Alben meng manyaman, boy!

October 26, 2007

Kulit Isip: Kapampangan-English Sci-Fi

This is the unfinished draft of Chapter One. I'm writing this as an entry to the Unreality Bites Philippines sci-fi, fantasy, horror writing/graphic novel contest, compiled by Neil Gaiman himself!

Kulit Isip

After resting for about twenty minutes beside the White Rock, the two began hiking past it to reach their destination.

It was a cloudless night. The sight of the starry sky gave Perry the feeling that all the constellations were watching in intrigue their journey to the crater of the mystic Mount Arayat. Past the trees and thick layers of grass, he kept walking with his flashlight pointed forward while his head was tilted up to the sky, as if hypnotized by the vastness of the firmament and the numerousness of those seemingly tiny specks of light.

Pare,” Perry calmly called out to his younger but more serious-looking companion, who was carefully watching their way with a more high-powered flashlight, “does it not amuse you that whenever you look at the starry night sky, you are actually seeing the past, since it takes light years before their light reaches our world, and by the time that happens, the stars physically have moved to different locations?”

The amused one combed back his brown hair—the color being a result of his father being a White American. “A deception indeed if you think about it, Quiel,” he elaborated, “and it makes you think: if astrologists base their prophecies from the stars, aren’t their predictions late already by the time they blurt them out to people?”

Quiel expressed no sign of amusement for he already heard that from Perry a number of times. “Before contemplating on things as distant as stars, Mr. Whitman, you might want to ponder closer to home,” he snapped while shooing the insects that flock around his light. “That’s exactly the reason that we are on this mission.”

Perry suddenly remembered all the times he was called a nerd in high school back in California for reading astronomy books manically in between classes, and frowned. “What reason? That humanity has prioritized outer space in its studies?” he asked with a tone of disinterest in Quiel’s mention of the word ‘home’.

Taking out his hanky to wipe off his sweat on the forehead despite the coldness of the place, Perry shifted his focus to the full moon, not too astonished by its misleading brightness against the dark ether for he knew it did not emit its own light.

Quiel for a few seconds also looked up to catch a glimpse of the moon. Suddenly, he remembered his grandfather’s siesta stories back when he was still a child—that bamboo pole duel between Sinukuan, the legendary deity of Mount Arayat, and Namalyari, of Mount Pinatubo of the Zambales mountain range. He would remember Apung[1] Nording reenacting how Sinukuan hit Namalyari’s eye, causing him/her to give off fainter light, thus, Bulan, or the moon. Sinukuan became ruler of the day as Aldo, the sun.

Quiel shattered his reminiscing of his magical childhood upon realization that he was already a lecturer of natural science in the University of the Philippines Pampanga Campus. It’s time he took hold of knowledge on nature, he thought; enough of folk people or institutions simply feeding the knowledge to him.

Perry still could not forget the young lecturer’s advice of sticking to things closer to home. He affirmed proudly, “Home is filled with domestic matters which I, a physics wizard, am not interested in. I understand that you, a third world country citizen, are concerned about that still. But we of the West have mastered science and are taking the responsibility of knowing the environment of Mother Gaea for you guys. We take care of cosmic affairs; you take care of earthy home. That’s division of labor for humanity.”

“And all we have to do is buy your books and study your language,” Quiel whispered in response to Perry’s racist remark. The half-American did not hear him.

“The space beyond, the governing laws, and the nature of matter are plainly much more interesting, much more mysterious,” Perry stated while raising his hands above his head as if wanting to soar to the sky and escape the gravity of domestic Earth.

His sight focused above, the outer space maniac tripped over a mossy log and fell on a shallow puddle of mud that slightly smelled putridly, defiling his aging hands which a few minutes ago where ambitiously reaching for the stars. “Putang bengi[2]!” he shouted—a local malediction he absorbed in his vocabulary from his Filipino mother who tried hard to speak in English in spite of not finishing high school to communicate with her American husband. Struggling to take his hands off the puddle of filth, he was looking around, thinking wildly whom or what to blame for the situation, not welcoming the idea that he was at fault for negligence.

