My country of birth is celebrating Buwan ng Wika, “Language Month,” but what it means really, I think, is the celebration of all Philippine languages. The focus seems to be more on Filipino, a language based largely on Tagalog. It is considered to be more flexible than Tagalog in making room for other languages.
I grew up with Tagalog/Filipino (Marikina is in Luzon, the home of Tagalog), Ilokano (my father is from “Marcos country” in the north), English (TV in the care of Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Philippine English-dubbed Japanese anime like Voltes V and Mazinger Z), and Spanish (forced upon us during university at a time when students were calling for more options). I wonder if there is room for more in my silly little brain.
I posted the following announcement on Facebook and will attempt to translate it for non-Filipino readers. (somehow it sounds odd and alien in translation).
Magandang balita para sa Buwan ng Wika para sa mga kaibigan kong mambabasa ng mga akdang nasulat sa Filipino… tinanggap ng UST Publishing House ang aking manuskrito ng maiikling kuwento sa Filipino, SANGA SA BASANG LUPA AT IBA PANG KUWENTO. Hindi ko pa alam kung kailan ilalathala, ngunit sana ngayon pa lamang ay pag-isipan na ninyong bigyan ng lugar sa inyong aklatan (sarili man o pampamantasan… pambaranggay o parokya, at kung saan pa! sa opisina simulan kaya?). Samantala, sana tangkilikin din ninyo ang mga koleksyon ko ng mga tula sa Filipino na inilathala rin ng USTPH: ang naging finalist sa National Book Award na BAHA-BAHAGDANG KARUPUKAN at ang kasalukuyang nominado sa Filipino Readers Choice Awards na KALMOT NG PUSA SA TAGILIRAN. Ayan, kahit malayo ako ay may paraan pa ring makapiling – kahit man lamang sa mga salitang inilatag sa papel. Isang araw iyan na lamang ang malalabi sa akin. Di tulad ng ibang yumaong nilalang na paulit-ulit pang mapapanood na gumagalaw at nagpapatawa, humuhugot ng mga damdaming sinulid sa kaibuturan ng kalungkutan. Ano nga ba ang ating ihahabilin?
Good news for Buwan ng Wika for all my friends who read literary works in Filipino… UST Publishing House has accepted my short fiction manuscript in Filipino, BRANCH ON WET GROUND AND OTHER STORIES . There is still no publication date, but I’m hoping you’d begin thinking of making room for it in your library (your own or your academic institution’s… your community library or even through your church and wherever else! at your place of work maybe?). Meanwhile, I hope you try reading my poetry collections in Filipino, also published by UST Publishing House: BAHA-BAHAGDANG KARUPUKAN, shortlisted for the National Book Award, and KALMOT NG PUSA SA TAGILIRAN which has been nominated at the ongoing Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards. And so despite the distance there might still be a way to bring us together – even if just through words on paper. One day only those willl be left of me. Not like others who are no longer with us yet we can still watch over and over, moving and making us laugh, drawing threads out of us from the pit of sadnes.What is it really that we leave behind?