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September 3, 2007

Alert: Kapampangan is a Dying Language

Manila Times has published a number of articles last Sunday to address the language issue, and Kapampangans (patriotic ones, not fakes) must start being alarmed. Consciousness of the problem alone will not aid the Kapampangan people; the consciousness should manifest in material practice.

Please read the following articles from the said newspaper (September 2).

Kapampangan and Pangasinan are now DYING LANGUAGES
By Rene Q. Bas

Experts expect Kapampangan and the Pangasinan language—out of the 10 major Philippine languages—to be extinct 20 years from now.

How can this happen? It’s easy to visualize how our Negrito (or Agta or Aeta or Ata) fellow Filipinos can disappear completely from the scene. (See “Negrito (Agta) languages’ descent to extinction” below by Prof. Fred S. Cabuang.) They die and their languages go with them forever.
Experts give different figures about the number of our languages. Most say there are 120 living languages and 175 in all including our extinct languages.

The eight major languages, according to number of speakers, and their percentage of the total Philippine population are: Tagalog 29 percent, Cebuano Bisayan 21.17 percent, Ilocano 9.31 percent, Hiligaynon Bisayan 9.11 percent, Bicolano 5.69 percent, Waray Bisayan 3.81 percent, Kapampangan 2.9 percent and Pangasinan 1.01 percent.

Language experts are agreed that languages spoken by less than 300,000 persons are endangered. They can become extinct soon enough. They see that within 20 years both Kapam-pangan and Pangasinan will no longer be spoken by a native speaker.

That the other non-Tagalog languages could also someday be in peril is indicated by the steady decline of their native speakers as a part of the population. In the past 20 years, Cebuano speakers have been reduced to just about one-fifth of the Filipino people. They were one-fourth less than 10 years ago. Ilocanos were 12 percent of the population in 1948. They now make up only 9 percent of the population. The Ilonggos show the same decline.

In the articles “Kapam-pangan can still be saved” on page A2 and “IT. Globalization killing Pangasinan language (to come out on Tuesday), how these languages have taken the path to disappearance is told.

In brief, it has happened because less and less parents use the language at home with their children. They use Tagalog in Pampanga and in Pangasinan, and also English and Ilocano, because Tagalog and English give them an advantage at school where Tagalog is used as a medium of instruction. It is rewarded as a symbol of distinction.

Speaking Tagalog and English also gets a child ready for the bigger world of overseas Filipino workers. This phenomenon happens also to the Agtas, who in Casiguran, Aurora, as Thomas Headland writes, now speak Tagalog and the dominant languages of traders and employers. Their fellow-Agta returned from a stint in Saudi Arabia speak a different tongue.

The mass media also help reinforce the dominance of Tagalog and the decline of the other languages—and the children’s love to speak Tagalog instead of their native tongue. In the Kapampangan Aka-demya’s letter to congressmen (see “Kapampangan can still be saved”) we learn what we have also seen in other non-Tagalog language communities that those who don’t speak Tagalog are looked down upon if not ostracized by classmates and teachers.

Experts and language-preservation advocates agree on some steps that can be taken to preserve the Filipino languages. Coming out next week is the story (by Prof. Fred S. Cabuang) about how the Butuanon language is being rescued from doom.

The most important recommendation is to do what the Constitution says: use the other languages also in schools and government activities and find ways to erase the second-class image of the other languages to Tagalog-based Filipino (which is the national language). See “Why our languages must be preserved.”

The Save our Languages Foundation Inc., or Solfed—to which Dr. Jose P. Dacudao (founder and president) and Prof. Fred S. Cabuang, spokesperson and congressional-relations vice-president, belong—recommends that Taga-log dominance be pulled down to allow the other languages to breathe a sense of new life.

Although millions of Filipinos with Kapampangan or Pangasinense blood flowing in their veins will never disappear, they will no longer be Kapam-pangan and Pangasinense once they have lost their languages.

The state must help preserve these languages. It can be done. They did it for Irish Gaelic, Icelandic and other languages.

But it is easier to preserve languages that have been used by their speakers and writers to create literature.

It is almost impossible for those languages, such as our aboriginal compatriots, that have no written records of their perilous voyage through the forests of their lives.

State help can still save Kapampangan

ON January 14, 2006, the Akademya Kapampangan wrote to the then-congressman representing the First District of Pampanga province, Rep. Francis L. Nepomuceno.

The Akademya’s letter is still valid today. It should be acted on by the Pampanga congressmen, one of whom is Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, the President’s son. Perhaps the Akademya can also seek President Arroyo’s help. She is a Macapagal of Pampanga after all.

“We wish to bring to your attention an extremely grave matter of concern to every Kapampangan. There is no longer any doubt now that the Kapam-pangan language is dying. If nothing is done, it will soon be dead, and so will the Kapampangans as a people.

