. Atienza, at Nilo S. Ocampo, mga patnugot (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1994), p. 49. My translation from the Filipino original text. 9 Robert Payne, “On the impossibility of translation”, in The World of Translation, introd. Gregory Rabassa (New York: Pen American Center, 1987), p.361. 10 John L. Mish, “The World as Language,” in The World of Translation, p.241. 11 Emile Benveniste, Problems in General Linguistics, trans. Mary Meek (Coral Gables, Fla.: University of Miami Press, 1971). 12 Isabel de los Reyes, El Folklore Filipino with an English translation by Salud C. Dizon and Maria Elinora P.Imson (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1994). pp.67-73 13 Juan S.P. Hidalgo, Talibagok (Metro Manila: Gumil, 1987), p.57. 14 Cles B. Rambaud. Yloco Journal. 1:1 Enero-Marso 2000, p.43. 15 Daniel Nisperos, manuscript, entry for the UP Writer Workshop, Banguio City, 1997. 16 Precy Espiritu, xxi. 17 Ibid., pp 6-7. 18 I have documented this phenomenon in Panagasinan, Bulacan, Ilocos Norte, and Manila. For a number of cases, see my “Semiotics of Sanity,” ETHOS Today, V:3-4, 1991. 19 I first heard of this sangkabagi when I was in the early grades in Laoag City. Victor Cudal, a hand in my relative’s integrated farm, talked of this apart from his stories of other entities such as tikbalang (see the notes on J.S.P Hidalgo’s “Universe His Home”), silpo-ti-riro (literally, the continuum of confusion), bunggaria or ma’o (other names for ar-aria of ghost). It is from him and from my field research much later on that I got to piece together what myth is included in the sangkabagi and other entities. In the 80’s, a brother of Victor Cudal was helped by the sangkabagi to become a mangngagas (healer). The sangkabagi, however, punished the healer when he made commerce out of his healing power. The sangkabagi inflicted ebbal (edema) on him which caused his death. See “Semiotics of Sanity.” 20 There is a whole new ethno cosmology on this going-to-the-beyond and is connected to pannakatay (death) as a journey to “a life after life.” Here, we return to the motif of water, of the barangay, and the boatman. 21 Hidalgo, in “Universe His Home,” postulates a completion, an integration when he writes: “Nagbalinkan a lawag ken nagwakniten/Amin a beddeng ti law-ang, nagbalinen/Ti Uniberso a lang-ay ken ayuyang, wen,/ Nagun-admon ti punganay a kaikariam.” 22 Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1991, p.1291. 23 Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture, ed. Robert C. Kimball (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964). 24 In my various interviews and talks with Juan S.P. Hidalgo, he said that this “Apo” (Lord) is representative of the Song of God of the Christians. He affirmed this in his talk at the “Writers Kwentuhan Series” of Likhaan: The Creative Writing Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, Feb.4, 2000. 25 Here there is the need to stress the cultural import of the expression “Lumbaskami pay, apo” to students. Up until today, this is indicative of good manners, of a humanity moulded by appropriate values. 26 Teun A. van Dijk, Text and Context: Explorations in the Semiotics and Pragmatics of Discourse (London and New York, 1986), p.167. 27. Michael McCarthy and Ronald Carter, Language as Discourse: Perspective for Language Teaching. p.1. 28. Norman Fairclough, Critical Language Awareness, ed. N. Fairclough, (London and New York: Longman, 1992). A MALE POETICS –Or the Teaching of Poems on Male Identity and Sensibility and Experience* Aurelio S. Agcaoili, Ph.D. Preliminaries First, I must thank all of you for inviting me to deliver a talk in your seminar on poetry and theater. In particular, I must thank Dr. Virginia Malicdem, a long-time friend since our doctoral days at the University of the Philippines. I tried to figure out why she chose me to address you and the closest answer that I could think of is that she probably believes that I know what poetry is. I only hope that she was not totally wrong. Perhaps, too, she remembered our days in the field, perhaps in Mount Banahaw where there we would talk about poetry and the arts and we would talk about Philippine culture and society and we would humor ourselves to while away our “barriotic” loneliness in the dark side of the “mystical city”—the ciudad mistica of Dolores in Quezon. That was probably a decade ago when we were younger, when we were still fired by what we would call “the Buko Joe,” a decade prior to bottled mineral water whose price is now higher than gasoline. But we were young then and we believed in social justice and human freedom and Philippine democracy—Aquino style. So this nostalgia is what makes me stand before you today –this penchant for sad, happy recollection that goes with maturity –of if you wish, grey hair and menopause (or kinapause for the male species). Medical science, of course has a term for this: andropause. Refiguring the Context of Male Poetics Dr.Malicdem asked me to talk about poetry. I am supposed to give a workshop after the lecture. I will do precisely what your president wants me to do. But