Lessons from Venus Raj’s “Major, Major” Mistake

One of the hotly commented posts in the YouTube is 1969 Ms. Universe  Gloria Diaz’s comment (link here or watch the post below) in relation to Venus Raj’s response on the Q & A portion of the 2010 Ms. Universe pageant. Diaz is proposing that maybe it is high time that we employ interpreters for our candidates in Ms. Universe pageants as there are persons who can hardly speak English so they should be allowed to answer in their native tongue.

Diaz’s proposal has a point. Dakul an nagsasabi na nagluluwas na patal si Venus Raj dahil dai niya na ngani nasimbag su hapot saiya, wrong grammar pa. Mas maraot pa kaiyan, dakul an nagsasabi na hambugon asin utikon si Raj dahil imposible na wara siyang nagibong sala digdi sa kinaban maging “minor, minor” mistake man iyan. Sabi ngani kan sarong international TV news anchor, warang tawo na daing nagibong sala.

But we cannot really say that Raj is stupid. Kung sasabihon ta iyan, dakul na man an madadamay lalo na an mga eskuwelahan na nagtao saiya ki dakulang honra, an mga pulitiko na nagtabang saiya para ma-retain an korona, asin an Bb. Pilipinas organizers na nagpadara saiya sa Ms. Universe bilang kandidata. It could be that she is also intelligent only that she can’t express herself in English.

Which brings us to the point: That there is nothing wrong speaking in the local tongue. Moreso, we should consider using the local tongue as the primary medium of instruction in our schools. Otherwise, totally abolish the local tongues and teach everyone English (or the language officially desired by the Philippines) from the very moment he/she is born. The rationale for this is clear: Not to crowd too much information on an individual but to help him or her develop his logic or information processing skills and communicate the same in a language he/she is comfortable with — basically, the mother tongue.

Earlier, Biklish noted that in Kalinga, the Municipality of Lubuagan tested the idea of teaching their students in the lingua franca. The result: “when students learn to read and write in their mother tongue before learning to read and write in a second or third language, they progress more quickly both in literacy skills and in second language acquisition.”

The Lubuagan experiment was also validated in Valenzuela City just lately when fourth graders, who were given a Math quiz in Filipino, scored higher marks compared with the sixth graders who took the same quiz in English (source here).  Hence, assuming that Venus Raj is intelligent, she could have fared better when she expressed herself in her lingua franca. At any rate, the use of interpreters is not prohibited. Miss Mexico, the crowned Miss Universe 2010, in fact, used an interpreter to answer a question that requires a bit of intellectual processing compared with Raj’s question which is very personal and only requires some sort of a “memory recall”.

Gloria Diaz’s interview

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Dagdag na Rawit-dawit

[Additional pieces of “rawit-dawit” both from Mr. Jessel Basanta.]

Bituon asin Panginoron

tara bituon kan banggui
haen ka ngonyan?
baga tangis an tao
sa panganoron na sugo mo
uran nahuhulog sa sakong payo…

Repeki

tukdoan mo ako magrokyaw
mantang natatahuban nin tangis
sa tangraw kan banggui
nakaduko sa sakong plauta
arog kan mga doot sa oma
nalalagalag, namumundo sa repeki

An rawit-dawit kan sarong “tawong-lipod”

Even before the Spaniards came, Bicolanos already believe in spirits. Bako tabi su ispiritung nakakaboyong. Ini su mga inaapod na “tawong-lipod”. Kapamilya sinda kan mga inaapod na duwende, engkanto, asin iba pa.

Pero literally speaking, igwa man ki mga tawong-lipod na puwede mo mahiling, makaptan, asin maka-istorya. Ini su mga tawong lipod sa ngonyan na panahon na mga silent achievers, writers, philantophists, poets, etc. Habo lang ninda maging limelight. An iba nasusupog, an iba habo maging self-serving, asin an iba mas gusto an dai nabibisto. Ini su sinasabi ni Atty. Benjie kan Bulan Observer na an pangaran, Anonymous. Minsan man, an iba dai nadidiskubre dahil su mga tawong dapat magbisto saiya iba man an hinihiling. Pinaka-simpleng ehemplo iyo an eleksiyon kung saen su mga botante mas hinihiling asin mas ibinoboto su sikat (artista, komentarista sa radyo) bako su mga tunay na kuwalipikadong kandidato.

Continue reading “An rawit-dawit kan sarong “tawong-lipod””

An Lenguaheng Bikolnon

While writing the piece “US Political Cleavages: When Sex and Race Collide” for my politechwatch blog, I remember the two presidential aspirants from the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton and Barack Ubama. Si Ubama, nagtaram pa ki Kastila para ilusyunan an mga Latino. Garo baga si Mig Zubiri na taga Mindanao pero nagtaram ki Bicol sa pagklamar na an saiyang ina, taga Tercer Distrito kan Albay. Siring man, si Clinton (agom ni dating presidente Bill Clinton) nagkaon man ki tacos, sarong pagkaon na partikular sa mga taga South America siring kan pagiging partikular kan maluto (cooked rice) sa mga Pilipino. Habang sinusurat ko an artikulo, naisip ko: Magtaram man kaya ki Bikol si Ubama o kaya magkaon man ki maluto si Clinton na an panira Bicol Express? O kaya, maluto buda natuk ki niyog? Siguro kun ma-Bicol si Ubama, an hapot: Arin na Bicol?

Let’s talk first about rice. I remember a decade ago, the Bicol University Graduate School Student Board under the presidency of Prof. Alex De Guzman published “The Forum” with a cute caricature drawn by Jun Belgica. The caricature appears like a cross section of a geographical terrain that runs from flat and sloping to a plateu. In the flat terrain, there is a man calling rice as “maluto”. In the slope, there is another man calling rice as “omay” and at the top of the plateu there is a nipa hut with a woman calling rice as “omuy”.

