PINAGLAHUAN ni Faustino Aguilar–Komentaryo ni E. San Juan, Jr.


OLIGARKIYA NG KUMPRADOR-PATRIYARKONG PIYUDALISMO AT SIMBOLIKONG TRANSPORMASYON NG DIWA SA ILALIM NG IMPERYALISMONG AMERIKANO

Mapagpalayang Sipat sa Nobelang PIN AGLAHUAN ni FaustinoAguilar

ni E. SAN JUAN, Jr.

Vinta

Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under

circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.

—Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Bumaire,” Selected Works (94)

May mga [nbelang] natapos sa pagiging balutan sa tindahan ng Intsik, …sa mga tindahan ng magluluma, pagkat

doon, kasama ng mga luma at kalawanging putol-putol na bakal, kahalo ng mga tornilyo at pako, ay may ilang salin ng mga nobelang ipinagbili na ng mga limbagan nang patapon pang huwag makasikip sa kanilang kinalalagyan… Pinakamataan nang kapalaran…ang maging bantay sa mga pinto ng simbahan kung may pagdiriwang na pintakasi, nangakalagay sa isang bilao na kung minsa’y kasama ng mga kalmen, at kuwintas, o ng kandila kaya, tainga, mata o katawang buo naman ng tao na yari sa pagkit… Ipinagtatapat kong kasama akona matagal-tagal ding naging bantay sa mga pinto ng simbahan, lalo pa sa Antipolo kung idinaraos doon ang sunod-sunod na pagsisiyam.

—-Faustino Aguilar, “Ang Nobelang Tagalog” (237)

Bagama’t itinuturing na isang matipunong haligi ng panitikang

Tagalog ang nobelistang Faustino Aguilar (1882-1955), pambihirang makatagpo ng anumang pagsusuring makabuluhan tungkol sa akda at sa manunulat. Bukod sa puna ni Soledad Reyes sa kanyang Nobelang Tagalog 1905-1975, at ilang sanaysay, wala pang malalim at masinop na interpretasyon at pagkilatis sa nobela sa perspektibo ng kasalukuyang

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problema ng lipunan at sa isang historiko-materyalismong pananaw. Sisikapin dito ang maglahad ng isang banghay ng diyalektikang lapit sa estruktura at estilo ng likhang-sining na, bukod sa Banaag at Sikat (1906) ni Lope K. Santos at Madaling-Araw (1909) ni Inigo Ed. Regalado, ay maitatanging pinakamasining na paglalarawan ng sambayanan sa mapagpasiyang panahon ng transisyon mula sa kolonyaismong Espanyol tungo sa kolonyalismong Amerikano (Panganiban & Panganiban 204).

Bagamat ipinalimbag muli ng Ateneo U Press ang nobela noong 1986, mahigit 32 taon na ang nakalipas, mahirap makitaan ito sa mga teksbuk ngayon. Sa dalawang antolohiyang gamit sa paaralan, tig-iisang kabanata ng nobela ang sinipi: Kabanata XX sa Tatlong Panahon ng Panitikan na inedit ni B.S. Medina Jr., at Kabanata VI sa Philipine Literature: A History and Anthology na pinamatnagutan nina Bienvenido Lumbera & Cynthia Lumbera. Sa pakiwari ko, bukod sa mga eksena ng pagtatatalik nina Luis at Danding, ang kagipitan ni Luis sa pagawaan, at ang pagkahulog niya sa pakana ni Rojalde, ang pinakasasabikang tagpo ay nakasudlong sa karanasan ni Luis sa bilangguan at panggipuspos ni Rojalde sa anak at asawa. Nais kong itampok rito ang mga bahaging humihimay sa saloobin ni Rojalde kung nakikihalo siya sa mga kaibigan, at laluna sa problematikong pagkikipagsabwatan niya kay Pedro, isang katulong, na siyang naging tagapamagitan (mediation) sa diyalektika ng labas at loob, ng batas at krimen, sa balangkas ng talambuhay ng komprador at rebelde.

Ang ilang paksang tatalakayin dito ang mga sumusunod: 1) Ang yugto ng kasaysayang plataporma ng mga usapin ng mga tauhan sa nobela; 2) Ang politiko-ekonomikong kaayusan ng bansa sa unang dekada ng pananakop ng U.S. sa Pilipinas; 3) ang suliranin kung bakit si Rojalde ang pinakatampok na tauhan sa nobelang pumapanig sa mga anak-dalita; 4)

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ang tanong kung bakit sinakripisyo si Luis na dapat dakilain sa kanyang pagtatanggol sa humanistikong prinsipyo ng Kaliwanagan na inspirasyon ng rebolusyong 1989; 5) ang problema kung ano ang pahiwatig ng pagkamatay ni Luis, paghihingalo ni Danding, at malagim na klima ng dalumat sa wakas ng nobela? Isusuma sa wakas ang ilang hinuhang sagot sa mga paksang ito.

Pasakalye

Sa palagay ko, ang Pinaglahuan ang susi sa pagkabatid kung paano malulutas ang krisis ng neokolonyang orden. Sa pagkagapi nito sa bisa ng ideolohiyang kapitalistang ibinunsod ng lakas sandatahan ng imperyalismong U.S., hindi napawi ang ugali’t kaisipang piyudal at reaksyonaryo. Bagkus nasuhayan at napasigla iyon sa tulong ng mistipikasyon ng salapi, sa petisismong umiinog sa pamilihan. Nailipat ang hibong pagtutol sa ambigwidad ng kumprador, si Rojalde, na sagisag ng pangkat nina Osmena-Quezon-Roxas, na mamumuno sa makabayang kilusan tungo sa Komonwelt at Republika ng 1946. Samakatwid, ang nobelang ito’y salamin ng konsepto ng hindi-pantay at magkalangkap na pagsulong (uneven & combined development). Naitugma ang kaayusang piyudal na minana sa kolonyalismong Espanyol at sistemang komersiyal- industriyal ng monopolyo-kapitalismong Estadong sumakop sa isla. Napagtambal ang kasikismo’t awtoritaryanismong hango sa mahigit tatlong siglong paghahari ng Simbahan at monarkya, at ang burgesyang pagtingin sa bawa’t tao bilang may-ari ng lakas-paggawang mabibili. Awtoritaryanismong patriyarkal laban sa inbidwalistikong may-ari ng tubo/ kasangkapan sa produksyon—ito ang pangunahing kontradiksyong hinarap ni Aguilar sa kanyang nobela.

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Kaugnay nito, maisasambit dito ang ilang importanteng temang pahapyaw na iimbestigahin: ang komodipikasyon ng ordinaryong pakikipagkapwa sa lipunan, ang sitwasyon ng pamilyang tradisyonal, ang kalagayan ng petiburgesyang mamamayan (tulad ni Luis Gat-Buhay), ang papel ng komprador o usurero (Rojalde), ang katungkulan ng Estado’t hukom kaakibat ng institusyon ng bilangguan, ang lungsod bilang arena o espasyo ng tunggalian ng uri versus nayon/kalikasan. Bukod dito, sisiyasatin ang ilang metapora o talinghagang nagpapahiwatig ng pagkilos at paggalaw ng iba’t ibang puwersang nagtatagisan, mga elementong magkakasalungat ngunit bumubuo ng isang sistemang maibabansagang kongkretong unibersal—ang likhang-sining mismo na nagbubuklod sa magkakaiba’t naghihiwalay na salik ng lipunan at yugto ng kasaysayan. Susubukan kung maghuhuli natin ang determinadong negasyon (determinate negation) na siyang magbubukas ng masalimuot ng kontradiksyon ng sosyedad sibil—ang Pilipinas sa epoka ng mabangis na paghahari ng Estados Unidos at monopolyo-kapitalismo sa bawat buhay ng Filipino.

Anggulo ng Interpretasyon

Ang metodong tradisyonal na kinagawian sa pagtuturo ay didaktikong pagkilates. Ayon kay Medina, si Aguilar ay “tagatampok na kabaitan.” Matatas at matahas sa pananagalog at matalas sa pagpuna sa kalakaran, si Aguilar ay “matibay na luminang sa tradisyong radikal, na tumututol sa di-pagkaunlad ng isip at kabuhayan ng bayan….Si Aguilar ay hindi nangiming maging tagalahad ng katotohanan at tagamungkahi ng kalutasan—sa mga aral na rin nga—sa mga sulilraning kinakaharap ng tao…nalangkapan ng damdaming binuhay ng paksang pagdurusa ng

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kaluluwa, na totoong nasinag sa nobelang Pinaglahuan” (269). Sa pagdukal sa problemang sosyo-politikal, nalinang niya ang tradisyong mapanuligsa’t mapagtutol sa mga kabulaanan, korapsyon at kasamaang umiiral. Ito ang aral na mapupulot sa pagbasa sa teksto ng nobela.

May katwiran ang pedagohikal na oryentasyong ito sa mismong opinyon ni Aguilar. Sabi niya sa lekturang binigkas noong Enero 1949 na ang nobela “ay dapat na maging sagisag ng kabaitan. Sinasagot ng kumakatha ng nobela ang pagkatanim sa isip ng mambabasa ng mga aral na kaniyang ipinunla” (236) Gagad ito sa antigong turo nina Horace at mga Romanong kritiko, pati ebanghelyong misyonaryong nagsalin ng pasyon sa Tagalog. Hindi lang luma na ang pagdulog na ito, kundi mapurol at hindi mabisa sa pagbunyag sa lason ng ideolohiyang mapaniil. Mahina itong igpawan ang mistipikasyon ng ugnayang panlipunang kinalapulan ng gayuma ng komoditi at salapi. Paano maibubunyag ang katotohanang nakakubli sa pagkukunwari at kasinungalingan?

Paglimiin din ang kontra-didaktikong susog ni Aguilar sa lekturang nabanggit na pwedeng gabay sa analisis ng kanyang akda. Mungkahi niyang kailangan ng manunulat hindi lamang “ang malinis na kalooban at mabuting hangad kundi may talino pang maningning na hindi nasisilaw ng takot at maling pagpapakundangan sa mga kagalang-galang at talusaling,” bukod sa mahinahong tapang “sa paglalahad ng katotohanan upang mapalitaw ang katarungan.” Aking sasalungguhitan ang sumusunod na pangungusap niya: “Ang paglalahad ng mga kamalian ay dapat na maliwanag at tumpak sa katotohanan. Kailanma’y hindi dapat mangaral ang kumakatha ng nobela, hindi niya tungkulin ang lumagay sa pulpito, sukat na ang ilahad ang sama upang gisingin sa mga isip at kalooban ang pagnanais na gumawa ng magaling. Hindi kailangan ang

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gasgas nang pamamaraan na pagpalain ang mabait at parusahan ang masama: sukat ang pagandahin ang kabaitan upang siyang naising tularan, na anupa’t ang isang nobela ay dapat mag-ukilkil sa makababasa ng pagkakabuti” (237). Sa ibang salita, ilarawan o isadula, hindi pagbuburda ng diskursong argumento.

Realistikong Alegorya

Sa gayon, malinaw na ang artista ay hindi guro o nagsesermong pari. Hindi sa tuwirang pangagaral, pagdaliri sa ilang moralisadong payo, kundi sa dramatikong paglalahad ang mabisang paraan ng edukasyon. Tingnan, halimbawa, ang mga pangyayari sa Kabanata Vi.

Ang punto-de-bista ni Luis, kaakibat ng bisyon ng nagsasalaysay, ang siyang kumokontrol sa daloy ng naratibo. Napakinggang di-sinasadya ni Luis ang usapan ng pulutong ng mga dukhang nanlilimahid, “mga kulang- palad na nagbibili ng lakas sa balang may ipabuhat, sa sino mang may utos kahit ano: sila ang mga kantanod sa saganang piging ng kapisanan, na sa tinayu-tayong iyo’y naghihintay na mahagisan, huwag na ng buto pagka’t ito’y may lasa kundi ng simi man lamang” (57). Isa sa kanila’y nagwikang magsasanla siya ng bagay na walang kasinghalaga, ang “aking lakas na sarili, ng mgagawa ng aking mga bisig” na sinagot ng isang kasama: “…sa panahong ito, ang lakas ay walang halaga kung hindi rin lamang kailangan, nariyan ang mga makinang likha ng karunungan, isa pa ring umaapi sa paris nating mga dukha, na siyang kahalili ng lakas ng tao” (59) Kapalit ng lakas-paggawa ng tao ang makina, na mistipikasyon: patay na lakas-paggawa iyon, ngunit hindi batid ng mismong pinagmulan nito.

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Buhat sa budhi’t ulirat ni Luis, na isang kawaning may-edukasyon sa tanggapan ng Amerikanong Mr. Kilsberg, ang kaliwanagan ay nakasalig pa rin sa alyenasyon ng diwa, na nailakip sa relihiyon at maling paniniwala. Nagbakasakali si Luis: “At may Diyos, may pananampalataya, at may kapisanang dapat kumandili” (59). Kasabay ng hakang-hakang iyon ang paghabol ng pulis at pagparusa sa isang pulubing tumakbo mula sa isang lugar kung saan hindi siya nagbayad ng kinain sapagkat walang bumili ng kanyang inaalok na lakas. Tugon ng tekas sa babaing humandulong sa kanya: “Hindi ninyo ako pakakainin kung nagsabi ng tapat. Paanong di gayo’y kalakas kung tao? Marahil pa’y itinaboy ninyo nang taboy-hayop, gaya ng pagkataboy sa akin sa mga pintong tinawagan ko upang humingi ng gagawin” (60).

Mahayap na refutasyon sa sentimyento ni Luis ang nangyaring pagdakip sa tekas, sawing-palad na obrerong makakatagpo niya mulli sa Bilibid sa Kabanata XIX. Nagsalikop ang kanilang kapalaran nang hindi sinasadya, patunay na ang aksidente sa huling pagtutuos ay integral na sangkap sa pagsasakatuparan ng tadhana.

Balangkas ng Digmaan ng mga Uri

Sapantaha ng marami na ang nobela ay umiinog sa pagmamahalan nina Danding at Luis. Tila melodramatikong kasaysayan ng sawimpalad na magkasintahan, isang romansang palasak sa mga sumunod na nobela tulad ng Sampagitang Walang Bango ni Regalado. Totoong nakapupukaw ang pag-iibigan nina Luis at Danding sa Kabanata III, tigib ng umaalimpuyong damdamdamin at pagnanais at simbuyong umaalimbukay. Walang katumbas ang matimyas at matining na kumpisalan at laguyo ng dalawa. Ngunit hindi ito ang nakasentrong

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aksyon kundi ang mga pakana’t plano ni Rojalde upang makamit ang pag- ibig ni Danding. Magkahalong tagumpay at pagkatalo ang karanasan ni Rojalde.