I will digress a bit—with or without your permission. So instead of talking about poetry in general, I will focus on what I call male poetics, in a more about what I call “the male question.” My purpose is doing so the purpose of a simple mind trying to complicate matters by raising new questions from old answers and pointing out new answers to old questions like hermeneut (Gadamer 1970). I hold on to the view that the question and answer divide is not a real divide by a dialect: a question properly formulated always-already contains the germ of an answer and by implication, the answer already contains the question. This dialect between the question and the answer is what will guide me in addressing the basic issues about male poetics as this poetics bears upon what I loosely taxonomize as my new question on the human condition, or if you wish, the male condition. My way of looking at the male gaze looking at itself in relation to others and the world and relationships is admittedly, and angled way of seeing: angled precisely because the perspective in which I try to see and understand the male experience is preshaped and preformed by a number of obvious factors. The voice you hear—that interpretive voice—is male and the assumption of that voice is that male experience many women have refused or failed to understand because: (a)it is unhygienic to do so—it pollutes the agendum of the female/woman to get liberated from the bondage of patriarchy; (b)it is anti-women because women must finally declare their autonomy from men; (c) sisterhood, to be authentic and real, must adopt a tactic that excludes the male in the fight against oppression, inequity, inequality, tyranny of male power, dominance of male authority, and many other grand, big concepts of “middle class,” sometimes “burgis” feminism that hews closely on, predictably, citified, urbanized values and elite sensibilities and what have you. I tell my feminist friends: it is easy to cry foul about male hegemony and oppression perpetrated by agents of patriarchy. “But patriarchy itself is not preserve of the male,” I tell them. Patriarchy, among others, is an attitude, a gaze, a way of experiencing, seeing, looking, understanding. It is a disposition of the mind, the disposition essentially a product of many variables, including the involuntary, perhaps conditioned, admission by women, of its hegemonic power and tyrannical control. Coming from this as my angled gaze, my prejudiced and biased way of looking at male poetics, I hope to show that to teach a poem or two about the male experience is essentially to thread on not-so-hallowed ground in order to offer a different, perhaps, a uniquely different insight on what is to be a male human being. I must admit that all throughout my attempt at coming to terms with the poetic and the narrative as both a writer and a teacher, I have always been fascinated by “the male question.” Friedman (1963) has a term for the female—“the feminine mystique” which some would corrupt, in a tongue-in-cheek way, as “the feminine mistake.” Of course you would not even dignify this by commenting on it but this counter-naming is a semiotics unto its own: there is control here, there is dominance, there is an attempt to nullify the female dream to once again make it possible for women’s selves to “dance with their selves.” In their “Foreword” to Masciline/Feminine (1960) Rosak and Rosak wrote: “He is playing masculine. She is playing feminine. He is playing masculine because she is playing feminine” (vii). The notion of play metaphorizing the divide between the male and female was elaborated by them, thus: “He desires her for her femininity which is his femininity, but which he can never lay claim to. She admires him for his masculinity which is her masculinity, but which she can never lay claim to” (vii). The declaration of Friedman that “men are just desserts” (1983), that is “when a man is an enchantment to the already complete and satisfying life of a woman who makes choices and takes action”; (xii) establishes the need for a male poetics that is capable to address head on the poetics of the female, with both poetics eventually oneing, uniting, converging, fusing—their horizons wedded to each other—to form a new world, a new sensibility, a newly liberated human condition. I am aware that this talk might be raising more questions than it can afford to answer. I would be consoled by the fact that I raised the questions well. One thing must not be forgotten, though by the cultural worker of the Philippines, and by “cultural worker” I mean all those who work in the arena of cultivating consciousness, teachers like us included: that there has been an “area of silence” in male studies and that this area of silence has contributed to an non-understanding –or non-communication, if you wish—between the sexes and among the genders. The urbanized, middle class, sometimes bourgeois sensibility relative to gender and gender liberation has fought and has pushed for a certain variety of gayhood/gayness as legitimate gender or sexual identity and at some point, this sensibility has gained