“In his essay ‘The Vanishing Pampango Nation’ published in 1985, Renato Tayag predicted that the language would disappear within a century as Kapampangans become Tagalog. He may have been too generous with his timetable. Kapampangan may be beyond saving within a generation.

“The census shows how non-Tagalogs have been declining vis-à-vis Tagalogs for decades. Between 1948 and 1995, the proportion of Tagalogs rose from 19 percent to 29 percent, while that of Cebuanos dropped from 25 percent to 21 percent, and those of Ilocano and Ilonggo from 12 percent to 9 percent.

“The decline is especially critical in some areas. For example, the proportion of Kapampangans in Hermosa, Bataan, plunged from 55.6 percent in 1948 to 19.9 percent in 1995; in the same period, that of Dinalupihan, Bataan, fell from 47.8 percent to 19.35 percent. In Candaba, it was down to 63.6 percent by 1995.

“Census figures do not tell the whole story. The survival of a language depends on its transmission to the next generation. It is ominous that even in Pampanga, for more and more families, the language is simply not being passed on, as the younger generation is brought up speaking only Tagalog. “Tagalogs” born to Kapampangan parents are a rapidly growing sector lost to Kapampangan, and might as well have been born in Bulacan, Batangas or Rizal.

“Most disturbing of all, children who still speak Kapampangan are being ostracized and forced to switch to Tagalog to conform. Thus, in many families in which the older children still speak Kapampangan, younger ones are brought up Tagalog. The language may not even outlive this generation.

“So what if Kapampangan dies? It means that an important people, one of the eight major groups, represented by two rays in the flag, which produced many great men and women, including heads of all three branches of government, will disappear from history. It will unravel a main strand of the Philippine tapestry, without which the country’s history and identity would be incomplete. The death of our people will tear away pages from the book of humanity. A culture and identity centuries in the making, unique, beautiful and extraordinarily productive, will cease to exist.

“In practical terms, it will remove the check-and-balance which has promoted freedom at various times in history. As Nick Joaquin noted in The Aquinos of Tarlac, Tagalogs and Kapam-pangans, who occupy the Luzon heartland, have, together, kept stability in the islands. The disappearance of Kapampangans will put the most strategic parts of Luzon entirely in the hands of one group, leaving the field more susceptible to dictators. History has shown that Kapampangans have, at key points in history, stood for liberty, from Macabebe to King Soliman who fought the Spaniards at Bankusay in 1571, to revolutionaries who secured two rays (for Pampanga and Tarlac) out of eight in the flag.

“Our people have voted solidly in practically every election, often against the prevailing trend, ensuring check-and-balance. Pampanga and Southern Tarlac went for Macapagal in 1965 and Osmeña in 1969, de Venecia in 1998, and Arroyo in 2004, defying Central Luzon/Tagalog landslides for Marcos, Estrada and Poe. Consider the consequences should Kapampangans turn Tagalog and disappear as a voting bloc, removing an important political counterweight.

“Moreover, the Kapampangan language is a powerful focus for regional solidarity and identity, as well as a criterion for distinguishing natives or long-time residents, and testing the commitment of immigrants. Take it away, and Pampanga/Kapampangan will be just another political unit, instead of an entire people at par with the Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Cebuanos and other larger groups.

“It is said that the language shift is due to mass media and education. Education may be the more important factor not only because it is compulsory, but also since it ensures a ready market for mass media in Tagalog while discouraging one in the vernaculars. No program to revive Kapampangan will succeed outside the educational system. While the use of regional languages is prescribed in the Constitution, little is being done to implement those provisions.

“The effectiveness of using the first language as the medium of early education is affirmed by numerous experiments, from the Iloilo Second Language Experiment in the 1950s to the recent one using the regional lingua franca. Its role in building children’s self-esteem is undeniable:

‘The child should learn in the language he thinks in. The child needs approving emphasis on his own culture to feel good about himself.’ This emphasizes the discriminatory nature of the existing policy, which gives Tagalog children an unfair edge over non-Tagalogs, unless the latter commit cultural suicide by abandoning their languages in the home.

“The shift to Tagalog, with which our descendants will have no ethnic affinity, robs them of their past and identity, without removing discrimination or negative stereotypes of Kapampangans. Note how much prestige is commanded by ‘pure’ or ‘real’ Tagalogs. Our descendants, while exclusively Tagalog-speaking, will be anything but ‘pure,’ being of Kapampangan ancestry. Even as they have lost their language and identity, they will merely be second class Tagalogs.

“Given the gravity and urgency of the situation, we respectfully urge you to take, as soon as possible, emergency measures to save our language:

1. To use the local language as the main medium of instruction at least in the first two grades, and as a subject at higher levels.

