By Dr. Jose Palu-ay Dacudao
December 17, 2007
Short Story of a Scandal in the National Commission on Culture and the Arts
(Based on Ongoing Actual Events)
NOTE: The letters in this short story are actual letters that have been submitted to the real National Commission on Culture and the Arts
November 2007 Butuan City , Agusan del Norte, Mindanao Island , Philippines:
Last November 2007, a SOLFED member in MetroManila proposed that I apply for SOLFED and myself to the NCCA National Committee on Language and Translation. That caught me by surprise.
Huh whats this? Doesnt the Commission focus only on the Tagalog (honey-coated as Filipino) language?
No, it's now open to non-Tagalog writers. Better submit your applications quick.
Next day on 17 November, after finishing rounds of my patients and seeing referrals, I emailed hurriedly made applications to the NCCA official email address, both for SOLFED as an organization and for myself. For the blanks on achievements, I placed in the Butuanon syllabus/ grammar book and our recently finished translation of the Department of Educations Basic Learning Literacy Materials into Binutuanon.
In truth, I really did not think that the applications that I submitted had an iota of a chance at being accepted in a Manila-based institution teeming with Tagalistas, oh all so willing to ground non-Tagalogs to dust and extinction, but there was no harm in submitting. So submit I did.
13 December 2007
An NCCA member friendly with SOLFED called me up.
Hello Doc Joey. Have you heard anything new with your applications?
No, was my flat reply.
Hmm, I heard that they were rejected outright.
Why does that not surprise me?
His next words did surprise me. Lets fight it out. Why dont you re-submit another set of applications both for yourself and SOLFED? If they dont even bother to communicate with you, better file a formal protest. I suggest that you obtain the endorsements of two NGOs active in preserving non-Tagalog languages.
I better get this done quick, I thought. First I contacted Jorge, the force behind Butuan Global Forum Foundation Inc. BGF and SOLFED have been cooperating in the organizing of Butuanon language camps in Baranggay Babag, the last Butuanon-speaking area of Butuan, that teach Binutuanon to young people in Butuan, mostly students on vacation. Since he was out of town, he called up Owen, the Executive Director of BGF, who was in Butuan. In short order, I made an appointment with Owen
Next, I contacted Dr Rene, President of Ivory Charities Foundation Inc, which together with the Butuan Charities of Southern California, had started the Alfonso R. Alaan Moral Intervention for the Youth project, formerly called the I Love Butuan project, which among other things, teach Binutuanon to students in the Butuan Central Elementary School . This program uses the Butuanon syllabus that SOLFED and I made. Dr. Rene invited me to speak before the Ivory Charities Board meeting scheduled next day.
Noon of 14 December, Montilla Boulevard , Butuan City :
Both Owen and I arrived nearly at the same time in our meeting place in front of Equitable Bank.
The genial Owen greeted me. What can I do to help? I had previously primed him of SOLFEDs situation in the NCCA.
I went straight to the point. As I have said, we need the endorsements of two NGOs who are active in promoting non-Tagalog Philippine languages.
Owen also went straight to the point. OK, where is the letter of endorsement?
Owen accompanied me to my apartment. Several SOLFED choir members were practicing Butuanon carols there, including Cathy, the contact person of Owen and BGF in Babag for the language camps. Cathy served him ice cream from my freezer. I printed out the letter. My computers sound system played Butuanon songs that the SOLFED choir had previously recorded. The other choir members politely conversed with Owen, who signed the endorsement letter when it came out of the printer.
Evening of 14 December, Doongan Road Butuan City :
I attended the Ivory Charities Board meeting. The Board members were conducting the meeting in Binutuanon, one of the dying languages of the world. The wonder of it, to hear a dying tongue come alive during a meeting of one of the most active NGOs in Butuan! Dr. Rene graciously let me say my piece at the outset of the meeting.
First on the agenda is what Doc Joey has to say, Dr. Rene announced.
Madyaw nga duum I commenced, good evening, and explained the situation, also in Binutuanon. The Board was happy that someone was fighting for the preservation of their precious and irreplaceable but alas dying language, the language that had given the Butuanon people their identity for more than a thousand years, in a Government body at the national level. Without much ado, they unanimously agreed to endorse SOLFED. I produced a pre-printed endorsement letter, which Dr. Rene signed.
Afternoon of 15 December 2007:
I meticulously filled up the NCCA application forms, attached the two letters of endorsements, and emailed them to the NCCA.