so much ground in the battle for equality. With Sapphic/lesbian writings successfully articulating counter-hegemonic cultural poetics/aesthetics side by side with voluminous gay writings by men, some of them not necessarily gay or not professedly gay, this counter-hegemonic cultural poetics has covered so much ground, so much terrain, and the victory for human liberation might soon be had. But the big trouble really comes in when we factor in the political economy of human liberation. At what cost can we really be liberated? How are we to regard the prefiguring the sexes with biology determining what is to be written on the curriculum vitae? How are we to take the male gaze and the male experience and the male sensibility in the context of the (a) continuum of human sexuality and (b) rich varieties of masculinity or also called masculinities, that male condition revealing human realities and potentials, human actualities and possibilities? How are we to account the poetics of male suffering in Awiyao in Daguio’s “Wedding Dance” when Awiyao, amidst the frenzied beating of the gangsas, declared: “Lummay, it’s you I love, you know that. But what will the leaders say, what will my friends say?” So, how do we teach the male gaze, the male voice, the male experience? In short, what approach would make us productively teach a poetics about masculinity that is not necessarily patriarchal precisely because it is a poetics that questions the assumptions about male dominance and male power and male privilege? In effect, what strategies must we employ in the classroom to teach about concern for and sensitivity to the male condition? The questions above assume an obvious fact: that male poetics belongs to the Naturwissenschaften or to the studies about the human and the humane and thus it is but proper that this poetics puts into play all issues, questions, and problematiques that are seen as contributory to making human liberation difficult. This means that male poetics is predictably a poetics of the human condition and must be so: a poetics that tries as much to understand the axiological premises of human action, particularly male human agency even as it condemns male privileges, masculine claims to superiority, male power and what have you. Double Bind and the Fallacy of Male Power The mass media is guilty of so many things relative to malehood and masculinity. The “bang-bang” ways of then actor Joseph Estrada, Fernando Poe Jr., Philip Salvador, Rudy Fernandez, Ramon Revilla Sr. and Jr., Lito and Jess Lapid did not bring about social justice but only graphic, at times vulgar, resolution to inequity and violence in a mass scale. The pronouncements of these “bang-bang” heroes did not end up as verbum-caro-factum-est but disincarnation of what is real and true and meaningful precisely because they are born of the fantastic and the formulaic, with no density at all, no reflexivity, no critique of the democratized sadness of the sorrowing masses the heroes were to liberate from bondage. Celluloid solutions, we call these, the heroes only acting as heroes, their acting never for real. On the other side of the same illusory, at times sadomasochistic posturing of filmic saviors posing as modern-day redeemers of bruised, wounded male self and male ego is the pornographic representation of the male in his phallic splendor of disorder with the Bench models to boot, to account the masked joys and self-congratulations of the male, the genitals of what accounts for them celebrating everything but life. We have the male Richard Gomez, a sports buff, pictured as an expectant father in that delivery room scene, with his Lucy Torres on the clinical table being wheeled to where else but the deodorized room where babies are predictably “thrown into” life, into the cosmos, into earth minus the dirt and misery and deprivation all others males in this country are subjected to. Think of the eight of every then Filipino males unable to set foot on the Lysol-ed enclaves of Gomez. Think of the myth this mass media produced image of the male has reproduced and how this same image, precisely because it lacks sensitivity to the condition of the masses of the Filipino male, has generated more anguish than joy, more sorrow than laughter, more pointed references to deprivation than a promises for liberation. The perennially clean, good-looking, strong, virile male getting all the adulation, envy, and attention sometimes results in deeper pain and injury because the majority of the males do not belong to the same class of those who can afford to leisurely row a boat (the deprived row their boats for a living and not for leisure), to bronze one’s skin in order to let the muscles ripple, to whiz a golf ball the way Tiger Woods does, to climb artificial walls and artificial mountains after ingesting capsules and capsules of that sex pill that makes one gallop like a horse. Buhay ang dugo, claims the other ad and we have a daily wage earner—a construction worker at that—hammering here and there and building houses for the rich and then in the evening, goes home to his children and wife as virile