Ilokano language under attack (Ang panggugulo ni Almario; the mess of Joel Lopez)

JLo

KWF Chair Virgilio Almario and DepEd Ilocos Norte’s Joel Lopez

booklet

All Philippine languages are actually under attack, but Ilokano has become most vulnerable and is now at the center of a raging battle, no thanks to the treachery of one man and the fascist ways of a national artist.

The controversy has been raging since January, and the plot thickens day after day. It started when Dr. Joel Lopez, assistant division superintendent and MTB-MLE (Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education) coordinator of DepEd Ilocos Norte, singlehandedly introduced changes to Ilokano orthography or spelling system that will be taught in schools. He never conducted consultations with language stakeholders.

Professional Ilokano writers and Ilokano language experts in the academe were quick to object. Under the MTB-MLE Implementing Rules and Regulations, stakeholder participation is necessary in drawing up a working orthography for any and all Philippine languages. Various groups—including GUMIL and Nakem Conferences—wrote position papers and letters addressed to various levels of the Department of Education (from division superintendent to the DepEd secretary himself) and also to the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF).  Everyone opposed the JLo (abbreviation for Joel Lopez; with profuse apologies to Jennifer Lopez) orthography.

The effect of this conflict? Confusion. The Ilokano orthography taught in schools will be different from the orthography used in widely-read publications. The Ilokano spelling learned by pupils in elementary schools will later be declared erroneous by their college professors. The Ilokano as taught in Ilocos Norte will be different from other provinces in the Amianan, including Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union, Pangasinan, and Benguet.

Who is Joel Lopez anyway?

Aside from his expertise in sowing language confusion, Lopez has no credentials in Ilokano literature. He has not received any literary award from any respectable body. Worse, there is no proof that he has written anything of decent literary value.

In an interview with local reporters, Lopez acknowledges that he is not a writer, but that he is an educator who is concerned about the learning process of students. The problem is, even professors at the Mariano Marcos State University, where Lopez obtained his PhD, oppose the JLo orthography. Dr. Aurelio Agcaoili, who chairs the world’s only Ilokano language degree program, that of University of Hawaii, also strongly condemns Almario’s machinations and Lopez’s complicity.

Apparently, the only Ilokano supporters of Lopez are his wife and DepEd Ilocos Norte Superintendent Cecilia Aribuabo.

The new Ilocano hero

Given the breadth of resistance against the JLo orthography, he would have backtracked if not for his major ally: Dr. Virgilio Almario, national artist and current KWF chair. Almario is mandating the application of an Ortograpiyang Pambansa to all Philippine languages. To put it simply, he wants to apply the orthography of the Wikang Filipino (which is basically Tagalog) to all other Philippine languages, including Ilokano. This is ridiculous because even Almario himself acknowledges that Ilokano and Tagalog evolved separately and distinctly from each other, thus bearing their own qualities and eccentricities.

Almario posits that the formation of a national language follows an inductive path: the best features of all Philippine languages will be gathered in order to come up with a national lingua franca. But that is only in principle. KWF actually does the opposite: a top-down approach which is, in effect, the Tagalogalization of Ilocano and other Philippine languages.

Everybody agrees that each language must evolve, lest it becomes unresponsive and irrelevant to the people and the times, but that such evolution must result from dialogue and consensus among the language owners, and not only by one man, or two. And so the Cebuanos have rejected Almario’s moves, and so have the Warays, Chavacanos, and other linguistic groups. But why did he succeed in Ilocos Norte?

NCCA Writers Prize winner Ariel Tabag, who is with the editorial staff of Bannawag Magazine, offers this explanation:

“Awan problema dagiti sabsabali a lengguahe ta awan ti Joel Lopez-da.” (Other languages don’t have a problem because they do not have a Joel Lopez.)

Traitor’s price

“It is treachery of the highest order,” says Tabag, who criticizes Lopez for taking it upon himself to change a finely-working orthography of a language used by 12 million people. That view is a strong and general sentiment among those who are aware of the issue.

If Judas received 30 pieces of silver, what is in the bag for Lopez?

First is recognition. On various occasions, Almario, who once tampered a Malacañang document, has heaped praises on Lopez as genius and progressive, and even compared him to Jose Rizal who also met opposition when he introduced changes in Tagalog orthography. This might explain why despite strong opposition, Lopez remains unturned: he mistakes callousness for heroism. At one point, he boasted, “Gumil does not own the language.” But hudas, er, who does? Definitely not one person.