Sa adhikaing iyon, lumilitaw na sa simula pa lamang ay paltos na ang balak at di na niya makakamit ang pinakamimithi. Dahil sa patriyarkong awtoridad ni Don Nicanor, at kasakiman ni Nora Titay sa salapi’t alahas, napilitang umayon si Danding. Siya ang komoditi o bagay na ipananakip sa pagkakautang na P10,000 ng ama. Si Rojalde ang bangkero/usurero. Walang duda, batid ni Rojalde na dinahas lamang ang pagkakasal nila sa tulong ng ina’t amang mapag-imbot.

Dalawang pagsubok ang ginawa upang maigupo si Luis, kapwa tuso’t mapaglinlang na hakbang. Sinulsulan si Mr. Kilsberg, ang amo ni Luis, pinatalsik si Luis sa mga kabulaanang ibinigay ni Rojalde—na ang empleyado’y nag-aamuki sa mga kawaning umaklas laban sa maling pamamalakad, na hindi naman buong kasinungalingan. Bahagi imbento, bahagi realidad—ito ang pormularyo ng kumprador-kapitalista. Iyan ang praktika nina Quezon, Osmena, Roxas, Sumulong at iba pang burokrata- kapitalista’t kumprador na humihiling ng biyaya sa U.S. habang ginogoyo at nilalamuyot ang dalumat ng madla.

Dahil mariwasa at maraming taga-hanga, na siyang kultural o simbolikong puhunan niya, mapagkakatiwalaan si Rojalde. Walang magulang o anumang paliwanag kung saan nanggaling ang kayamanan niya, hindi tulad ni Simoun (sa El Filibusterismo) na may hiwagang bukal ng kapangyarihan. Paano natin maimumungkahi na si Rojalde ang arketipo o alegorikong imahen ng kumprador bilang usurero, na kahawig

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ng mga nagpapautang sa mga pesante o inkilinong nauubusan ng pambayad kung may sakuna o kamalasan sa pagsasaka?

Parametro ng Kasaysayan

Saglit balik-tanawin natin ang magulong sosyo-politikong milyu ng mga taong 1899-1907, bago mailathala ang nobela. Sanhi sa superyor na armas at teknolohiya ng Amerika, nagsugpo nito ang armadong oposisyon ng Republika. Bagamat tinanggap na ni Hen. Emilio Aguinaldo ang soberanya ng Amerika noong Abril 1901, patuloy ang pakikibaka ng rebolusyonaryong hukbo sa Balangiga, Samar, hanggang sumuko si Hen. Vicente Lukban at Hen Miguel Malvar noong 1902. Ipinagpatuloy ito ni Hen. Macario Sakay hanggang mahuli siya’t bitayin noong Setyembre 1907. Mahigpit ang panunupil sa nasyonalistikong kilos ng bayan sa pamamagitan ng Brigandage Act (1902) at Reconcentration Act (1903), kaakibat ng Sedition Law (1902)—ang huli’y nagbawal ng malayang pagpapahayag o anumang isinulat o binigkas na sakdal laban sa gobyerno ng Estados Unidos.

Gayunpaman, sa gitna ng karahasang ipinataw ng imperyo, nagpatuloy ang matapang na mandudulang sina Juan Abad, Aurelio Tolentino, at Juan Matapang Cruz sa pagbatikos at pagtutol sa paghahari ng kolonyalistang poder (Agoncillo 292-94). Hindi natakot ang mga peryodista ng El Nuevo Dia, El Renacimiento, Muling Pagsilang—sina Rafael Palma, Jaime de Veyra, Martin Ocampo, Teodoro Kalaw—na ihayag ang korapsyon at kasinungalingan ng burokrasya, laluna ang pang-aabuso ng mga mapagsamantalang cacique at mapaniil na upisyal sa gobyerno, na humantong sa iskandalo ni Dean Worcester sa kasong “Aves de Rapina” ng El Renaciemiento noong 1908. Hindi rin natakot si Aguilar na

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puntiryahin ang gobyerno (pulis, hukom, Bilibid) at kapitalismong umuugit dito (sa persona ni Mr. Kilsberg, Malakanyang, at sistemang umiiral).

Nang makumpleto’t nailathala ang Pinaglahuan, natalo ng Partido Nacionalista ang mga maka-Amerikanong Federalista sa halalan ng Unang Kapulungang Pilipino o Asamblea noong 1907. Katibayan ito na ang prinsipyong ipinaglaban ni Aguilar nang siya’y kasapi ng Katipunan, at ng Republika, ay masigla’t mapusok sa pagdemanda ng kalayaan at kasarinlan. Naimpluwensiyahan siya ng mga panitik nina Rizal, Bonifacio, Del Pilar, Mabini, tulad ng mga kabataang politikong lumahok sa mga partidong pinayagan ng administrasyong kolonyal. Nang matapos ang digmaan, nagtrabaho si Aguilar bilang kawani sa adwana at kahero sa Bazar La Union ng Maynila. Naging masugid na peryodista siya sa pahayagang La Patria at Muling Pagsilang noong 1902 (Santos x). Beinte anos na si Aguilar, kahalubilo ng mga pediburgesyang intelektwal mula sa gitnang saray—henerasyong nakapag-aral sa Ateneo at San Juan de Letran at iba pang kolehiyo, tulad nina Pascual Poblete, Cecilio Apostol, Domnador Gomez, at iba pang ilustradong nagtayo ng Partido Nacionalista. Bago rito, lumago rin ang petiburgesyang sumapi sa mga grupong itinaguyod ng Philippine Commission. Pagkapasa ng Philippine Bill of 1902, naglipana ang mga kandidato para sa Asambleang ipinasinaya noong ika-16 Oktubre 1907.

Bukod sa mga panginoong maylupa, asendero o mayamang kasike, umunlad ang saray na pinagmulan ng uring burokrata-kapitalista at kumprador. Sila ang mga umani ng pribilehiyong nahamig nina Quexon, Osmena, Benito Legarda, at iba pang upisyal na naipunla ng patakarang “Filipinization” ni William Howard Taft. Ang mga pamilyang karamay ng mga namunong sina Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, Pedro Paterno, Felipe

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Buencamino, Felipe Calderon, Teodoro Yangco, Gregorio Araneta, Victorino Mapa, at iba pang kasapi sa Federalista, ang naging pugad ng uring kumprador-burokrata, na siyang ugat ng lahi ni Victorino Rojalde at mga kaibigang Balani at Barrientos. Ayon kay Renato Constantino, sa 80 na nahalal na miyembro ng Asamblea, mayroon 48 abugado, 4 mediko, 2 peryodista, 6 propesor, 6 agrikulturista, 2 parmasyotiko, maraming mangangalakal, at malaking bahagda ang mga panginoong maylupa (316).

Sumulpot na ang henerasyong magbubunga kina Roxas, Quirino, Garcia, Macapagal, Marcos, Macapagal at Aquino.
Sina Quezon at Osmena ang padrino ng mga parasitikong petiburgesyangrentier na nakasandig sa minanang yaman o mga ari-ariang pinagtutubuan. Ang napapanahong pangingibaw nito ay akmang-akma sa “Filipinization” na magsisilbing maskara sa kolonyalismong poder, na inihudyat nga sa unang pangyayaring nagbukas sa nobela: ang pag-urong ng may-ari ng dulaang (Teatro Zorilla) ipagamit ang lugar sa makabayang pulutong ay sagisag ng desisyong ipagpaliban ang pakikibaka tungo sa kasarinlan upang harapin ang hamon ng personal na paghahanap-buhay, na sadyang walang tatag, laging tumaas-bumaba, pagulong-gulong, tulad ng mga presyo’t tubo ng produktong inilalako ng mga naglalabang negosyante ng mga korporasyon. Sa patakarang laissez-faire, na ngayo’y neoliberalismong internasyonal, anarkiya ang namamayani—matira ang matibay, ayon sa doktrinang malaganap ng Social-Darwinism.

Anatomya ng Pagkatao ng Kumprador

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Naidiin na ang balangkas ng lipunang nakapaloob sa nobela ay magkahalo o hybrid. Malusog pa ang piyudal na gawi’t ugali sa mga utusan, sota at alila nina Don Nicanor at Rojalde, na tiyak nabahiran ng mga praktikang maharot ng mga pesante’t magbubukid na naggala sa Maynila. Ngunit mabuway na ang relihiyosong pananaw sa mga pamilyang nakikinabang sa salaping kuha sa pag-upa ng bahay, maliit na negosyo, sugal, atbp. Lumalakas ang maka-negosyanteng doktrina ng indibidwalismo, laluna sa mga kasangkot sa komersiyong pangluwas at pag-angkat ng sari-saring produkto. Si Rojalde (bukod kina Barrientos at Balani) ang kumakatawan sa uring komprador, habang si Mr. Kilsberg ang representatibo ng kapitalistang namamahala sa manupaktura.

Hindi maliwanag ang tiyak na pinagtutubuan ni Rojalde liban sa sugal at sa mga paglalakbay sa pinakamasiglang sentro ng komersiyo sa daigdig. Nag-honeymoon sila ni Danding sa Hapon kung saan marahil mayroong kontak na negosyante. Sa pinagawang magareng tsalet sa Santana, pinuno ito ni Rojalde ng mamahaling kasangkapan at kagamitan na magpapatunay na ungos ang kayamanan niya kaysa kay Don Nicanor, na ang bahay ay mistulang monasterio, “alangang simbahan.” Ang mga santo’t santa sa tahanan ng tusong patriyarko ay nagkakaroon ng mala- satirikong kaluluwa, nagkukutya, tumatawa, nakasimangot, kumikindat. Ang idolong luma ng Kristiyanidad ay tinutumbasan o nakikipagpaligsahan sa mga muwebles at palamuti sa makabagong ari-arian ni Rojalde, at sa mga hiyas na regalo niya. Halimbawa ito ng komoditi-petisismong siniyasat ni Marx sa unang kabanata ng obra-maestrang libro, Kapital.

Aywan kung kailangan pang isiwalat muli ang kapangyarihan ng komoditi o produktong itinitinda sa etika’t politika ng kolonyang Pilipinas. Sa paghahari ng burgesya, ang relasyong pantao ay sinalisihan ng

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relasyon ng mga produktong ipinagbibili, kaya kinukubli nito ang tunay na sitwasyon: ang trabahador na walang pag-aari kundi ang lakas-paggawa, at ang kapitalista/proprietor na may-ari ng kasangkapan na siyang bumibili ng taong walang taglay kundi kanyang lakas-paggawa. Samakatwid, ang puwersang ekonomiko ang nagtatago sa tunay na relasyon ng pagsasamantala, eksplotasyon: hindi kapital (salapi) ang pinagmumulan ng tubo kundi lakas-paggawa. Doon nakaangkla ang reipikasyon at alyenasyong laganap. Ikinukubli ng nakawiwiling tanawin o kapaligirang nakikita’t namamasid sa araw-araw na buhay ang sekreto’t tunay na kabuktutan, inhustisya, malupit na pagsikil at pagkaduhagi ng nakararaming mamayan sa mala-burgesyang lipunan.

Dahil sa hilig sa sugal, na isang paghamon o pakikipaglaro sa Diyosa Fortuna, sa tadhana, nagkautang si Don Nicanor. Walang ibang pag- aaring maipapalit sa utang kundi ang bugtong na anak, na siyang komoditi o pinagbiling produkto ng pamilyang napailalim sa poder ng kumprador.

SI Danding ay naging bagay (sekswal; inang magluluwal ng taga- pagmana ng yaman) na binigyan ng halagang-pampalit (exchange-value), ngunit may halagang-panggamit (use-value) na hindi maangkin ni Rojalde: ang kanyang pag-ibig. Ito’y hindi bagay na maisisilid sa isang kahong- bakal sapagkat ito’y ugnayang panlipunan, relasyong sosyal ng damdamin at kamalayan. Sapagkat hindi mabibili, walang ibang tugon sa suliraning ito kundi panibugho, pagseselos, galit, pagngingitngit, poot,

pagdaramdam. Lubhang pinasidhi ang panibugho sa kuwento ni Vagues tungkol sa ugnayan nina Clementina ni Esctillon at Perez na pinakinggan ni Rojalde habang nangyayri ang nakawan sa bahay niya. Isang parabulang mapaghiwatig ng daya at biruang sumisira sa mabuting pagkikipagkapwa-tao.

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Sa pangkalahatan, ang karakter ni Rojalde ay nabalot ng inggit, sama ng loob, hinanakit. Isa lamang ang hantungan nito: higanti laban sa taong kakompitensya, si Luis, pulubing inalis sa trabaho, na umangkin ng puso ng asawang si Danding. Ipakulong man ang pobreng Luis sa sugal ng pag-ibig, dahil sa nakatali pa rin si Rojalde sa piyudal na kostumbreng dapat siguraduhin ang kadalisayan ng dugo ng magmamanang anak, walang kalutasan ang suliranin ng pagiging patriyarkong hindi kontrolado ang buong sitwasyon.Sa diskursong “The Power of Money in Bourgeois Society,” (Manuscripts 165-69), isiniwalat ni Marx ang erotiko’t marahuyong lakas ng salapi na,tulad ng komoditi o produktong tinitinda, ay kumakaway at nanunukso sa mga nais bumili, na tanda ng masahol na salot ng konsumerismo sa burgesyang lipunan. Sa gayon, iisa ang henealohiya ng salapi at katawan ni Danding: kapwa erotikong bagay, ang ibinaon o nawalang bagay na matris ng galak, kasarapan, ligaya, kasukdulang tamis, kaluwalhatian.

Diyalektika ng Partikular at Unibersal

Nabanggit na ang tagumpay ng unang paghihiganti ni Rojalde nang makapiling niya si Mr. Kilsberg sa isang piging sa Malakanyang, simbolo ng U.S. imperyallismo at ng kakutsabang katutubong alipores. Sa pag- amin pa rin ni Danding na hindi mabibili ni Rojalde ang kanyang pag-ibig, binalak ni Rojalde na suhulan ang dating sota, si Pedro, upang isangkot si Luis sa isang pagnanakaw—lapat na aksyong nagsisiwalat ng pagnakaw ni Rojalde sa kayamanang likha ng di-mabilang na obrero sa mundo. Nasilo sa pagkukunwari ni Pedro at sa makapagkalingang saloobin, nadakip si Luis at nabilanggo sa salang pagnanakaw, na hindi niya maipaglabang kabulaanan.