Gusto ko kutang kumentaryuhan su karikatura pero sa simpleng pag-analisar, medyo may katotohanan man. Sa Legazpi kaya, kun magsapna ka ki bagas, pag naluto na an apod “maluto”. Pero mga tres kilometros lang, pag-abot mo sa Daraga, an ngaran na “omay”. Pagsakay mo sa jeep pasiring sa kabubuldan kan Camalig, Guinobatan saka Ligao, an ngaran na “omuy”. Pagpasyar mo sa Rinconada, an apod na kaan, “Kanon”. Mag-bus ka ki pirang oras, Sa Cam. Norte, “kanin” na.

A bit surprising if one is not aware that there are at least twenty Bikol dialects in the region. Halos kada munisipyo o distrito me sadiring tataramon. I was introduced to this, and was shocked, during my first day sa BU High. Upon enterring the classroom, somebody offered me a chair and said, “sala na”. I looked at the chair and saw nothing un-natural with it so I wondered what could be the chair’s mistake. Ito palan, an “sala” sa Daragueno, “tukaw” sa Legazpi. Siring man, sa Sorsogon “ingkod”.

But worthy to note, an “maluto” sa Legazpi, “maluto” man sa Naga asin an “tukaw” sa Legazpi, “tukaw” man sa Naga. An pagkakaiba lang, paghale kan bunay sa Legazpi, pagbaba sa Naga, sugok na.

I haven’t heard any authority discuss this intricacy. Siguro dahil didiit lang ang mga espesyalista sa lenguaheng Bikolnon. But my theory is that the topography of the region has something to do with it. For instance, if we are going to plot the dialects in a map, we can see that they are located in communities that are once tightly knit. Then if we overlay these plots with the old map of the region, we will be able to note that these communities are almost isolated. A very good example is Rinconada and, in a way, a greater part of the third district of Albay. We can also take Catanduanes and Sorsogon as examples. Thus, it can be concluded that the caricature of Jun Belgica is, in a way, correct. But this conclusion doesn’t mean na pag “omay” an apod mo sa “maluto” taga-bulod ka na. O kaya pag “kanon” harani ka na sa Manila.

Question: What can be the explanation for the almost similar Nagaueno and Legazpeno dialects?

Going back to the map discussion, the answer could be “transportation and communication”. We can hypothesize that during the development of the dialects, Naga and Legazpi has close contacts with each other. Entonces, pinagrani kan trasportasyon asin komunikasyon an Naga asin Legazpi. Ini an dahilan kun nata sabay na na-develop an mga tataramon sa mga siyudad na nasambit samantalang separado man an development sa mga lugar arog kan Rinconada asin Sorsogon.

An pagkakaiba lang, mas namantinir kan Naga an pagiging “original Bicol”. An dahilan, medyo “isolated” siya kumpara sa Legazpi. Kun mahihiling sa mapa, mas sentro an Legazpi kaya ini an dumanan kan mga taga-ibang lugar sa Bicol. Sunod kaan, me piyer an Legazpi kaya mas exposed siya sa ibang “elemento”. Puwede nganing sabihon na an Legazpi, sarong “melting pot” o lugar kun sain maski sisay, maski ano, nagkakatiripunan. Ikatulo, mas na-re-enforce kan Naga an tataramon niya dahil sa mga kataraning niyang banwaan arog kan Canaman, saro man sa mga haloy ng banwaan sa Bicol. Puwede na man sigurong idagdag an relihiyon na nag-re-enforcir sa pagpreserbar kan Lenguahe lalo na kan ginibo ng Bicol an mga misa.

Minsan, may mga nakakabisto akong Bicolano sa mga lugar na nadudumanan ko maging sa Pilipinas o sa luwas. Nakikidebate sinda na an standard Bicol daa iyo an Bicol Naga. This I opposed. An original na Bicol iyo an Bicol Naga pero an standard Bicol, iyo an Bicol Legazpi. Ini dahil sa “adulterated” na an Bicol Legazpi kan iba-ibang dialectong Bicolano. Gustong sabihon, mas dakul na an nagagamit kan Bicol Legazpi.

O siguro, dai man dapat ini pag-debatehan. Ini dahil base sa obserbasyon ni Tito Valiente, Bicol Naga has become a failing language — meaning, it is not anymore the “communication for initial contact” but Tagalog or Filipino. Ikaduwa, nagiging adulterated na man an Bicol Naga dahil ginuguyod na kani an mga Bicolano sa iba-ibang lugar. Arog sa pinag-agihan asin pinag-aagihan kan Legazpi. An worry nga lang, baka mawara na padagos an orihinal na Bicol.

But looking at things half empty and half full, puwedeng sabihon na an pagbabago kan lenguahe o kultura kan sarong kumunidad sarong indikasyon kan pag-asenso o pag-ruro. Siyempre sa pag-ruro, yaon an diit-diit na pagkawara kan orihinal na lenguahe. Sa lente man kan pag-asenso, puwedeng sabihon na nag-aangat na an estado kan rehiyon. Sarong ehemplo diyan an transportasyon na nagpaparani kan rehiyong Bicol sa Manila. Dati kaya masyadong harayo an Manila sa Bicol. Mala ta kun nasa Manila ka an sinasabi “Patay kang bata ka!”, pag-abot sa Bicol, nagiging “Gadan kang gurang ka!” Pero ngonyan, dahil sa text, simple na lang: Wer na u, dito na me!