Secondly, there is big money in textbook production. Tabag believes that it is in Lopez’s best interests to change the orthography and impose it to schools under him. If the standard orthography is used, Tabag explains, publishers can tap many writers. But if Lopez can impose orthographic changes that he alone can follow and accept, he will have a lion’s share.

Still, Tabag does not discount the possibility that Lopez indeed loves the Ilokano language, but that love may have been blinded by ambition and/or greed.

In justifying his actions, Lopez cites and arbitrarily interprets DepEd Orders and KWF directives. But the DepEd Central Office has not approved the JLo Orthography (It will reportedly hand down a decision on June 19) and Almario himself urges that Ilokano stakeholders themselves resolve the issue. “Hindi ako Ilokano, kayo ang nararapat mag-usap usap tungkol diyan,” the national artist said on record in at least two conferences. To date, Lopez has not initiated any dialogue. A multisectoral group—including Dr. Alegria Visaya, chief of the MMSU Center for Ilokano and Amianan Studies, and June Arvin Gudoy, head of the Ilocos Norte Provincial Government Communication and Media Office—sent Supt. Aribuabo a Feb. 24 letter requesting for a consultation process. Aribuabo decided not to act on the letter. She has since been transferred to the Laoag City division. In an interview on June 14, Ms. Araceli Pastor, the new DepEd Ilocos Norte superintendent asked for more time before she can comment as she is still in the dark regarding the controversy.

As it is, Lopez chooses to hide behind imagined laws. “But language cannot be legislated,” says Eugene Carmelo Pedro, chair of Plurilingual Philippines. He asserts, for instance, that RA 7104, which creates the KWF, recognizes this fact, for even as it gives the Commission vast powers for the development, enrichment, propagation, and preservation of Filipino and other Philippine languages, it provides in Section 14(d) that the Commission has the power not to impose but only to “propose guidelines and standards for linguistic forms and expressions.” The Ortograpiyang Pambansa, says Pedro, carries no prescriptive value. The same goes for the JLo orthography.

Where to go from here?

A letter to President Noynoy Aquino has been drafted by Gumil Filipinas. A coalition is also writing a report for UNESCO. Legal cases are being carefully prepared. And the growing number of Philippine linguistic groups expressing solidarity to Ilokanos are properly forewarned to nip their Joel Lopezes in the bud.

Meanwhile, it is the third week of classes, and elementary pupils in Ilocos Norte remain helpless victims of this language miseducation caused by one man who has been made to believe he is Jose Rizal but who, in reality, is just a nasty fly proudly sitting on the basket-covered head of a national makapili.

52 Comments

Filed under Cultural Diversity, Ilocos, Justice, Language, Linguistic Justice

52 responses to “Ilokano language under attack (Ang panggugulo ni Almario; the mess of Joel Lopez)

  1. Robert

    Herdy – we need a linguistic warrior like u. Jlos audacity is annoying!

  2. Paul Jonathan Sibayan

    How treacherous. How thick-faced. Almario, Lopez, and their cohorts. Let us continue to resist this travesty of Ilokano and all Philippine languages.

  3. Virgilio A Patoc

    this is the highest greed and out of proportion the very objective is N0Tto erase the Ilokano dialect but the people (12 million) perse

  4. German N. Labayog

    Ania metten! Nabastos idin ti lengguahe nga Ilokano babaen iti maysa a gangannaet. Ita, saan laeng a nabastos, nagundawayan pay. Datitoy dagiti makuna nga aginlalaing. Kasano ngaruden no dagiti appoko da Uncle Peter La. Julian ken ni Kasisin Severino Pablo (dua a mararaem nga mannurat iti Bannawag) ket isuruda kadakuada dagiti linteg ni JLo?

  5. Rudy Contillo

    Let us join hands in opposing this grand scheme of Lopez and company to confuse us. The Lopez ortho can never be accepted owing to its infirmities!

