A Perversion of Ethnic Identity
Or if I should put it more bluntly, my question would be: Atin pa uáring Kapampángan a biásing sumúlat ampong mamásâ kng Amánu nang Sísuan? “Are there still Kapampangans who can still read and write in their own native language?”
The sad truth is, there are no new Kapampángan Poet Laureates because for the past thirty years the Kapampángan people have become illiterate in their own language. The younger generation hardly even speak it. The Kapampángan language is not taught in schools within his own homeland.
The Kapampangan ethno-linguistic group is probably the most culturally self-repressed of all lowland Philippine groups. What ethnic group in Philippines, and the world for that matter, would be slapped with a fine every time their language is spoken within the learning institutions of their homeland? Kapampangan students pay up to PHP 5.00 every time they speak Kapampangan in schools…
What ethnic group would put up a sign in his radio station that reads “No Smoking! No Kapampangan!”?
What ethnic group would consider his own language non-intellectual, unsophisticated and uncultured and therefore unfit to be used in the classroom or in the workplace?
What married couple, both Kapampángan speakers, would raise a child that speaks a language different from his own parents’?
The list of aberrations is endless. How would one expect the new crop of Kapampángans, non-proficient and illiterate as they are in their own language, to suddenly produce from among themselves a literary master in the Amánung Sísuan?
Sadly, the list of aberrations is indeed never ending. For their solution to the question as to why there aren’t anymore Poet Laureates in the Amánung Sísuan is, “Let us have a poetry contest and crown the winner Poéta Laureádo!”
Let us not discuss their authority to crown a Poet Laureate. Let us not even talk about the criteria that make a Poet Laureate. Let us discuss instead the logic of their answer. If the reason for not having any new literary masters in the Kapampángan language is that the Kapampángan people now are illiterate in it, and that they are illiterate in it because they are cultural repression reign supreme in their homeland, then, what good would a damn poetry contest do to solve this problem? I guess that abominable sign “No Smoking! No Kapampangan!” will be there to stay for all eternity.
Siuala ding Meangubie
Ligligan para karing Poeta at Deklamador king Amanung Sisuan
K [The Kapampangan Magazine], June 2004