Alben meng manyaman, boy!

July 31, 2007

How do we save Kapampangan?

How do we save Kapampangan?
By Robby Tantingco
Peanut Gallery

OUR language today is in such an advanced state of deterioration that even if the National Statistics Office says that about 88 percent of the population in Pampanga speak Kapampangan, it's the kind of Kapampangan that's spoken in the streets -- very colloquial, very limited vocabulary, and borrowing heavily from Tagalog and English.
Only 100 years ago, we were producing the country's longest play and first vernacular zarzuela, and there were more poets and writers per square meter here than in any other region in the Philippines , wrote former Manila Times editor Jose Luna Castro.

Today, most of those who still speak Kapampangan can neither read nor write in Kapampangan, which means we have become illiterates in our own language. It also means that if Kapampangan exists only in spoken form and not in written, then it's good for only one or two more generations, and then it's gone.

From its golden age to its death throes in less than one hundred years -- what happened?

Well, first, the government created a national language, which became the medium of media, including TV and cinema, which wiped out the traditional forms of public entertainment like zarzuela, crissotan and kuriru, which were the last refuge of classical Kapampangan.

Second, Kapampangan was taken out of schools, which led students to think it is inferior to Tagalog and English, which discouraged them from using it in intellectual discussions, which prevented it from evolving and expanding its vocabulary.

Today, many individuals and institutions are working to save the language, but they are independent of each other, uncoordinated, always arguing and debating.

Since the new Governor enjoys unprecedented popularity and credibility, he can probably summon all these fractious parties to a language summit, but on second thought, maybe a summit is not a good idea, because some may only use it to grandstand or push their own agenda, and it might divide rather than unite.

I suggest that the Provincial Government first pass a resolution requiring all public elementary and high schools in Pampanga to include Kapampangan in the curriculum. The resolution should include mandatory teacher training and workshops on making a syllabus and constructing instructional materials. The City of San Fernando did this two years ago, and it worked. The Center for Kapampangan Studies sponsored the training-workshop.

Next, the Provincial Government should implement laws that have already been passed and only need implementation. One of them is DILG Memo Circular 2002-81 mandating all cities and municipalities to form (and fund) arts and culture councils. Each town in Pampanga will therefore have a body that promotes Kapampangan in the grassroots or barangay level, instead of relying on private institutions and advocacy organizations that have limited manpower and financial resources.

Seventeen towns in Pampanga have already passed ordinances creating their respective arts and culture councils; I know because the Center conducted a museum workshop for them about two years ago. Unfortunately, officers of those councils were co-terminus with their mayors, so the Provincial Government must remind the newly elected mayors to reactivate them.

The Provincial Government must also enforce two resolutions that are already in existence: one, asking all FM and AM radio stations in Pampanga to play Kapampangan songs morning, afternoon and evening everyday, and the other, asking all schools, malls and cinemas to do the same. Only one radio station (RW-FM) still faithfully does this; the others must be reminded.

Meanwhile, advocacy groups like the Center and the Akademyang Kapampangan and writers' associations like AGTAKA should continue producing in earnest Kapampangan materials -- literary publications, dictionaries and grammar books, and music records -- so that when the demand increases, there is enough supply to meet it.

I have a feeling that the reason radio stations have slowed down on Kapampangan songs is that the same Kapampangan songs are played over and over. ArtiSta. Rita, Mon David and the others must record more Kapampangan songs, but government and the private sector must give financial assistance. There's a group that's conducting a Kapampangan pop song festival, and Holy Angel University and Kalalangan Kamaru are planning a Kapampangan CD featuring local bands -- these are steps in the right direction.

We all must ride the momentum created by the cultural renaissance that has been sweeping the province for some time now, and use the energy to make one big push to save the language. I think our people are ready to relearn Kapampangan.

My staff at the Center have been going around public schools in Pampanga with a roving Kapampangan exhibit, giving workshops and lectures, conducting Kapampangan singing contests, and donating Kapampangan books and CDs. Based on the enthusiastic response of everyone, from pupils to teachers to principals, I can say that our people are just waiting to be taught.

The question is, are we ready to teach them? END ARTICLE

Sisigman's answer: before we'll be able to teach the new generation Kapampangan, we must first have our goal recognized legally, i.e., there should be laws or ordinances passed requiring the teaching and/or use of the Kapampangan language.