  6. Diego Rualo

    “MOTHER TONGUE” AY MALIWANAG NA SALITA, KAYA KUNG HINDI ILOKANO ANG TONGUE NG INA MO AY WALA KANG KARAPATANG MANGHIMASOK SA HINDI MO SARILING WIKA KAHIT NASA PODER KA PA NG GOBIERNO,.MAKAKABUTING IPAUBAYA MO NA LANG ANG MGA BAGAY NA ITO SA MGA NAKAKAALAM SA WIKANG ITO AT LISANIN MO NA ANG LUGAR BAGO KA MAOROS NG MGA BARAKONG ILOKANO.

  7. daniel

    join force for all Ilokano and opposed lopez

  8. I pledge my support to the opposing team to this grand scheme of Joel Lopez. Because it will only confuse us. If this happens our way of communication will be truly affected. Huwag na nating baguhin ang nakasanayan bagkus pagyamin nalang natin.:)

  9. deejae

    Ilocano is such a big part of the lives of every Ilocano, mainly those who really lived their roots up to their death. It has played a big role as it molds its youngsters to become unique in its own way. The Ilocano language is such an identity, thus taking it out from the Ilocanos could be a big lost not only in its way of communication but also in their lives.

  10. Jirehkayl

    It is clear that it is a MOTHER TONGUE BASED Multilingual Education, then why would pattern it to any other language? How could someone in position not realize the great insult of such matter? It is like robbing us out of our own identity. Ain’t it pure stupidity to colonize your own colony? I believe this whole thing would only make students dumb and confused with their mother tongue. Please, officials, screw your own interests. Instigate progress, not havoc.

  11. Rain

    I am very disagree with what lopez are saying. All i can say is this.
    I am pure ilokano and if lopez know the happiness and weaknesses of ilokanos if he can say all ilocano words and if he can follow the path of brave ilokanos then yes for him but if not. Please Mr. Lopez submit your resignation and have some vacation outside the country.

  12. jinky

    How greedy Joel Lopez is. He doesn’t deserve any compliments that comes from the people. Even to be called him as a hero? He is never suit on it. Go for opposing team. If Joel Lopez will succeed on his plan, then this would make interaction complicated. Furthermore, it will confused us and will be hard for students to adjust again. Joel Lopez is just making things complicated. “ayaten ti lengguahe tayo.”

  13. dhen

    I also disagree about the concept of Joel Lopez for combining the Mother Tongue Based multilingual education because students will just be confused with it. Yes its true that we can all understand iloko but sometimes we have our own differences in our words and their meanings. This concept should not be implemented to students because they have their own understandings.

  14. Marius062181

    There is something behind the move or actions of JLO. Money and recognition. Consultation to experts should have been done. Experts? Not even joel lopez is an expert so wala po siya business in changing or even to make suggestion. Ung totoo na siya lang gumawa sa mga changes, then wechave to do something bsgo hiya tuluysng baboyin ang ating pinakamamahal nacilokano. Agbiag ni ilokano!

  15. CRISTINO ILORETA INAY, SR.

    NAPALALO TI SIDDAAWKO IDI NABASA KEN NAAMUAK A MABALBALIWAN KANO TI PANNAKAISURAT KEN PANANGISAWANG KADAGITI BALIKAS ITI LENGUAHETAYO NGA ILOKANO. AMMOKON NO SIASINO DAGITI AGINLALAING A KUNAM MET LA NO ASINODAN NGA AGPATPATNGA KEN MANGIWARWARADIWAD TI KAMPILANDA! WEN, KAYATDA TI AGBALIN A BANNUAR… ANIA METTEN! ITI ABABA A PANNAO SAYANG TI KINATAO DAGITOY… SAYANG! KAS ITAY KUNAKON A SAGRADO A BANAG TI PANANGGAMULO ITI LENGUAHETAYO NGA ILOKANO. KAYATNA A SAWEN AMIN NGA ILOKANO ADDA KALINTEGANNA A MANGSALUAD ITI LENGUAHETAYO. DAYTA KOMA TI PANUNOTEN DAGITI AGINSISIRIB A MANGGANDAT A MANGKIBOR TI LENGUAHETAO NGA ILOKANO. URAY PROPESOR DAGITOY DIAK MABALIN WENNO KABAELAN A DAYAWEN IDA DAYTA TI PUDNO. AY-AYATEK UNAY A KAILIAN SAANTAYO KOMA NGA IPALUBOS A KIWAREN KEN KIBURENDA TI LENGUAHETAYO NGA ILOKANO. KALINTEGANTAYO A SALAKNIBAN TI LENGUAHETAYO ITI IMA DAGITI AGINLALAING A TATTAO. DIOS-TI-AGNGINA, KAILIAN.

