Alben meng manyaman, boy!

February 26, 2007

Kamaru Statement shirts

As you can see in my photo, I am wearing a red shirt with a statement POTA APATE DA KA KNG NYAMAN, which actually means "I might kill you in pleasure," in a more boastful and naughty tone.

I actually sell Kapampangan statement shirts worth Php200. Proceeds go to the activities of KAMARU, the Kapampangan youth organization I am still forming in UP Diliman. So far, ever since January, with minimal publicity, I have been able to sell seven already, each shirt with a unique statement. I would say they're a hit -- even our maids at home made orders!

Another purpose of these statement shirts is to make people read Kapampangan. It won't really save the language in a major scale, but I believe it exudes a certain aura of modernity that can make Kapampangan teenagers think that their language is not just for antique times.

Carlo Pamintuan, a Kapampangan from the Ateneo De Manila University, ordered two just this month. They had an indie fashion show in their school. He included KAMARU's shirts in their lineup. Check out.

The green shirt I sold to Carlo (photo above) has this statement which goes O BA'T PIN KAYA ASNA KUNG KASANTING (Why oh why am I so gorgeous?). At the back of these shirts is the Kalalangan Kamaru parul logo. Don't be misled by this next photograph; Carlo had the shirt worn with the back design shown in front just for a change.

If you wish to order, do email me:

Colors come in either: pink, lime green, black, red orange (the color of the shirt I'm wearing), sky blue, greenish blue, and orange. Available sizes are small, medium, large, and extra large. There is extra charge if you wish them delivered (through LBC), but if I can manage to deliver them myself, I'll do it free of charge.

Regarding the statements written, I can either surprise you or you may request a specific statement, as long as it goes well with what the shirts are collectively trying to express. Kamaru logo at the back is unchangeable.

As said, profit will go to KAMARU's funds. Thank you very much! Luid ya ing amanung Kapampangan!

February 24, 2007

My Kapampangan digital short film

Finally, I was able to submit a DVD copy of my Kapampangan short digital film, titled Anak ning Kapri (The Spawn of the Kapri) to the Media Arts Division of the Cultural Center of the Philippines for the Cinemalaya Film Festival 2007.

Cacarug cung baguia. I hope we make it to the top ten. We'll know in two months' time. Here are some screen captures.

The upcoming issue of Singsing magazine of the Center for Kapampangan Studies will have a short writeup on Anak ning Kapri.

February 23, 2007

Relationship between culture and development

Below is an excerpt from the paper Is There Really a Relationship Between Culture and Development? by Ifeyinwa Annastasia Mbakogu

"...There is also the language problem. To understand a people adequately, one should understand their language. With this in mind, the colonialists started a process of destabilising our African heritage by imposing not only their languages but also their culture on the colonised.

The crux of the matter is simple -- the earlier Africans began emphasising the use of their national languages as official languages rather than the English, French or Portuguese languages of their colonial masters, the soul of many Africans will never be truly African.

In my view, it really is a sad situation where many African children can neither speak nor understand a word of their native languages. Some may consider it an aspiration to glamour or modernization but I consider it an outright betrayal and disregard for that which our ancestors handed down to us.

The language issue may pose adjustment problems with the elimination of already familiar and functional colonial languages. However, a gradual process is required and strategies should be formulated by which prominent African languages are made appealing via press, radio, literary publications, films and other publicity gimmicks. The key intent is a projection of our cultural values, ideals and unique identity."

[And here we are with a brilliant National Language development act trying to force diverse and unique languages together, incorporate Castillian and English words in it, adopt Tagalog-based grammar, and tag it Filipino -- in pursuit of an inefficient and ugly-looking establishment of a united Philippines. I really don't get it.]

You may read the full paper by clicking "Paper on Culture and Development" in my links.

February 21, 2007

Vocabulary words for 'Atin Ku Pung Singsing'

You all remember how it was during your elementary days in your subject Filipino. Then, in high school, we were made to read Ibong Adarna, Noli Me Tangere, and El Filibusterismo. When we encounter words that seem strange to us youngsters, teachers make a list of vocabulary words to help us understand the text and to enrich our vocabulary.

So let's do some vocabulary word listing for the most popular Kapampangan folk song: Atin Ku Pung Singsing to widen our Kapampangan vocabulary.