Before that happens, we need to generate people power: make Kapampangans believe in our cause and how loving your own would yield to wonderful results in the future, not only culturally, but also economically.

But before we convince people to join our cause and before they understand the bigger picture involved in policies, politics, language, heritage, etc. through education and other campaigning strategies, people should secure their basic physiological needs first: food, shelter, and clothing.

And before the physiological needs be satisfied, someone -- the government for instance -- needs to improve the balen and making it progressive, which I think is materializing right now.

We are on the right path.

July 28, 2007

Jose Gallardo, the post-colonial K writer

Lately, I have been helping myself with Kapampangan literature. Since none of my elementary, high school, and college classes introduced a single Kapampangan piece aside from Atin Ku Pung Singsing (with its subtle contextual significance barely scrutinized), I am now taking Kapampangan literature studies informally.

Allow me to say first that--WOW--we, Kapampangans of the new generation, have certainly missed a lot for not having read the works of our homegrown talents. This is greatly the fault of the centralized educational system that discriminates non-Tagalog works in the anomalous subject called Filipino, which is embellished Tagalog.

And the subconscious effect of only being introduced solely to a shallowly-interpreted Kapampangan song about a lost singsing is seeing Kapampangan literature as either non-existent or comprised of intellectually challenged pieces that show no consciousness of social issues.

Wrong! Very wrong, and I feel very deprived when I recall the Tagalog works pressed unto us during elementary. There are pieces on peasant unrest, feudalism, females as sex objects, colonization, colonial mentality, relations with Menila, and philosophy.

The Kapampangan writer so far who has impressed me most is Jose Gallardo of Candaba "who wrote more than 200 poems, 26 plays and zarzuelas, 30 crissotans (poetic debates), 6 novels and countless short stories... and an unfinished autobiography." Beat that.

I was amazed most by one of his short stories: Bangungut (Nightmare), written even before my parents were born.

Prof. Juliet Cunanan-Mallari of the University of the Philippines Pampanga made a paper analyzing 'Bangungut'. Allow me to quote a segment of the abstract of the paper:

“Bangungut” (“Nightmare”), a poem depicting the language crisis in his province. This cultural study underscores the resulting cultural alienation of a colonized people represented by a poet whose voice reverberates with the “continued agony rather than [the] total disappearance of [their] pre-existing culture.

The short story is told in first person and is in Kapampangan, but the dialogues of the people involved in the comedy were intentionally in pidgin - a mixture of Kapampangan, Tagalog, and English.

The story is also futuristic, albeit only a dream; the author goes to a world where "ing petsa keting yatu malambat neng makalagpas itang petsang Adwang Libu (the date in the world is long past year 2000)."

There he meets his great grandchildren, who are all happy to see their renowned writer Lolu. To welcome him, one of Gallardo's grandchildren (in the story) stages a poetic piece, the first part of which goes like this (notice the language use):

Very many salamat pu [I thank you very much]
Sa kekayung palakpakan [For your applause]
At ing kanakung Good Evening [And my Good Evening]
Yang babye ku sa keko ngan [I wish to say to you all]
Damutan ye ing tula ku [Please enjoy this poem of mine]
Na hakin pung pamansagan [Which I proudly call]
Mahalin at Palabungin [Love and Enrich]
Ang Hamanung Kapampangan [The Kapampangan Language]

Words in red are English. Words in black are Kapampangan. Words in blue are Tagalog. Italicized words are mockery of the stereotypical "H" defect of Kapampangans.

After the declamation piece, I laughed my heart out with what I read! In the story, after the horrible pidgin poem of Gallardo's fictional great grandson, all the people cheered, "Mabuhe ing Kapampangan!" And the people whispered, "Migmana ya kang Lolu na." (He's just like his grandpa.)

is a Pampanganized version of the Tagalog 'mabuhay' (long live), because the Tagalog -ay is usually an -e in Kapampangan like gulay = gule, suklay = sukle.

Another matter to notice in 'Bangungut' is the seemingly burning pride of the futuristic Kapampangans in their heritage; this is contrasted though with the way the Kapampangan language has been corrupted and the way the corruption is being tolerated and propagated, and it makes the piece not only funnier, but closer to reality. Ethnolinguistic communities undergoing a state of neo-colonialism seldom see the effects of dominant cultures in their indigenous culture.

