To Allow Our Ilokano Language to Speak Us is To Resist Forgetting… (Last Part)

No, the Philippines is a nation among nations for truly, it is high time that we serve the ends of cultural democracy and linguistic justice.

For the Ilokano nation has as much right to exist as a nation alongside the Tagalog nation. The Tagalog nation, we must say, has become our newest colonizer.

We cry foul about Spanish colonization.

We cry foul about American colonization.

We cry foul about Japanese occupation and invasion.

But we are not even raising a whimper against the whole scale onslaught of Tagalog in our daily lives, its onslaught on television and the media, its onslaught in our schools, colleges, and universities.

Speak English and Pilipino, boldly announces a huge billboard at the Laoag International Airport. What right does this billboard have to insult us, we the members of the Ilokano nation?

There it is, this sickness. There is the problem.

This country does not understand that in instilling love for the homeland, to love English is A-ok, to learn Tagalog is A-ok, but not at the expense of becoming ignorant of  Ilokano language, literature, and culture.

To be ignorant of our own people's self-understanding and self-reflection is the most abominable crime of all.

We all have become criminals—unwillingly, unknowingly, perhaps not volitionally. We have become criminals because we are taking part in this linguicide—in the killing of Ilokano language.

We are all criminals because we have taken an active role in newest `culturicide',  the killing of our Ilokano culture.

I say this because of what we need to do as a people in order to reclaim ourselves: WE NEED TO RESIST.

WE NEED TO RESIST THE OCCUPATION, INVASION, AND COLONIZATION OF OUR MINDS.

We need to understand and learn English and Tagalog, but if these are all the things that we know, then we do not know anything at all because we do not know who we are. The premise for a real and honest-to-goodness knowing of things is self-knowledge, the knowledge of our people, the knowledge of who we are.

 I am always troubled by our growing incapacity to resist linguicide and culturicide.

I am always troubled by our growing incapacity to realize that what is happening in this country is veritably a case of genocide and its twin, linguicide — the killing of the languages and cultures of this country because of Tagalog.

I grant that you can call Tagalog `Pilipino'.

I grant that you can call Pilipino `Filipino', and the schizophrenia continues and is not cured.

But call Tagalog `Pilipino'—with a P or with an F—I do not care. You have not two languages but one for they share mutual intelligibility, with the same grammatical structure, syntax, lexicon. We cannot be fooled all the time, even if at some point, we took part in the social drama of this shanghaiing of ourselves and our self-knowledge by the intelligentsia of this country and the political, commercial, economic, and cultural leaders conniving with them. There is a complicity here and let us expose the cultural injustice and linguistic tyranny that is happening.   

 I am not against Tagalog.

I am against Tagalog as the reason for the wholescale Ilokano linguicide.

I am not against the Tagalog people.

I am against the educational, linguistic, and cultural policies of this country that nurtures and assures the flourishing of English and Tagalog — and yet discredits the teaching of Ilokano and all our languages.

What right from heaven or from the earth do we have to have given citizenship to Tagalog, making it a 'national' and 'official' language while the rest of the country's lingua francas are left in the cold?

Whose narrow mind pushed for the notion that a country that is multilingual and multicultural like ours can only have ONE language?

Somebody is lying here. Somebody is making us a fool.

I tracked down the legal documents pertaining to the abominable concept of  'Tagalog as the basis of the national language'.

There is nowhere in two proceedings of the 1934-35 Constitutional Convention that glorified Tagalog except in that 'insertion' in the final draft of the abominable phrase 'national language based on one existing native language.' The deliberations said, in the first, second, and third draft — that the national language was to be based on "existing native languages" — and that phrase meant all of the native languages and not only Tagalog.

Now, some people made a fool of us in 1935, and 72 years, in 2007, we still believe in this lie.

This is an anomaly we want corrected. And we are going to fight — and fight we will, with your help. We are doing a lot of political work now to check the errors perpetrated by ignorant Tagalistas, and ignorant Filipino as well.

We are not going to take this sitting, and resist we will.

We will resist forgetting. Our commitment is to remember, as always, as what Iloko Creative Writing is all about.

We have put up Nakem Conferences International, the Nakem Conferences Philippines, and the International Academy for Ilokano and Amianan studies to help us correct the errors of history and to push for the continuing production, preservation, and perpetuation of the languages and cultures of Amianan.

We have made a headway in this struggle, and the universities and organizations from Region I, II, and CAR helping us, the fight will continue until the battle is won.

What we are fighting for is for Ilokano, along with other lingua francas, to become a national and official language of this country.

With the DMMMSU Open University's Ilokano Creative Writing initiative, the battle, I am sure, will be won. But we need more state universities and private academic institutions to have the same vision as DMMMSU. Please send this message that we urgently need them.

And we need them now.

Good morning to all of you.#