Quiel looked back, not to aid in concern for his hiking companion, but to deliver a quick sermon to him, in spite of Perry being thirteen years older than him. “When I say closer to home,” he stated without smiling, “I mean closer to home. See what happens when you mentally marginalize things as simple—but urgent—as a log lying carelessly along the way?”

Perry was busy washing the dirt off his palms with his penultimate stock of bottled water, but was able to catch Quiel’s words. Dominated by pride, he refused to acknowledge the lecture and proceeded to asking if the crater was still far away.

As they continued trekking to the top, torn pieces of cloud began creeping, blanketing parts of the night sky, and reducing the brightness of the moon, but increasing the radius of its halo. Hike they did for hours with homesickness growing on Perry’s face like the bitterness of apalya[3] sticking to his taste buds, and exhilaration bit by bit wanting to come out of Quiel’s mouth, as apparent in his smile that widened every time they inched closer to the target destination.

After four hours of getting lost, catching their stamina, and finding their way, they saw the alleged stone building in the crater. Some had claimed it was a temple to worship the god or goddess of the ancient Kapampangans[4]. Some had claimed it was a hideout erected by the revolutionaries during the Spanish occupation and by communist groups that found prominence in the community during the Second World War. But to Quiel, there was something greater.

The grave expression which Quiel hours ago sported was replaced by an evil, excited look, as if the full moon had finally drawn his alter ego out. “Behold, Perry Whitman of the West!” he shouted in the summit. “In that rickety building you see lie the key to ultimate science and technology combined!”

Quiel turned to his companion with a bragging look and told him, “And I, Exequiel Galura, a Pampango of the Philippine Republic of South East Asia, have brought you so-called wizard of science here.”

Perry jumped in surprise. He never knew the introvert Quiel could shout like a punk rocker proclaiming protest against senseless pop music.

“What could you—a resident of a country stuck still in a stage of neocolonial mentality—show me in this place that would thwart my pride with the scientific achievements of my father’s homeland?”

The racist remark did not bother the young lecturer that time. Quiel began walking toward the building, the history of which was still being studied by local scholars.

Perry followed, but still went on discussing the imperial power of his country. “Look at you,” he said. “You dress like a Westerner, write using the Roman alphabet system, are in an adopted-from-the-West political system, can speak better in English than in your own—what do you guys call your language again?”

Quiel still was not giving a damn to all of Perry’s belittling statements. The thrill encrypted inside the mysterious building deserved more attention than the prejudicial Filipino-American behind him, he thought.

Perry remembered the magic word suddenly, thanks to his short conversations with Kapampangan linguistic diversity advocates in the Internet. “Oh, right, Amanung Sisuan[5],” he pronounced with an American accent.

“Why, probably even the science shows you’re watching at home—NGC, Discovery, Animal Planet—were baked by the West for you to merely dip your forks in and munch to your tummy’s satisfaction! Thank us for the knowledge we share to you.”

They reached the front of the building. Perry realized that all his words—which he intended to sound too boastful to hurt his companion’s ego—was not being listened to.

“Enough with the mystique,” Perry finally remarked. “What’s with the place? It doesn’t even look like a temple or what.”

“Judge not a book by its cover,” Quiel commented back. “And sometimes, the book being judged is not even the right book.”

Quiel got out a folded map—like a detailed overview of Mount Arayat—and pointed the X-mark to Perry, signifying that that was where they should search. “Put your gloves on and start digging,” Quiel ordered with authority, killing the last bit of respect toward elders expected from him as someone younger.

Not carrying any shovel to ease their way up the summit, they had no choice but to use their hands like primitives in unearthing, to the exasperation of Perry. They dug the earth on the left of the building; Quiel was digging faster than his companion as if battery-energized.

Without Perry noticing, Quiel grabbed his last bottled water and poured all of its content to their hole to soften the soil. Perry wanted to frown upon realizing but was held back by the fact that he no longer could do anything about it.

After ten more minutes, “Oyni[6]! Oyni! Oyni!” the excited one exclaimed, as he pushed Perry back—as if only Quiel should see the thing first—and pulled vehemently up the hole a slightly flat, tin rectangular box.