It is very remarkable how Gallardo saw the future state of the Kapampangan language. It is becoming a reality currently (albeit Gallardo's is hyperbolic, probably because it's supposed to be funny) especially in the urban areas.

For that, I call 'Bangungut' a piece of genuine Kapampangan science fiction, linguistics being a part of social science, and social science being a segment of science. Thus, it's science fiction. And as many science fiction pieces, it is based on reality.

I am itching to read more of Gallardo's works. I also plan to make a compilation of Kapampangan literary pieces that foresaw the fate of the Kapampangan language during their time.

July 21, 2007

RocKapampangan: Sibul Na Ning Arayat

Demo of Lima Salang Qng Dalig's (Five Against the Wall) reggae rendition of Totoy Bato's Sibul Na Ning Arayat. Still part of the RocKapampangan Project.

Sibul na ning Arayat
Ampon ning dayatmalat
Karin da ka ikit lipat lipat
Sabian mu kang Tatang
Buri keng katuangan
Kabukas mu mikayapu ne man
Oh oh, malagung First Lady

Aniang misan a bengi
Lalabas ku kng tete
Menakit kung aduampulung seksi
Ing metung kareti
Tau ya Makabebe
Magtinda yang baguk kng palengke
Oh oh, malagung First Lady

Limasan ke ing dagat
Kareng gamat
Buri mung basibas ke ing Bunduk Arayat
E ka sa mimua, Atsi
Biru ku iti
Uling ing lugud ku keka yang menyampukaki

Ining kakung number one
Tiktak ya kng kanyaman
Gigiling ya rugu babo’t lalam
Ining kakung number two
Tiktak ya kng kayumu
Maka-half-slip ya mu neng Sabadu
Oh oh, malagung First Lady

Ing kanakung number three
Atyu Katre
Parating maka-bikini
Kapitangan bengi
E ka sa mimua, Atsi
Biru ku iti
Uling ing lugud keka yang menyampukaki

O 'kang malagung atse
Masanting keng lalaki
Bage katang aduang miyayabe
Yang miniskirt mung imalan
Maka-bagets na ke man
Kng la’m bale ta na mibugbugan
Oh oh, malagung First Lady

Ding batuin ampon tala
Keka ko ibye
At ing matas a bulan
Keka iputung ke
E ka sa mimua, atsi
Biru ku iti
Uling ing lugud ku keka yang menyampukaki

Ing lugud kung dalise
Meripan ning alti

July 17, 2007

2 Kapampangan films in 20 Best Indie Films list

The Young Filmmakers of the Philippines (YFMP), a group of young filmmakers from different colleges and universities names the 20 best Filipino independent films for the past three years (2004, 2005 and 2006). Their criteria for selecting the best films are the quality of the screenplay and the subject matter.

"We look for something new," they said. "The script should be somewhat unconventional and unpredictable. The film depicts Filipino historical and/or cultural values and exemplified artistry, creativity, technical excellence, innovativeness and thematic values."

Two "Kapampangan" films--both by Brillante Mendoza--are included in the list.

Number 13
Kaleldo (Summer Heat)
Director: Brillante Mendoza
Cast: Johnny Delgado, Cherry Pie Picache, Angel Aquino, Juliana Palermo, Allan Paule, Criselda Volks, Miguel Faustmann, Liza Lorena, Ama Quiambao

The story is set in Guagua, Pampanga a decade after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo which ravaged the province with lahar. It follows the lives of Rodolfo "Mang Rudy" Manansala, a woodcarver, and his three daughters and their relationships with the people close to them in the span of seven summers.

Grace, the youngest daughter, marries the mama's boy Conrad, and has to face the reality of leaving the ancestral house, to which she is deeply rooted, to go and live with her in-laws. Much against her will, to the point of staging a escape, she yields to the dictates of tradition. Yet she manages to cope with married life, and on the fourth year of her marriage gets pregnant with her second child.

Lourdes, the middle daughter and married to the weakling Andy Pineda with whom she has a daughter, goes into an illicit affair with a bank manager, for which reason Mang Rudy succumbs to a heart attack and
becomes bedridden..