  16. joshua

    para sakin hindi ako sumasang ayon sa opinion ni Joel Lopez, kasi mahal ko ang aking lengguahe at ito ang nakagisnan ko at ito ang nakasanayan ko

  17. princess

    I am disagree of Joel Lopez how can Joel do that to his own language. Ilocano is been a part of my life and this is the first language that i learn and most Im using ilocano language to communicate to other people.We must love ilocano

  18. Jim Libiran

    Para sa gaya naming non-Ilokano na interesado sa isyung ito, pwede po bang alalayan nyo kami sa pamamagitan ng mga halimbawa ng “paninira sa Ilokano”?
    Salamat po.

    • Eugene Carmelo Pedro

      Sir, we appreciate your interest on the issue, as this is not merely an Ilocano concern, but is also a concern of other language groups in the country.

      Our cause is simply for respect, respect for diversity of languages that make up the Filipino nation. We want the center to respect the fact that the national language and Ilocano, despite coming from the same language family, are different and unique. And because of that, they evolve in different ways, which evolution can only be determined by the people who use the said languages, not by the center, not by an institution, and certainly not by one man.

      It is but an accident that the manifestation of this disrespect and lack of consideration for diversity has come in the form of a controversy regarding orthography. The text is quite clear, sir. Ilocanos have their own way of writing their language, and so do other Filipino language groups. This way of writing is rooted in the structure, grammar, and tradition of our language. For the center to impose its way of writing, which is not designed for and suited to our language, is disrespect. It is hegemony and it can never foster unity.

  19. lea

    para kanyak hanak nga pabor kenni joel Lopes.we must fight Ilocano Language..Agbiag Ilocano! Agbiag

  20. Reumi Ramos

    I dont understand why the hell we still need to teach Ilocano or any dialect to our kids though, just teach them filipino instead of teaching them something which isnt really necessary, how the hell can you call a filipino your kababayan if you cannot even communicate to them? theres really only two things a student should know and that is maths and sciences, all these language subjects are just dumbing down our kids

    • Angelie Erics

      Your grammar shows that you need to be educated on language. Researches have shown again and again that children learn better when they have strong foundations on their mother language. They also learn better through their mother language. Filipino is also not that essential. Almost all Filipinos know English. And please, do not label me “malansang isda,” because if there be one who is “malansang isda,” it is you, for you do not love your own LANGUAGE, which is Ilocano.

      • Reumi Ramos

        you missed the point, I don’t really care if you or anyone wouldn’t want to learn filipino, all I’m saying is, we should have that one language that we can agree of using as a nation and if it’s Ilocano or cebuano then I’d gladly learn that language, unfortunately most of you can’t seem to see the point of a language, and it’s obviously not having perfect grammar

    • BisDak

      “how the hell can you call a filipino your kababayan if you cannot even communicate to them?”
      imperial manila syndrome. mga yawa kamo!

    • Daniel Cadavona

      Wth?? “communicate TO them”, “that IS mathS and sciences”… You can’t communicate in English either…STFU!

    • SANTO

      ay LANGGONG
      agsubli ka agbasa ket madi ta grammar mo, DULDOG
      nakaraman ka lang English kaska lang asinnon, ahahaha
      PAGKATKATAWAEN nak lang ANG-ANG

    • Marvin Acosta

      huz! maths and sciences? sus me…!

  21. elletot

    i am a pure ilokana so i will not be ashmed of using my own language. hu says ilokano makes u dumb?! go! go! Go! ayaten tay ti ilokano!

  22. vady

    sal-it dayta a tao. tiliwenyo man ta kaponentayo tapno saan nga umado ti inabona. pui!

  23. JackJill

    MAYBE this is another plan of Noynoy. He hates Ilokanos. Lopez must do his part according to his position not according to the commands of people who have positions.

  24. Jharren

    Even though im not an ilocano,i will support the opposing team of Mr.Lopez.