Perry was beginning to find Quiel strange. If not only for Quiel’s academic reputation, he would think he was already going insane, especially with the psychotic look on his face. The birds which natives call balaue[7] started flying out of the trees toward somewhere else, as the clouds that blur the moonlight have now cleared the sky above the crater.

“So what’s inside that case?” Perry asked. “More documented tales about Jose Rizal and his women?”

“These,” Quiel slithered eerily, “are the Kulit Isip.”

The treasure hunter’s eyes were glued only to the surface of the box. Without looking at Perry, he told him, “But of course, as a Filipino-American who has rejected his maternal ethnicity, I bet you don’t know what that means.”

“Like I said, division of labor,” Perry was quick to answer back. “Now is when you Flip come in the scene to explain what that could possibly mean.”

Quiel began dusting off the box. He started to explicate, “Kulit Isip is a Kapampangan phrase which roughly translates to Scriptures of the Mind. Kulit, if you check Fray Diego Bergano’s 17th century dictionary, means the indigenous orthography of our ancestors. However, in your dear English language, you can call them the Mind Codes.”

[1] Apu – a title used by Kapampangans to address the names of elders

[2] A malediction in the Philippine Kapampangan language which translates to: “The night is a whore!”

[3] Native name of bitter gourd

[4] The seventh largest ethnic group in the Philippines found in the provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, and Bulacan

[5] Literally, language or word from which one suckles

[6] “Here it is!”

[7] Hawk

October 19, 2007

Group bares Pampanga Bay development plan

MASANTOL -- A development plan for the Pampanga Bay was revealed on Thursday by the Advocacy for the Development of Central Luzon (ADCL) in close coordination with the local governments of Minalin, Macabebe and this town, which is aimed to develop the area as an eco- tourism destination and marine life center.

The Pampanga Bay runs along the municipalities of Sasmuan, Macabebe and Masantol while both the Pampanga River and Guagua-Pasac River end at the Pampanga Bay.

Also, the group is urging for the protection of the Pampanga Bay's mangroves, saying they are a natural attraction for nature-lovers and serve as a sanctuary of marine life including crabs, shrimps, fish and birds.

Mangroves are also crucial to marine life for they serve as breeding ground for fish, shrimps, crabs and more. They are also a natural habitat for various birds and help protect our shorelines from heavy winds, erosion and strong tides.

"The Pampanga Bay mangroves will serve as our rallying point to promote the area as a tourist destination and eventually as a center for marine trade," the group said.

"But before we could even promote Pampanga Bay as an eco-tourism spot, it is crucial to first assess what must be done with the remaining mangroves and how to clean the Pampanga waters," they added.

The cleanup of solid wastes from the open sea and those dumped by local residents along the Pampanga Delta Protective Dike is the huge challenge.

ADCL's proposed development plan is divided into two phases -- phase 1 deals with cleaning and re-greening, mangrove protection and propagation and eco-tourism development while phase 2 deals with the marine produce center.

Pampanga fourth district Board Members Ricardo Yabut and Nelson Calara and Minalin Vice Mayor Edgardo Yambao expressed full support after they reminisced the time that mangroves and marine life were abundant in the area.

In the end, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) lauded ADCL for its efforts in regaining the past glory of Pampanga.

DENR officials explained the importance of mangroves in the ecosystem, their cause of death, and pollution.

"Solid waste management is only one of the factors in killing the mangroves. The local government units (LGUs) have a bigger role in addressing the solid waste management problem," they said.

"Advocacy is very important. This would be the role of ADCL. If we can educate all stakeholders, we can help educate others," they added. (RCG)

October 15, 2007

Kapampangan Punk: The Istukas Over Disneyland

I never thought that even before the conception of RocKapampangan, one underground band from Angeles City had already churned out one Kapampangan punk rock song.

The moment someone told me (Elijay of the band Fine Time) that a certain group called The Istukas Over Disneyland has some Kapampangan stuff in their album, I made it a short-term mission to track the whereabouts of these guys. But they were underground, and it was hard finding them.