Night of the 15th and morning of the 16th, a flurry of texts and calls:
It had become obvious to everyone in the business of language preservation in the past week that the language killers, Tagalistas affiliated to WIKA NGO, had rigged the National Commission on Culture and the Arts -National Committee on Language and Translation December 10 election of officers. If successful, and they won the rigged elections in a farcically convincing manner, they would sit in and control the Committee until 2010. Efforts to preserve the non-Tagalog languages of the Philippines at the highest government levels would suffer a severe setback.
A friend from the NCCA called me.
Doc Joey. We have no choice. We have to protest.
Sometimes we just get caught in an evil morass from which only one true path leads out. Often such path unfortunately looks like mud. Hypocrites and fools might take the easy way out, but those who are touched by fate know that they really have no choice.
The Komisyon Sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) had already filed a protest written by its Chairman Dr. Ricardo Nolasco.
Is it a choice between protesting and not protesting? No choice really. I started turning the wheels that would lead to the following letters:
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -------
Usec Vilma Labrador
National Commission for Culture and the Arts
December 16, 2007
A SOLFED member in Metro Manila has informed us that the applications to the NCCA Committee for Language and Translation of SOLFED and I were rejected. No reasons have been sent to us, as for instance what specific rules or criteria were violated by us, so we must assume that we did not satisfy the of the Committee form their point of view.
We informed Dr. Nolasco of the KWF as he was one of the people who recommended our application, as can be seen in our application forms. We learned that he too was dissatisfied with the electoral proceedings, and that KWF has lodged an official protest to NCCA. (Appendix A)
SOLFED and I support the KWF protest, and we would also like to file our own protest.
Save Our Languages Through Federalism Foundation, Inc. (SOLFED) is protesting the elections of the NCCA Committee for Language and Translation; and would recommend that it be cleared invalid and a fair election be held sometime in January or February 2008, based on the following grounds:
1. SOLFED and I were not informed of the rules and criteria for membership in the above Committee. For instance, we did not know at first that the NCCA Board has opened membership in the above Committee to non- Tagalog translators and writers for the purpose of developing non-Tagalog Philippine languages in a pluralistic setting, as is clear from the KWF protest letter. As such we did not have sufficient time to adequately prepare our applications.
2. There is gross misrepresentation of the ethno-linguistic peoples of the Philippines in the above committee as is clear from the KWF protest letter that lists the interlocking directorates of Tagalog writers that control the above committee. In particular, the non- Tagalog Peoples of the Philippines have been left without a valid voice.
This gross misrepresentation of our peoples could be regarded as an outright violation of the United Nations declarations on Human Rights, in particular linguistic rights, to which the Philippine Government is signatory to. In brief, the Philippine Government has an obligation to adequately represent all its ethno-linguistic peoples in its governmental bodies such as the NCCA. What is happening in the NCCA Committee for Language and Translation could be regarded as such a violation. Appended to this letter are the said UN declarations. (Appendix B-1, B-2, B-3)
Jose Palu-ay Dacudao(sgd)
In behalf of SOLFED and myself as an individual
Appendix A of Letter 1:
REPUBLIKA NG PILIPINAS
Tanggapan ng Pangulo
KOMISYON SA WIKANG FILIPINO
G/F Watson Bldg., 1610 J.P. Laurel Street San Miguel, Manila P.O Box 2282 Manila
13 December 2008
Usec Vilma Labrador
National Commission on Culture and the Arts
Dear Usec. Labrador :
This refers to the undersigneds letter dated 10 December 2007 expressing his protest over the election of officers of the National Committee on Language and Translation Executive Council (NCLT-ExeCon 2007 - 2010 held on even date. (Please see Annex A.)
It may be important to note at the outset that through a letter dated 06 December 2007, the undersigned, for and in behalf of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filpino (KWF), moved that National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) defer the said election (Annex B). Hereinbelow are the grounds:
(a) Failure to communicate with the stakeholders the rules on application for membership to the NCLT; and
(b) Gross under representation of the sector and mass disenfranchisement.
Failure to Communicate the Rules on NCLT Membership
In a letter dated 07 December 2007, Dr. Galileo S. Zafra, NCLT Secretary, rebutted the claims of the undersigned (Annex C). Concerning the first allegation, he asseverated that the rules on the application for membership to the NCLT were published in three (3) newspapers (i.e., Manila Standard, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Manila Bulletin). The same were also reportedly posted at the at NCCA website, and announced during the television and radio programs (i.e., Sining Gising at Channel 4 and DZRH)
Contrary to the claims of Dr. Zafra, however, the specific rules on application for membership to the NCLT (i.e. well known in language teaching, not limited to the Filipino language) were never published (Annex D). What the NCCA published in the newspapers are the 2007 Amended Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 7356.