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Ano ang sitwasyon ng uring kumprador sa lipunan? Masisinag ito sa eksenang nagmumuni-muni si Rojalde habang hinihintay si Pedro sa Kabanata XVI, isang harding nagmistulang libingan (ang Bilibid sa huling bahagi ng nobela ay isang libingan din ng mga biktima ng makapangyarihang pulutong). Nagunita niya ang mga pamahiin tungkol sa duwende, nuno at tikbalang noong kamusmusan niya. Tigib ng pag- aalinlangan na hindi masawata ng salapi, taglay pa ng komersiyante ang imahinasyong makipagdebate sa sarili, sa isang interior monologue:

“Kung may tikbalang kaya ngayong biglang lumitaw rito,” ang usisa sa sarili ni Rojalde.”Marahil nama’y di mangangahas sa akin; nalalaman na niyang ang musmos na nagpipikit ng mata kahapon, masabi lamang ang tikbalang, ngayo’y isa nang binatang may matitipunong bisig at pangangatawang timbang na timbang na di na niya mabibigla nang gano-ganoon. At kakausapin ko pa siya’t ipagpaparangalan ang sari-saring bunga ng isipan ng tao; ipatatalastas kong ngayo’y nauutusan pati ng lintik, nahahalughog pati kayamanang natatago sa ilalim ng lupa…[P]ati pagsasalitaan ngayo’y nagagawa sa pamamagitan ng kawad,…ang paglalakbay na kasalukuya’y mabilis na mabilis hindi gaya ng dating masagwil at puno pa ng kapanganiban…[Kung may tikbalang na ayaw siyang paraanin]…sapilitang mahihikayat ko…Isa-isa kong paliiwanag sa kanila ang mga kalwagan ng pamumuhay ngayon, ang mga kagalingan at

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ginhawa sa panahong ito salamat sa walang higlaw na pagsisikap ng puhunan. ‘Ngunit hintay ka muna, Rojalde,’ ang naibulong, ‘ang mga bata’t matatandang gusgusi’y malurit makipag-usap, mausisang totoo at palatanong ng kung anu-anong bagay: kung usisain nila sa iyo kung gaano naman ang ikinasulong ng tao sa pamamahala at pagpapsumunod sa bayan ng mga pamahalaang natatayo at ano ang iyong isasagot? (193-95)

Tiyak na si Rojalde ang tagapamansag ng modernismong dala ng U.S imperyalismo, ng makabagong teknolohiya’t siyentipikong pangangasiwa sa gobyerno’t komersiyo. Ngunit saklot din siya ng duda at walang pagtitiwala sa takbo ng buhay, sa malihim na operasyon ng monopolyo kapitalismo, ng mga nagbubungguang interes ng iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan. Masalimuot at magulo ang kalakarang nakabatay sa sirkulasyon ng salapi at produktong inilalako. Hinala rin iyan ni Rojalde, napisil niya ang isasagot ng tikbalang: “pawang paimbabaw lamang ang mga kinang na iyang nagpapaganda sa lahat ng bagay, at mga palamuting ginagamit ng tao upang matakban nang kaunti ang kalagayan niyang busabos pa rin hangga nayon.” Pinag-ukulan ito ng pansin ni Benilda Santos, ang editor ng muling pagkalimbag ng nobela: “Kaagapay ng ganitong pagsusuri ng mapagkunwaring ispirituwalidad, sinuri rin ni Aguilar ang pagdating ng ipinangalandakang pag-unlad na tatak Amerikano…May balatkayo at natatagong pandaraya ang ‘kaunlaran.’ Sa likod ng manipis na modernisasyon ng lungsod, madaling natutukoy ni Aguilar ang mga kupas na pangarap at bigong pag-asa ng mga Pilipino” xviii-xix).

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Nakakaakit ang romansa sa nobela—walang masamang babae ritong “may ginintuang puso”— ngunit panglansi o patibong lang iyon. Nakasentro ang naratibo sa suliranin ng kumprador na sa simula’y tila giya o patnubay sa takbo ng mga pangyayari. Hindi pala, malikmata lamang iyon. Sa pusod ni Rojalde nagliliyab ang mga maigting na kontradiksiyong tumatalab sa bawat kilos, salita, damdamin at pangarap ng tauhan sa nobela. Siya ang intersekyon ng digmaan ng mga uri, isang larangan ng pakikihamok ng kolonisadong bayan at imperyalismo, ng piyudalismo at kapitalismo.

Isang aspekto ng diyalektikang pamamaraan ni Aguilar ay matatarok sa usapan nina Rojalde at Pedro. Nabatid ni Rojalde na sa pakikisalamuha ng utusan kay Luis, nagkaroon ng kabatiran at malasakit si Pedro, at ang pagkatuklas na ito ang determinadong negasyon ng pakana ni Rojalde na bilhin ang buong pagkatao ni Pedro. Naging kaibigan siya ni Luis: “Pinakapuri ito, sinabing may magandang puso at saka totoong kaibigan ng mga dukha, walang una-unang kasalanang kinikilala sa mahihirap kundi ang kanilang karalitaang bunga ng masasamang palakad ngayon” (198). Sa bintang na tatalikod siya sa pangako, tumugon si Pedro na hindi na may pasubali: “Ngunit ako’y nangilabot tuwing magugunita ang aking gagawin sa isang mabuting tao na paris ni Luis” (198). Samakatwid, hindi pa lubos naging mabangis na hayup ang utusan. Tumupad si Pedro, nahuli’t napiit sila ni Luis, at sa kalauna’y napatay si Pedro nang magtangkang tumakas sa bilangguan.

Sa paglalagom, ang pagkatao ng kumprador na kumakatawan sa malaking bahagi ng oligarkiyang nasa poder ang pinakamakahulugang ambag ng nobela. Bagamat mababansagang peti- burgesya, hindi ito kahawig ng intelihensiya sa Europa na matipid, may

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panlasang pilistino’t bulgar o malisyoso (Ossowska 154-82). Wala rin itong hilig na gumagad sa ugali ng nobilidad na magpakatanyag sa isang marangal na pagpupunyagi. Nais ni Rojaldeng maparangalan sa kanyang paghahandog ng piging at pista, sa kanyang pangangaibigan at pag-unlak sa mga kasiyahan, sa pag-angkin sa magandang dalagang si Danding. Sa kabilang dako, walang kapanatagan ang kaniyang buhay, hatak at tulak ng mga along pulitikal at pang-ekonomya. Ito nga ang predikamento ng oligarkiya na naging alipin ng Amerikano, at pagkatapos naging alila ng mga Hapon, at kapagkwa’y bumallik sa pagsunod sa dating amo— estilong kumprador na laging nalalamangan, laging dehado.

Paghahanap sa Bayaning Naglaho

Dumako tayo sa hiwaga kung ano, sino, saan ang pinaglahuan. Panimulang hinuha ko: ang naglaho’y panahon at pagkakataon ng kabayanihan. Maaring ang sambayanan o ilang pamilya’t indibidwal ang pinaglahuan ng lakas, sentido, dangal, atbp., at hindi na nakuhang ipaglaban ang dignidad at sariling puri. Kung matatanggap na pangunang pakay ni Aguilar ang daliriin ang predikamento ng kumprador- burgesiya, na sumasagisag sa personal na kalayaan ninuman na magsumikap maging malusog at maligaya, kundi man mariwasa, ano ang papel na ginanap ni Luis Gat-buhay bukod sa biktima at sawimpalad na kasintahan ni Danding?

Pinarangalan ni Efren Abueg si Aguilar bilang tagapunla ng semilya ng ideolohiyang sosyalista sa panitikan. Nagpahiwatig angPinaglahuan ng pangangailangan ng pagkakaisa ng mga api upang marating ang utopya ng pagkakapantay-pantay. Deklara ni Abueg: “Ngunit ang kanyang kolektibismo ay hindi hatid ng mahinahong pag-iisip, kundi

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ng sigabo ng naaaping damdamin. [Sinipi ang bulalas ni Luis] “Sapagkat sa ikatatagumpay ng alin mang layon, sa ikabibihis ng katauhang dinudusta, at sa ikapagwawagi ng katwiran laban sa Lakas ay kailangan ang dugo, kailangan ang buhay…luha…at apoy na panunog. Maggiba muna saka magbuo pagkatapos: nariyan ang tungo ng aking

pangarap” (96). Gayunman, hatol ni Abueg na walang malayong pananaw si Aguilar tulad ni Lope K. Santos sa Banaag at Sikat. Kung tutuusin, mas malayo ang pananaw ni Aguilar dahil sa analisis ng diyalektika ng luma’t bagong kaayusan, ang krisis ng kumprador-burokrata na naipit sa pagitan ng proletaryong naghihimagsik at dekadenteng oligarkong ahente ng U.S> imperyalismo.

Nabanggit na sa unahan ang pasibong tayo ni Luis sa harap ng mga dinuhaging maralita sa lunsod. Bukod sa pag harang sa karwahe ni Don Nicanor sa unang kabanata, at pagbulalas ng simpatiya sa mga pulubi, walang makahulugang aktibidad sa unyonismo ang ipinakita sa nobela. Ipinakita ang masugid na paghahanap ng bagong trabaho pagkatalsik sa kaniya ni Mr. Kilsberg, at pagkaraan, ang pakikihalubilo niya sa mga kasama sa Bilibid. Hindi nahihiwalay si Luis sa mga edukadong ka-henerasyon na dinulutan ng kaunting kaalaman upang magsilbi sa mababang palapag ng burokrasya at pagawaan. Isaisip din natin na ang mga unang liderato ng unyonismo sa Maynila ay sina Isabelo de los Reyes, na nagtatag ng Union de Litografos e Impresores de Filipinas noong Enero 1902, at si Dominador Gomez, abugadong kulaboraytor na tumulong sa pagkasuko ni Macario Sakay. Maski ang maka-kaliwang Crisanto Evangelista, Domingo Ponce, at Cirilo Bognot na nagbuo ng Partido Obrero de Filipinas ay mga alagad ng Partido Nacionalista ni Quezon. Kaugnay sila ng kilusang nasyonalistang hango

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sa hanay ng progresibong paksyon ng uring kumprador at burokrata- kapitalista.

Kabilang sa tinaguriang intelihensiya, ang mga makabayang aktibistang ito ay kalahi ni Luis na nagkapalad mabilang sa empleyado ng gobyerno. Si Aguilar ay naging kawani sa Tanggapan ng Kalihim Pandigma, at sa Tanggapan ng Kalihim Panloob ng Republika sa Malolos. Pagkatapos ng giyera, naglingkod siya sa mga pahayagan, naging editor ng Taliba (1910-13) at kapagkwa’y nahirang empleyado sa pamahalaan nina Quezon at Osmena. Ang tungkulin ni Luis sa akdang ito ay maging behikulo ng awtor, at personipikasyon ng mga biktima ng sistema. Nagdulot siya ng pagkakataong makasilip tayo sa looban ng Bilibid, ang institusyong simbolo ng paghahati ng lipunan sa api at panginoon, sa mga may pag-aari at sa madlang inalipin at dinusta. Narito ang lagom ng kanyang karanasan sa bilangguan sa loob ng pitong buwan:

Maraming mga kabuhayang sawi ang kanyang napagdirinig sa loob ng kulungan at ang mga hubad na katotohanang iyon ng kasalanan at pagkabulok ng mga palakad na sinusunod pa ng katauhan ay lalong nagpapalungkot sa kanyang isip, lalong nagpapalamlam sa kulan ng ano mang bagay na kanyang tingnan at suriin. Isa-isang napaukit sa kanyang puso, tulad sa sadyang inukit sa buhay na bato, ang masasaklap na katotohanang napagdarama sa loob ng Bilibid, at bagaman nakapagtitiis, ay maminsan-minsan ding tumututol sa ngalan ng mga api na walang ibang sala at nagawang kamalian kundi ang kanila lamang pagkamahina (253).

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Lubhang litaw ang pasipistang atitudo, ang tiyaga sa pagtitiis, ang minsan-minsang hinaing, at pagpapasasa—himatong nating pagkatuwa sa dalamhati’t pighati ng isang masokistang tao—sa lugaming kalagayan. Isang kandidato sa pagka-Kristo ba si Luis? Hindi maikakailang ang kanyang pagkamakaawa, ang kahandaang dumamay sa kasawian ng iba (tulad ng kaniyang maling pagdamay sa kasawian ni Pedro), ay nakatataba sa puso. Subalit ito’y pagkukulang din, pagkatamad magtanong, bumulatlat, sumiyasat, sumuri sa katiwalian at ipokrisya ng marami. Tumining at tumibay ang paniniwala niya, pagkasaksi sa isang bilanggong nakabitin at pinahihirapan, na “sa bilanggua’ydi naparusahan ang isang pagkakasala o kaya’y napagsisihan ang katampalasang nagawa.” Ang pagkatao ni Luis ay haraya ng pagpapakasakit, sagisag ng kakayahan ng taong magbata’t magtiis, hindi kakayahang umaklas at maghimagsik.

Pahatid mula sa Sepulkro

Sa wakas ng nobela, pinagtambal ang eksena ng sunog at ang kalunos-lunos na kalagayan ni Danding at kalituhan ni Rojalde. Taglay ang paglinang sa isang propetikong hibong hango sa Bibliya at sa banta ni Simoun sa El Filibusterismo na pasabugin ang sistema upang malinis ang kabulukan, ikinawing ni Aguilar ang pagpuri ni Luis sa sunog na tumutupok sa makasalanang lungsod, at ang panghihinayang at pagkabigo ni Rojalde. Mapanghulang bisyon ang saad ni Luis hinggil sa tumutupok na apoy sa sanlibutan: “Ganyan ang buhawing aking pinapangarap, ang araw ng singilang aking ninanais na ipagkakapantay- pantay ng madla at iguguho ng masasamang palakad sa mga baya’t kapisanan. Mistulang larawan ang sunog na iyan ng pagtutuos ng darating

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bukas, iyang bagong araw na minimithing masilayan ng mga api’t nagtitiis, ng mga dinuduhagi’t inaalipin” (299).

Sa halip bumigkas ng pagdamay sa maralitang napinsala rin, kaagapay ng mayamang pag-aari ni Rojalde, isang pangkahalatang sumpa ang nasambit ni Luis. Walang analisis kung saan nagbuhat ang sunog, na kalimitan ay penomenong pumipinsala sa mga pawid na tahanan ng mahihirap na obrero sa mga pagawaan ng tabako, sapatos, at iba pang pangkaraniwang produkto.
Sa kabilang dako, umaapaw ang ngitngit ni Rojalde. Taglay na makisig at mariwasang kumprador “ang panibughong di ikatahimik at nagtatanong kung bakit iginalang pa ng apoy ang babayi at sanggol na kapwa naglalarawan ng kanyang kasawiang-palad. Sa harap ng mga abo at uling na nagbabaga ay minumuni-muni ang kanyang higanti…” (301). Ito ang antipode ng maselang kontradiksiyong humantong sa kongkretong unibersal na naisakatuparan sa limang huling pahina ng nobela. Kaipala’y nakabitin ang kapalaran ni Danding, “kawalan ng pag-asa, o kaya’y isang hatol na di na matututulan.” Malikhain ang guniguni ng nobelista, ayaw niyang magwakas sa isang doblekarang imahen o parikalang may dalawang kahulugan, kaya itinala ang pagsalikop ng prusisyon ng mga bilanggo at kulay ng tanawing nagbabadya ng maluwalhating kinabuksan:

Nang mga sandaling iyo’y isang mahabang hanay ng mga bilanggo na galing sa paggawa ang ipinapasok sa maluwang na pinto ng Bilibid. Sa mga mukha nila’y makakita ng kinalarawanan ng pagkasawi, Nga mga naghihiwatig ng kapoota’t pagngingitngit na kumakamandag sa kanilang puso….

