Defending Etag with mother tongue-A A +A
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
ONE of the more popular Cordilleran tale is about that Kankanaey folk who was under arrest. His only refuge was his home where he locked himself in. The arresting officers were not easily able to let him out so they used every tactic to entrap him. When his children just arrived from school, the officers shouted, “Sumuko ka et. Nu maga yan alaen mi danan aanak mo.”(Surrender now. Or else, we will pick up your children.)
“Di bale tan ad-adu dasa, (I don’t mind for there is a number of them anyway)” came the reply.
The wife of the suspect also arrived from work. So the officers again tried their tactic, “Sumuko ka et. Ta nu maga yan si baket mu di ikulong mi.” (You surrender now. Or else we will bring your wife to prison). The man again replied and said, “Di bale tan masukatan si an-anak.” (I don’t mind because she can be replaced with a younger one).
The arresting officers saw the etag hanging from the roof of the house and so they used it as a bait. “Sumuko ka en. Ta nu maga, nan etag mo di alaen mi. (You surrender now. Or we will get your etag).” The man immediately came out of the house shouting, “Ayyyy! Adi yon pakibiyangan san etag ko. Sumuko ak en.” (Ayyyy! Don’t bother with my etag. I am now surrendering.)
Of course there are several versions to this anecdote. The Ifugao version has the Kiangan man surrendering because he won’t allow his moma (betel nut) to be taken by the arresting officers. The Kalinga version has the man yielding because of his sili. Beyond making people laugh, these anecdotes speak well of the supposed Cordilleran zeal to defend his culture. This zealousness is what is needed also for the medium that makes such culture flourish from generation to generation – our mother tongue.
In the previous column, we hailed the current basic education curriculum that breathed some life to dear mother tongue. Such will not just develop the thinking, reasoning, and communicative skills of the young kids but will make the local languages a real exponent of cultural advancement.
Currently, however, there are challenges facing the use of mother tongue in schools. It takes root from the old fallacy that speaking in English is synonymous to being a genius and therefore speaking in the mother tongue is a sign of lesser intelligence. And there is the issue of the lack of instructional materials in the mother tongue. Most if not all books for the grade school are written either in English or Filipino.
Dictionaries and reference materials on the proper spelling, hyphenation and pronunciation of words in the mother tongue are scarce. Furthermore, in urban areas like Baguio and La Trinidad, there is confusion on what is mother tongue as these places are melting pot of many local languages.
All of these challenges create skepticisms on the introduction of mother tongue in basic education. But these challenges are simply small moles compared to mountain high benefits of letting the mother tongue live.
And as education is not just the responsibility of schools, so it goes that the promotion of mother tongue should also involve parents and the community. The challenges should not deter but instead become bases for intervention by everyone who has a stake on it.
Schools should continue orienting parents and the community about this new program of the government. Parents can clear their doubts about the use of mother tongue by participating in the discussions. Those who have the talent and passion for writing should include mother tongue in their works. The outputs can contribute to the broadening of resource materials for schools.
In homes, the use of the ethnic languages should be encouraged. In most cases, the children know more about Uncle Donald’s French Fries just because dear grandmother’s dukto fresh from the uma is never advertised on TV and never talked about by dear ama and ina. Teachers in language diversified classrooms should be patient with their pupils in not insisting on English as medium of instruction but rather develop them in the mother tongue, their own world.
I personally commend the teacher of my child in a pre-school in La Trinidad, Benguet who patiently gives instruction to her pupils in, as much possible, the mother tongue of each even if it means effort on her part to learn various words in as many dialects that her pupils have. If only every stakeholder would be like her who does her share, then our land can be assured that we will not reach the point of burying our own tongue and our own culture. Instead, we can defend our etag, our moma, our sili, our way of life because of our mother tongue.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 21, 2012.