Pagkakakilanlan in Language

Pagkakakilanlan. Identity. May ganito ba ang ating bansa?

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled over the decision to remove Filipino and Panitikan as core subjects in the college curriculum. If I’m not mistaken, kasama na rin dito ata ang Consitution. Pero yung Filipino at Panitikan talaga ang nasa headlines ng news ngayon. Bakit nga ba ito isang big deal?

In this post-colonial era for the Philippines, mahirap tanggihin that we’re just the remains of what used to be a colonial nation. Tatak na tatak pa rin ang Spanish and American identities. Sa Hapon, ibang usapan na yun sapagkat naging resistant at stubborn ang mga Pilipino. Pero yung American influeces talaga. Wow. Basahin mo ang “The Miseducation of the Filipino” ni Renato Constantino. He says that we are miseducated because of the American educational system, many of which include the impractical application of English for students (di naman nila ito ginagamit sa labas ng iskwelahan) at ang incompetency natin sa pag-master ng English, Filipino, at mga dialects natin.

Until now, our identity in language has still been covered in heavy fog. The English remains elitist and Filipino and other dialects remain to the masses. Dahil dito, nagkakaroon ng “dambuhalang pagkakahating pangkalinangan” (basahin si Zeus Salazar). And this affects me dearly, as I aspire to become a writer who wants to write for the Filipino people. Ngunit, paano ito makakamit kung ang likas sa aking pagsusulat ay nasa Ingles? And although I do admire notable Filipino writers who write in English, such as Sionil and Joaquin, it is just ignorant to ignore the fact that the Filipino people do not read these so-called national artists. The literate read them, yes. The academicians read them, yes. The English readers read them, yes. But the masses? The locals? The commoners? Do they read these people and acquire their philosophies that are supposedly for the Filipino people? Kung hanggang sa mga elit at iskolar lang pala ang mga obra nila, para ba talaga sa bayan ang mga ito??? Tanginang yan. And I’m so infuriated because circumstances have led me to be comfortable in a language that is foreign to me. And although I do agree that you can mark the Filipino identity in a language foreign to you (therefore localizing it), iba pa rin ang sariling atin! Hanggang localization nalang ba tayo? Hanggang adaptation nalang ba tayo? Lahat nalang ba ng aspeto ng kultura at lipunan natin ay nagmumula sa kolonyal na pag-iisip? Punyeta!

I’ve thought about this for a long time. And once or twice I came to the conclusion that, as a soon-to-be writer, I would just master one language—the language that I am comfortable in: English.  Hindi nga ba maganda kung nagpokus ako sa isang wika lamang? But I was not satisfied. I have never been satisfied. It just felt…wrong. Bilingual tayong mga Pilipino! Multilingual din! Tingnan si Bienvenido Lumbera. Ayon sa isa kong mga guro, siya raw ay dating nagsulat sa Ingles ngunit lumipat sa pagsulat sa Pilipino after his “enlightenment”. Ano kaya ang enlightenment na ito?

Kung nakaabot ka sa bahaging ito, I applaud you. Masakit ba sa mata ang article na ito? Panget bang basahin? Kung oo, sana na-realize mo that this article is a reflection of how many of us speak or write in ordinary situations. Yes, I intended the article to be written this say, because this is what’s happening. Taglish. Code-switing. Philippine English. I used to be defensive for Philippine English. I used to argue against Constantino and Salazar. I used to want to prove that English does not disturb our identity. Pero tatanongin kita, worth it ba maging pagkakakilanlan ang ganitong klaseng wika? Hindi mo ba napansin na ang babaw din ng language proficiency ko because I’m trying to juggle both languages? Babasahin mo ba ulet ito for pleasure? Perhaps. Kasi naging kasanayan na ang ganitong pagsalita at pagsulat. Pero hanggang dito na lang ba ang pagkakakilanlan natin?

Ewan ko nalang. Tangina. And no, this is one of the reasons why I’m not proud of my country and why I keep comparing my country to other countries. Tingnan ang ibang mga bansa. May problema ba silang ganito, kung saan na-dedefine ng wika ang social status?

Fuck the Supreme Court. Post-colonial era nga raw.

UPDATE AS OF 10:35 PM (a little around an hour after I posted this): I’m annoyed at this blog entry already. It does not suffice the multitude of things that have to be considered! Hindi pa sapat ang malay ko!


