Alben meng manyaman, boy!

September 4, 2007

The Politics of Language in OPM

Last September 1, 2007, at the Nepo Quadrangle, Angeles City, San Miguel Beer, Kikoman Productions, and the Angeles City Tourism Office held a Battle of the Bands. In the event, the host said something that praises "Pampangueno Rock" (in Tagalog), and ironically, Kapampangan is never used in rock.

Some argue that anything produced by a Kapampangan is already Kapampangan music. Well, this is what they want us to think. I call most bands "Kapampangan People who make non-Kapampangan songs."

And then the host also said something like (the host speaks mostly in Tagalog, by the way), "give the Pampangueno rockers a chance to play with national rock musicians (who are, duh, mostly Tagalog musicians."

Isn't it insulting and amazing at the same time, that we are placed inferior to our co-Filipino musicians, yet we feel as if nothing is wrong? This is because the ideology that we are REGIONAL/unofficial and they are NATIONAL/official has been injected in our brains. We have internalized downgrading ourselves as Kapampangans, to the point that the enemy is no longer the national language policy or the domination of Tagalog in mass media but OURSELVES.

This is the result of what Neo-Marxist scholar Althusser calls Ideological State Apparatuses (ISA) which bureaucratizes the propagation of an ideology to the point that people are oppressed but do not feel it, as if nothing is wrong, and tend to accept that it's all God-given. In the discourse of language, people tend to accept that Tagalog is nationalistic and non-Tagalog is being unpatriotic.

These ISAs are what the oppressive Spaniards - using the Church - employed to halt the capitalist consciousness of natives back during the Feudal Period by propagating to them the ideology that they (the foreigners) are the messengers of God, that seeking for intelligence is evil, that Filipinos then were meant for farms, and other religious baloney that discourage material progress, such as the Beatitudes, where being poor and being homeless equate with being blessed.

Even indigenous art forms like pottery and weaving were reduced to being "crafts," and Spain honored only those that are European in nature (hello, Spoliarium).

It's the same case in the Philippines - using the concept of patriotism and nation-building - where a kind of Tagalog nationalism is being employed to halt the development of other languages INDEPENDENT of Tagalog, by propagating to all Filipinos the ideology that Tagalog will build a strong nation, that loving one's own "regional" tongue is regionalistic and divisive, that Filipino is a different language from Tagalog, and other seemingly patriotic statements that put the Tagalog language (and the Tagalog people at that, especially artists) in literary and aesthetic power.

Their literature is National Literature. Their songs are Philippine Music. They are the nation, we are the regions. Most Kapampangans have succumbed to these ideologies, to the point that the enemy is already within themselves.

There were 20 or more bands last Saturday, plus a few Pampanga-based rap acts, all proud to be Kapampangans but never empowering Kapampangan by using it on stage, by singing Kapampangan on stage. The funny thing is, upon descending from the stage, they begin using their Amanung Sisuan in conversation.

Using the rock concert stage as a symbolism, Tagalog and English are the languages of the stage where musical prestige and the glory of rock music happens, and Kapampangan is the language down below.

How could Kapampangans tolerate this?

Fortunately, with the courage of one Kapampangan band, we were able to put a Kapampangan rock act on stage -- the only Kapampangan rock act out of the many performances -- during the said contest. Asthma performs Atin Ku Pung Singsing 2 with pride, using their own initiative. This is one way of empowering the Kapampangan as a people, as a part of the Philippine nation, by asserting our own identities and not succumbing to the false demands of Tagalog nationalism.

Kapampangans should dream of the day when they wouldn't have to be "given the chance to perform with National musicians," because only by asserting their ethnic identity in their own language can they determine their own music industry independent of the crazy things happening in Metro Manila.

You are a member of this nation as a Kapampangan. Do not feel discouraged in flaunting that. Break free from the enemy planted within your consciousness.

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