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Nagwawagi naman ang araw sa kalunsuran. Isang sinag niya ang nakapunit samakapal na panginoring nag-anyong tao muna bago nagkadalawang bisig pagkatapos, saka nagtila isang malaking Kristong nakadipa tulad sa bagong Kristo ng Katauhang araw-araw ay ipinapako ng Katauhan din (302).

Isang ilusyon tila ang iniluhog ni Aguilar sa madlang mambabasa: itinanghal ang abstraktong “Katauhan” at hindi ang partikular na grupo o pangkat na sinisikil at ipinapako sa krus. Kinukuro kong dahilan ito kung bakit nalihis ang komentaryo ni Soledad Reyes nang iulat niya: “Nagwakas ang nobela sa pag-aagaw ng dilim at liwanag, sa larawan ng sugatang Luis habang minamasdan ng nanlalabong mga mata nito ang malaking sunog na tumutupol sa isang bahagi ng Maynila” (45). Wala pang sugat si Luis nang masdan niya ang sunog; at kung si Luis nga ang bagong Kristo, walang habas na eksaherasyon ito. Ikinumpara ni Reyes ang estilo ng panunuya at panunuligsa ni Aguilar sa mga nobela ni Rizal at mga rebolusyonaryong tula nina Bonifacio at del Pilar. Dagdag pa niya na ang realismong sosyal ni Aguilar ay “masusi, masinop at masaklaw” sa paglalarawan ng pag-uugnayan ng mga puwersang mapaniil at mga biktima nila. Patunay ito sa diyalektikang paghubog ng naratibo, kung saan ang isang panig o sektor, ang porma at laman nito, ay hindi maihihiwalay sa kabuuan o totalidad ng relasyong sosyal. Salungat ito sa maka-indibidwalistikong sensibilidad ni Luis, na limitado kumpara sa replexibong kamalayan ni Rojalde batay sa komersiyanteng mentalidad nito na sinuri ni Georg Simmel sa kanyang “Pilosopiya ng
Salapi” (216-232). Bagamat dalumat nito ang kumplikadong katayuan niya, hindi masakyan ni Rojalde ang limitasyon ng kanyang kayamanan, na kung tutuusin ay nakasalalay sa ilusyon, hiwaga, gayuma o mistipikasyon.

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Sa pagsusuma, ang Pinaglahuan ay pagdalumat sa potensiyal at posibilidad ng pagbabago sa Pilipinas noong unang dekada ng siglo 1900. Asimetrikal at maligoy ang pagsulong ng lipunan, may tendensiyang bumabalik at tendensiyang sumusugod. Tumatalab ang mga kontradiksiyong naiulat na sa una. Nakatali ang mga tendensiyang iyon sa uri ng patriyarkong pamilya ni Don Nicanor ( ang orihinal na kahulugan ng pamilya sa Latin ay kawan ng mga esklabo) na nakaugat sa piyudal na rehimen. Samantala, si Rojalde ang sugo ng uring kumprador na bihag ng kontradiksiyon ayon sa umiikot na siklo ng salapi/halagang-pallitan sa palengke o pamilihang pandaigdig. Si Danding at Luis ang palasintahang sindroma ng mga pantasya’t pangarap, panimdim at sindak, na malalasap sa karanasan ng mga taong sumisigaw ng saklolo sa ngalan ng damdamin, kalikasan at espiritu.

Sa maikling pagsusuma, nais kong dukalin ang inungkat na mga tanong sa pambungad hinggil sa kapalaran nina Luis, Danding, at Rojalde. Pinagtuunan ng pansin ng tagapag-salaysay si Rojalde bilang representatibo ng panggitnang-uri, namamagitan sa mayoryang anak- pawis at minoryang mariwasa (walang malaking asendero dito dahilrentier-kapitalismo, paupahang pag-aari ang inasikasong ilarawan). Siya ang kumakatawan sa nalalabing pwersa ng nasyonalismong ibinandila nina Sakay at Malvar sa huling yugto ng giyera laban sa U.S. Sakmal ng balisa’t pag-aalanganin, si Rojalde ang sintomas ng kawalan ng matipunong liderato ng nasyonalistikong bloke (liban na kina Quezon, Osmena, atbp.) Si Luis, na dapat sanang naging masugid na puno ng proletaryo sa pabrika ni Mr. Kilsberg, ay mabilis na nailigpit—tulad ng grupo nina Lope K. Santos, Isabelo de los Reyes, Dominador Gomez, atbp. Dagling naihiwalay sa dalagang anak ng matandaing oligarko, si

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Luis ay naging sakripisyong scapegoat na singaw ng milenaryong sektang tumitingala pa rin sa propetikong mensahe ng Bibliya (na ginawang sekular o pandaigdig ni Aguilar). Si Danding ay wangis birheng nabuntis ng Banal na Espiritung pumanaw—ang naglalahong memorya ng Katipunan, ng insureksiyon laban sa Espanya at laban sa Estados Unidos —at di matanto ng mga kapanahon ni Rojalde kung ano ang gagawin sa bagong silang, sanhi sa malabong ugat o pinanggalingan at mamanahin.

Maimumungkahi na ang tahasang kalatas o pahatid ng nobela ay isang mapanghamong tanong sa mambabasa: Sino ang tatangkilik o bubuhay sa naglahong tradisyon ng rebolusyon, ang anak ni Danding at Luis, na nakataya’t naglalambitin sa desisyon ng mga taong tulad ni Rojalde? Paano madudulutan ng karampatang pagpapahalaga ang kahapon (nina Luis at Danding) ng mga kasalukuyang Pilipino upang makabuo ng masagana, malaya’t makataong pamumuhay sa hinaharap? Ang malaman at mabigat na tanong na ito ang sagot din sa mga katanungang nasambit sa panimula.

Sa paghabi ng kumplikasyon ng mga ugnayan ng mga tauhan sa naitalang tema, mapapanood ang diyalektikong pagsasalisi ng partikular na pagnanais at ng unibersal na hugos ng metabolikong pagtatalik ng tao at kalikasan. Ito ang diyalektika ng nesesidad at kalayaan sa pagpili. Ang Pilipinas ay lugar na pinaglahuan ng sindromang romantiko, ngunit doon din matutuklasan ang sibol ng makabagong pagkatao, na masasalamin sa mukha nina Rojalde, Pedro, Luis at Danding. Ang anak nila ay simbolo ng pinaglahuang maaaring makasasagip at makatutubos sa sambayanang patuloy na nakikibaka tungo sa kalayaan at kasarinlan. Naisakatuparan sa realistikong alegorya ng nobela ni Aguilar ang aral ni Marx sa “Theses hinggil kay

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Feuerbach” (28-29) hinggil sa pag-unawa sa konsepto ng indibidwal at sosyedad: na ang esensya ng indibidwal ay nakabuod sa relasyong panlipunang umiiral; at ang pagsasabayan ng pagbago ng kongkretong kalagayan ng lipunan at ng aktibidad ng tao ay mainam na maipapakahulugan sa konsepto ng praktikang rebolusyonaryo. Ang praktika ng pagbasa’t pagsuri sa nobela ay siya ring pagsasapraktika ng mga tema’t ideyang nakapaloob sa likhang-sining. Wala nang napakahalagang responsibilidad kundi ang masinop na pagtupad nito ng makabayang alagad ng sining (San Juan 2017).

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SANGGUNIAN

Abueg, Efren. “Ang Sosyalismo sa Nobelang Tagalog.” Sampaksaan ng mga Nobelistang Tagalog. Ang Aklatan ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas,

1974, pp. 95-100. Print.
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People. R. P. Garcia Publishing Co., 1970. Print.

Aguilar, Faustino. Pinaglahuan. Ateneo UP, 1986. Print.

——. “Ang Nobelang Tagalog—Kahapon, Ngayon, at Bukas.” Mga Lektura sa Kasaysayan ng Panitikan, inedit ni Galileo Zafra. Aklat ng Bayan, 2013, pp.229-40. Print.

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Marx, Karl. The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844.International Publishers, 1964. Print.

——- and Frederick Engels. Selected Works. International Publishers, 1968. Print.

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Medina, B.S.Jr., ed. Tatlong Panahon ng Panitikan. National Book Store, 1972. Print.

Ossowska, Maria. Social Determinants of Moral Ideas. U of Pennsylvania P, 1970. Print.

Panganiban, J. Villa & Consuelo Torres Panganiban. Panitikan ng Pilipinas. Bede’s Publishing House, 1954. Print.

Reyes, Soledad. Nobelang Tagalog 1905-1975. Ateneo UP, 1982. Print.

San Juan, E. Lupang Hinirang, Lupang Tinubuan. De La Salle University Publishing House, 2017. Print.

Santos, Benilda. “Introduksiyon,” Pinaglahuan ni Faustino Aguilar. Ateneo U P, 1986. Print.

Simmel, Georg. Essays on Sociology, Philosophy and Aesthetics. Harper Torchbooks, 1959. Print.

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NICK JOAQUIN’S APOCALYPSE –by E. San Juan, Jr.


Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

RE-VISITING CARLOS BULOSAN’S AMERICA IS IN THE HEART


 

A PREFACE TO CARLOS BULOSAN’S AMERICA IS IN THE HEART

by E. San Juan, Jr.  

SanJuan_cover2-page-0Professorial Chairholder, Polytechnic University of the Philippines

 

When America Is in the Heart (AIH) appeared in 1946, the Philippines was about to receive formal independence from the United States after four harrowing years of Japanese barbarism. Filipinos thanked the troops of General Douglas McArthur for their “Liberation.” Bulosan’s book was praised less for its avowed progressive sentiments than for its affirmation of the sacrifices made in Bataan and Corregidor, sacrifices memorialized for their promise of complete national redemption. Bulosan tried to capture the pathos of a long-expected moment of rendezvous among waylaid brothers and lost compatriots. Victory against Japan seemed to wipe out the trauma of the U.S. bloody pacification of the islands from 1899 to 1913, an experience alluded to in Bulosan’s farewell to his brother Leon, a veteran of the European carnage that occurred thousands of miles away from Binalonan, Pangasinan, where Bulosan was born on November 2,1911. 

Two years after his birth, the Filipino-American War ended on June 11, 1913 when General Pershing’s troops slaughtered ten thousand Moros in the Bud Bagsak massacre (Tan). Add this toll to about a million natives killed earlier, we arrive at the initial fruit of President McKinley’s “Benevolent Assimilation” policy justifying the new empire’s possession. Soon the newly established school system and William Howard Taft’s “Filipinization” program produced an entrenched bureaucratic caste with close ties to the feudal landlords and compradors that colluded with tne new rulers up to the Commonwealth period (1935-1946). When this oligarchy accepted the onerous conditions of independence in July 1946, Stanley Karnow wryly remarked that “they submitted voluntarily to their own exploitation,” wishing to become “a favored and exemplary party within a Pax Americana” (330).

Bulosan’s advent into the world was thus counterpointed with such paradoxes and intractable ironies. His initiation was self-contradictory, his psyche charged with bulosan-for-jacketcoveraberrant impulses and dispositions. It reflected the quandaries of the times. Jaime Veneracion remarks that “while the Americans supposedly introduced land reform, the effect was the intensification of the tenancy problem” (63). Throughout U.S. ascendancy, fierce antagonisms convulsed the pacified  countryside. One charismatic folk-hero, Felipe Salvador, was hanged for leading a massive peasant rebellion against landlords and their U.S. patrons. Between his birth and departure for the U.S. in 1930, Bulosan might have agonized over the desperate revolts of impoverished farmers in the Colorums of Luzon and elsewhere (Constantino; Sturtevant). In Part I, chapter 8, he describes the 1931 Tayug uprising which he didn’t personally witness. It was led by Pedro Calosa, a veteran of union activism in Hawaii who was jailed for instigating multiethnic strikes and summarily deported back to the colony in 1927. 

Transversal Border-Crossings

How did Filipinos suddenly appear in Hawaii? After three decades of imperial tutelage, the Philippines wastransformed into a classic dependency providing raw materials and cheap labor. From 1907 to 1926, more than 100,000 Filipinos were recruited by the Hawaiian sugar plantations. Driven by poverty,  feudal abuses, and bureaucratic repression, Filipinos plotted their journey to the metropole to pursue “the dream of success” broadcast so seductively in the mass-circulated textbooks and mass media that mesmerized Bulosan and his generation. Neither citizens nor aliens, they moved around as “wards” or “nationals.” Neither immigrants nor foreigners, they were denied citizenship, wandering from rural countryside to city ghettos and back. As Carey McWilliams observed, “they were neither fish nor fowl” (x). They explored an enigmatic terra incognita filled with perverse fantasies and tragicomic comeuppances. These derelict expatriates shared W.E. B. DuBois syndrome of “double consciousness”(11), a condition of permanent crisis born in the years of transition from feudal bondage to capitalist alienation. It was a hazardous passage that may explain the ironic turnabouts and precarious balancing acts encountered here, a plight analogous to the misfortunes of the peasantry in Europe when the enclosures of the commons engendered banditry, anarchic mayhem, reprisals, together with the fabled gallery of rogues, tricksters, vagabonds, and rambunctious fugitives.

In this zone of contingencies, Bulosan found himself struggling to survive with his cohort upon arrival in the midst of the Great Depression (1929-33). They became easy victims of labor contractors, agribusiness operatives, gamblers, racist vigilantes, and state security agents (prohibiting their marriage with whites) from Hawaii and California to Alaska. Naïve and vulnerable, they nurtured a sophisticated culture of resistance. Bulosan’s friendship with militant organizer Chris Mensalvas plunged him in the campaigns of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), such as the 1933 strike of 4,000 Filipinos in Stockton and Salinas, California (San Juan, “Filipinos”). As editor of The New Tide in 1934, Bulosan became acquainted with Richard Wright, William Saroyan, John Fante, Louis Adamic, and Sanora Babb. When he was confined at the Los Angeles General Hospital in 1936-38, it was Sanora Babb and her sister Dorothy who shrewdly apprenticed him to a writer’s vocation. They helped him discover through books “all my world of intellectual possibilities—and a grand dream of bettering society for the working man,” as he confessed (San Juan, Balikbayan 161). While convalescing, he composed fiction satirizing feudal savagery and patriarchal despotism, later gathered in The Laughter of My Father (1944, hereafter Laughter). He also wrote poems rehearsing the themes of AIH collected in Chorus for America (1942), Letter from America (1942), The Voice of Bataan (1943), and in his impassioned ode, “If You Want To Know What We Are (On Becoming 166-68). 