as ever, as sexy as ever, as manly as ever, as if human energy is bottled like a costly Gatorade and Powerade and Red Bull and then gulping them as if one’s life depended on them and presto, one regains one’s strength and vigor and youth and manhood. This myth of young negates the scars, the wounds, the trauma, and the haunting memory of manhood. At best, the myth hawks a dream of youth never spent, of prosperity that has nothing to do with laboring under the sun and sweating for capitalists and businessmen who know nothing but profit and return on investment. We can go on and on and this fantastic notion of the male including his chivalry and greatness is at best a luxury of the moneyed, the well-off, the privileged—in short, those who have most of the options in life like Agustin in that melodrama, Rosalinda, that has substituted the Angelus and other religious rituals for many Filipino families. Even Fernando Jose’s view of his remarriage to Rosalinda speaks of a feudal society life Mexico, which is as well the Philippine case: “Akin ka na ngayon, Rosalinda.” These males of the feudal and capitalist mold are brawn and not much brains, all sexy but not much self-reflection and sensitivity and openness to life’s terrible truths, to its twists and turns, to its endless surprises. The male produced by the capitalist is the male in Jomari Yllana baring his skin with his Bench brief; the male in the Seven-up opening himself to the seductive power of commerce and to the illusions of satiation from want commodified desire offers. So from “bang-bang” to “capitalist” and “feudal” males, we are left with nothing eventually, unless, by our critical reflection as cultural workers and by our different angled looking and seeing as teachers of the poetic, we realize that only through our concerted effort may we raise the consciousness of our young so that they will once again value the person in every man the oppressive society has systematically buried into oblivion. From plastic loves to plastic selves and plastic definitions of male identity, we graduate into the real, we graduate into the raw elements of life, we see in context the episteme by which our understanding of the lived male experience can become more productive, more human, more liberative, more liberating. The Social Construction of the Male in an Oppressive Society A society founded on an unjust arrangements of its basic institutions will continue to produce males who go by the script of that society, the script at times, bordering on masquerade and inauthenticity because the script calls for roles that may not be real or may not have anything to do with the project to become “human all too human” (Nietzshe 1984). The pursuit for the human is a genuine pursuit and thus it frames agency and commitment and responsibility including our responsibility to human memorias. The poetic is grounded on the memorias, on our act to become a member again—to re-member, in fact, so that in this remembrance, a community is built up, a congregation pf those who believe in life gets to grow, evolve, mature. It is in the memorias that the retelling of our dreams and aspirations and desires takes its form, assumes a shape, and become a giver of meaning. The problem, however, is the venue for retelling, the situs for the narrative to be told and retold. The evil society reproduces itself as it reproduces its own agents who will guarantee that its fabricated truths passed off as the truth remains and will be fabricated over and over again in the course of time. The big trouble, too, is the male is somehow involved in this and therefore he must be reminded of this commitment to the memorias, his responsibility to the realization of a human communion that is as sacramental as any fusion, any oneing, any bonding, any uniting. In this we target the evolving of a continuing construction of the new male, one who is in touch even with his fears and scars and sorrows, one who can afford to keep on renewing himself in order to free himself from a maleness that is twin to “roughness, impatience, insensitivity, and self-inflation” (Francisco 1997:xi) I can really go on and on but all told, a male poetics must look at the male and maleness (masculinity, if you wish) as predication of a liberating concept about “manhood in the making” (Gilmore 1990) and about the rich varieties of “men’s lives” (Kimmel and Messner 1989). For surely, there is more to men than just the lazy episteme of stereotyping where men, like women, are placed in society’s boxes and squares and circles and triangles and their person and worth measured according to these apriorized parameters. In fine, a male poetics is an attempt to understand what Rankin has sung out: “I’ve been alone all my life. Couldn’t give my heart to anyone. Hiding in myself was a man who needed to be held like anyone.” REFERENCES Agcaoili, A.S., “Mga Pagkalalaki sa Panitikang Filipino,” Papel na binasa sa 1999 Pambansang Kumperensiya sa Panitikan, Depto. ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas at Philippine Writers Academy, Nov. 25-26, UP Diliman, Quezon City. Francisco, Mariel, “Foreword,” Primed for Life, ed. Lorna Kalaw-Tirol. Pasig: Anvil, 1997. Friedman, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York: Norton, 1963. Friedman, Sonya. Men are Just Desserts. New York: Warner Books, 1983. Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method. London: Metheun, 1970. Gilmore, David. Manhood in the Making. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1990. Kimmel, Michael and Michael Messner. Men’s Lives. New York: MacMillan, 1989. Nietzshe, Friedirch. Human, All Too Human. Lincoln and London: U of Nebraska P, 1984. RECLAIMING MEMORY AS TERRITORY, REVISIONING TERRITORY AS MEMORY: Spaces Psychic and Physical in Philippine Literatures Aurelio S. Agcaoili, Ph.D. All of us, we do a lot of wandering, but in the end we have to return to where we came from. In a sense, that is what life is all about. An endless searching… -Salvador dela Roza, in Jose’s Viajero This paper argues that Philippines exilic literatures are attempts, at times romanticized and naïve, to humanize and to come to terms with the requisite of space in a new territory against the remembered backgrey of birth home and homeland. The reclaiming of memory as active, continuing, living recollection of homeland and its meaning is a testimony to the empowering value of the exilic literatures such that territory ceases to be physical but becomes a psychic, epistemic, cognitive bridge to the here-and-now, to the everyday action of renewing a commitment to life. The literatures of exile are symbols of what F. Sionil-Jose, through his character Buddy dela Raza, calls “a lot of wandering.” There is that veiled hope in Sionil-jose’s view of exile –“in the end we have to return to where we came from” (300). But the question is: what kind of returning there is that is available to the exile? What if the return happens not in the region of one’s birth but in the region of memory, do we still fulfill that predetermined telos of wandering? The phenomenon of the exile, the “prolonged living away from one’s country” (Webster’s 476) which the government euphemistically calls as migration has reached an alarming condition what with more than five million Filipinos (Avendano citing Siazon 21) that have become “global Filipinos.” The parallelism of exile between the Filipinos today and the Jews of the 6th century B.C. is striking, true, but the tragedy of the Filipinos is that many of those who went on exile remained as exiles, wandering aimlessly, taking refuge in the territory of memoria, remembering, mindfully remembering but in a way that is both plastic and plasticized, but not successfully re-membering, not successfully becoming a part again of the country of his birth. Buddy Dela Raza’s tragic return comes to mind here; in a certain way so is Sionil-Jose’s Tony Samson in The Pretenders. Discussion and Analysis Realuyo’s (10) epistolary essay on the exile’s attempt to language his “voyage back” speaks of ghosts in the memory of every exile, ghosts the exile needs to exorcise. Writing to his “dear country,” he states the facts: “America has become a safe haven for many of us migrants. We have become part of global viewership of fabricated and overwrought news that has diminished our national pride and intensified delight in our displacement.” He narrates of his experience of lack of order in the home country: “My friends would be thrilled to hear that I was in Glorietta Mall when it was bombed Sabi ko na nga sa iyo, eh, they would tell me, part accusation, part validation of the same fear that I had the moment I set foot on the hotel terrace in Malate for my first bird’s-eye encounter with your capital city, my birthplace, the Manila I hardly know, the first glimpse of which frightened me—aluminum rooftops, sampayan windows, tagpi-tagpi walls—so that afternoon when my brother called from the states, I told him I wanted to get out of here” (10). From here, we are told of the exile’s other choices, alternatives that are not readily available to the more than 70’s million Filipinos who are left behind to eke out a living despite inflation rate that inflates everything but not life and choices and therefore possibilities for refuge (an exile, in a way, seeks a place of safety). Asked by his brother (an exile like him, perhaps a permanent resident or a citizen) why Realuyo wanted to go home, he said “Natatakot kasi ako rito.” Home, for Realuyo, is New York City, “my city of steel and bricks, a global village of people who don’t look like anyone because uniqueness in America is a cultural prerequisite. It is a country where the individual comes before community.” (10) If for Calixto (iii) the “scarcities and inadequacies and the turbulence of the weather (in Ilocos)” are there reasons why the Ilokano leaves his homeland and becomes “an adventurer, a wayfarer, a voyager,” Realuyo romances the Manila sun after the rain (not Calixto’s “a long dry season of scorching suns”) and settles in the Manila of his birth that he hardly knows, the place, in his mind’s romantic territory, coming back to life with the sun’s coming back: “The faces, the faces, the faces, I became