However, I underestimated their celebrity. Searching the net for the mysterious punk rock group, I have come across several sites that mention these guys! Not only that, I was able to find their Kapampangan song, Biye Keni Yatu [Life In This World], the lyrics of which would delight pubic teenagers who are beginning to spot and question the ills and ironies of society but are pressured to accept things as they are with blind faith.

The song is included in their likewise Kapampangan-titled album, O Guinu! (O, God!)

Mababa la ring marka
Tauli ka pa king eskuela
Meyari na ka masakit pang manakit obra
Obra nang obra
Karing maragul a korporasyun
Bang ditak a luhu king biye adanas mu

[Grades are low
And you're even late in school
You've graduated but couldn't find a job
Work and work
In huge corporations
To experience a little luxury in life]

King arapan ning telebisyun
Masanting ngan ing karelang bage
Ditak a sueldu keng ditak a saya
Pamandurak king biye da ring makabiye
Masanting yang pagumasdan

[In front of the television
Everything is beautiful
Little wage for a little joy

Exploiting the life of those who can buy
It's nice to observe

Kumabiye ka, mate ka
Makaniyan ing biye keni yatu
Saya ka, misakitan ka
Makaniyan ing biye keni yatu

[You'll live, you'll die
That's how life in this world is
You'll be happy, you'll get sick
That's how life in this world is

Asbuk, makasara
Mata, makapiyak la
Magbulagbulagan tamu karing akakit tamu
Balugbug, maklak la
Ala ta'ng gagauan
Mate ka, kaburian ta'na 'gyang man ngeni

[Mouths, they're shut
Eyes, they're closed
We pretend to be blind with the things we see
Ears, they're deaf
We do nothing
To die is what we want even now]

Mangabiyayan ka
Kayabe da ring memalen
Pamanalakad king biye
Ingatan me
Detang king puestu
Ilang makapangyarihan
Kaburian da ring kaluguran
Yang malilyari

[You start to work
Together with the people
Take good care of
How you run your life
Those in public office
They have all the power
But what their friends desire
are what are executed

Sermun king simbahan
Baual ing imoralidad
Bulung da ring pari
E na dapat pangalandakan
Paburen da kang tuki king
Utus ning pengari
Isara mu ne mu ing asbuk mu
E na makibat pa

[The sermon at church
Says immorality is prohibited
The whisper of the priests
Should not be flaunted about
They would just let you obey
What your parents say

Just shut your mouth close
No answering back]

Kumabiye ka, mate ka
Makaniyan ing biye keni yatu
Saya ka, misakitan ka
Makaniyan ing biye keni yatu

Asbuk, makasara
Mata, makapiyak la
Magbulagbulagan tamu karing akakit tamu
Balugbug, maklak la
Ala ta'ng gagauan
Mabiye ka, kaburian ta'na 'gyang man ngeni

If you want to listen to the song, follow this link and look for the Biye Keni Yatu song.

October 9, 2007

Lost temple on Mount Arayat?

By Robby Tantingco
Peanut Gallery

A FRIEND of mine went up to Mount Arayat, hiked past the White Rock to reach the summit, and got lost. He was supposed to go down by nightfall but according tohim, he wandered round and round the mountaintop and kept coming back to where he had been. He managed to find his way down only the following day.

Quite dehydrated and hallucinating, he talked aboutseeing strange lights guiding (or misguiding) himthrough the night, and hearing whispers and othercreepy sounds. He swore that the mountain was enchanted, thus echoing what others before him have concluded. In fact, our ancestors who climbed the mountain and lived to tell their story probably experienced the same thing, prompting them to weavethe story of Sinukuan.

I climbed Mount Arayat only once but my gaze is always drawn to it practically every waking day of my life.On a clear day you can see details on the slopes, like the gulley that seems to have been formed by a prehistoric violent rush of water from quite possibly a crater lake, and of course the White Rock, which our ancestors thought was the palace of Sinukuan but which is probably the extinct volcano’s lava dome.