U.S. colonialism dissolved traditional affinities and salvaged pastoral folkways. Bulosan’s adolescent years drew energy from the survival craft of a poor peasant clan in which the fathers and uncles had to reckon with maternal wisdom and bureaucratic humbuggery. In his numerous letters, fiction and essays, Bulosan pays homage to the cunning spirit of his father trying to outwit landlords, merchant-usurers, and petty officials to eke out a bare subsistence. In reconstructing his past, Bulosan revitalized the rich insurgent culture of the dispossessed among whom he grew up. He learned the ethos of a rapidly changing society, its strategy of compromises and tactics of ambivalent temporizing. In response to the philistine putdown of his vignettes as a mode of commercializing exotic mores, Bulosan urged us to attend more to their subtle immanent critique: “My politico-economic ideas are embedded in all my writings….Laughter is not humor; it is satire; it is indictment against an economic system that stifled the growth of the primitive, making him decadent overnight without passing through the various stages of growth and decay” (Feria 273).  Other stories by Bulosan (in The Philippines Is in the Heart) exuded “hidden bitterness” couched in dark humor, his antidote to an imputed trademark optimism. They retold folktales attacking the predatory impostures of the oligarchy and the iniquitous property/power relations afflicting the majority.

One might conclude that Bulosan’s return to the homeland began with the ritual of his departure. His apprenticeship as an organic intellectual of the emergent diaspora began with the effort to understand the trials of his family to overcome feudal-colonial privations. Although Laughter and AIH demonstrated his creative potential, unlike his contemporary Jose Garcia Villa, Bulosan was never genuinely accepted by the Establishment literati. He remained suspect, a subversive pariah from the “boondocks.” His radicalization began with an act of “popular memory” triggered by the circumstances of uprooting and rabid ostracism. Even before the imperialist crisis subsided, Bulosan had already plotted his project of remapping the U.S. cultural-political landscape with his claim in an autobiographical manifesto: “I want to interpret the soul of the Filipinos in this country. What really compelled me to write was to try to understand this country, to find a place in it not only for myself but for my people” (“Autobiography” 267). 

Mapping the Terrain of Friends and Foes

Originally acclaimed as a poignant testimonial of ethnic success, AIH’s epilogue gestures toward a popular-front strategy against global fascism. Written during the war, Bulosan’s quasi-autobiography functions as a geopolitical annal of those years of struggle against white-supremacist violence. It serves as a critique of the paradigm of immigrant success still celebrated by self-serving opinion-makers. Obliquely parodying the Bildungsroman model, AIH presents a massive documentation of the various patterns of racism, exploitation, and spiritual injury suffered by Filipinos from the Depression to the end of World War II. Drifting in a limbo of indeterminacy, the untutored subaltern with libertarian affections and perceptions, Bulosan (refunctioning the author’s name to signify the novelistic persona) survived years of ignominy and unquiet desperation. On the eve of Pearl Harbor, he summed up his group’s ordeals: “Yes, I feel like a criminal running away from a crime I did not commit. And the crime is that I am a Filipino in America” (On Becoming 173).

Whle reading, we are confronted with scenes of abuse, insult, and ruthless murder of these “wards” rendered with naturalistic candor. Their successive dilemmas are spliced with snapshots of escape and recovery–a haunting montage mixing history, confessional diary, and quotidian reports from the frontlines. Except for Part I, the remaining three parts of this book—a polyphonic orchestration of fractals from lived experiences—chart the passage of the youthful sensibility through a landscape of cruel privations and melodramatic entanglements. Performing as both protagonist and witness of events, Bulosan’s itinerary of self-discovery begins with his victimization by corrupt contractors on his arrival in Seattle. This is followed by a series of ordeals after which he, Pollyana-like, concludes by vindicating his faith in “America”—“America” is no longer the arena of painful bloodletting but a magical space “sprung from all our hopes and aspirations.” 

Readers are stunned by the stark disjunction between the brutal reality and the compensatory frame of the interpretation. How do we reconcile this discrepancy between actuality and thought, between fact (the chaotic wasteland) and the honorific label “America” erotically identified with equality and freedom?  Is this simply a sly maneuver to syncopate deluded narrator with subversive author?  Is this Bulosan’s subterfuge of multiplying perspectives in order to demystify the neurosis of his life while investing hope and trust in a future chimerical utopia?    

One way of approaching this incommensurability, this impasse of discrepant readings, has become routine. We can reject the commonsensical thesis that this work belongs to that species of personal reminiscence designed to promote easy assimilation into the proverbial “melting pot.”  Alternatively, one can propose that AIH invents a new literary genre which operates as tne negation of the mythical quest for Americanization—the whitening of dark-skinned indigenes. One can also urge a probing of rhetorical nuances, such as the address to the “American earth” which is deliberately cast in the subjunctive mood, tied to an unfolding process whose horizon is overshadowed by the disasters of Pearl Harbor, Bataan and Corregidor; this procedure culminates in the last chapters which recapitulate the anger, moral panic, and dissidence saturating the lives of Filipinos in the “New World.”  

Hermeneutic Interlude

The mainstream approach to Bulosan’s work is charitable but disingenuous. Whatever the pressures of the Cold War and marketing imperatives, to judge Bulosan’s chronicle of the Filipino struggle to give dignity to their damaged lives as an advertisement for ethnocentric “nationalism” seems unwarranted, if not invidious. It is surely meant to erase all evidence of its profoundly radical, communalist motivation. Perhaps the formalist way to correct this mistake is to identify the trope of personification, the wish-fulfilling imaginary underlying the fictive structure. Who is “America’?  The anguished protagonist answers: Eileen Odell “was undeniably the America I had wanted to find in those frantic days of fear and flight, in those acute hours of hunger and loneliness. This America was human, good, and real.” If Eileen functions as a placeholder or synecdoche for all those who demonstrated compassion for strangers like Filipino migrant-workers, then the abstract referent “America” cannot be conflated with this specific locus signified here. Overall, the redeeming figure is a maternal character with manifold personifications (explored later), insinuated in the author’s solicitous, imploring stance. She represents the singular desire called “America” invoked by the novel’s title.

Viewed from another angle, the idiomatic tenor of the title designates an inward process of acquiring self-awareness. It may be construed as a mode of self-reflexibility, a mode of psychic parthenogenesis. Note the symbolic resonance of such descriptions as he felt “love growing inside him,” leading to ”a new heroism: a feeling of growing with a huge life.”  By metonymic semiosis, the trope of containment intimates pregnancy and deliverance, a symbiosis of outside and inside forces. Although victimized, Bulosan feels remolded into “a new man.” Of crucial importance is the equation of “heart” with “one island, the Philippines,” expanding the image. Bulosan deploys Robinson Crusoe’s individualistic predicament as antithetical comment.  Literally and figuratively, the “heart” becomes a polysemous vehicle that signifies inclusion and exclusion. It functions as a device to reconcile warring drives, tendencies, dispositions.  Its figural use serves to characterize the text as belonging to the allegorical type of fiction where time and space (“chronotope,” in Mikhail Bakhtin’s formulation) are configured in such a way as to realize the vision of an embattled community germinating within the confines of an anomic, disintegrated metropolis.

By deploying imaginative ruses, Bulosan grapples with the bifurcating trajectory of his passage through the American maelstrom. The utopian theme of imagining a community within the fold of an atomized society counterpoints the somewhat morbid realism punctuating the text. It lends plausiblity to the didactic sections where the assured authorial voice seems to compensate for the disoriented protagonist and the episodic plot. The climax of Bulosan’s scheme of educating his compatriots about the unifying thread of their fragmented lives transpires in his extolling the “simplicity of their hearts, nourished in the conviction that ‘America’ is still our unfinished dream.”  Purged of his narcissistic malaise, he confesses: “I was rediscovering myself in their lives.” He thus reject the social-Darwinist postulate of the wolf embedded in every person, replacing it with the Moses/mother motif of empathy and conviviality.  

Forking Arguments, Discordant Flows

We soon observe how the narrator’s ego merges with the spirit of an enlarged “family” whose members are bound by a transcendent purpose, a universal principle: the fight against fascist terrorism. This moment anticipates what Bulosan would later call “the revolution” where ordinary workers would “play our own role in the turbulent drama of history…the one and only common thread that bound us together, white and black and brown, in America.” In Chapter 25, we find the narrator harping on the metaphor of the old world dying while a new world is struggling to be born, intuited from the belief that “America is in the hearts of men that died for freedom….a prophecy of a new society.”  Framed by Bulosan’s cathartic discovery of his writing ability linked to his vision of “the war between labor and capital,” the  apostrophe to the multiracial army of workers as “America” is better cognized as part of Bulosan’s project of re-articulating the discourse of popular rights in a socialist direction. But the invocation of a divided “America”—a unity of opposites—presages a recursive aporia, a troubling paradox, an irksome undecidability.  Note that the theme of solidarity was broached first in Bulosan’s desire “to know [the hoboes in the freight trains] and to be a part of their life.” Eventually, the call for partisanship animates the dialectical structure of feeling, the ethico-political disposition concerning the Spanish Civil War, the key historical contradiction here that inflects the binarisms of city/countryside, metropole and colony, consciousness and the public sphere. 

So far the categorizing principle of popular-front-democracy-against-fascism occupies the foreground of Bulosan’s historiography. Here Japanese aggression evokes the earlier U.S. pacification of the islands, the primal event of conquest and deracination. The dissolution of the old order signaled by the war’s outbreak seems to resolve the tension between trivializing idealism and empirical mimesis.  It offers the opportunity for a fantasized resolution, one that will mediate between the notion of “America” as a classless society and its institutionalized racist exclusivism. A poetic mechanism of compensatory fulfillment is rendered here when the truth of colonial subjugation becomes the repressed traumatic object returning to the surface of quotidian existence. Bulosan himself points out that as exiles “socially strangled in America,” instrumentalized and commodified, Filipinos find it easier “to integrate ourselves in a universal ideal,” with organic intellectuals serving as the tribune of the “wretched of the earth” (Fanon), enslaved and disenfranchised peoples mobilizing around the planet.

We discern the crucial turn of Bulosan’s life at the exact middle of the book (Chapter 23).  Struggling to communicate to his fugitive brother, he reconstructs his past and gains release from the prison of silence to “tell the world what they’ve done to me.” The victim thus recovers poise and mutates into an agency fusing theory and practice. This discovery of the capacity for inspired speech-acts occurs after he rebels two chapters earlier: “I had struck at the white world, at last; and I felt free.” Finally, when he meets the lawyer Pascual, Bulosan assumes his role as witness/spokesperson for the grassroots movement. Now he conceives literary art as the symbolic theater of his death and rebirth, and his role within it as a transformative agent, a productive “transindividual” (Goldmann) empowering the rise of a community of equals.

Discourse of Detours and Disjunctures

What becomes symptomatic at this juncture is a shift in rhetoric and style. The memoir’s realistic stance and its affinities with picaresque naturalism (marked by the intrusions of petty crimes, rough diction, squalid surroundings) are disrupted by lyricized nostalgic recalls of an idyllic homeland. By this time, the generic norms of traditional autobiography, using the typical coding for verisimilitude and linear plotting, have already been qualified by a lively comic rhythm of reiteration and recovery. Characters appear and disappear with uncanny gusto. Incidents swerve and replicate themselves while the nuances of dialogue are reprogrammed in a carnivalesque circulation of energies. Polyphonic voices fill the void of Filipino lives until the crisis of hegemonic representation arrives, with emotion-laden scenarios displaced by reflexive meditation at the end.

In Part III, a decisive break occurs. This destroys the model of the successful immigrant and its iconic aura. On this edge of the narrative looms impending failure. Bulosan’s fantasized “conspiracy” of making “a better America” is suspended by the collapse of the body and its grim endurance.  History materializes in the return of the “child” as invalid, the agony of wandering now displaced by the stasis of physical breakdown. Epitomized here is the vitality of the comic genre—the cycle of death and rebirth in “monumental” time—which manifests itself in the body of the expatriate who “died many deaths” between exile and imagined return. Bulosan has dared to transcribe a hazardous reconnaissance of the American heartland. In the process, he celebrates several deaths, one of which is the suicide of Estevan whose story about his hometown precipitates a spiritual conversion: “I began to rediscover my native land, and the cultural  roots there that had nourished me, and I felt a great urge to identify myself with the social awakening of my people.” Recalling previous disappointments, those deaths impregnate the psyche and resurrects the repressed subliminal forces in the language of incongrous, disjunctive confrontations.

In-depth semiotic inquiry would pursue the trope of prophetic homecoming informing the structure of the dream (in Chapter 40) which functions as a synecdoche for what is repressed. Misrecognized as “the Filipino communist” strike leader, the narrator flees from the police. Falling asleep on a bus, the fugitive dreams of his return to his hometown and rejoices at seeing his mother and the whole family eating together. Jolted by “tears of remembrance” at this reunion, he asks himself how the “tragedy” of his childhood had returned in his sleep “because I had forgotten it.” What had been erased from consciousness is his youth in the occupied homeland, a section of profound ethico-political significance, foregrounding the resourcefulness, strength, courage, and intransigence of the peasantry and plebeian masses. By subtle stylistic modalities, Bulosan’s narrative heightens a recursive tempo that seeks to register the power of the peasantry’s (now migrant-workers’) collective agency

In retrospect, Bulosan’s illness—his confinement at the Los Angeles Hospital where the notion of a community larger than the male-bonding of Filipino bachelors proves regenerative—becomes not a gratuitous interruption but a pivotal event.  It halts the spatial discontinuity, the labyrinthine route of his adventure. It ushers the protagonist into a recognition of his new vocation, not so much as the fabulist of Laughter as the archivalist of popular memory. The myriad recognition scenes interspersed throughout function as the healing refrain that repudiates the vexatious fatality limiting his hopes. This potential for reconciliation informs his covenant with the “associated producers” of the ravished homeland, peasants and farmworkers as bearers of an emancipated future.

Tracking the Labor of the Negative

From a broader historical standpoint, AIH may be appraised as the first example of a new genre in the archive, a popular-front allegory attuned to the frightful lanscape of the Depression and total World War (Denning). This form articulates the problems of class, race, nation, and gender in an elaborate, overdetermined configuration painstakingly unravelled in a sequence of surprising but familiar incidents. But what I think constitutes AIH’s originality is its rendering of what Julia Kristeva calls “woman’s time.” This is the subtext or “political unconscious” (Jameson) constituting the unorthodox singularity of this memoir.  Comedy and the symbolic dynamics of the unconscious interact with the realist code of story-telling to generate this new artifice. 