one with the faces, all thousand of them that walked the streets every day enveloped in smog, the language I only spoke with my family was all around me so suddenly, music almost. I stood in complete awe of what was probably taken for granted by the people who live here: your Filipino people. Heavenly grace, what these faces and voices can do to a wandering soul I never thought I would end up feeling like this: a sudden sense of belonging as if in the few days I stood on your grounds, my feet have begun to grow roots. Around me, a graceful movement in brown” (10). As in Hufana’s sensitive portrayal of Filipinos in Long Beach, California, where he speaks of pain in being an exile (140), Yoro (124) poeticizes a noontime experience in a strange land, away from Sta. Romana where he comes from and in doing so extends space from the territorial and physical to the psychic, the extension made possible by the fusing of time and space, of the past and present, of there and here: Agsangsang-atak met nga init Ti panaglayagko nupay adda pagel Ti kinaganggannaetko… Pimmanawak iti Sta. Romana Awit ko ti arapaap a nainaw Ti kinakurapay kinarutayrutay ( I am sun rising In my coming over even if My being a stranger stands in the way I left Sta. Romana I brought along with me a dream Beyond misery and want) The sacrifice Yoro goes through has its reasons, both personal and social: Nariknak, wen, nariknak ti ling-et A matnag iti tapok a panagbirok iti siping Ken panagdur-as (I felt, indeed, I felt My sweat wetting the dust To earn a dollar to improve my lot) Towards the end, the poet in exile comes full circle, confronts the distance separating Sta.Romana (his there-before) and Waipio Peninsula (his here-now), and writes not of longing but a consolation for visiting his homeland. The visit happens in the poem. Uray panagtawataw: dur-as Ta dagiti sakripisio ken pammati: panaglupos Uray ta naitanemak idin iti manuskrito Nariingak manen iti aglulua a pluma Ket nakitak manen ti Sta. Romana Iti panaglayag ti init: namnama ken pinirigan. (In exile: growth In sacrifice and faith: transition I have been buried in my poems The pen crying out made me rise again And then once again I saw Sta. Romana In the rising of the sun: hope and understanding) The exile who has the capability of seeing his experience more fully in the round understands that his experience gives him a comparative advantage and gives him a new perspective about life, community, and relations. In Sionil-Jose’s Viajero, an allegory of Filipino’s wandering in search of better life the country cannot offer, Buddy dela Raza realizes that an alien shore, a strange land that guarantees “a good roof over your head”—Buddy’s bribe to Namnama (read: hope in Iluko)—is not necessarily what every Filipino wants. Namnama boldly tells Buddy: “Thank you…for asking me to live with you (in America)…I’d be lost in America. I’ll feel empty there. We have some people—middle class. They left because they were tired. Not just this kind of life—but the petty quarrels…Some came back—they couldn’t stand their kind of comfort either. But most of all, I think they returned because with us, here, they belong to a community, to a sense of purpose…” (291). We know how the narrative ends—Salvador dela Raza, savior of the race—would die in the hands of the enemy, those who serve as agents of the perpetrators of a social system that drives away so many people to look for a space/place described by other exilic literatures as follows (Foronda xxxi passim): a) naraber a pagaraban (greener pasture); b) paraiso, eden (paradise, Eden); c) pagarakupan kuarta (where one can scoop money); d) pagtrabakuan a pagum-umaan (where one can work to his/her heart’s content and gets paid fairly.) Except for (b) which is quite more mythical and legendary than realistic, the three others are of economic import. They serve as telling indicators of the material conditions pf existence in the home country: the one who remains, the one who chooses to stay behind, must suffer the consequences. It assumes, however obliquely, that the Filipinos who are not upper or middle class have the same option as those belonging to the lower class. The reality of migration and contracting work abroad negates that the options are open to all: the lower class exiles and migrants end up in the lowest rung of the production hierarchy. There are injuries of a class even among exiles and migrants and contract workers. The exile’s injury as metaphorized is clearly seen in the following: Come again? Roland. What? Rowland? Rowlando? Roland. Can you spell your surname for me? T-o. P as in panda. T as in Thomas. L-e-n, t-i-n-o, Is that a p again? P as in panda? T as in Thomas. (Tolentino 33) Here we see shifting worlds, shifting words, shifting tongue—in effect, shifting ways by which we interpreting the world, control relationships, negotiate our daily lives. Tolentino says: To go to and live in another land is like remaining in bed after waking. The big trouble comes about when the exile continues with “Rowalando” even when he is back to the old country. Accent is class, status. Pronunciation is a marker for an exilic life. The first snow or the first-anything the country of scorching suns will never be able to offer does not make the migrant quiet in his pain. There is always that anguished cry, muffled at times by the cold of winter of the sadness of fall but a cry just same—a cry of longing for home. (“Ibalik n’yo ako sa Pinas!