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August 18, 2008

"Kalam" visits UP Diliman, wows audience

Last Thursday, Kalalangan Kamaru, a creative group of Kapampangan youth behind productions such as the RocKapampangan album and GVFM's weekly youth-oriented Kapampangan show Frequency K; and Infomax 8, the sole Kapampangan cable channel existing in the province, visited the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman to deliver a lecture, in line with the school's occasional Alternative Classroom Learning Experience or ACLE, where regular classes are suspended in order to give way to various workshops and symposia.

UP Aguman, an organization of Kapampangans in UP, decided to invite the people behind Kalam, the first Kapampanganovela (Kapampangan telenovela), to discuss about the emergence and challenges of regional broadcast media, particularly those of Kapampangan.

Jason Paul Laxamana of Kalalangan Kamaru, writer and director of Kalam, spoke about the ideology of uniting the Philippines through respect for its cultural diversity (not uniting the country by imposing one culture or language over another), while Mau Aquino, General Manager of Infomax 8, together with Marketing Director Jomel Cruz, told the story of how and why their station decided to package themselves as a Kapampangan channel employing the use of the Kapampangan language.

Present also were Diego Marx Dobles, Asst. Director of Kalam; Nhoel Austria, Set Designer; Aries Yap, Reachel Mucho, and Peter Danganan, main actors; and the technical team of Infomax, who covered the lecture for its daily news program, I-Max News. Approximately 60 people, Kapampangans and non-Kapampangans, attended the lecture, including fellow Kapampangan Prof. Nilo Ocampo, a Filipino teacher in UP Diliman.

Members of UP Aguman with Kalam's Dette (Reachel Mucho)

Members of UP Aguman with Kalam's hero Yubs (Aries Yap)

The issue of language preservation and development versus nationalism through the Filipino language—which Laxamana, using the test of Linguistics, called just a mere dialect of Tagalog—was raised and the issue, as usual, was left unresolved.

As Aquino and Laxamana kept stressing, people should learn as much languages as they can. Kapampangans and non-Tagalogs alike are not asked to un-learn Tagalog (after all, trilingualism is their advantage over Tagalogs who are mostly only bilingual); they are asked to master their native languages—to love them with pride—and not feel inferior upon using it. What should be battled is the phenomenon of language shift, when people abandon their native languages in favor of the national language or the English language.

In spite of the heat of the argument, after the English-subtitled screening of the first episode of Kalam, which prides itself for being culturally rooted and for being in the Kapampangan language, not one person was left dissatisfied, to the point of some even claiming they prefer to patronize it over the mainstream Pinoy TV dramas.

Kalam tackles the life and adventures of a new generation of witches and healers (gifted people, or in Kapampangan, ding ating kalam) born in urban Pampanga and how they struggle to fit in a skeptical, discriminating, and fearful society. It will be an exciting mix of urban fantasy, action, romantic comedy, drama, and social relevance, while using Kapampangan culture—both past and present, folk and modern, rural and urban—as canvass.

Catch the Primerung Pasinag (Grand Premiere) of Kalam in Pampanga. It will take place on the 27th of August, 5 PM, SM Pampanga Entertainment Plaza. Aside from the screening of the first episode, various Kapampangan groups will also be performing.

UP Aguman members, Nhoel Austria, and three of the main actors


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