E. Aguilar Cruz once wrote that the ancient Kapampangans were really mountain worshippers who putup their settlements around a sacred mountain instead of along riverbanks. If indeed, they had come from the sea, the first thing our ancestors saw was the distantMount Arayat (I proved this when I was on a boat inManila Bay) and they merely stumbled upon Pampanga River on their way to the mountain.

Thus, if our ancestors worshipped Mount Arayat, they must have built a temple around it, or on its slopes, or maybe on top of it -- so I thought. Borubodur and the Angkor Wat temples were hidden in the jungle for many centuries before they were discovered. My theory was bolstered when my friend who went up and got lost on top of Mount Arayat told me that indeed, he saw a moss-covered structure near the summit that looked like a temple.

My friend was not very good at describing things so he just gave me a very vague description of "a wall made of square stones with adoor in the middle."

How high was it? I asked. High, he replied. How wide? I insisted. Wide, he said. I organized and sent a team of researchers from the Center for Kapampangan Studies to look for this mystery structure on top of Mount Arayat, while I waited in the office all day. I told them to call or text me as soon as they found it, so that we could call our media friends to make the big announcement.

As I waited for them, I did my own research in the archives. Throughout history, Mount Arayat had indeed served as the sanctuary of mystics and hermits as well as a refuge for scoundrels and rebels. The plateau between the White Rock and the summit,which is probably the volcano's caldera (crater), was the hideout and headquarters of the revolutionaries in1897 and 1899; it even had a name: Real de Camansi (Camansi Military Camp).

According to one account, the revolutionaries built on this plateau barracks for the troops, houses and offices, for revolutionary leaders like Gen. Francisco Makabulos and Gen. Servillano Aquino. On November 27, 1897, the Spanish Army under Gen.Ricardo Monet sent more than a thousand troops (Spaniards and Macabebe volunteers) up the mountain toattack the revolutionaries at the Camansi camp.

TheMacabebes were stationed on a boulder near the White Rock. A storm, however, prevented what could have been a massacre of the revolutionaries; instead, the Spanish troops retreated back to Magalang. Throughout the day the Spaniards climbed back to the mountaintop a total of six times, and six times they were repulsed byMakabulos' men.

But the Spaniards continued attacking throughout the stormy night, and by daybreak the camp had fallen. Out of over 2000 revolutionaries, 93 were killed; the rest, including Gen. Makabulos and Gen. Aquino, had escaped. Aquino was captured later in SanFernando and was executed at Fort Santiago.

Makabulos survived the Revolution but fought again during the Philippine-American War, surrendered toGen. Arthur McArthur in 1900, and retired as a farmer and poet in La Paz, Tarlac. A few years later, a prisoner-turned- cult leader Felipe Salvador spread his gospel of rain of gold and jewel and redistribution of land” in the region around Mount Arayat, until he was recaptured and publicly hanged.

In the shadow of Mount Arayat, the HUKBALAHAP was organized, and so was its mutant, the Hukbong Mapagpalaya sa Bayan (HMB), as well as all the other communist organizations and armies that engaged the government forces for decades.

Today, the mysticism of Mount Arayat finds expression in a mysterious Rizalista community nestled on its slopes, where long-haired, white-robed members venerate a gallery of saints including an old lady named Sinukuan.

Well, anyway, my research team finally returned from their expedition on Mount Arayat. They reported that they reached only the White Rock and could not go anyfarther because they had lost their way and night was falling. They vowed, though, to return another daybecause they are convinced, something is up there, waiting to be discovered. Maybe not a prehistoric temple, but Gen. Makabulos' military camp. Well, not bad.

October 1, 2007

Tibuan performs 'Ika Ing Pangarap'

One of Angeles City's prime band Tibuan performs the Totoy Bato-popularized song 'Ika Ing Pangarap' (You Are The Ambition) -- their piece included in the RocKapampangan album set to be out in December 2007.

Tibuan performed as guest band (being 2006's winner) in the San Miguel Beer Battle of the Bands Grand Finals held at Nepo Quadrangle, Angeles City.

The RocKapampangan project aims to instill in Kapampangan musicians, particularly bands, the pride in their own language by inspiring them to employ their Amanung Sisuan (Suckled Language) in their performances and compositions.