(The following words are in K-orthography.)

timpukan - jewelled
iti - p. this; unlike ini, it includes the person being spoken to, e.g. ing singsing a ini (this ring), ing singsing a iti (this ring [which belongs to the two of us])
indu - n. mother
sangkan - adv. neatly, properly, carefully
sukal ning lub - fig. heartache
banua - n. heaven, sky
kalulu - adj. poor
manginu - v. to worship, from root word ginu, or lord

Bonus: ArtiSta. Rita performance of the song with a different, Broadway touch.

February 17, 2007

Encountering the Holy Spirit at Jalung, Porac

One time during January, I, in pursuit of being a traveler and discoverer of my own balen, decided to visit the town where my late mother-side grandmother Apung Ines hailed from: Jalung, Porac.

I never knew how Jalung looked like. I don't even know how to get there alone. But as a child, I would hear conversations between Ima and distant relatives mentioning Jalung (pronounced 'Alung'). I know that Atsing Beth, who became my yaya many years ago as a tyke, is a resident of Jalung, but like any other Angeleño (even though I was frequently tagged a weirdo due to my distinct esoteric-meets-rebel-like personality, whatever that means), I never bothered to know anything about the rural areas of Pampanga.

But I am now a human kámaru. Gone are the days of wanting to explore the foreign world. Instead, I want to explore my hometown.

Since I was a former geek of metaphysical stuff, esoteric studies, and everything the Catholic church would deem occult or satanic, what interested me mainly about Jalung were the stories of Ima about a certain spiritist group, the weekly conventions of which my Apung Ines used to attend devotedly back in her Porac-living years (family transferred to Angeles by 1989). From Cangatba, Apung Ines would walk all the way to Jalung just to attend. Ima and Bapang Gener, as kids, would sometimes tag along riding a bicycle.

And so, I wanted to see some possession! I wanted to hear altered voices of the channels when being possessed! I wanted to experience being told by a medium that a chum is backstabbing me or my death is fast approaching. I simply wanted to see some rural magic that would bring back memories of reading papers on how to safely do astral projection and how to develop clairvoyance and psychometry!

Ding ating kálam (those who have powers) - according to Ima, this is how people called the spirit mediums.

From Angeles, I commuted all the way to Porac. Kong Jerry, husband of my first cousin Atsing Janet, drove me from their house at Cangatba to Jalung. I was told by Atsing Janet to look for Tatang Erning Laxa, the head of the spiritist group.

So we drove. Armed with my video camera and still photo camera, I was ready to document my lone trip. The narrow roads of Jalung (or, at least, the part I went to) are concrete. Houses are generally the typical post-Mt. Pinatubo eruption type of hollow-block bungalows with surviving wooden parts.

We were a bit lost. We were going cirlces in the carabao-dung-filled streets of the town. Since we didn't know the name of the group, we had to ask the residents if they knew about a spiritist group in their place. Fortunately we got to the place where the spiritist group holds its conventions every Sunday.

When I got there, I saw a lot of familiar faces--faces which I often see in family gatherings, funerals, burials, and feasts, but never bothered to get to know (not even their names), being an antisocial, private person back then. Whether they were relatives, family friends, fourth cousins, mother-of-this, niece-of-that, I didn't really know. But they all smiled at me and knew who I and my family were. It made me a bit guilty.

So I went inside. It was a relatively small airconditioned conference room with a couple of pews and goers.

Unlike the typical churches or chapels, there was no crucifix in front, no flamboyant altar, no statues of patrons and saints. What stood in the place of the crucifix was a small inanimate dove, apparently a symbol of the Holy Spirit. A woven Jesus Christ carpet was hung near the entrance.

There were three desks in front: one labeled "President," the right desk labeled "Secretary," and the middle labeled "Medium." I was intrigued at the sight of the middle desk.

On the far right is another table where a scribe jots down the message of the Holy Spirit spoken through the medium.

I was assisted by Apung Luding (Lydia Gamboa), 70 years of age, one of the nieces of my Apung Ines. It was from her I asked permission to get pictures and document in video what was happening, since she is a secretary in the group. She exuded an erudite aura and understood scientific and modern concepts most folks of her age would find intellectually challenging. For clarity, I told her that I was there to observe and study objectively, not to challenge the religion or the group. She understood quickly.