Examining the ambiguous role of women in Bulosan’s “pilgrimage” in inhospitable territory, we discover representatives of its Otherness, its antithetical mirror-image. One recalls how Bulosan praised the exuberant resourcefulness of his mother, that “dynamic little peasant woman”: “[T]o know my mother’s name was to know the password into the secrets of the soul, into childhood and pleasant memories,…a guiding star, a talisman, a charm that lights us to manhood and decency” (America 123). Her genial figure is sublimated in the feisty samaritanic women interrogating patriarchal authority. She is reincarnated in his loyal female companions— emblems of the hidden “Other,” the oppositional mask of an indifferent if not hostile America.  Can we consider AIH a protofeminist text interweaving the nomadic and sedentary lines of action, of flight and confrontation?

By now we are inclined to consider AIH a complex ideological construct meant to resolve real-life contradictions by imaginary fiat, even by a counterfeit resolution, To challenge this, we can deploy an interpretive scheme revolving around women’s time, zeroing in on the image of the mother and other signifiers of need and desire. This move would structure the reader’s horizon of expectation since what, in truth, this  schizoid recollection wants to forget but somehow cannot, is a lacuna whose lingering traces serve as the stigmata of Filipino insurrectos: the genocidal U.S. conquest, with over a million natives killed and a whole civilization ruined. The aftermath preserved feudal-landlord power which suppressed the Colorum and Sakdal uprisings and drove Bulosan and his generation into permanent exile (Francisco; Guerrero; Taruc). In effect, what Bulosan attempts to salvage are the damaged lives of working men and women whose commodified identities have been calculated and dispersed into the predatory flux of “America” where Filipino bachelors found themselves symbolically, if not literally, castrated—a lifeworld libidinally subsumed in the cutthroat laissez-faire market and the mystique of commodity-fetishism now trenchantly sanctified in the dogmas of neoliberal globalization.

Architectonics of Belonging

World War II was almost over when Bulosan’s memoir was completed. McArthur’s shibboleth, “I Shall Return,” had fired up Filipino hopes, motivating Bulosan’s inventory and assessment of the total experience of his generation. In this context, the intent of AIH can be construed as the reinscription of the inaugural moment of loss (U.S. colonization refracted by the Japanese occupation) in the dominant culture by a text that violates conventional expectations. Counterhegemonic reminiscence foregrounds the earth, the tillers’ cooperative sharing, and maternal desire as the ground of meaning and identity. We witness in the end the festive, self-conscious urgent tone of the narrator as he attempts a final reconciliation of the warring forces in his life. His striving for coherence and intelligibility is simultaneously an endeavor to universalize the import and significance of his experience. The final episodes intimate “a return to the source” (Cabral), the time of expropriation and uprooting, inducing a need to retrieve a submerged tradition of indigenous resistance based on principles of solidarity, the concrete universal of this artistic performance. 

Whatever the inherited prejudices of readers, Bulosan seeks to provoke with an inquiry about one’s role in the ongoing drama of social transformation: “Our world was this one, but a new one was being born. We belonged to the old world of confusion; but in this other world—new, bright, promising—we would be unable to meet its demands” (America 324). He calls for the renewal of the social energies that lie dormant in the interstices of the text, partcularly the oppositional and the utopian impulses stifled by acquisitive individualism. For this purpose, we need  a pedagogical method to transcode the unity of opposites here into humankind’s agon of exposing duplicities, reaffirming the value of scientific inquiry, and discriminating what is reactionary and what is progressive, in the heterogeneous micropolitics of daily life.  

Mindful of the uncouth realism mediating existential reality, we can appreciate AIH’s modernist temper in privileging autonomy, imaginative transcendence, and secular humanism. Has the postmodernist taste for pastiche and cynical deconstructivism rendered this book inutile? Conceived as an agent-provocateur, AIH allegorizes the radical transformation of the old system of colonial bondage and culture of silence into one of egalitarian freedom by way of a critical appropriation of diverse embodied ideas entangled in historic contingencies. This process of decolonization enacted by the witness/testifier of AIH is ultimately geared to fashioning a responsible transindividual subject, not a hustling entrepreneur—a task accomplished via reciprocal transactions, ecumenical dialogue, and mutual exchanges among the participants (San Juan, Carlos Bulosan). 

At this point I would argue that the evolution of Bulosan’s sensibility transcended the imperatives of nativism, the nostalgic cult of a mythical past, or a yearning for a tolerant cosmopolis. No doubt Bulosan’s “conscientization” (Freire) transgressed nation-state boundaries and upheld proletarian internationalism, as evidenced in poems expressing his commitment to the radical ideals of the Spanish Republic. Bulosan’s engagement with the contentious popular-front strategy afforded him a philosophical worldview which gave direction to his group’s nomadic existence. When the Pacific War broke out,  Bulosan rediscovered the beleaguered islands as the fountainhead of his prophetic, truth-telling advocacy. This served as the germinal site for the paradigm of “national liberation” in AIH, as well as in The Cry and the Dedication (hereafter The Cry), a novel inspired by Bulosan’s friendship with the left-wing activist Amado V. Hernandez, with whom he collaborated in publicizing Luis Taruc’s autobiography, Born of the People.

Vectors of  Intervention

At the start of the Cold War, Bulosan was already a blacklisted writer. The recent discovery of his FBI files seems anticlimactic if not a fortuitous expose of “dirty linen” (Alquizola and Hirabayashi). Bulosan’s intimacy with the astute Babb sisters active in the Hollywood milieu of fellow-travelling intellectuals, was public knowledge. As a journalist with the International Longshoreman’s and Warehouseman’s Union (ILWU), Local 37, Bulosan was regarded as a dangerous subversive, threatened with deportation. But how could the government deport a writer commissioned by President Franklin Roosevelt to celebrate one of the “four freedoms” with an art-work exhibited at the Federal Building in San Francisco in 1943?

By the end of the McCarthy witch-hunt in 1954, Bulosan enjoyed a modest if surreptitious prestige. The best-selling Laughter had been translated into over a dozen languages, while AIH had been favorably reviewed and the author cited in Who’s Who in America, Current Biography, etc. Meanwhile, he was drafting The Cry, his saga of Huk guerrillas reconstructing their nation’s history as they sought to establish linkage with U.S.-based sympathizers (on the Huk uprising, see San Juan, “American Witness”; Taruc).  Allegorizing the improvised self-fashioning of the Filipino subject, The Cry may be read as a performative argument seeking to concretize the right of self-determination. What impelled him to write? “The answer is—my grand dream of equality among men and freedom for all…. Above all and ultimately, to translate the desires and aspirations of the whole Filipino people in the Philippines and abroad in terms relevant to contemporary history. Yes, I have taken unto myself this sole responsibility” (On Becoming 216). Bulosan died on September 11, 1956, three years after the Korean War ended, within earshot of the portentous rumblings from IndoChina.

In retrospect, the tensions of the Cold War offered an occasion for Bulosan to analyze and redefine the self-contradictory predicament that bedevilled the lives of his contemporaries. In grappling with life-and-death contingencies, he reinvented the intertextual conjuncture of class, gender, race, and ethnicity that articulated the epochal conflict between capitalism and the various socialist experiments since the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. A decade after Bulosan’s death, Filipino farm-workers led by his younger comrades began the 1965 strike that led to the founding of the United Farmworkers of America, the fruit of pioneering efforts of the CIO, ILWU, and civic organizations whose leaders were hounded by the FBI and its ideological apparatus. It vindicated the aspiration of these disinherited Asians/Pacific Islanders for justice and respect. Filipinos joined coalitions with African Americans, Chicanos, Native Americans and others in the instructive Civil Rights rebellions, all drawing their energies from a centuries-old memory of resistance—an epic of heroic “soul-making.” Its genealogy was already prefigured in Bulosan’s reflexive aide-memoire, “How My Stories Were Written,” in which an old village story-teller in his hometown is finally revealed as his ancestral progenitor, the fountainhead of all the “wisdom of the heart” (San Juan, Imagination 138-43),

Amid the disruptive controversy over immigration today, over three million Filipinos in the U.S., not counting those “undocumented,” are preponderant stakeholders in the tortuous re-shaping of civil society.  Bulosan endeavored to substantiate their  presence in this chronicle of the subaltern’s quest for recognition and equality. Befor he died, Bulosan reaffirmed his conviction in the virtue of collective praxis as emblematic of humanity’s vast potential in making history: “Writing was not sufficient…I drew inspiration from my active participation in the workers’ movement. The most decisive move that the writer could make was to take his stand with the workers” (“Writer” 31). As long as the Philippines remains a neocolonial backwater, and the Filipino diaspora languishes in obsessive consumerism, Bulosan’s works will remain serviceable as speculative tools for diagnosing its “Unhappy Consciousness” (Hegel) and its ethos of ressentiment, compromise, and disobedience. What Mark Twain called “the Philippine temptation” (32) when the U.S. suppressed its armed inhabitants—the scandalous spectacle of the American republic subjugating millions who refused to be enslaved—yielded a joyful ambidextrous response, to which Bulosan’s life-work bears witness. This arena of struggle over the aesthetic worth and moral gravity of his achievement may prove decisive in extrapolating the vicissitudes and prospects of popular-democratic changes everywhere in this new millennium.—##

WORKS CITED

Alquizola, Marilyn and Lane Hirabayashi. “Carlos Bulosan’s Final Defiant Acts: Achievements During the McCarthy Era.”  Amerasia Journal 38.3 (2012): 29-50.

Babb, Sanora.  Sanora Babb Peprs in the Manuscript Collection, Harry Ransom Center. Carlos Bulosan File. University of Texas, Austin, Texas. Circa 1928-2005. 

Bakhtin, Mikhail.  The Dialogic Imagination.  Austin: University of Texas P, 1981.

Bulosan, Carlos.  America Is in the Heart. Seattle and London: Washington UP, 1973.

——.  “Autobiography.”  Poetry 47 (February 1936): 267.

——.  On Becoming Filipino, ed. E. San Juan, Jr.  Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1995.

Cabral, Amilcar.  Return to the Source.  New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973.

Constantino, Renato.  The Philippines: A Past Revisited.  Quezon City: Tala Publishing Services, 1975.

Denning, Michael.  The Cultural Front.  London: Verso, 1997.

Du Bois, W.E.B.  The Souls of Black Folk.  New York: W.W. Norton, 1999.

Fanon, Frantz.  The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press, 1968.

Feria, Dolores, ed.  “The Sound of Falling Light: Letters in Exile.” The Diliman Review, viii, 1-3 (Jan-Sept. 1960): 185-278.

Francisco, Luzviminda. “The Philippine-American War.” The Philippines Reader, ed. Daniel B. Schirmer and Stephen Shalom. Boston: South End Press, pp. 8-19.

Freire, Paulo. Education for Critical Consciousness.  New York: The Seabury Press, 1973.

Goldmann, Lucien.  Essays on Method in the Sociology of Literature. St Louis, MO: Telos Press, 1980.

Guerrero, Milagros.  “The Colorum Uprisings.” Asian Studies 5 (April 1967): 65-78.

Hegel, G. W. F.   Phenomenology of Spirit. New York: Oxford UP, 1977.

Jameson, Fredric.  The Political Unconscious.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1981.

Karnow, Stanley.  In Our Image.  New York: Random House, 1989.

Kristeva, Julia.  The Kristeva Reader.  New York: Columbia UP, 1986.  

McWilliams, Carey.  “Introduction” to America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan.  Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1973, pp. vii-xxiv.

San Juan, E.  Carlos Bulosan and the Imagination of the Class Struggle. Quezon City:  UP Press, 1972.

—-.  “Filipinos.” In Encyclopedia of the American Left, ed. Mari John Buhle, Paul Buhle and Dan Georgakas.  New York: Oxford UP, pp. 224-226.

—-.  Balikbayang Sinta: An E. San Juan Reader. Quezon City: Ateneo UP, 2008.

—.  “An American Witness to the Huk Rebellion in the Philippines.” Amerasia Journal 40:3 (2014): 55-80.

—.  Carlos Bulosan: Revolutionary Filipino Writer in the United States.  New York: Peter Lang, 2017.

Sturtevant, David.  Popular Uprisings in the Philippines, 1840-1940.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1976.

Tan, Samuel K.  The Filipino-American War, 1899-1913.  Quezon City: UP  Press, 2002.

Taruc, Luis.  Born of the People.  New York: International Publishers, 1953.

Twain, Mark. Mark Twain’s Weapons of Satire, ed. Jim Zwick.  Syracuse, NY: Syracuse UP,  1992.

Veneracion, Jaime.  Agos ng Dugong Kayumanggi.  Quezon City: Education Forum, 1987.

###

Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

Anim na Tula sa Filipino ni E. San Juan, Jr.


tapaya_muralPAKSIW NA BARAKUDA

Proseso sa Pagbabalangkas ng isang Likhang-Sining.

Ni E. San Juan, Jr.

 

SIKMATIN

SAKMALIN

  SAGPANGIN SINAGPANG

KAGATIN

KABKABIN

          UKABIN INUKAB

NGATNGATIN        NGINATNGAT

NGUYAIN

      NGALUTIN

      NGATAIN              NGINATA

LUNUKIN

LULUNIN                NILULON

ILUWA

                ISUKA.             ISINUKA

<buto’t tinik salitang natira>

___________________________________

 

MALAMANG NASILIP SA BUTAS NG BUBONG NG SELDA 

SA CAMP BAGONG DIWA, TAGUIG, RIZAL

Hindi laging nahihimbing

ang mga bituin sa langit

Hindi laging nakatigil sila

habang bumabangon sa dilim

Panagimpang gumigising

silahis ng pag-asa 

sa bawat dibdib

_________________________________

ARKO NG NILAMBUNGANG BAHAG-HARI

 

Sikaping ipakahulugan ang nasaksihang lihim

Saan?  kailan?