The Eureka of an 18-year-old

My sense of self is best when I’m autonomous.

Technically, I’ve been alone my entire life. Not that I don’t have friends or family. But that I’ve never had a relationship. Out of the 18 lived years that made ways of surprising, tormenting, mocking, playing, and astonishing me, I must confess that I have never had any mutual commitment with anyone. And this isn’t a post for me to complain about this predicament—the solitude that many of my peers find unbearable; this is merely to express a realization.

From a few years of my experience, there has been one thing that hindered me from the point of self-actualization: liking people. Mind you, I rarely like people. This, however, has been the problem; because there are only a few people that I have liked, the way I have liked them has been definitely not a walk in the park. Liking someone has been a huge deal for me.

This may sound something coming from a grade-schooler, but it is simply the case for me. While I can have several “crushes” at once, I would say that they are different from the people that I have liked, whom I have had feelings for genuinely. I guess I take people seriously.

Today, however, I currently like no one. And going back to self-actualization, I have realized that I have been giving it the attention that it deserves after a long time. I have been introspecting and writing intensively, researching material I have always planned to look up, skyrocketing my grades, evaluating my decisions in relation to the career I envision for myself in the future, and most important of all, reading more frequently. God, I have missed reading. And now that I am, once again, attaining self-actualization, I am becoming more firm with my identity and place in the world.

With this I present to you the ultimate discovery I have had of myself—the eureka of an 18-year-old: autonomy leads to self-actualization! This may seem convoluting, for I have never had a relationship in the first place, but you see, dear reader, when I like someone genuinely, it is as if I am an entirely different person—an entity whose short-term purpose is to please the beloved in whatever way he finds endearing, and that hinders him from all the things that his “self” could attain. Indeed, his self would disembody from his identity, only to be placed in the environment where he and his beloved could share rather whimsically, erratically, only to be devastated by the reality that this environment is a fairy tale, that his beloved is not there but in their own world, and the unrequited feeling that this self would encounter would tear him into fragments, soon to dematerialize, and slowly—but very slowly!—recover, back to his identity, where he could then choose whether to love another once again or himself instead.

If there were bridges in attaining self-actualization, I would say the walk without the influence of anyone is the easiest—it is simply a breeze. However, with the existence of a beloved, its presence looming over my psyche, the bridge would transform in all sorts of things. It could be narrow and dangerous. It could seem like the earlier-mentioned one, though as soon as I make foot it would turn into sand. It could be bending and twisting all the while. It could summon threats with fangs and poison. Worst of all, it could be nothing. There could simply be no bridge.

This is how I see myself when I genuinely like someone. That is, based on the few (but big of a deal) experiences I have had. Though I must say, I realize that I am better off liking no one. Solitude and autonomy grants all sorts of things, including realizations like this that make me regret the very idea of obsessing over a handful of people.

Nonetheless, I do not want to discredit those experiences I have had. Truthfully, they have taught me valuable lessons, and have become inspiration to a lot of my writing. But I simply cannot avoid expressing the time I have wasted over those people. Shame!

This is my current outlook on liking people in that level, knowing all-too-well that it will be, as it always has been, unrequited. In other words, it is a distraction.

What of relationships, then? Don’t good ones give a person the spiritual growth that he or she needs? Well, that is a different question. And perhaps I shall be answering that on a different day—far off into the future.


A Letter to Myself

Sometimes, you just gotta face reality simply because it is the truth. There is no absolute and consistent truth, they say, and that is true! I dare to be pragmatic about this; I would much rather see this reality as the truth because it is useful for me to believe in. By looking at this reality as the truth, it will develop my well-being as a “practical man”.

The reality that I dare confront, and accept as the truth, is the reality of love. Particularly, the reality that it has its own limits. Yes, love is love, but love is selective. You cannot just love anyone just because you wish to do so. And although you can indefinitely love from a distance and attain the infamous “unrequited love”, you will not be facing the pragmatic truth of reality—that love will destroy you if it is not wise.

In other words, magmumukha ka lang tanga kapag nagmamahal ka nang hindi dinadaan sa pag-iisip. Oo, parang ka lang gago. You choosing love? Ha. You wish. Love is practical. Love is restrictive. And most of all, love is realistic.