(I presented myself as an Anthropology student from UP Diliman. I found it hard and time-consuming to explain my current status in UP and my principles prompting me to make such decision of leaving my current course, Broadcast Communication.)

Wielding my powers of observation, I got to know the name of the group: Bunduc ning Betaña (since 1950). I believe the name was lifted from a passage in the Bible. For non-Kapampangans, the group's name means Mount Betaña.

According to Apung Luding, unlike other sects or Christian subgroups, Betaña is in touch with the Holy Spirit, the sanctifier. The other members of the Holy Trinity have other functions: Jesus Christ is the Savior and the Almighty Father is the Creator.

Anyone who joins the conventions of Betaña is called a spiritist. In their group, you don't have to be a medium for you to be called a spiritist.

I was offered a seat in the front to witness better. The medium--a fairly innocent-looking old woman with white hair--sat in the middle desk. After some non-graphic rituals, she suddenly fainted, but to no surprise. The people knew her spirit just temporarily got out to give way to the Holy Spirit.

When the medium got to her feet, if she's not really faking it, I can tell that there was really a change of personality and impression based on her face and how she looked at the people. To me, it's as if she suddenly became a very wise person who knew all the secrets of the cosmos.

Then she started talking with a commanding, preachy voice (in fluent Kapampangan). Unlike the features I often see in free TV where possessed channels suddenly adopt midget speech, there wasn't any change in the voice, except in the manner of delivery and level of conviction.

Behind her is an assistant of sort holding a microphone, following the movement of the medium. Sometimes, saliva would drip out of the mouth of the medium. The assistant would then wipe it off, because the medium seemed to not notice it at all, as if detached from physical stimuli.

I listened to what the "Holy Spirit" had to say. I have to admit, I was trying to spot anything that I would find objectionable or politically incorrect, but to my amazement, the teachings of the so-called Spirit were practical and valuable lessons about middle class life--about man's constant struggle to find and hoard money, about hunger, etc. No Ang Tamang Daan VS Ang Dating Daan style of preaching and lambasting. In short, the things being uttered make sense in the real world--which is what's important for me.

The convention seemed like a class; the possessed medium was the teacher and the people were the students. The people were free to ask questions and the medium would answer. Sometimes, like a teacher, the medium would throw a question, and people would answer. An interactive 'mass.' Not much ritualistic stand up-sit down-amen-peace-be-with-you.

The medium would quote the Bible sometimes. A couple of people would verify if the medium was correct in her citations. If the medium committed a flaw, they would abort the convention, for "a pretentious evil spirit is inhabiting the medium to mislead people." In my visit, there were no wrong citations. (Although it would have been more interesting on my part if I had encountered a pretentious spirit possession scene there.)

Then, a woman who was to fly to another country approached the medium and asked for blessings and safety guidelines. As Ima told me, the Spirit would either say something reality-based, like "Go to this hospital and look for an American doctor", or something mystical like "Secure a white hanky, fold it twice, and pin it under your pillow."

I have stories about the mystical instructions given to my grandmother back in her days, but I'll save them for another entry.

The woman was told to secure a white hanky and insert it under her shirt during her flight.

The channel then (still possessed) began singing more teachings, still in Kapampangan. I have documented a portion of her singing, which I have uploaded in my Podcast. Click on the Betania track on my Podcast on your right to listen.

After that, the people sang a few Kapampangan praise songs. I was entertained because the songs were in Kapampangan. How could I not document that part, too?

And the Spirit left. The medium is back to her old innocent-looking character. The people were dismissed, but some people privately approached some channels to be healed. One old man claimed to have been cured from a deadly disease by the Spiritists and he seemed very healthy.

I asked Apung Luding what kálam meant. She said, "Kálam means the grace of God. Everyone has it, but only those with pure intentions can wield it and use it to share the wisdom of Heaven."

Apung Luding invited me to her house afterwards. In there we got to know each other more. However, I'll spare you the details in another entry.

February 15, 2007

Expressing oneself using native language in modern times

I was not really proficient in speaking Kapampangan six months ago. Although my parents and other relatives at home spoke to me in Kapampangan, they never bothered to correct my occasional incorporation of Tagalog words in my sentences, such as "Malakas [masikan] ya" or "Makainis [makasora/makasnuk] ya."