Jesusa, the eldest daughter, is an out-of-the-closet butch-type lesbian, who contributes to family expenses by selling atchara. Despite her admirable deeds and her undying concern for her homophobic father's health, she suffers neglect and discrimination because of her sexuality.

The story is told in three segments: Angin (air), Api (fire), and Danum (water), with each segment told from the point of view of the three daughters. Attached to each segment are social occasion popularly observed in Pampanga, with a symbolic motif for each, represented by the elements sun, fire, water, air, blood, moon and earth. With Rowena's wedding at the end of the film, as in Grace's wedding at the start, a full cycle of life transpired.

International/ Local Awards/Exhibition:

-1st Rome International Filmfest
-Best Actress winner 28th Durban International Film Festival in South Africa
-Cinemavvenire special award in Torino International Filmfest

Number 16
Manoro (The Aeta Teacher)
English title: The Teacher
French title: Le Professeur
Director: Brillante Mendoza
Cast: Jonalyn Ablong

It’s presidential election time once again and like the rest of their fellow Filipinos, the Aetas of Sapangbato, Angeles City are required to vote. But how could is it possible if most of the Aeta elders do not know how to
read and write?

A young Aeta girl has the answer.

International/ Local Awards/Exhibition:

-Torino International Filmfest
-Cinemanila 2006, Best Director

The greatest work of the competition, then, was the only film that found the finest balance between those poles, who knew that, in the end, it’s all about telling the truth of and with that which is right there, the world: Brillante Mendoza’s Manoro (The Teacher, 2006)."

You may read ini to see the whole article of a film critic of the 24th Torina Film Festival had to say about Manoro.

July 15, 2007

A Review of the Language Issue - UNESCO


Languages are an essential part of the cultural diversity of our planet. Languages and dialects are not only expressions of the human culture and the human mind, they are also the means by which we communicate with others and seek ways of explaining the world we live in. At the same time, languages are a very vulnerable part of our cultural heritage.

Language Facts

UNESCO's "Atlas of Languages in danger of disappearing" estimates that there are around 6000 languages spoken worldwide today. Most of these languages do not enjoy majority status. It is estimated that more than half of the world's population communicates in only 8 languages: English and Mandarin Chinese, Hindi (with Urdu), Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Bengali and finally Portuguese (ranked by proportion).

The situation among the languages varies widely, with more than 3000 languages now spoken by fewer than 10000 people. According to "The Ethnologue" 417 languages are nearly extinct.

Language and Identity

The preservation and promotion of linguistic diversity is important for the society as a whole and for the individual.

Language is an essential part of what defines a culture or civilization. The identity of an individual person is defined by its social affiliation. The language used in his social environment, transmitted to him by social and linguistic interactions, forms his linguistic identity.

Linguistic identity means the identification with a language and its speakers as well as the identification with linguistic varieties such as dialects or sociolects and their speakers.

The social scientist George Herbert Mead (1863-1931) developed the relevant theoretical background by saying that people do not live only in a natural, but also in a symbolic environment. According to Mead, language is the most complicated symbol that one can acquire. This lead Mead to the conclusion that the genesis and the basis of identity, thinking and consequently language are of a societal nature.

Language in Danger

A language is considered as being endangered when it is not any longer learned by the children or at least by a large part of the children of a community. Then, the language is not any longer transferred by the elderly to the younger generation, and it will eventually disappear with the death of its last speakers.

Even though a language has child speakers, it can become endangered when parts or individuals of a given speech community are transplanted into communities that use another language.

Annexation, resettlement, and other political or military acts can have immediate linguistic effects. People may become refugees, and have to learn the language of their now homes. After a successful military invasion, the indigenous population may have to learn the invader's language.

Learning another language may be the only means of obtaining access to knowledge. This factor led to the universal use of Latin in the Middle Ages, and today motivates the international use of English.

Very large numbers of people have migrated to find work and to improve their standard of living. This factor alone accounts for most of the linguistic diversity of the USA, and an increasing proportion of the bilingualism in present-day Europe.

The ongoing destruction of environment, habitats and living space can well be followed by the extinction of languages, e.g. through mining, oil drilling, excessive tree felling, damming of rivers, warfare, etc. These actions lead to the relocation of the speakers of the local languages and end often enough with the disappearance of their linguistic and cultural individuality.