Thus, while the NCAA Board has widened the criteria for membership in the NCLT to include thereto those in the language teaching and translation professions (not only involving the national language), the same has been rendered meaningless because such information did not reach and was not widely communicated to the stakeholders. Consequently, the KWF received many complaints from institutions, organizations and individuals saying that they were not able to apply for membership with the NCLT because of lack of knowledge and information, thereby requesting the postponement of the election of officers for the NCLT ExeCon 2007 2010 (Annexes E to M).
Gross Under-representation Inequitable Distribution and Disenfranchisement
The ineffectual promulgation of the rules on application for NCLT membership resulted in gross under representation, inequitable distribution and disenfranchisement of stakeholders in Philippine languages and translation.
Per records, only 37 applicants applied for the NCLT membership, with only 27 were found to be qualified as election participants for the Executive Council (ExeCon ) 2007-2010 (Annex N). Of this number, 20 are representatives of the Tagalog/Filipino language. Moreover, the so called eligible voters form no more than six (6) interlocking directorates/ affiliates in a common entity or association (Annexes O,O-1TOO-10. These six interlocking entities consist of UP, SANGFIL, FIT, the WIKA network, PSLF and SALIN.
To illustrate, Dr. Zafra , a Tagalog, is a faculty member of the University of the Philippines Departamento ng Filipino, permanent secretary general of SANGFIL, (Sanggunian sa Filipino), Katipong Tagapagpaganap of FIT (Filipinas Institute of Translation) , and signatory to the WIKA (Wika ng Kultura at Agham) petition. He cannot hide his affiliations by simply saying that he registered as an individual applicant, (Look at Annex O for more cases.)
No representative from the indigenous peoples of Mindanao and the Muslimized groups involved in language work and translation was able to vote and be voted upon in the elections. As expected, the six (6) interlocking entities led by Virgilio Armalio won in the uncontested election.
As submitted by the different stakeholders in the Philippine languages and translation petitioning for postponement, the election of officers for the NCLT ExeCon 2007 - 2010 held on 10 December 2007 runs counter to the very principles to which the NCCA policies and programs are ought to be governed, i.e., pluralistic (by fostering deep respect for the cultural identity of each locality, region or ethno linguistic locality, as well as elements assimilated from other cultures through the natural process of acculturations), democratic (by encouraging and supporting the participation of the vast masses of the Filipino people in each programs and projects), and non-partisan (by being open to all people and institutions, regardless of creed, affiliation, ideology, ethnic origin, age, gender, or class, with no organized group or sector having monopoly of its services).
In view of the foregoing, the undersigned respectfully moves that the NCCA Board of Commissioners: (a) declare a failure and / or nullification of election for the officers of the NCLT - Execon 2007 - 2010; (b) formulate rules which will ensure the democratic participation of the different stakeholders in order to prevent a repeat of the December 10 farcical election, and (c) authorize the conduct of a new one after proactively inviting stakeholders in the different regions and ethnolinguistic groups and effectively disseminating the rules on application for NCLT membership to allow all the interested parties to submit their respective applications therefor.
It is further prayed that the election for the representative of the Subcommission on Cultural Dissemination to the NCCA Board scheduled on 14 December 2007 be held in abeyance until after the resolution of the controversy at hand.
Very truly yours,
RICARDO MA. NOLASCO
Copy furnished: Executive Director Cecile Guidote-Alvarez
10 December 2007
NATIONAL COMMITTEE ON LANGUAGE AND TRANSLATION
National Committee for Culture and the Arts
I am putting this election under protest for the same reasons contained in my letter to USEC Labrador, dated December 6, 2007. I requested that this letter be made part of the minutes of the proceedings of the illegal and fake election.