  Nangyaring di-sinasadya

Nasira’t nawasak sa katahimikan ng gabi

Dito: bato sa lansangan

Baka-sakaling idinala sa ibang lugar, ginamit

Sa ibang paraan, inilipat sa biro ng tadhana

Nasaksihan sa di-sinasadyang pagkakataon

Doon: kapalaran ng bantay-tumana

Binuhat sa ibabaw, ibinagsak sa daan

Nangyaring aksidente baka-sakaling sinadya

Mahulog man  walang palugit sa taning

Ngayon: kapalaran ng hampas-lupa

Nabalaho’t napariwara sa nabakling ruta

Biyak ng buwang bahag-buntot ang giya

Natuklasan ang lihim sa nilambungang hagdan

Alsa-balutan: kwalta na’y naging bato pa

Kapus-palad, bilasa, nagluksang likaw ng bituka

Puyo sa talampakan ng talu-sirang naligaw

Akalang may patutunguhan habang tumatawid

Itaga sa bato ang bulahaw ng madaling-araw

_____________________________________

HANGGANG SA KABILANG DULO NG HANGGAHAN

 

Kailan?  Saan?   Sa ‘sang kisap-mata, pinagtakluban

Gaano man sikaping di gumalaw

   bumabalik ang hanggahang abot-tanaw

sa pagitan ng langit at lupa

Saanmang lugar kailan man

labas-masok

sa pagitan ng ilalim at ibabaw

Pinira-piraso ang tapayan

pinagtabi-tabi ang mga bahagi upang mabuo
muli ang dating anyo

Umapaw sa labi ng balintataw

kumindat sa dilim  abot-tanaw

Kailan man at saan man tayo makikipagtagpo

tinakluban sa ‘sang kisap-mata

humantong man sa gilid

Bumabalik pa rin

bumabalatay

hanggang sa puno’t dulo ng hanggahan

________________________________________

PARABULA NG BUTO NG MUSTASA

Nagalit si Malunkya Putta sa di-pagtugon ni Buda 

sa sandamak na mga tanong 

tungkol sa usaping metapisikal—

Halimbawa: Wala bang katapusan ang mundo? 

Pagkalagot ng hininga, may libog pa ba ang kaluluwa? 

Sinagot siya ni Siddhartha na tinaguriang Buda: 

“Walang saysay ang mga usisa mo. 

Hindi ba ibinuhos ko na ang panahon at lakas sa pagpapalliwanag 

kung bakit tayo nagdurusa?

Itinuro ko paano natin mababawasan ang kahirapan. 

Di ba itinuro ko kung paano malulunasan ang ugaling 

nagbubunga ng sakit at pighati?

Bakit ka nahuhumaling sa mga kaabalahang walang saysay—

kababalaghang walang anghang?

Sige, Malunkya Putta, hale ka na’t dalhan mo ako 

ng isang dakot ng buto ng mustasa….

Manlimos ka sa mga tahanang walang namatayan.

Hayo ka na’t baka abutin ka nang gabing magayuma ang dilim 

at tuloy maligaw ka sa daan.”

__________________________________

 

PAGBUBULAY-BULAY NG ISANG PETIBURGIS NA INTELEKTWAL

 

Nang ika-10 gulang, nagnais akong matuto’t maging marunong

Nang ika-15 gulang, nabatid kong tama ang gurong Mang Andoy

Nang ika-21 gulang, natiyak ko na ang daan

Nang ika-30 gulang, nasulyapan ko na ang guhit-tagpuang abot-tanaw

Nang ika-36 gulang, nabilibid ako sa kasong pakikiapid (natiklo, ay malas!)

Nang ika-40 gulang, nagpasiya akong pwede nang makipag-sapalarang mag-isa

Nang ika-50 gulang, bayad na ako sa mga utang at butaw

Handa na akong umakyat sa bundok—

Napaglirip sa panahon ng paglalakbay hanggang dito, palipat-lipat ang diwa
Sa pagitan ng ibong makulay ang bagwis 

nakatuon sa panaginip at pantasiya

At isdang nagtatampisaw sa putik, matimtimang dumaranas 

ng udyok at simbuyo ng damdamin….

Hinahangad ko mula ngayon, sa kabila ng gulo’t panganib ng kapaligiran,. 

Sundin ang dragon ng isip, matimyas na pagnanais makahulagpos

Upang sa gayon makaigpaw sa bangin at makatawid

               sa talampas at matarik na dalisdis ng bundok

Yapos ang ibong pumailanlang at isdang sumisid 

                sa pusod ng kaluluwa—

Makaabot pa kaya ang diwa sa kasukdulang biyaya ni Maria Makiling

                      nabighani sa salimbayan

                                             ng mga kalapating dumaragit?. Picasso-Les Demoiselles d'Avignon

 

_____###

Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

BAGUHIN ANG MUNDO!


DSC_0405 [Desktop Resolution]“HINDI LAMANG IPAKAHULUGAN, KUNDI BAGUHIN DIN ANG MUNDO”:

Proyekto tungo sa Paglunsad ng Rebolusyong Pangkultura

ni E. SAN JUAN, Jr., Chairholder, Polytechnic University of the Philippines

 

Sa bisa ng likas na kalakaran ng mga bagay, nasa sambayanan mismo ang lahat ng kapangyarihang nakasasaklaw rito….Kung nasa pagtutugma ng katwiran at karanasan ang katotohanan, nasa pagtutugma ng teorya at praktika ang birtud.

–APOLINARIO  MABINI

It is no longer a matter of bringing death into play in the field of sovereignty, but of distributing the living in the domain of value and utility.  

–MICHEL FOUCAULT

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.

–KARL MARX

Nasaan na tayo? Galing saan at patungo saan? Umabot na tayo sa malubhang krisis ng planeta: pagharap ni Trump sa globalisadong krisis ng finance capitalism na pinalala ng giyera laban sa terorismo, at sa ating bakuran ang pag-lunsad ng giyera laban sa droga ni Presidente Duterte na umani ng mahigit 6,000 biktima. Bakit pinayagan ito?

Matindi’t umiigting ang mga kontradiksiyon sa buong mundo.  At tumitining o umiigting ito sa neokolonyang bayan natin, na hanggang ngayon ay sakmal ng Estados Unidos at nakayukod sa kapangyarihan ng mga korporasyon at dayuhang kapital. Sa mga bansa sa Asya, kaipala’y tayo ay huli sa lahat, kumpara sa Indonesya’t Thailand o Vietnam.

  Mahigit 103 milyong Filipino na tayo, pero mahigit kalahati ay pulubi’t nagdaralita, “below the poverty threshold.” Hindi na kailangang lagumin ang datos na mababasa sa IBON Webpage. Bakit nakasadlak pa rin ang buong sambayanan sa kahirapan, sa pagsasamantala ng dayuhang kapital, sa korapsyon at kawalang-katarungan, pagkaraan ng Pebrero 1986?

Mahigit 12 angaw na ang OFWs sa iba’t ibang sulok ng daigdig, mga 3 libo ang nag-aabrod. Hindi pa naranasan ito hanggang ngayon. Di na ba nakasisindak? Haemorrhage ng body politic, anong triage ang makaliligtas?

Inihudyat ng bagong administrasyon ang islogan ng pagbabago. Manhid na ang marami sa ganitong pangako. Tuwing eleksiyon, ito ang mantra. Anong uri ng pagbabago? Pagpapalit ng personnel lamang? Paano ang mga patakaran, gawi ng pamamahala, layun ng mga palisi? Meron bang pangkalahatang bisyon o pangitain ng alternatibong kinabukasan?

Merong kaibahan. Kahanga-hanga ang pagtuligsa ni Presidente sa imperyalismong Amerikano. Siya lamang presidente, mula pa kina Roxas at Quirino, ang nakapagbitiw ng matinik na puna sa patuloy na dominasyon ng U.S. sa atin, laluna sa foreign policy at militar. Ngunit hanggang ngayon, puro salita. Nariyan pa rin ang JUSMAG, ang VFA at EDCA. Nariyan pa rin ang mga US Special Forces, at ang marahas na Oplan Bayanihan, ngayon binansagang Oplan Kapayapaan, tila parikalang biro. At kamakailan, nagbalita na malaking konstruksiyon ang ibubunsod ng Amerika sa mga base militar upang gamitin ng kanilang mga tropa. Para saan ito kundi counterinsurgency war, pasipikasyon ng masang tumututol at naghihimagsik laban sa korapsyon, dahas ng panginoong maylupa, komprador at burokrata-kapitalistang lumulustay ng kayamanan ng bansa?

Nagdiriwang ang iba sa diplomasya, hindi sa giyera. Katatapos lamang ng pangatlong sesyon ng “peace talks” sa Roma sa pagitan ng NDF at gobyerno. Mapupuri ang Presidente sa pagpapatuloy ng negosasyon na itinigil ng mga nakaraang rehimen. Maselan at masalimuot itong usapan, ngunit patuloy ang lumalalim na paghahati ng lipunan sa minoryang mayaman at nakararaming nagdaralita. Walang tigil ang karahasan ng sistemang ipinamana ng kolonyalismong Espanyol at Amerikano.

Bumabagsik ang class war, ang tunggalian ng mga uri at hidwaang sektor sa lipunan. Nahinto pansumandali ang sagupaan ng MILF at GRP, ngunit patuloy ang sindak sa Abu Sayyaf at iba pang elementong suportado ng ISIS o Al Qaeda. Nariyan pa rin ang mga sindikato ng droga sa loob mismo ng Estado. Nariyan pa rin ang JUSMAG, ahente ng CIA/FBI sa loob ng kampo ng AFP/PNP. Tahasang neokolonya pa rin tayo, kahit may nominal na independence, depende sa tulong na militar mula sa US.

Sa pangkalahatan, masidhi ang mga kontradiksiyong fundamental at istraktural, na nagbuhat pa sa karanasang hindi na magunita ng mga henerasyong millenials ngayon–hindi ko tinutukoy ang diktaduryang Marcos/martial law, kundi ang pagkawasak sa rebolusyonaryong republika natin sa Filipino-American War, 1899 hanggang 1913. Wala ito sa kolektibong memorya ng bayan. Nang ipaalala ni Pres. Duterte ang “howling wilderness” ni Gen. Jacob Smith bilang ganti sa Balangiga masaker, nagulat ang karamihan sa atin sapagkat wala tayong kamulatan tungkol sa ating kasaysayan, mahina o malabo ang ating memoryang publiko. Pagwariin natin ang pagkagumon ng madla sa konsumerismo sa mall, sa gayuma ng midya spectacle at comodifikasyon ng bawat salik ng pagkatao natin, hindi lang katawan kundi pati kaluluwa, panaginip, atbp. Tumagos sa ating loob ang modernismong kaakibat ng industriyalisadong sistema ng pamumuhay at teknolohiya kahit piyudal at kalakalan lamang ang ekonomiya natin. Bakit nagkaganito?

Maganda ang tema ng inyong 5th Anibersaryo, ng SIKLAB:”to showcase the power of culture and the arts as tools for social change.”  Klasikong paksa ito na angkop sa ating sitwasyon bilang isang bansang naghahangad pa ng kasarinlan, tunay na kalayaan, pagkakapantay-pantay, demokrasyang pambansa. Dapat ngang maging instrumento sa pagbabago ang sining at kultura. Ngunit kadalasan, hindi. Naudlot ang pag-ahon sa kolonisadong kabuhayan nang lusubin at sakupin tayo ng Estados Unidos, at hanggang ngayon, hindi pa makahulagpos sa neokolonyang kagipitan, naghahangad pa tayo ng dignidad bilang bansang nagsasarili, malayang nakapagpapasiya sa pagbuo ng makataong lipunan at masaganang kinabukasan. Nagsisikap ngunit laging bigo. Sintomas ba ng malubhang sakit ng psyche?

Sa palagay ko, hindi lamang sikolohikal ito sa isang aspeto kundi, kung tutuusin, talagang mabigat na problemang panlipunan at pangkasaysayan. Nararapat ang kongkretong (multi-dimensiyonal) analisis ng kongkretong kondisyon sa perspektibong historikal-diyalektikal.

Pagbabagong panlipunan: ito ang mithiin natin. Anong klaseng pagbaba­­­­­go, paano at tungo saan? Dapat natin linawin ito upang magkasundo kung paano matatamo ang pagbabagong ninanais ng buong sambayanan. Inaadhikang umunlad mula sa tradisyonal na antas ng ekonomiya tungo sa isang modernong kaayusan, ngunit ang balangkas na sinusunod natin ay hango, gagad o ipinataw ng IMF-World Bank at mga teknokratikong tagapayo mula sa Estados Unidos at Europa.

Itampok natin ang alternatibong pananaw. Nais kong ihapag sa inyong dalumat ang ilang mungkahi, ilang proposisyon na marahil kontrobersyal sa marami, kaya iniklian ko ang panayam na ito upang dulutan ng malaking espasyo/panahon ang pagpapalitang-kuro at tanungan sa nalalabing panahon. Hindi upang maging moderno, kundi upang lumikha ng ating sariling landas sa pakikitungo sa kapwa sa gitna ng malalang krisis.

Totoong masaklaw at malalim ang lakas ng sining at kultura sa anumang binabalak na transpormasyon ng lipunan. Balik-tanawin na lamang ang mga makabagong pintor at iskultor ng Renaissance, at mga pilosopo’t manunulat noong Enlightenment/Kaliwanagan ng siglo 18 sa Europa, na nagbunga ng Rebolusyong Pranses, sumunod ang tagumpay ng burgesiya at liberalismo sa buong Kanluran, at ang hantungan nito sa 1848 Communist Manifesto nina Marx & Engels. Hindi payapang ebolusyon ang masasaksihan, kundi mga pagluksong marahas, nakamamanghang pagpalit ng sitwasyon ng buong lipunan, pagsira na luma’t pagyari ng bago.

Sa balik-tanaw sa kasaysayan, dagling mapapansin na ang kultura, ang nalikha ng mga alagad ng sining, ay bunga ng mga puwersang nagtatagisan sa larangan ng ekonomya at pulitika. Ibig sabihin, ang mga pangyayaring kultural ay resulta ng mga banggaan at salpukan ng mga puwersang materyal sa araw-araw na buhay, repleksiyon ng mga pangyayari sa kabuhayan at reaksyong kasangkot sa pagtulak o pagsagka’t paghadlang sa daloy ng mga pangyayari. Nababago ang kaisipan dahil sa prosesong iyon, at sa bisa ng bagong kaisipan, napapabilis ang takbo ng mga pangyayari. Sina Dante,Shakespeare, Rousseau, Voltaire, Goethe, atbp. ay gumanap ng kanilang mga papel sa bisa ng mga institusyong kinasangkutan nila, institusyong politikal at pangkabuhayan. Sa kabilang banda, tumulong sila upang mapasigla ang tendensiyang progresibo at mapukaw ang madla sa pagbabagong tutugon sa kanilang pangangailangan na hindi na binibigyan-kasiyahan ng lumang orden. Mula sa ritwal ng lumang orden sumupling ang karnabal at pista ng taumbayang mapanlikha’t masuyo sa inilaang biyaya ng kalikasan. Diyalektikal ang proseso ng pagbabagong luwal ng daloy ng mga kontradiksiyon sa mundo.