  25. Every ilocano will never agree in that point. “Kapitbisig” to oppose dis change.

  26. Donna

    Sir Herdy, no nasukatan ti pannakaisao ken pannakaisurat iti ilokanotayo, ket “wrong grammar”-ak ngaruden, a. 🙂

  27. Daniel Cadavona

    Bagain ti middle name na, kabagyan na’t taga-Bangui? Nakababain ka balong!

  28. toothpaste

    lopez.. til tila adda t mapanpanunut mo…torpe…langgong….t kinaadu nga probleman….mayunam p lang lukdit…agraraman kan sa metten…yot yot t lubong!!!

  29. Tandudo

    I agree that Philippine languages are marginalized and at risk. But the orthography issue is somewhat of a sideshow if you ask me. People get so emotional about spelling, as if that’s what is killing their language. The real threat, in my humble opinion, is the fact that there are armies of children with Ilokano, Pangasinan, Kapampangan, Bikol, and other parents who don’t use their native languages anymore, particularly children of the upper class, who tend to use Tagalog with their friends and Tagalog and English at school.
    A language doesn’t die because someone tries to propose new spelling rules. A language dies when people stop using it. That’s why I wish people would focus on ways to popularize Philippine languages and create more opportunities for their use in media, education, commerce, religion, and other sectors. Very few youth even read Ilokano publications, there is only one Ilokano major magazine, and it’s not used in school after Grade 3. Television is almost entirely in Tagalog, and so is FM radio. Ask anyone to write a paragraph or an essay in Ilokano and the majority would have a very hard time.
    What’s the point of even arguing about the spelling if people don’t even use the language! The most urgent thing that needs to be done to save Philippine languages is to foster a climate of respect for diversity, highlight the value of these language and the importance of passing them on to future generations, and give the languages access to other domains to promote further development. There is so much that can be done….like engaging DepEd to somehow include Philippine languages in other grades levels, promoting more research of Philippine languages in universities, engaging companies like ABSCBN to offer more newscasts in Philippine languages, requesting churches to offer more masses in local languages, asking government agencies to provide multilingual resources like websites, passing legislation to strengthen the legal framework to protect local languages….and so on and so forth. All these actions would give a real boost to the fortunes of marginalized languages. Spelling is an issue, but definitely not the most important one.

  30. siony viloria

    kaaduan na nga pagbasaan ti ubbing ket eskwela ti gobierno. diay probinsya sa pay la selsel ti mapa . kasano koma nga mairugi nga isuro ti maysa nga ubing no di ti pagsasao na tapno agkinnaawatan da ken maestrana simple lang apay nga isu ti problemaen da? basta siak Ilokanak inggana nga mauyos toy biag ko!!! agbiag ni ILOKANO!!!!

  31. arnel bandiola

    JLo deserves a proper forum to explain his interpretation of the Ilocano ortography. We do own the language. not Jlo. Not Gumil. We are all a party to the development of the Ilocano language. let’s get our act together.

  32. siony viloria

    nakulipan sa metten ta dida met masagsagid daytoy a teman!!! mayat met ta maitanemen asibibiag dayta joel lopez nga kunam la no sinnon!!! ilokanuem yo man ngarud ta nagan na?

  33. Peter La. Julian

    Lopez has delusions of grandeur like his boss Almario. They should be subjected to psychological tests and if the findings are positive, they should be yanked out of public service. You can’t invent an orthography and impose it unilaterally.

  34. The Waray writers are behind you!

  35. Elvira Amor

    get a gun and eliminate the problem….that’s the easiest way to end the plot…

  36. Jesrey Valencia

    Joel Lopez is a hero!

  37. NEVER TO TAGALOG IMPERIALISM!!!!!

    These Idiots thinks homogenous, thinking in mind that the Philippines is a Homogenous but they idiotically forgot that we are a country comprises of several more than 175 Ethnolinguistic Nations. Each of the Ethnolinguistic Nation has their own language with their own script, own culture, identity, literature, history, beliefs, dances, music, etceteras.

    This is the very problem with Imperialist-Tagalogists!!!!
    Their definition of Nationalism and Patriotism is in fact what we can referred to as “TAGALISM” or “TAGALOGISM”, the process of Tagalizing the NON-Tagalog Ethnic Nations of the Philippines of becoming a Tagalog in order to be identified as real Filipino.

    Haaay Idiotic!

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