Saturday, June 17, 2017

Culture Nurture: Hiligaynon: The Mother Tongue of Ilonggos and Negrosanons By: James U. Sy Jr.

“Are you proud to be a Filipino?” “Yes!!!” is always the answer I get from my students. However, the more pressing question is whether such an answer is the simple truth or simply a way of conforming to an accepted norm by our society. When we dig down deeper we will notice that Filipinos by nature have a penchant for things foreign. Some explain it simply as colonial mentality. Imported goods are simply irrestible. Even teen pop culture is highly influenced by foreign culture, just to name a few: Korea telenovelas, Japanese anime, and American fast food lifestyle. Even in terms of martial culture, more teenage and not so young Filipinos practice other Asian martial arts as compared to the national sport and martial art of Arnis (well, at least in the cities). And many Filipinas of today would rather marry a foreigner than a Filipino. One possible cause of this is not knowing much of one’s own culture. Culture is simply the dynamic social systems and shared patterns of behavior, beliefs, knowledge, attitudes and values of a group of people. Understanding one’s culture is a step towards knowing oneself. Only when one knows himself can he truly love himself and everything about himself. When talking about culture, it is inevitable to touch on language since language is the means by which culture is transmitted. The world has between 6,000 and 7,100 languages, depending on the source’s 1) definition of language and 2) distinction between languages and dialects. The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) Ethnologue, which is a less conservative classification, cataloged 7,106 languages as of 2014 (with a world population of 6,800,596,862). The Philippines has 171 living and 5 extinct languages, according to the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). Influences to the Filipino languages include Castillan Spanish, English, Hokkien/Fukien Chinese, Malay, Javanese, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Farsi (Persian) among others. Of the 171 living languages of the Philippines, there are 8 major languages (with at least 1 million speakers each), namely Cebuano, Tagalog, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Bicolano, Waray-Waray, and Pangasinan. All the Filipino languages, except for Chavacano (which is based on Spanish), are classified under the Malayo-Polynesian subgroup of the Austronesian language family. The Austronesian language family is spoken by 5.9% of the world’s population, stretching from Madagascar to maritime Southeast Asia all the way to Oceania. The family includes Malagasy, Maori, Samoan, and many of the indigenous languages of Indonesia and Taiwan. The Austronesian languages are considered to have originated in Taiwan around 3000 BC. Since the Filipino languages are of the same language family there is a level of intelligibility among them. Consider the English sentence “This is my slipper” when translated to the following Filipino languages: Akin ang tsinelas na ito (Tagalog); Akoa baya ning sinilas (Cebuano); Ahoa baja ning sinilas (Boholano); Akon ang tsinelas nga ini (Hiligaynon); and Akon ro sinilas ngarn (Akeanon). The Philippines is a yong country having had the chance to truly govern itself only after WWII. Filipinos were struggling to find an identity that is truly their own and then came the idea of having a national language. Filipinos are inherently divisive and regionalistic, being products of the barangay system, thereby resulting to a debate on what Filipino language will become the basis of the national language. The Tagalog language has been forwarded, and has become the foundation of the national language, despite the opposition of the Cebuanos. The Cebuanos insisted that there are more speakers of Bisaya but the Tagalogs replied that it appears that way because the Cebuanos lumped together the Cebuanos, Ilonggos, and Warays under the general designation Bisaya, thereby outnumbering the Tagalog speakers. It can not be denied, however, that it was the Japanese who first placed Tagalog into that status because they don’t want Filipinos speaking English since the Japanese hated the Americans. No election was held under the Japanese puppet government to solidify the status of Tagalog as the national language. Hence, the Cenuanos’ opposition of such a move. Other opposers of the Tagalog-centric national language has pointed out that with more use of the Tagalog language will inversely reduce the number of speakers of the other major languages and will ultimately led them to their disuse or demise. Decrease in the number of speakers of the other major languages had been shown in a number of articles in the past. The proponents of the Tagalog-based national language justify that the national language, Filipino, is not Tagalog because it has influences from the other major languages and supposedly represent all of them. Critics, however, still highlight that inspite of that, Filipino is still predominantly Tagalog in structure. Today, we have the Tagalog-based Filipino as our national language and with the introduction of the K-12 in the education system, the mother tongue has been introduced as the medium of instruction in the beginning of elementary education. I teach Business Administration subjects at Bacolod City College (BCC) and while English is the standard medium of instruction, I find time to share with the students the beauty and the culture behind the mother tongue