Sometimes, love can surprise you. And sometimes it is unexpected. But love is a case-by-case basis. It does not go the way you want it to be all the time. And because of this, it is only reasonable to accept the most useful truth: Love is pragmatic. Always.

I am not saying that you have to overthink when you love. Simply put, you have to think straight and let your mind speak for you once in a while.

Tangina, ‘no? Love is utter BS. Magmahal pero mag-isip.

P.S. Kawawa ang babae sa The Kite of Stars. Nagmukha siyang tanga sa sky.

Para Sa Mga Lumayo Kong Kaibigan

Nandito na naman ang panahon ng kalungkutan. Nakatatawa. Basta may kinalaman sa tao, may kasama talagang lumbay. Parang ewan talaga ang buhay, no? Pero tama naman. Lahat ay kinakailangan ng balanse. Balikan ang mga natutunan sa siyensa, matematika, panitikan, kasaysayan, at iba pa; sa law of action-reaction, balancing chemical equations, algebra, bibliya, mga nakaraan at kasalukuyang lipunan, at sa libo-libong ebidensiya na nagpapakita na ang mundo ay binubuo ng pagkagalak at pagdudusa para lang sa itinuturing na balanse. Ngunit hindi ito tungkol sa balanse. Sinasabi ko lang ito upang maipakita na alam ko na ang buhay ay hindi palaging masaya. Common sense lang ito, pero ito ay mahalagang tanggapin upang maiwasan kong magreklamo sa aking kalagayan at akapin lamang ang situwasyon kung saan ako napapunta.

Nagsusulat ako dahil gusto kong ilabas ang hapis na nararamdaman ko ngayong gabi ukol sa mga taong itinuring kong kaibigan na nang-iwan sa akin. Petty pakiggan, ‘no? Borderline self-centered din. Makita mo lang ang salitang “akin”, parang, eto na naman, sarili ko na naman ang pinag-uusapan ko at hindi ko pinag-iisipan ang kalagayan ng iba. Baka naman ay sila nang-iwan para sa maganda na rason na hindi ko alam. Pero kahit baliktarin mo pa man ang mundo, hindi nila matatanggi na ang paglayo ay may nagagawa sa kalagayan ng sinumang iniwanan nila.

Ang paglayo ay makikita sa iba-ibang paraan. Sa aking napansin, pupuwede itong makita sa matagal-tagalan na pagkawalan ng isang pagkakaibigan. Ito ay makikita sa pabawas na interaksyon at pag-uusap, kawalan ng magkatulad na interes, at pagbuwag ng mga basic values ng pagkakaibigan tulad ng pagpapalagayang-loob (intimacy), katapatan (loyalty), at pag-uunawa sa isa’t isa (mutual understanding) (nasa PERSDEV notes ko ang mga ‘to!). Bagaman ito ay matagal na proseso, ang naiiwanan ay dadaan sa sakit at lumbay mula sa katahimikan ng unti-unting pagkawalan ng pagkakaibigan.

Pupuwede ring makita ang paglayo sa mabilisan na paraan. Yung tipong sa sunod na araw ay hindi na kayo nag-uusap dahil sa anumang rason. Kung ganito, ito ay karaniwang dahil sa situwasyong kinainisan o kaya pinag-awayan. Ngunit, minsan ay puwedeng hindi rin malaman ng isa kung bakit biglang naglayo ang kaibigan. Sa aking karanasan, madalas ay dahil may nagawa ako na hindi kanais-nais sa isa. Siguro may tinatagong galit. Siguro nagseselos. Siguro tingin niya sa akin ay hindi na ako nakabubuti sa kanya. Anuman ang dahilan, hindi ito malalaman hangga’t sa hindi nakakapaghanap ng panahon ang dalawa para magkaroon ng closure. Karaniwan naman na ito ay temporary lamang at naaayos agad kapag pinag-usapan.

Ngunit, may mga isa pang klase ng paglayo na masasabing “explicitly seen”. Kung mapapansin mo, ang mga nabanggit ko kanina ay iyong inugnay sa mga situwasyong makikita sa totoong buhay. Ang mga ito kasi ay kinakailangan ng non-verbal cues o mga gawaing hindi nadadala sa salita para malaman ng isa na ang kaibigan niya pala ay lumalayo o naglayo na pala sa kanya. Pero paano ngayon kung hindi mo makikitata ang paglayo sa non-verbal cues at sa teknolohiya naman?