—you have me returned to the Philippines”): Wala, walang naitutulong ang magandang siyudad ng mga Suwiso sa tuwing dinadlaw ako ng lungkot at pangungulila sa lungsod na aking kinalakhan, sa pamilyang aking minahal, at sa mga kasamaha’t kaibigang pinagkakautangan ko ng maraming bagay. Pilitin ko mang aliwin ang sarili sa pagbabakasyo’t pagbibiyahe, sa panonood ng teatro, konsiyerto’t sine, sa pagbibisekleta’t paglalakad sa gubat, sa pagbibilad sa araw’t paglalangoy sa lawa, sa pagdalo sa mga handaan lagi’t lagging nakabuntot sa akin ang alaalang puno ng paghihikahos ang pamilya ko’t mga kaibigang iniwan. The reclaiming of memory as territory of the meaningful is an ideal and the revisioning of territory that is unfamiliar and unfriendly might be, at a certain point, a fantastic dream, a kind of wishful thinking. But the exile has not much choice once he finds himself in a new land with its new ways of understanding and doing things. Even the enchantment offered by the new land is not good enough—is in fact a disenchantment as the mind wanders far back into the old country, wanders freely into the terrain of childhood memories, to the contours of love, to the topography of friendship and relationship. The poet enumerates the enchanting possibilities the new place offers but the sad, grim, dark realities back home are enough reason for banishing the seduction of enjoyment. The memory of a place, with its community and relations, haunts—and haunts the wanderer to the hilt, making him unable to see even a compromise. Another Bacong poem recreates the familiar from the foreign, the usual from the strange by an appeal to a nostalgia for a place personal and life giving even if at times paradoxical for its suggestion of a continuing colonial culture and practice like the melodious intoning of a white Christmas. Tatlong taon ko nang nararanasan ang magdiwang ng kapaskuhan sa ibang bayan nakita’t nahipo ko na ang niyebeng tila bubog ng mga diyamante na noo’y sa mga awiting pamasko ko lamang naririnig. ngunit hinahanap-hanap ko pa rin ang maligamgam na patak ng ulan na naghahatid ng buhay sa tigang na lupain ng mahal kong bayan (33). The return happens—but not necessarily in setting foot on the native soil once again. The remembering, the mindful recollection of the details of experience back home, are sufficient to get him by and make him succeed in spending Christmas with his aloneness keeping him company. A poem (de Asis 72) prays to God, invokes His blessings after thanking Him, in the manner of an anamnesis-epiklesis, and then the plea for the virtue of sharing: O, Lord most high. Thank you for those who helped me attain this overseas employment and for the wonderful blessing. The prayer is a contradiction when set against the backdrop of the Philippines as the “largest migrant nation” in the world, when foreign employment does not necessarily mean life but the maiming of limb or coming back home on a cold coffin at the rate of four Filipinos per day. For as long as the country and its leaders continue to be apathetic to the plight of the poor, exile will remain enchanting, magical, and redeeming because of the promises it offers. Thus, this kind of literature, written from a variety of languages and positions and perspectives, will be produced to document a poetics of difficulty of making meaning out to the wanderer’s dream of dollars and deliverance. The exile can only pray to extend time and space. Quindoza-Santiago’s account of Lorna Laraquel, a migrant worker, is a sad, sensitive tale of an exilic dream that does not end in exodus but the beginning of a cycle more vicious than the previous. In the poem that ends in a plaintive, if faint but conclusive tone and temper, the migrant who was about to be executed for killing her abusive employer, speaks: Wala, kailanma’y walang buhay na maalwan Kung walang mapagpalang lupang tinubuan (19). (No, there will never be a better life If there is no nurturing and caring nativeland.) How the space and time in the life of an exile awaiting execution leads to a narrative of a paschal mystery is apocryphal. It does not happen to mortals, this mystery, much more to Filipinos. At best, the space and time before the final hour form part of a semiosis of want and deprivation and the unabated democratization of misery and poverty by political leaders professing and promising liberation of the masses. The waiting game is an ontology of a suffering made more real by a critical reflection of that anomaly in a society professing Christianity and justice and “church of the poor”: She counted the days, the hours, the minutes, the seconds. Her thoughts turned to home. She had left her family and friends for this land that had promised her the good things in life. Now she was experiencing this place