of the Ilonggos and Negrosanons, Hiligaynon. As I have said before, one can only learn to love his culture when he knows more of it. A cursory look at Hiligaynon and Cebuano, the major languages of the Negros Island Region (NIR), will show that they are heavily peppered with Castillan-derived words, which is not surprising really since the first two Spanish settlements in the Philippines were in Cebu and Panay in that order and the Las Ilsas Filipinas was under Spanish rule for 333 years. Most native speakers are not aware that mostly what they use are actually Spanish words. A case in point, puertahan, bintana, and kwarto are all Castillan in origin, with the originals being puerta, ventana, and cuarto. It can be noted that while there are changes in spelling, and an extension in one of these words, their roots can still be pinpointed with relative ease. The Hiligaynon equivalents to these words are ganhaan, gawahan, and hulot. Thus, bedroom and office would be hulot tulugan and hulot talatapan in Hiligaynon respectively, with talatapan deriving from the root word tatap “take care of, entertain.” Spanish infleunces can also be seen in the following military terms used in Hiligaynon: kutsilyo, suldado, and giyera, which are cuchillo, soldado, and guerra in Spanish lexicon, and baladao/patalum, hangaway, and gubat/pangayaw in native Hiligaynon. Kinship of the Hiligaynon baladaw to the Tagalog balaraw and the Cebuano baraw can be noted. Kumusta is actually a contraction of the Spanish como esta usted “how are you?” Filipinos have also added -da to many Spanish words, as in the case of kargada, ablada, and cambiada, which are carga “load,” hablar “speak,” and cambio “change” in Spanish. The Spanish de largo “(of the) long” has been adapted as the Hiligaynon term for “pants” while corto, as shouted by barkers and conductors, refers to the “short” distances traveled by Hiligaynon speaking passengers. Hiligaynon makes use of honorifics as a sign of respect, akin to the miss/mrs./mister in English, the Sri- of Sanskrit, the -sian of Hokkien Chinese, the -san of Nihonggo, and the -nim of Hangul. Younger people use the honorifics teo/tiyoy, tatay, nanay, tia/tiyay, manong, and manang or in combination with the person’s name to show respect and to avoid calling elders by their first name. The Tagalog ama, Cebuano amahan, and Hiligaynon amay ultimately derive from the Sankrit ama “father” while the Tagalog nanay came from the Sankrit nana “mother.” Utod is the Hiligaynon word for “sibling” while utod, spelt the same but pronounced differently, is “cut/cut off.” Both words may have a closer relationship than we think. A “sibling” can be thought as someone who was “cut” from the same family line. A parallel can be seen in the Tagalog kapatid “sibling” which derives from patid “cut/cut off.” According to historian Modesto Sa-onoy in his monumental work History of Negros Occidental, the lifestyles of the Negrosanon who works in the fields and the Spanish elite differ and are best contrasted in the Hiliganon words used for the meals of the day. The first meal for a Negrosanon who works in the fields is pamahaw, which is a distortion of pang-uhaw “quenching the thirst” upon rising before dawn. This explains the habit of drinking coffee early in the morning, before working in the fields. The second meal of the Negrosanon is by 9:00 AM, panya-aga “morning meal.” The Spanish elite, on the other hand, have breakfast at 9:00 AM. The third meal of the Negrosanon is by 3:00 or 4:00 PM, pani-hapon “for the afternoon,” just like the Spanish merienda cena while the Spanish elite eats lunch at 3:00 PM. It should be noted that the Spaniards have siesta in the afternoon, a practice they still observe to this day in Spain, as experienced by my friend when he was vacationing there. After a day’s work the Negrosanon farmer drinks tuba and then goes to sleep at 7:00 PM while the Spanish elite have dinner at 10:00 PM. Today the Hiligaynon and Cebuano words for “dog” are ido and iro respectively. However, my research during my travels in many places in the Negros Island had shown that up to our time the term for hunting in the mountainous regions is pangayam, from the Kinaray-a root word ayam “dog.” The word itself tells us that the traditional way of hunting in the Negros Island is with a dog. The dog first charges the prey and when it is safe, the Negrosanon hunter comes in. The same tradition is being practiced by the Tagalogs of old, as seen in their word for hunting, pangangaso, which came from the root word aso “dog.” (Note: Ayam in Indonesian is “chicken.”) Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a also have a close kinship because it is said that Hiligaynon was spoken by the Spanish and Chinese mestizos of the lowlands who could not pronounce the R of the highlands, taga hiraya. Hence, a noticeable difference between the two is the use of R in Kinaray-a and of L in Hiligaynon, as in the case of oripon/ulipon “salve”, paray/palay, and mar-am/mal-am “old person.” Sometimes words from two different Filipino languages may sound and be spelled different because they were derived from different sources. For example, the Tagalog bundok “mountain” was derived from the Malay bundok while the Hiligaynon bukid came from the Austronesian bukij “heap of earth.” This discussion of how Hiligaynon reflects the culture of its speakers is but an introduction. Those who want to know themselves better are advised to look deeper into our mother tongue.

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