In bilingual or multilingual settings, the phenomenon of acculturation applies when the use of a dominant majority language is associated with social, cultural, political or economical advantages.

In this case, parents of children in the "weaker" culture may encourage their children (and themselves) to use the language of the stronger culture rather than their own language. Soon enough, the young generation would loose the interest in the mother tongue and would not any longer speak the original language.

Finally, political decisions on language issues may have a huge impact on preservation or disappearance of linguistic diversity in a society. A language policy can serve as a political instrument, designated either to build an integrated (or assimilated) monolingual society or to promote the co-existence of multiculturality and multilinguism what would enrich all engaged parties.

A closer look at the language policies of some nations reveals a trend towards a single language, whereas the activities of South Africa and the Member States of the European Union promote the wealth and enrichment of linguistic diversity.

Switching between languages, the alternative use of a foreign language or bilingualism must not be confused with the natural process of language change.

This theory tells that, through daily use in interaction among its speakers, a language develops and re-news itself. The evolution may even result in the death of a language.

July 12, 2007

Gov Panlilio’s team collects P5M in quarry taxes in 5 days

By Tonette Orejas
Central Luzon Desk

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga -- (UPDATE) A special committee of former seminarians created by Pampanga Governor Eddie Panlilio has collected more than P5 million in sand taxes in the first five days that the Catholic priest has been in office.

Vice Governor Joseller Guiao, who took on a watchdog role against graft at the provincial capitol, said the income earned under Panlilio confirmed that the “potentials [of the quarry industry] are big.”

“That is within the range of expectations,” Guiao said.

The P5-million collection is 17.18 percent of the P29.1 million generated by the administration of former Governor Mark Lapid for the whole of 2006, an Inquirer review of capitol reports on quarry income showed.

It was higher than the P3.19 million collected in January and February this year.

The recent collection represented an average of 3,333 truckloads of sand a day, more than the 100 truckloads reported by the previous administration.

If the trend continues, Panlilio said in an interview Saturday, last year’s income could be raised in a month’s time.

A separate check by the Inquirer showed that if the capitol makes an average of P20 million monthly, it could surpass the P106.4 million collected in 2001 by the Natural Resources Development Corp. of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Panlilio attributed the increase in collections to a new system that the provincial government has adopted starting Monday to help rid it of graft-prone policies.

The system was implemented on the strength of Panlilio’s first two executive orders and enforced by a team of four former seminarians who volunteered for the job.

The EOs required the haulers to pay the P300 tax per truckload at the provincial treasurer’s office, not at quarry checkpoints established by the roadsides.

Panlilio replaced 90 capitol employees and assigned new personnel on checkpoints to verify the authenticity of receipts shown by haulers as they pass there.

Panlilio said local governments in areas where the sand was taken from would receive their share of the quarry income at the end of July.

Of the P300 tax, P150 would be divided on a 30-30-40 percent sharing by the province, towns, and barangays (villages), respectively. The capitol would keep the other P150 to cover operational expenses.

Panlilio said he was not keen on accepting at this point a proposal to grant the NRDC authority to oversee the industry and collect the taxes.

“If our system is found to be ineffective, we are going to improve it until it gets better and better,” Panlilio told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

Asked if his administration would pursue new cases against Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid and his son, Mark, for the low collections they made during their respective stints in office in the past 12 years, Panlilio said: “We have not discussed that matter yet. For now, we just collect and protect the interest of the Kapampangan over this public resource.”

Sand became more bountiful in Pampanga after Mount Pinatubo spewed out sand during its 1991 eruptions.

The Lapids have “a lot of explaining to do,” Guiao said.

“We need to follow up on the graft cases against the Lapids so we can protect the province’s future income from quarry and ensure that nobody does it (alleged theft of public funds) anymore,” Guiao said.

Provincial treasurer Vergel Yabut could not be reached on Saturday for comment on the low collections in the last six years and the sudden increase now.

The younger Lapid and Yabut were named respondents in a graft case that Guiao filed at the Office of the Ombdusman before the May 14 elections.

Guiao accused the two officials of allowing the use of fake receipts and maintaining a graft-prone system.

They denied this, attributing the poor collection instead to low demand of the construction industry for sand.