Whenever we visit relatives at Porac, of course, we would converse in Kapampangan, but only about the folk and traditional stuff -- how old I am, how I am doing with my studies, where this person is, whether this person has gone abroad or not, if my Ima's health is okay, etc.

But barely have I spoken in Kapampangan about, for example, the superstring theory of the universe, the consequences of religion, faith VS reason, mass media ethics -- except with my big brother, who likewise bothers not if we spoke hybrid Kapampangan. Of course, these topics usually see the limelight of public venues in schools, the preferred languages of which are English and the so-called Filipino (Tagalog). Formal and informal essays are required only in English and Tagalog.

Such situation contributes to the decline in the intellectualization of a language, which might lead to language stagnation (no development but remains at home or folk traditions) or deterioration (decline in number of speakers until extinction of the language). Frenchmen have a word for the computer: ordinateur. What does Filipino have? Kompyuter. Kapampangans, in this period of nationalization in the Philippines, will mostly likely follow what Filipino uses.

For globalization: globalisasyon. Folks at Amanung Sisuan have started to use the word Meto yatu to refer to globalization. Meto yatu means "all the world."

Fascinatingly, some languages give labels to concepts that other languages have no words for. Like, for example, in the Philippines, we have pengagli (Tagalog: pinaglihi). I used this word in my short digital film. Up to this time, I have no idea how to subtitle the sentence containing the word pengagli.

"Itang anak a ita, pane yang marinat. Balamu pengagli ya keng gabun."

"That child is always filthy. His mother must have liked eating soil when she was still carrying him in her womb during her pregnancy; that's why when the child was born, the child inherited physical characteristics related to soil."

Quite long, huh? Of course, this concept is quite non-scientific, like mapapa (to be punished by God, especially the Christian God). However, there are other words that are timeless, like maglualu (to go out in defense of the helpless), balasbas (one who takes the path less traveled), tangka (property acquired by a person through the years), mikapsuan (for a person with fever to sweat out some heat upon intake of medicine or accomplishment of a therapeutic activity, causing the lowering of body temperature), and dugu (a word inserted in a sentence to express sympathy to the one being talked of).

Since it is the youth and academicians that grasp new concepts, it is up to them to label those concepts in their own tongue. If this is not done, Kapampangan is bound to be a stagnant language meant only for use in farms, fishponds, piggeries, home-based conversations, feasts, and family reunions. We would not feel confident in using Kapampangan to discuss filming, computer engineering, architecture, art studies, chemistry, new media, philosophy, social studies, and other topics.

But before delving into the new concepts, we should learn first the basics. How? By talking, writing, and reading in Kapampangan. Most materials have been written by elders or from people way back in the past. When you have already learned the language, you may then use the language to express episodes of your life in this modern era.

Watch this and see if you can understand the speaker, not to mention, appreciate the accent. I am surprised that I understand the whole thing; six months ago, I couldn't have possibly understood the words panyarul and maligua't salita.

February 7, 2007

Kapampangan Ku, daya ampon kaladua

Pop culture is one great tool for spreading a certain message. The song Kapampangan Ku, by Arti Sta. Rita and Mon David (the other version involving vocals from Nanette Inventor, John Arcilla, and Michael De Mesa), is personally my favorite patriotic song.

The song never fails to impress people--Kapampangan or not---whom I share the music with. For non-Kapampangans, they become in awe of the marvelous vocals, especially the chorale part, and the innovative concept of injecting in pop culture something considered ethnic or old-fashioned. (You know, pop culture is dominated by only Tagalog and English stuff.)

But for Kapampangans, aside from the musical wonder of the piece, the message of the song brings out a certain emotion of pride in one's own roots. It gives hope, that the Kapampangan race is here to live and survive, if we all work together for its betterment and preservation.

Never heard of the song? Do watch this YouTube video which I uploaded. The lyrics are in the video, too. The footage is courtesy of the Holy Angel University Center for Kapampangan Studies. I placed the lyrics a la MYX, in K-orthography for beginning Kapampangan readers.

For more astounding Kapampangan songs, check out the other CDs of Arti Sta. Rita (click the link on the right) and the upcoming third album, Siwala.