2. To encourage the use of the regional languages in government and the mass media.

3. To constitute Kapampangans into their own state, with power over education and language policy, in case of a shift to the federal system.

“So critical is the situation that our language will reach a point of no return in a few years. When that time comes, no amount of government intervention will make a difference. When our era is judged by history, let it not be said that we did nothing to save our languages when we still could. On the other hand, the gratitude of future generations will be boundless if we succeed.”
The letter is signed by the president of Akademyang Kapampangan, Josefina D. Henson, and the moderator of DILA Philippines Foundation, Edwin N. Camaya.

What should be done to keep diversity alive

THE effort to preserve our languages in the end serves the objective of preserving our nation’s cultural diversity.

Without the ability to speak, read and write in their languages, the next generation of Filipinos in whose being Pampango and Pangasinense blood flows, can no longer be truly Kapampangans and Pangasinenses.

In his presentation to the Thirteenth Congress to dispute the claims and advocacy of those who want to strengthen the Tagalog-based national language without giving a thought to the minority languages, SOLFED’s Dr. Jose Dacudao gave these policy recommendations to save our languages while at the same making the use of language effective as teaching tools.

“We should implement a program to save our natural and ancient pre-Spanish languages and the ethnolinguistic people that they define:

“1. Teach our languages in schools in their traditional areas, especially for history and literature, and many of the arts and humanities, while retaining English for the Sciences. This is the only sure way to save a language.

Empirical evidences from Iceland (Icelandic), Ireland (Irish), Hawaii (the Hawaiian languages), mainland America (native American languages), Switzerland (Romance), and so on have repeatedly shown that minority languages can be consistently saved in this way.

“2. Create a dictionary, syllabus, and eventually literature for all the languages. This is necessary if we are to teach our languages in schools. For the larger Philippine ethnolinguistic people and some of the smaller ones, this is no problem because foreign religious missionaries from various Christian denominations and foreign linguists have often taken the time and effort to create such dictionaries and syllabuses, and to save these languages it is a matter of mass producing them and introducing them into school curricula. (It is such irony that non-Filipino foreigners have done more for our languages than so called nationalistic Filipinos, and incredibly the national government has not funded the creation of even a single non-Tagalog dictionary or syllabus.)

“3. Promote economic prosperity for all our ethnolinguistic people so that they take pride in preserving their language and identity.

“4. Promote political freedom for our ethnolinguistic people so that they are free to move to save their language and identity.

“5. Teach one or two Philippine language electives in the Tagalog regions so that Tagalogs in general will learn to tolerate and respect their fellow Filipinos as brethren and peers, and not as inferior races and provincianos.”

Before reaching the recommendation portion of his presentation at the House of Representatives, Dr. Dacudao offered compelling reasons why the Republic should care to preserve all our languages.

One of these reasons is to preserve the species.

“The basic argument for preserving a people is the same as that for preserving a species, that is, a conscious decision to stand for the diversity of Creation, he explained.

He explained: “A renowned paleontologist once said: I can see and study the fossil bones of now extinct birds, but never will I see the colors of their feathers nor hear the sweetness of their songs.

Costumes and artifacts are dead things we keep in museums and show to tourists, but the living soul of a people is its living identity carried by its language.

“A government that makes a minority people wear native costumes and dance in front of TV cameras for the sake of attracting tourists, but does not teach its language in schools, is utterly hypocritical and exploitative.

“If we are sincere in helping our ethnolinguistic people to survive, we must teach their language in schools in their traditional areas. Once a people is dead, we will never ever see the bonds that they formed, nor ever hear the melody of their tongue.”

The irony is that the government—and private sector groups—are pouring more funds and devoting more effort to save the environment and preserve plant and animal species than to save the languages of our minority peoples.

Why all our languages must be preserved
By Dr. Jose Dacudao President, Solfed

In 2004 Dr. Jose P. Dacudao, founder and president of the Save Our Languages Through Federalism (Solfed), Inc. Foundation, made a presentation to oppose the language bill filed in the House of Representatives to make Filipino (otherwise also called Pilipino at various times) the medium of instruction in all schools.

One of his points was that enactment of the bill would mean the death of the other Filipino languages.

Solfed again presented to Congress its opposition when in the Thirteenth Congress the bill was again revived.

The opposition arguments are available for all to see in the Solfed website under the title “Main Argument For Preserving Our Languages” by Jed Pensar a.k.a. Dr. J Dacudao.

Dacudao begins by extolling the value of language:

Language defines a people. A Visayan who cannot speak a Visayan language, even if he or she was born and grew up in the Visayas-Mindanao area, where there have been Visayans for more than a thousand years, is not Visayan. He has been cut off from an ancient cultural identity that remains one of the oldest in the world. Or how can a person be an Ilocano if he cannot speak it? You can’t speak Kapampangan? Then you are not Kapampangan. Ditto for Bicolanos, Warays, and all the rest.

