Ilocano language, culture, literature

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Labaw: crème de la crème

We salute the movers and shakers of the Labaw anthology the historic book launching of which will be held at the Multi-Function Hall, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, San Fernando City, La Union, on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006, under the aegis of GUMIL La Union.

An anthology of the crème de la crème of Ilocano literary works previously published in various Ilocano media, notably Bannawag and Sirmata, by writers hailing from the province of La Union during the period from 1956 to the present, the Labaw collection is primarily GUMIL La Union President Djuna R. Alcantara’s selections.

While it is understandable why an effort was made to translate Manuel Arguilla’s classic “How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife” (the translation is actually compellingly faithful), I would have much preferred the original in all its splendor (with a brief note as to why a work in English is being included).

The anthology is the right way to offset the understandable paucity of Ilocano literary works cited in school textbooks. This is the right approach to create reading material in Ilocano if we are to pursue the goal of using the mother tongue as the medium of instruction, preferably during the first few years of our children’s education to ensure better quality education as recommended by various studies conducted under UNICEF.

It is regrettable that the use of the mother tongue as medium of instruction is completely overlooked by DepEd Order No. 36, s. 2006, dated August 22, 2006, which provides:

Pursuant to the provisions of Executive Order No. 210, the following rules and regulations are issued for the effective implementation of the policies established therein, and in reiteration of increased time allotment for the use of English for classroom instruction, as stipulated in previous implementing guidelines:

a. English shall be taught as a second language starting with Grade I;

b. As provided for in the 2002 Basic Education Curriculum, English shall be used as the medium of instruction for English, Mathematics and Science and Health starting Grade III; and

c. The English language shall be used as the primary medium of instruction in all public and private schools in the secondary level, including those established as laboratory and/or experimental schools, and vocational/technical institutions. As the primary medium of instruction, the percentage of time allotment for learning areas conducted in the English language should not be less than 70% of the total time allotment for all learning areas in all year levels.

At the secondary level, here's how the 70% allocated to English as the medium of instruction per week from first year to fourth year: English--300 minutes, Science--360, Mathematics--300 minutes, Technology & Livelihood Education--240 minutes, Music, Arts, P.E. & Health--240 minutes. For the fourth year, an additional 50 minutes per week is allocated to Citizenship Advancement Training. The remaining 30% is allocated to the use of Filipino as medium of instruction in the following learning areas: Filipino--240 minutes,, Araling Panlipunan--240 minutes, and Edukasyon sa Pagpapahalaga--120 minutes for first and second years and 180 minutes for third and fourth years. There's absolutely nothing allocated for the use of Ilocano, or Cebuano, or Pangasinense, or any of the other local languages as the medium of instruction.

The Department Order is unclear about the use of the mother tongue or regional language in grade school

I personally believe that it’s atrocious to expect a student whose mother tongue is not Tagalog to start school, basically forced to learn ("immerse" in) two foreign languages (English and Filipino) to survive in school. The system is completely tilted in favor of those whose mother tongue is Tagalog who understandably can transition into Filipino with no problem.

That’s why we need Labaw and more of it. That’s why we need to expand the corpus in which Ilocano is used. That’s why we should have anthologies of representative Ilocano literary works--the crème de la crème--from the entire country and over the entire period of time since they started getting recorded or published. We need to bring out the good from the past to the present and make them more easily accessible, instead of locking them in the vaults of Bannawag or any other media. The technology is there to make them available—either for free or for a fee—on the Internet.

Without a comprehensive body of work in Ilocano, it simply is more difficult to push for the use of Ilocano as the medium of instruction even only at the grade school level—and yet we are told that’s the way to go for our children's early learning stages for them to have a quality education.


  • At Thursday, December 07, 2006 5:57:00 PM, Anonymous Djuna R. Alcantara said…

    Dear Joe,

    Thank you so much for giving LABAW a praiseworthy literary analysis which, we, the writers of La Union, do appreciate very deeply.

    In return, we can assure you that we will include your sort of book review in the next issue of our newsletter, PHANTASMAGORIA.



  • At Thursday, December 07, 2006 6:38:00 PM, Blogger Joe Padre said…

    Hope this is just the beginning of more book launchings of Ilocano literary works, perhaps a collection of short stories here, a collection of poetry there, interspersed here and there with Ilocano novels, works that transcend the regional literature label and so forth.

    I have read some of the best literary works written in Filipino and some of the best in Ilocano and some of the best in English. Notwithstanding the fact that I am more a consumer and not on the creative side of the literary spectrum, I am happy to note that the best written in Ilocano have a rich and beautiful quality of their own easily comparable to the best written in English or Filipino.

    That's why we have to have more Labaws.

  • At Sunday, December 24, 2006 10:49:00 PM, Blogger alatkenikan said…

    what should be done?

    Form a political/pressure/lobby group to work for the 1)officialization of Ilocano in the Ilocos region. 2) adoption of Ilocano as the medium of instruction in grade school.

    By the way, does anyboby know of a any critic to the GOnzalez-Sibayan study praising the "success" of Filipino-English bilingual education.
    What the Tagalistas termn Bilingual Education and of course its failure in the non-tagalog regions is not really bilingual but "immersion" (oppression, that is) for non Tagalog chidren.
    Its time this change!!

    Viva ti Ilocano!

    rpa. by the way, im developing my own blog, "dos por dos ken daddumapay" ditoy met lang welcome kayo nga ag-komentar apo.



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