RICARDO MA. NOLASCO
Chair, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino
INTERLOCKING DIRECTORATES AND AFFILIATES
OF THE 27 ELIGIBLE VOTERS IN THE DECEMBER 10, 2007 ELECTION OF THE
NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR LANGUAGE AND TRANSLATION
- Virgilio Almario, Tagalog, Dean of the UP College of Arts and Letters, faculty member of the UP Departamento ng Filipino, founding member of SANGFIL, katipong tagapayo of the Filipinas Institute of Translation (FIT), signatory to the WIKA petition;
- Galileo Zafra, Tagalog, faculty member of the UP Departamento ng Filipino, permanent secretary general of SANGFIL, Katipong Tagpagpaganap of FIT, signatory to the WIKA petition;
- Pamela Constantino, Tagalog, current UP Registrar, faculty member of the UP Departamento ng Filipino, SANGFIL president (1999-2003), katipon of FIT,
- Vina Paz, Tagalog, chair of the UP Departamento ng Filipino, SANGFIL treasurer, signatory to the WIKA petition;
- Rosario Torres Yu, Tagalog, faculty member of the UP Departamento ng Filipino, signatory to WIKA petition;
- Jovy Peregrino, Tagalog, faculty member of the UP Departamento ng Filipino, katipon of FIT, SANGFIL member, signatory to the WIKA petition;
- Romulo Baquiran, Tagalog, faculty of the UP Departamento ng Filipino, president of FIT, signatory to the WIKA petition;
- Jimmuel Naval, Tagalog, faculty member of the UP Departamento ng Filipino;
- Severino Capitan, Tagalog, faculty member of the UP Los Banos which is a SANGFIL affiliate;
- Trinidad Regala, Tagalog but teaches Spanish, faculty member of the UP College of Arts and Letters;
- Lourdes Barcenas, di- Tagalog, faculty member of UP Visayas, UP faculty regent;
- Purificacion Delima, di- Tagalog, katipon of FIT, faculty member of UP Baguio which is a SANGFIL affiliate;
- Corazon Santos, Tagalog, SANGFIL president;
- Michael Coroza, Tagalog, katipong Tagapagpaganap of FIT, faculty member of the Department of Filipino (Ateneo) which is a SANGFIL affiliate, signatory to the WIKA petition;
- Aurora Batnag, Tagalog, katipon of FIT, SALIN president, PSLF vice-president, signatory to the WIKA petition;
- Teresita Fortunato, Tagalog, PSLF president, faculty member of DSLU ( Manila ) which is a SANGFIL affiliate;
- Rolando Bernales, Tagalog, Press Relations Officer ng PSLF.
- Leuterio Nicholas, Tagalog, Board member ng FIT;
- John Barrios, di-Tagalog pero nagtuturo ng Filipino, katipon ng FIT, faculty member ng UP High School sa Iloilo ;
- Imelda de Castro, Tagalog, SANGFIL board of directors;
- Perla Carpio, Tagalog, SANGFIL board of directors;
- Abdon Balde Jr., di- Tagalog, signatory to the WIKA petition;
- Isabel Martin, Linguistic Society of the Philippines president;
- Erlinda San Juan, Tagalog, representative of the Pangrehiyong Sentro sa Wikang Filipino based in the Palawan State University ;
- Narrisa Gangoso, Tagalog, representative of the Pangrehiyong Sentro sa Wikang Filipino based in West Visayas State University ;
- Ma. Luz Andal, di-Tagalog, representative of the Pangrehiyong Sentro sa Wikang Filipino based in Cotabato Polytechnic College ;
- Lededica Leyson, di- Tagalog, representative of the Pangrehiyong Sentro sa Wikang Filipino based in Cebu Normal University (CNU);
(NOTE: Letter 1 Appendix B1, B2, and B3 will be appended to this as attachments since they are quite long.)
17 December 2007
Usec Vilma Labrador
National Commission on Culture and the Arts
This is a follow up to the letter sent by SOLFED and I to the NCCA on 16 December 2007 protesting the NCCA-NCLT 10 December 2007 elections.
Below are some important points:
1. Virgilio Almario is listed as representing WIKA organization. (Appendix A)
2. There is an NCCA-NCLT rule that says that such an organization must exist for at least 1 and 1/2 years, to quote:
The institution/ organization should be in existence for at least
1 1/2 years. (Appendix B)
3. WIKA was registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission on 3 January 2007, less than 1 and 1/2 years ago. (Appendix C)
Therefore, by their own rules, NCCA-NCLT should disqualify Virgilio Almario and WIKA.
We must state that we are dismayed by the double standards that the NCCA-NCLT is exhibiting in choosing who or who not to qualify as members.
Again we reiterate our protest that the December 10 elections be declared invalid and a fair one be held sometime in January or February 2008.
Jose Palu-ay Dacudao (Sgd)
In behalf of SOLFED and myself as an individual
(Note: Letter 2 Appendices A, B, and C are appended to this in attachments. )
Night of 17 December 2007:
How will this story end? I dont know. Some might say it would depend on what purpose and serendipity blows our way. Which reminds me to remind the reader that my purpose is really for you to see the purpose of this story. And the purpose of this story? Thats for you to answer. And if you see it, I hope you act on it!
(For comments please email to docjedpensar@ yahoo.com. ph or text to 09274489818. )