Panlilio said while quarry operators and haulers have been “very cooperative” in complying with the new system, this was not largely the case in Bacolor town.

He declined to give details on “some resistance” encountered there pending the results of a dialogue next week.

Panlilio said that in line with the wishes expressed by mayors and civil society leaders in recent consultations, income from sand taxes would be used to improve services in 10 district hospitals, upgrade facilities in public schools, and support other social services.

In the planning stage is the rehabilitation of the Bren Guiao Convention Center so Pampanga could again host national sports and cultural events.

July 11, 2007

KMF to hold competition on Amanung Sisuan

By Ian Ocampo Flora

The Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF) has launched a formal writing competition, not in the national language but in Kapampangan.

The Gawad Komisyon 2007 launched by the KWF in relation to the celebration of the Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa is a national competition for formal writing focusing on different major languages in the country.

It aims to break the misconception that the KWF is only concerned with the local language, officials said. One of the major categories of the competition is Kapampangan poetry writing.

The competition also aims to excite the interest in Kapampangan literature and discover new talents. There would be a Lupon sa Tagisan King Poesia that would evaluate each entry. The UP Clark was assigned as to collate all entries in the region, deadline of which is on July 27, 2007.

Other categories include Tausug (Essay), Hiligaynon (Poetry and Short Story Writing) and Bikolano (Essay) to name a few. These categories are aimed at promoting the local language and discover new talents. The Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa is set on August 1-31 of this year.

July 7, 2007

Kapampangan short film in Cinemalaya 2007

The Kapampangan cultural revolution is in heat and it comes both from the scientific and artistic sectors.

The province takes pride in San Fernando-born Mark Dela Cruz, whose film thesis at the University of the Philippines Diliman Misteryo ng Hapis, made it to the Top Ten Finalists of the Cinemalaya Film Festival 2007, short feature category.

Dela Cruz, 23, is the director of the film. The feature is about Jay, a homosexual whose father does not accept his son's theater membership. Jay and his ibpa never reconciled up to the latter's death.

Prior to Cinemalaya 2007, the Kapampangan film (don't be fooled by the Tagalog title; the film is in Kapampangan, albeit apparently broken and artificial in the ears of a true speaker of the language) has won several competitions in the country.

It also bagged the title Best Thesis in the UP Film Institute last year.

On the grand opening of the currently-still-under-construction Kapampangan Theater at the Holy Angel University (target date: March 2008), Dela Cruz will definitely be invited to have his Kapampangan work screened, along with other Kapampangan films like Masahista ('The Masseur'), Kaleldo ('Summer Heat'), Manoro ('The Aeta Teacher'), all by Brillante Mendoza, and Gabun bu Maryo J. Delos Reyes.

July 4, 2007

The Guardians of Bunduk Arayat

There are a number of tales regarding the Kapampangan deity Sinukuan, but in contradicting versions, making it impossible to determine whether Sinukuan was male ("brother" of Namalyari) or female ("Maria" Sinukuan), good or bad (sorcerer), old or young, father (father of different daughters) or son (of Kargon Kargon), etc. The consistent trait though is that Bunduk Arayat is his/her abode.

In one of the versions of the story, Sinukuan has five servants, each with a superpower. For that, I adopted them and plan to include them in my comic book story concept Kalam. I made them Talapagbante ning Bunduk Arayat (Guardians of Mount Arayat) and their task basically is to ward off unwanted hostilities away from the mystic mountain.

Their looks are my own concepts, but the characters themselves and their abilities are based from actual Kapampangan mythology.

PUNTA PUNTING: an archer who hardly misses his targets
KURAN KURIN: the fastest runner (thus, can leap in great distances, too)
MIRAN MIRON: she who has telescopic eyes
SUPLA SUPLING: respiration can summon violent winds (tempest, tornadoes, and typhoon)
KARGON KARGON: excels in physical endurance and power; can lift objects several times his body weight

I am currently collaborating with Amiel Perez (Valedictorian of Holy Family Academy, HS batch 2003) in making Kalam a comic book reality. And yes, the Animax Awards 2007 regional level results will be revealed late July.

(For the uninformed: I submitted Kalam as my entry in the contest; if it wins in the international level, it will be turned into one anime episode.)