Ito ang ikinalulungkot ko. Ngayon ay nararanasan ko ang paglayo ng tao gamit lamang ang teknolohiya. Ang masakit dito ay hindi mo nakikita ang paglayo niya mula sa kanyang mga gawain; ang alam mo lamang ay ginamit niya ang teknolohiya para mawalan ka ng kakayahan para makausap siya. Ang pinag-uusapan ko ay ang “blocking” feature ng social media. Iba ito sa totoong buhay. Doon, may kakayahan ka pa rin kausapin ang tao hangga’t sa kaya mong makipag-ugnayan sa pagsasalita, pagkukuha ng kanyang atensyon, o anumang paraan. Ngunit pag ikaw ay na-block sa social media, walang-wala ka na. Ginagamit niya ang tulong ng teknolohiya para maging hadlang sa dati niyong naging pagkakaibigan. Mahirap naman din siyang kausapin sa totoong buhay kasi alam mong mabuti na ayaw ka na niyang kausap mula sa explicit na hadlang ng pag-bablock. Isipin mo nalang kung mangyari ang pag-bablock sa totoong buhay: hindi mo puwedeng makita, marinig, makausap, at maramdaman ang presensiya ng taong naglayo sayo. Ninakaw niya ang iyong limang senses para lang maiwasan kang makausap. Para lang na hindi kayo makagawa ng anumang interaksyon. Hindi ba ‘yan nakasasakit at nakalulungkot?

Naranasan ko nang maiwanan ng dati kong itinuring na kaibigan. Nakita ko na silang lumayo sa akin. Sanay na ako. Pero iba pa rin talaga ang dating ng pag-block. Kitang-kita na ito ay deliberate. Ipinagmumukha niya sayo na ayaw niyang makatanggap ng kahit anumang interaksyon sa’yo. Pag ang nonverbal cues na nabanggit ko kanina ay maihahambing sa social media, magsing-tulad ang mga ito sa “sent”, “delivered”, o “seen”. Pero iba talaga pagdating na sa blocking. Kitang-kita ang sadya para ikaw ay iwasan. At karaniwan ay mas masakit pa kung hindi mo alam ang dahilan. At paano mo ba malalaman ang dahilan kung wala kang abilidad para kausapin ang nang-block sa’yo? Ang naiwan na lamang ay ang sarili mo at ang iyong pag-iisip.

Siguro ang mabuting gawin na lang ay maghintay. Maghintay na ma-unblock. Maghintay na maibalik niya ang abilidad mo sa basic na interaksyon. Maghintay nang maghintay at intindihin nalang kung bakit niya iyon ginawa. Maghintay hangga’t sa mahanap mo ang rason sa ginawa niya at muling makapag-usap sa kanya. Maghintay dahil nirerespeto mo rin ang kanyang desisyon, kahit na ito ay napakasakit dahil nga ang pakiramdam mo ay kinuhaan ka ng kakayahan sa pag-uusap. Maghintay para maunawaan siya.

Pakikipagkapwa at Pakikipagkalabasa

Sa buong paglakbay ko mula sa Sitio Balagbag Araw hanggang sa Sitio Matang Tubig ay buhat ko ang kalabasa na ito. Dala ko pa nga ito hanggang sa aking tirahan. Hindi ko matatanggi na may sentimental value na ako sa bagay na ito.

Sinabi sa akin ni Ginoong Mac na ito ay sumisimbolo ng kapwa. Totoo naman dahil ito ay binigay sa amin mula sa simpleng pagdalaw lamang. Nakipagkuwentuhan lamang kami sa pamilya, ngunit bago kami ay umalis ay binigyan pa kami ng kalabasa na ito.

Nakahahanga. Marami silang problemang nabanggit sa mga buhay nila subalit hindi silang nagdalawang-isip sa pagbigay ng kalabasa—ang kalabasa na may halaga na puwede pa nilang pagkitaan. Ngunit ibinigay lamang nila ito sa mga taong hindi bahagi sa kanilang komunidad. Ibang tao man kami, ngunit naipakita nila na kami ay kanilang kapwa pa rin.