as it really was—a desert of the soul (Doyo 25). Laraquel speaks and we hear her dirge and the dirge haunts us, we who are part of the communitas—this fellowship—of people sending our mothers and fathers and daughters and sons and children to foreign shores where aimlessness abounds, creeps into the exile’s soul, enwraps his life, oneing with him, dominating him, using him up until he breaks and snaps and revolts and reclaims the spaces of his memory, the spaces of his psyche: Huwang kayong malulungkot, mga anak Kahit ngayong hindi lamang lupa at araw, Hindi na lamang disyerto at karagatan Ang sa ati’y namamagitan, Kahit ngayong nakalambong ang agam-agm Sa kinabukasan, ay! Kung di ko n asana kayo iniwan. Huwang malungkot, mga mahal kong suplig Kahit hindi ninyo na ako makapiling Baka naman bukas ako’y palarin pa rin Liliparin ko ang milya-milyang Kalawakang naghihiwalay sa atin, Dadantay ang mga palad ko sa inyong pisngi Hihimlay kayong mapayapa sa aking tabi (15). (Don’t be sad, my children Even as we are sundered Not only by land and sun Desert and the sea Even as uncertainty beclouds The morrow, ah! If only I had not left you. Don’t be sad, my dear children Though I will be gone Who knows, I may still be lucky one day I will fly the miles to be with you And you shall feel my palm’s caress Gently on your cheeks As you shall sleep peacefully beside me) But the narrative of mourning and lamentation and death comes as a wallop, makes us stop and see and feel and realize that it is not the case that “everything is under control” in these islands of scorching suns; it is not the case that the leaders we elected to administer our social affairs are “on top of the situation.” No. Laraquel’s words, as interpreted into a poetry of pain by Quindoza-Santiago, are indeed parting words, final and definitive: Ay! Huwag, huwag kayong malungkot Mga minamahal kong kababayan Pagkat marami naman akong maiiwan; Mga anak na tutulala sa kinabukasan Isang mag-anak na binistay ng kapalaran Hikahos na mga alaala’t pangarap na nilapastangan At ngayo’y igagawad ang mabunying kamatayan (16). (Ah, don’t, don’t be sad My beloved people As there are things I shall bequeath Children who will gaze into a meaningless future, A family shattered by tragedy, Paupered memories and ravaged dreams And now, this death sentence). Conclusion There is really much to learn from and to be reminded of by the literatures of exile from the various languages of our people. This work looked into those written from Iluko, Filipino and English. The reclaiming and revisioning are the same in all the works. The old time and space are extended in the new land where the exile is and are made more humanizing in the territory of memory where the there-before and the now-here meet so that the exile “does not (anymore) measure his hometown in terms of distance but in terms of meaningfulness” (Mercado 127). It is the requisite of facing up to the demands of our implantation in the world that foregrounds our exile, forced at some point in our life. The exile and his story are an allegory of the nation—an allegory of its impotence to fulfill the requirements of a democracy that is liberating because it is socially just and fair. The making of memory as territory and memory as territory is a strategy to humanize the otherwise inhuman condition of exile. Call it a form of a defense mechanism, if you will, but we must bear in mind that the most fundamental of all the principles about right or wrong is to survive. The exile does that—he survives by humanizing, in existential terms—his “new” time and space in the land of wander. BIBLIOGRAPHY Agcaoili, A.S. “Home in Exile, Exile from Home: Rootedness and Rootlessness in Diasporic Iluko Literature,” in Philippine Humanities Review. Vol. 4, 2000 (176-188). Avendano, Christine, “World’s largest migration nation”, Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 30, 2000. Bacong, Edgar, “Pangingibang-bayan,” Ani, 23, Dec. 1996 (50). ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬____________, “Pangungulia,” Ani, 23, Dec. 1996 (50). Calixto, Jeremias A. “Foreward,” Guyod dagiti Ramut. Honolulu: Annak ti Kailokuan ti America, 1995, iii. De Asis, Saturnino Jr. “An OFW’s Prayer,” Ani, 1996 (72). Foronda, Marcelino Jr. “Recent Ilokano Fiction in Hawaii: A Study in Philippine American Cultural and Literary History,” in Bullalayaw, ed. Pacita C. Saludes and Mario Albalos, Honolulu: Gumil Hawaii, 1978 (xxxi passim). Hufana, Alejandrino. Dumanon/Welcome. Quezon City: U of the Philippines P, 1994. Jose, F. Sionil. Viajero. Manila: Solidaridad, 1993. Quindoza-Santiago, Lilia, “Mga Minamahal Kong Kababayan,” in Mga Hibla ng Pangarap, ed. Andres Panganiban. Quezon City: Kanlungan Center Foundation, 1994 (15-24). Realuyo, Bino A. “Dear Country,” Sunday Inquirer Magazine, Jun 11,2000, (10 &15). Tolentino, Roland B. “Bowling Green, OH 43402,” Ani 23, Dec. 1996 (32-33). Webster’s New World Dictionary, 1994. Yoro, Amado. “Waipio Peninsula: Agmatuon,” in Pluma: Siit ken Rosas, ed. A. Yoro. Waipahu: Dakilang Ugat Awards, 1988.

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