July 3, 2007

Lost Kapampangan virtues

By Robby Tantingco
Peanut Gallery

PEOPLE often describe Kapampangans as nothing but porma (form), i.e., shallow and without substance, obsessed with appearances and preoccupied with the pursuit of the good life. They tell us that Kapampangans look good, cook well, fight fearlessly, but we are not really that flattered, because we know these are not the virtues that matter and that make our race truly great and noble.

While reading Diego Bergaño's 1732 Kapampangan dictionary, I came across words that suggest Kapampangans originally were more profound than we think, and had more strength of character than we credit them for.

Succeeding generations probably lost this spiritual wealth due to interaction with colonizers, but today, after rediscovering these lost Kapampangan virtues in translated documents, we can honor the legacy of our ancestors by living their values once again.

For example, there is a term, lualo, which means "to go out in defense of the helpless, the destitute and the unprotected." It has no exact equivalent in other Philippine languages. When a word like this exists, it means its concept or practice was prevalent enough to necessitate its coinage.

The word sap or sapni, which means "camaraderie of partners, companions or friends," also applies to the camaraderie "even of a servant to a master." On the other hand, the word aniani, which means "reverence of a subject towards a superior," also means reverence "of the superior towards his subject."

These two words speak well of a people who not only treated their servants well but considered them friends and family, and returned the respect they got from them.

Saclong means to take the punishment meant for another or pay the debt which is not his own. A related word is dáme (diphthong damay), "to voluntarily take part in someone else's predicament or situation."

The English translation of Damayan da ca qng quecang lasa, which is "I condole with you in your suffering," is not an accurate translation because the Kapampangan dáme is more than offering words of condolences or expressing sympathy or same feeling, but actually participating in the other person's suffering, in order to ease his pain.

Thus, the word magdaráme, which refers to the Holy Week penitents, came from the root word dáme, because the penitents carry their cross or flagellate themselves in order to help ease Christ's suffering.

Today, penitents do it as reparation for sins, as gratitude for favors granted, as imitation of Christ, and as tourist attraction, but the original purpose of the magdaráme was "to take part in" (dáme) the passion of Christ, like a brotherhood--a mystical fellowship--of suffering.

There are flagellants all over the country and even in other countries, but only Kapampangan flagellants call themselves "fellow-sufferers." Even Bergaño himself wrote, "There is no adequate equivalent in Spanish to this word."

The early Kapampangans also valued age and respected their elders: macatua is "the elder, the venerable old man;" quetuan refers to "the attributes of an old man, excelling in age;" magmatua is "one who exercises the role of age, to whom everyone pays attention, and without whom nothing is decided."

Our ancestors valued their old folks as the wisest, most important members of the community. In contrast, we treat our old folks today as nothing more than babysitters, kitchen helps, and inconsequential members of the household, and not as the repository of family history and family values that they are.

Another extraordinary Kapampangan word: samal. This best applies to Mother Theresa of Calcutta because it means "the affection with which a charitable person cleans a nauseous person."

Our ancestors also understood the relationship between humility and forgiveness, as shown in the word sut, "to humble oneself; to reconcile oneself by going before the presence of the one to whom he humbles himself." For example, Isut mu cu cang ibpa cu, "Reconcile me with my father" or "Take me to the embrace of my father."

This Biblical imagery raises the following questions: Were these profoundly Christian concepts and virtues already inherent in pre-colonial Kapampangans even prior to their conversion to Christianity?

Or had Christian values permeated Kapampangan vocabulary by the time Bergaño wrote his book in 1732? Or did Bergaño merely gave a Christian spin or flavor to basically pagan concepts and indigenous terms?

Maybe all of the above. But the more important question is, How can modern-day Kapampangans revive these lost Kapampangan virtues?

Kapampangans should be known not just for their porma and culinary skill, but also for their aniani, their samal, their dáme and their saclong. While a cultural revival continues to sweep the province, a parallel spiritual and moral regeneration should also occur, especially in the dawning of a new era brought about by Fr. Ed Panlilio's spectacular victory.

Reference: Vocabulario de Pampango, by Diego Bergaño, OSA (1732), translated by Fr. Venancio Samson and published by the Holy Angel University Center for Kapampangan Studies. Book launching on August 24, 2007. For reservation of copies, call (045) 888 8691 local 1311, 1312 or email .