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Reclaiming A Vanishing Heritage

(By Delfin L. Tolentino)

Lopez Nauyac is an Ifugao CARVER who spent most of his adult life working as an art entrepreneur in the woodcarving village of Asin in Baguio City. Part of the great exodus of artisans who left Ifugao in the postwar years to take advantage of Baguio's prosperous commerce in "tribal curiosities,"he realized in his old age that he had not given back anything of substance to the native society that was the wellspring of his talent and creativity. Today, after some 50 years as a manufacturer and seller of wood crafts, Nauyac is back in his home village of Hapao in Hungduan to pay back what he had taken. With the help of other villagers, he now works for the preservation of the muyong, communal forests that serve not only as watershed but also as source of wood for Hapao's thriving industry in wood craft.

Nauyac's village has also captured the attention of internationally known filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik who now spends half of his time in Hapao as a matter of personal choice. Dictated partly by disenchantment with the commodified culture of urban spaces, his move to Hapao was also prompted by a desire to document the rapidly changing ethos of Ifugao. But Kidlat Tahimik believes that documentation must not be the exclusive preserve of talented outsiders. Thus, he has been training the natives on how to use the video camera to express their world view and to record their culture. The completed films are for local consumption. Tahimik is trying to convince the public schools in Ifugao to show these films as an antidote to the insidious effects of Westernization.

Reading Matters

(By Virgilio Almario)

I read somewhere that at a ripe age of say, 50, the writer must stop reading. It is expected that by that time, the writer would have read a lot and imbibed enough to last until his last writing day. The age of "ripening" can happen much earlier or later than 50. What matters is that the writer reaches a level of confidence about his own development as a writer. He is so sure of himself that he does not need to read other writers.

I remembered this when I heard a senior writer unashamedly tell a gathering that he read rather limitedly and thus lacked critical sophistication. He then clarified that he was very poor and went into all sorts of menial jobs to finish college. But so did other underprivileged, provinciano writers who somehow managed to read.

Postcolonial Sufferance

(By Patrick D. Flores)

Instantiating a postcolonial rupture within the discourse of colonialism as a civilizing mission, Salud Algabre, a leading light of a social movement against the Americans in the 1930s, apprehends- or, better still, beholds-the colonial church and the dominion within its pale as a "culture of terror and space of death":

It is an old town-a very old town. In fact, there is a golden bell... During summer, when the water was clear you could see down through the depths, down to where it stands.The reason they disposed of it was because mothers-early in their pregnancy-would give birth prematurely upon hearing it toll.

One of the reasons my ancestors rebelled was to protest against the church that held that bell. When the Spaniards came they forced the people to build their church. Many were killed by the Spaniards-flogged to death, there on the shore where the church was built. (Flores 1998)

A Freedom Death

Conjurings, Oaths, and the Power of Secrecy (By Vicente Rafael)

From Rizal's time to Quezon's to the present, the issue of the establishment of a true wikang pambansa has beset Filipinos. Beyond a discussion of the country's linguistic barriers and overwhelming linguistic hierarchies, this article explores the language "spoken" by Filipinos during the Spanish times-the language of the pacto de sangre. This secret language linked revolutionary Filipinos in a way that nationalists like Rizal or Quezon could only dream about, and wielded a power that frightened Spanish authorities. It is through such languages causes are strengthened, identities are formed, and ideas of nationhood are conjured.

On December 31, 1937-forty years after Jose Rizal's execution and some fifty years after the publication of his first novel, Noli me tangere-Philippine Commonwealth President, Manuel L. Quezon gave a radio address from Malacañang Palace. Speaking from what had been the residence of the Spanish and later American governor generals, he spoke of the need to develop a national language (wikang pambansa) in anticipation of the political independence promised by the United States. Tagalog, he declared, would furnish the basis of this common language of the future. Newspapers reported his speech and The Tribune provided an English translation of the Tagalog original (though not the Tagalog text itself). Ironically, Quezon's speech in translation lamented the need for translation. The president referred to the embarrassment he felt when faced with the necessity of speaking through an interpreter, thanks to the persistence of different vernaculars in the country:

Gateway To The Orient From Legazpi To Malaspina

(By Alfredo J. Morales)

On 16 March 1521 a fleet sent by the Crown of Castile and commanded by Ferdinand Magellan reached Samar, the first Philippine island to be claimed by Spain. The purpose of the expedition, which had set sail from Sanlucar de Barrameda, was to discover a westward sea route between the Atlantic and the South Sea -- the name coined by its discoverer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, which Magellan changed to Pacific -- leading to the Spice Islands. After various calamities and tragedies, including the death of Magellan in Cebu, the expedition finally reached the Moluccas early in November that year. It would have been Juan Sebastian de Elcano, the newly appointed captain of the Victoria, who proposed heading for these islands after continuing westwards and putting in at several islands on the Philippine Archipelago. Having fulfilled his mission and obtained the spices that were the object of the voyage, Elcano decided to return to the Iberian Peninsula via the Cape of Good Hope. It was a difficult return journey and the ever diminishing crew were beset with many misfortunes. On 6 September 1522, the ship finally docked at Sanlucar de Barrameda, the same port from which the great adventurer had started out, having circumnavigated the world and proved it was round.

 

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