Without our language, we have no culture, we have no identity; we are nothing.

“No one can artificially create an ethnolinguistic people. Only the Creator can. Each ethnolin-guistic people is unique, irreplaceable, and priceless. To kill off an ethnolinguistic people because of nationalist ideology or economic expediency is abominable. The survival of our ethnolin-guistic people in a Creation of diverse beauty is not even a matter of right or wrong but a matter of existence or oblivion. A hundred years from now, any debate as to whether the existence of an ethno-linguistic people is right or wrong when it has ceased to exist is completely inutile, because what is being discussed is already dead.

“Likewise, any discussion on the so-called ancestral lands issue loses its essence when the ethnolinguistic people involved has ceased to exist because of the death of its language. For example, a Manobo is by definition as a person whose native language is Manobo. So how can you talk of the ancestral lands of Manobos when the Manobos have been obliterated with the death of their language? How can you talk about a people’s ancestral lands if the people do not exist? A person who keeps on talking about defending an ancestral land of the Manobos but opposes the teaching of the Manobo language is plastic. He may in fact only be interested in land grabbing or making political capital out of the issue, but is not really genuinely interested in the survival of the Manobo people.”

Ideological uniformity

Dacudao then questions the policy to “homogenize” all the Philippine languages. He says “there is something wrong with that ideology, even if it has been taught to us since elementary school by a system that does not respect its own people.”

“The basic argument for preserving a people is the same as that for preserving a species, that is, a conscious decision to stand for the diversity of Creation. A renowned paleon-tologist once said: I can see and study the fossil bones of now extinct birds, but never will I see the colors of their feathers nor hear the sweetness of their songs.

Costumes and artifacts are dead things we keep in museums and show to tourists, but the living soul of a people is its living identity carried by its language.

“A government that makes a minority people wear native costumes and dance in front of TV cameras for the sake of attracting tourists, but does not teach its language in schools, is utterly hypocritical and exploitative.

To be continued

8 comments:

Leny said...

Jason - dakal a salamat keng masabal mu keng amanung sisuan.
leny strobel

Anonymous said...

Kapampangan ku pu at mibait king San Fernando, Pampanga. Dinagul ku Lubao at minta kami pu ding parents ku king Toronto anyang 10 yrs old ku.

Although I spent most of my life here in Toronto (I'm now 28), I still speak and obviously write and read kapampangan. Agyang ali ku comportabli, pamilitan kung ali ku akalingwan.

For me, masanting daramdaman ing kapampangan. Sana turu yu la naman pu ding anak yu atsaka sabyan yu karela na ali da akakalingwan. Ding pengari ku pu, tinuru da kekami nung makananu ka-importante na magsalita kaming kapampangan.

Ngening matwa naku pu, mangabigla la reng kapwa tamung Pilipino na bakit manga-kapampangan ku pa. Proud ku pu, na kapampangan ku. :)

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

etaya pung paboren a mabura ing dilang kapampangan. dagul ku pung canada kalupa na ning abe tamu a sinulat bayu aku, pero agyang tagalug ya i tatang ku ampong tagalug ing pamagsalita mi deng kapatad ku byasa kupa muring kapampangan. inda kumu ing pakisabyan ming kapampangan keng pamilya mi pero atleast agyang half blood kami mung kapampangan makasalita ampong intindi kami.

bayo kung bait keti byasa yang magkapampangan uning i inda na pekisabyan nalang kapampangan deng anak na. ali lamu maka intindi, makapagsalita la pa.

sana eya mawala ing dilang kapampangan king pinas. dakal a pround kapampangans and hopefully a lot more will practice it.

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Philamee Bennett said...

I have been looking for materials (books, cds) to help me learn Kapampangan language. If anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate it!

prbennet89@hotmail.com

Random Kitchen Raider said...

Masanting pung capabaluan ini..
I-share que pu queng Facebook.

Yaku pu mibait ku keti Mabalacat, pero ing ima cu pu ali neman Kapampangan, mebyasa yamu queng amanu uling kaburian na.
Meragul cu pu na atlung (3) amanu ing panigaralan at gagamitan uling ita ing buri da reng mangatua.
Pasalamat na cu man pu uling agyang ali cu la pu balu deng mangalalam a salita, ali que pa rin pu akakalingwan ing Kapampangan agyang malambat cu pung meg-obra queng Manila.

Istu ya pin pu ing sasabyan na dapat manibatan queng pengari ing initiative ning pamanuru queng amanung Kapampangan.
Adwan mi pu na sana atin na rin translator/dictionary para amanung Kapampangan, maragul ya pung saup kareng bisang mabiasa.
Dacal pung sinalagpi na ali naman Kapampangan, anya buri da rin pu mabiasa. Metung ne pu ken ing abe cu obra.