PHILOSPHER Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” Reflecting on this quote as I viewed the works of art in the recent KATIMAUAN art exhibit made me realize how vast, and not constrictive, the limits of our Kapampangan worlds are.

Dear Kapampangan advocate friends who are experts in writing the Kulitan, forgive me as I write without diacritical marks for Kapampangan words appearing in this column, as I try my best to pay homage to our indigenous script as expressed in art. The recent Katimauan art exhibit held on February 22 to 28, 2021, at The Infinity Amphitheater in Angeles City was organized by the AGKAS KAPAMPANGAN, short for the Aguman Kalalangan Sulat Kapampangan. AGKAS is the pre-eminent proponent of spreading awareness and promoting pride and appreciation for our mother tongue through writing in Kulitan which is the Kapampangan indigenous script, our very own syllabary writing system and a hallmark of precolonial Kapampangan civilization.

This year’s Katimauan was a significant culmination of the National Arts Month Celebration as it brought together a diverse group of talented artists and cultural workers united by their passion and love of Kulitan. For non-Kapampangan readers, katimauan means freedom. Katimauan in this sense, as shared by AGKAS Kapampangan prime-mover and Most Outstanding Kapampangan Awardee Norman Tiotuico, signifies freedom in the arts, freedom from colonial repressions and art expressions included.

Aside from Kong Norman, Katimauan featured the works of Kapampangan artists John Balatbat, Czarina Buscayno, Mano dela Cruz, Ebbol Rosales, Eliver Sicat, Elliot Sicat, Lucio Sison, Badet Tiotuico, Bruno Tiotuico, Erwin Torio, and Jing Torio. The exhibit was complemented by a Kulitan Calligraphy Demonstration by members of the AGKAS Kapampangan.

The variety of artworks included juxtapositions of imagery and Kulitan calligraphy, including Kapampangan literary expressions rendered in the indigenous script. Among my favorites were Erwin Torio’s works entitled “Suli” and “Sibad”, profoundly reflecting both on nature and human nature at the same time, and Eliver Sicat’s meaningful renditions of “Kababan Lub”, “Kabiasnan”, and “Katuliran” using carved wood, breathing new life into prized Kapampangan values.

I loved the eponymic collage entitled “Katimauan” rendered by Atsing Badet Tiotuico, combining calligraphy and embroidery, earning her a pedestal as an outstanding artist in her own right, beyond being Norman Tiotuico’s better half. Kong Norman’s own series on “Timauang isip”, “Timauang lub”, and “Timauang Kalalangan” resonate the individual and collective freedoms which we should live. Not to be left behind are Lucio Sison’s socially inclusive Kulitan rendition of “Ding Maklak ampon ding pipi” (The mute and the deaf) and Jing Torio’s “Ibpa Mi” artwork which I think should be present in every Kapampangan home. The rest of art pieces were equally excellent, steeped in a pervading sense of Kapampangan pride of place.

I hope that in the future, Katimauan and AGKAS Kapampangan will be given the chance to make these visual representations of our language and art more ubiquitous and accessible to more people. That day when Kulitan finally becomes a linguistic norm will be an ultimate expression of freedom.

(Special thanks to AGKAS Kapampangan, Boogie Yu, and Bruno Tiotuico for the photographs appearing in today’s column.)