Nakakapagtaka lang kung nakikita pa ang konsepto na ito sa mga Pilipinong hindi tulad nila. Mga Pilipinong may kakayahan na mabuhay nang komportable sa kanilang kaginhawaan. Mayroon pa ba silang tinatawag na “pakikipagkapwa”, ang puso at ang istraktura ng pagiging isang Pilipino?

Inaasahan ko, sana. Sana hindi lamang ito nakikita sa mga komunidad tulad nito. Sana ay laganap pa rin ito sa mga Pilipino. Sana lahat ay nakakapagbigay ng kanilang sariling kalabasa sa kanilang kapwa-Pilipino. Sana lang.

Finding My Identity as a Filipino Writer

Earlier this morning, I saw my grades. I got a 97 for Creative Writing.

I don’t think I deserve that grade.

For one thing, I believe that a lot of the writings that I submitted were trash. It’s not that I didn’t work hard for them; it’s that it doesn’t really pass my current standards. In other words, I am simply unsatisfied. Right now, my goal is to write for the Filipino people as artistically as I can, but I don’t see how this is exemplified with what I submitted for that subject. Innocence, the obscene bestial short story is graphic and perhaps creative, but it is meaningless for the Philippine society. The Filipino Speaker tries to be relevant, but it’s definitely a cheap one-act play. Although A Typical Jeepney Ride and Response from a Jeepney Driver are closer to what my standards are now, I still regret my other two works (though published to show my progress).

I believe that I don’t deserve a grade of 97 because half of what I submitted are not what I want my fellow Filipinos to read. Nakahihiya.

Although those works are what I have shamefully written, I’d like to think that writing them put me in the process of discovering my identity as a writer. Now, I am definite of two criteria: to write for the Filipinos and to write artistically. Of course, I will still have to explore on various genres.

I am now in the process of becoming a better Filipino writer. There will always be times when I will feel discontent, but as long as I try to attain my standards, then I believe that I am in the right track. There is now the question of language, which is a bigger picture compared to this.

Para Sa Broken Hearted (Directed by Digo Ricio)

My rating: 3/5

Para Sa Broken Hearted is that light-hearted, easy-to-follow, and relatable movie that any Filipino viewer can enjoy. It is a combined anthology of the stories of different people and their past relationships that have left them as the brokenhearted and miserable people as they are in the present. In it, we are told the story of three “ex-couples”: Jackie and RJ, Kathlyn and Dan, and Alex and Shalee. With its jumps from past to present and back, the film doesn’t fail to entertain you with its alternating narratives of varying couple experiences.

Jackie, on her way to her aunt to Baguio, meets Kathlyn, who is also coincidentally heading to Baguio for purposes of “soul-searching”. When the two figure that they have a lot of time to spare, they start to tell each other of the stories of their previous relationships, starting with Kath and her obsessive love for RJ, and then to Kathlyn and her one-day hangout with a stranger she has fallen for. As the stories narrated with more detail, the film develops its characters with more depth for viewers to empathize with.

One thing that I can commend to the film is that it doesn’t bore you off. Each couple’s story has its own heart, and it has its own elements to tell its narrative in interesting ways. Its stories are pretty smooth for a film that is similar to that of an anthology—the way they are interwoven is a plus for the entertainment factor. The film also plays around with varying genres such as that of a musical, a sci-fi, a videogame, a theatrical comedy, and a fantasy. The balance between comedy and drama amidst all these experimentational genres is demonstrated nicely—when the film gets to one or the other, it makes sure that it’s not done cheaply. Besides that, the entirety of the film’s aesthetic value just shows off; from music to cinematography, the film heightens the viewers’ cinematic experience to make the story more delightful.

There is, however, one thing that avoided the whole film to be a unique combination of stories to tell: the tropes. While tropes are good to use when the target audience is the masses, there was always the feeling of “I’ve seen this before” while watching the whole film. I can easily compare several of its elements to Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, The Fault in Our Stars, and other films or forms of literature in pop culture. Needless to say, these tropes would work for any Filipino viewer, but it just makes the film less fresh and even, to a certain degree, unoriginal.

Para Sa Broken Hearted works well with any Filipino viewer who just wants to relax and unwind. It not only amuses its audience, but it leaves a message that can apply to everyone: that some people win, while some people lose, but what is important is that there is a lesson to be learned for every experience.