Bago natin makaligtaan, sa taong ito ipinagdiriwang ang ika-100 anibersaryo ng Bolshevik Rebolusyon na pinamunuan nina Lenin at mga kapanalig sa Rusya. Ito’y tuwirang naging masiglang inspirasyon sa sumunod na rebolusyon sa mga kolonya–sa Tsina, Biyetnam,Cuba, Algeria, Korea, atbp. Nasagap at tumagos sa diwa ng sambayanan ang alingawngaw ng pagbabagong ito sa atin sa pagtatag ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas noong 1938. Bagamat naibalik ang kapitalismo sa Rusya at Tsina noong nakaraang siglo, hindi ganap na mabubura ang naikintal sa kamalayan ng anak-pawis ng buong mundo ang ulirang pakikipagsaparalan ng proletaryado sa Rusya at Tsina, na hanggang ngayon ay naisasapraktika sa rebelyon ng mga inalipin at dinuhagi sa iba’t-ibang lugar, halimbawa, sa NIcaragua,Venezuela, Palestina, Nepal, Korea, at sa ating bayan.

Sa gitna ng ganitong mga transisyon, hindi lahat pasulong kundi liku-liko’t masalimuot, maitanong natin: Ano ang tungkulin ng mga nag-aaral tulad ninyo, o ng mga intelektuwal (na kabilang sa uring petiburgesya) upang maging kapaki-pakinabang sa transpormasyon ng bansa mula sa neokolonyalismong kapitalismo tungo sa isang demokratiko’t nagsasariling lipunan? Anong klase ng partisipasyon sa pagbabagong pambansa ang mapipili o mararanasan ng intelihensiyang tulad natin? Sa malas, nariyan ang huwaran nina Rizal, Bonifacio, Mabini, Crisanto Evangelista, Amado V. Hernandez, Angel Baking, Emmanuel Lacaba, Maria Lorena Barros, at marami pang bayani ng katubusan.

Ang katungkulan ng intelektuwal sa midya’t kultura, sa pakiwari ko, ay magsilbing organikong tagapamagitan sa mga uring bumubuo ng mayorya: manggagawa, pesante o magbubukid, kababaihan, propesyonal o negosyante, etnikong katutubo’t iba pang sektor na inaapi. Ang grupong ito ay magsisikap bumuo ng isang progresibong bloc o nagkakaisang-hanay upang itaguyod ang programang mapagpalaya. Maaring magkaroon ng maraming partido o organisasyong magtataguyod ng programang napagkasunduan. Ang proyektong babalikatin ng magkasanib na mga partido/kalipunan ay makapagpalaganap ng isang hegemonya o gahum ng masang produktibo, ang pangingibaw ng lideratong moral-intelektuwal ng produktibong lakas, ng sambayanang lumilikha, sa pambansang kilusan.

Ang unang salik sa programang ito ay paglikha ng ahensiya o agency/subjectivity ng rebolusyonaryong puwersa ng masa. Sa palagay ko, ang pasimunong aralin sa pedagohiyang pagsisikap ay pagmulat sa bawat indibiduwal ng isang kamalayang historikal, isang dalumat pangkasaysayan. Sapagkat lubog tayo sa kulturang neokolonyal, kinalupulan ng gawi’t saloobing piyudal at mapagsunurin, walang inisyatiba o awtonomiya ang normalisadong mamamayan (nakakulong sa kwadra ng ordeng namamayani) , kaya dapat pagsabayin ang isang pagbabagong kultural–isang rebolusyong kultural na paglalangkapin ang mga natamo sa burgesiyang kultura (siyensiya, sekularisasyon)–at ang radikalisadong pangitain na siyang tutugon sa malaking problema ng alyenasyon, reipikasyon, at komodipikasyong lohikang likas sa nabuwag na kapitalismong sistema. Ito ang tinaguriang permanente o walang-patid na rebolusyon.

Walang pasubali, unang imperatibo ang pawiin ang batayan ng komodipikasyon: ang pribadong pag-aari ng gamit sa produksiyon at pagbibili ng lakas-paggawa ng bawat tao. Mawawala na ang pagbebenta ng sarili upang mabuhay. Samakatwid, pagpawi sa eksplotasyon o pagsasamantala. Sa wakas, sa pagpanaw ng paghahari ng komoditi, halagang nakasalig sa palengke o pamilihan, na siyang nagdidikta kung ano ang pamantayan ng halaga. Pagpawi sa salapi, exchange-value, pagsukat ng halaga batay sa tubo/profit. Pagpawi sa tubo o surplus-value.  Ang ideolohiyang liberalismo, na nakaangkla sa inbiduwalistikong pananaw, ay mawawala kapag napalitan ang pagkilates sa halaga ng isang bagay batay sa kung ito’y mabibili sa pamilihan at makapagtutubo. Sa halip, iiral ang malayang pag-unlad ng bawat indibidwal na nakasalig sa malayang pagsulong ng lahat.

Marahil utopiko o pangarap lamang ito? Subukin natin. Bago matamo ang antas na ito, ang proseso ng himagsikan–ang malawakang mobilisasyong rumaragasa–ang siyang magbubunsod ng mga pagkakataong makagigising sa budhi’t kamalayan ng bawat tao sa neokolonyang lipunan.  Ano ang hinahanap nating kahihinatnan sa mga pagkikipagsapalaran ng bawat tao sa proseso ng pagbabago?

Nais kong ilatag ang isang ideya ni Antonio Gramsci, fundador ng Partido Komunsta ng Italya. Karaniwan, kung tatalakayin ang paksa ng kultura, o kung sino ang taong sibilisado, taglay ang dunong at kaalamang naisilid sa memorya, paniwala tayo na “highly cultured” na iyon. Paniwala na ang kultura ay katumbas ng pagsasaulo ng encyclopedia, at ang edukasyon ay walang iba kundi pagsilid ng sambakol na datos at impormasyon sa utak. Kantidad, hindi diskriminasyon sa kalidad, ang mahalaga’t magagamit sa paghahanap-buhay. Mabibilang ba ang kaalamang nakuha at mapapagtubuan–iyan ang mentalidad ng madla na kailangang baguhin na namana sa ekonomiya ng komodipikasyon.

Kasalungat nito ang pakahulugan ng kultura kay Gramsci, kung ano ang katuturan at kahihinatnan nito.  Pahayag ni Gramsci: “Culture…is an organization, discipline of one’s inner self, a coming to terms with one’s own personality. It is the attainment of a higher awareness, with the aid of which one succeeds in understanding one’s own historical value, one’s own function in life, one’s own rights and obligations.” 

Salin ko: “Ang kultura ay isang organisasyon/pagsasaayos, disiplina ng kalooban, isang pagtataya sa iyong pagkatao. Iyan ay pagkamit ng mas matingkad na kamalayan, at sa tulong nito matatarok natin ang halaga natin sa kasaysayan, ang ating papel na ginagampanan, ang ating karapatan at pananagutan.” 

Nais kong igiit dito na ang buod ng sarili ay walang iba kundi ang ugnayan nito sa kapwa. Walang pagkatao ang isang inbidwal kapag hiwalay sa lipunang kinabibilangan niya. Samakatwid, ang kultura ay galing at kakayahang pagpasiyahan ang paghubog ng ating kapalaran sa buhay, ang pagkaunawa sa halagang pangkasaysayan ng ating natatangi o namumukod na partikular na pag-iral sa mundo sa isang tiyak na lugar at panahon. 

Kung pagninilayin ang naisaad kong imperatibo, ang pagkamit ng dalumat o kamalayang pangkasaysayan–“historical awareness”–hugot sa ating karanasan, edukasyon, pakikisalamuha, ay mahigpit na kaagapay ng pakikilahok sa proseso ng pagbabago. Sa larangan ng sining at midya, ito’y rebolusyong kultural. Ito’y pakikisangkot sa pakikibakang etikal at politikal upang mapamahalaan ang pag-unlad ng kalagayan ng nakararami–mga pesante, manggagawa, kababaihan, Lumad, atbp.–ang produktibong pwersa ng bayan. Mungkahi ni Walter Benjamin: “Sunggaban, pangasiwaan ang mga kagamitan sa produksyon upang makasangkapan sa kapakanan at kapakinabangan ng lahat.”

Sa digmaang kontra-imperyalismo, ang mapagpalayang pananaw ng yumayari’t lumilikhang masa ang siyang sandatang kakasangkapanin upang maigupo ang indibidwalistikong punto-de-bista ng kapitalistang ideolohiya’t ugali. Ang pagbabago ng pagkatao ay hindi bukod, manapay matalik na katambal ng paglahok sa malalim at malawak na transpormasyon ng mga institusyong istraktural ng isang kaayusan sa isang tiyak na yugto ng kasaysayan. Ang teorya at praktika ay kasal sa napagkasunduang proyekto ng sambayanang umaalsa.

Ang tinutukoy rito ay ang neokolonyal na ayos o balangkas ng ating kasalukuyang lipunan, na lubog at lunod sa neoliberal na programa ng kapitalismong global. Paano tayo makauusad mula sa pagkalugmok sa barbarismong laganap ngayon sa krisis ng Estados Unidos at lahat ng ekonomyang nakapako sa tubo, komodipikasyon ng buhay, paghahari ng salapi at akumulasyon ng kapital? Paano tayo kakalas sa pagkabilanggo rito?

Ito nga ang hamon sa ating kolektibong lakas. Tungkulin at responsibilidad ng mga intelektwal tulad ninyo, tulad nating lahat, ang magpunla ng binhi ng kamalayang historikal, ang kaisipang malingap at mapanuri, at linangin ito sa paraang magiging mabisa ang mga ideya ng katarungan at kasarinlan sa bawat kilos at gawa. Kung paano ito maisasagawa, ay depende sa partikular na sirkonstansya ng bawat isa. Walang absoluto’t monolitikong gabay sa pag-ugit ng mobilisasyon ng kolektibong lakas. Bawat pagkakataon ay humihingi ng bagong analisis, paghimay ng kongkretong pagsalabat ng sapin-saping determinasyon, at patakaran, estratehiya at taktika sa pagresolba ng mga kontradiksiyon. Bawat okasyon ay may sariling kontradiksiyong dapat masinop na suriin, timbangin, kalkulahin, at kilatesin upang mahagilap kung saan mabisang maisisingit ang interbensiyon ng nagkakaisang lakas ng produktibong masa, ang ahensiya/subhetibidad ng bansang ipinapanganak.

Masahol daw ang suliranin ng ating lipunan, ayon sa ilang dalubhasa. Ang dahilan daw ay ito: nakabilanggo tayo sa pribadong spero ng buhay, nakasentro sa pamilya, kabarkada, sa makitid na espasyo ng ating tahanan, nayon, rehiyon. Hindi ito nakasudlong sa publikong lugar. Samakatwid, mahina o wala tayong publikong diwa, “civil society,” sanhi sa personalistikong daloy ng ating pakikipagkapuwa. Kaya atrasado ang bansa dahil sa “damaged culture,” umiiral ang pagkakanya-kanya, kompetisyon ng mga dinastiya, oligarkong pangkat, atbp. Tumpak ba itong palasak na diyagnosis ng ating pangkalahatang problema? Lumang tugtugin ba ito na dapat isaisantabi na upang makaakyat sa mataas na baytang ng pagsulong?

Upang maliwanagan ang sitwasyong ito, sa palagay ko, kailangan ang imbentaryo ng bawat buhay, isang kolektibong pagkukuwenta. Una’y balik-tanawin ang ating kasaysayan, mula kina Legaspi at Sikatuna, Dagohoy at Hermano Pule, Burgos at Propagandista, hanggang sa panahon nina Duterte at NDF/NPA. Ano ang mga kontradiksiyong hindi nalutas, na sumukdol sa kasalukuyang krisis? Saan nakadisposisyon ang pwersang reaksyonaryo’t pwersang progresibo? Anong bagong ahensiya o suhetibidad ang mabisang makakapag-iba ng obhetibong sitwasyon, ng itinakdang pag-aayos ng mga pwersang nangingibabaw at pwersang kontra-gahum? Ito ang mga katanungang dapat nating harapin–ang asignaturang kailangang bunuin upang maisakatuparan ang tungkulin ng sining at kultura sa transpormasyon ng buong lipunan. Handa na ba tayong suungin ang hamon ng kasaysayan? 

Narito ang mapanuksong repleksiyon ni Apolinario Mabini sa kanyang napakamakabuluhang akda, “Ang Rebolusyong Filipino”: “Sumuong tayo sa digmaan sa paniniwalang atas ng tungkulin at dangal natin ang magsakripisyo sa pagtatanggol ng ating kalayaan hangga’t makakaya natin sapagkat kung wala ito, sadyang hindi mangyayaring magkaroon ng panlipunang pagkakapantay-pantay sa pagitan ng naghaharing uri at ng katutubong mamamayan at hindi mapapasaatin ang tunay na katarungan….Sa bisa ng likas na kalakaran ng mga bagay, nasa sambayanan mismo ang lahat ng kapangyarihang nakasasaklaw rito….Kung nasa pagtutugma ng katwiran at karanasan ang katotohanan, nasa pagtutugma ng teorya at praktika ang birtud..”  

Pagmuniin natin ang proposisyon ng dakilang bayani bilang magkasudlong na interpretasyon at pagsubok baguhin ang ating kapaligiran–“not only interpret the world but change it.”–###

___________________

E. San Juan, Jr.

3900A Watson Place NW 4 D/E

Washington, DC 20016, USA

<philcsc@gmail.com>

Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

Tulang Sampay-Bakod ni E. San Juan, Jr.


dscn0114PAGBUBULAY-BULAY NG INTELEKTWAL

NA SAMPAY-BAKOD

 

Nang ika-10 gulang, nagnais akong matuto’t maging marunong

Nang ika-15 gulang, nabatid kong tama ang gurong Mang Andoy

Nang ika-21 gulang, natiyak ko na ang daan

Nang ika-30 gulang, nasulyapan ko na ang guhit-tagpuang abot-tanaw

Nang ika-36 gulang, nabilibid ako sa kasong pakikiapid (natiklo, ay malas!)

Nang ika-40 gulang, nagpasiya akong pwede nang makipag-sapalarang mag-isa

Nang ika-50 gulang, bayad na ako sa mga utang at butaw

Handa na akong umakyat sa bundok—

Napaglirip sa panahon ng paglalakbay hanggang dito, palipat-lipat ang diwa
Sa pagitan ng ibong makulay ang bagwis 

nakatuon sa panaginip at pantasiya

At isdang nagtatampisaw sa putik, matimtimang dumaranas 

ng udyok at simbuyo ng damdamin….

Hinahangad ko mula ngayon, sa kabila ng gulo’t panganib ng kapaligiran,

Sundin ang dragon ng isip, matimyas na pagnanais makahulagpos

Upang sa gayon makaigpaw sa bangin at makatawid

sa talampas at matarik na dalisdis ng bundok

Yapos ang ibong pumailanlang at isdang sumisid 

sa pusod ng kaluluwa—

Makaabot pa kaya ako sa kasukdulang biyaya ni Maria Makiling 

nabighani sa salimbayan

ng mga kalapating dumaragit?

                                              —E. SAN JUAN, Jr.

Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

Language and Filipino Self-Determination in the U.S.


DSC_0405 [Desktop Resolution]

Inventing Vernacular Speech-Acts: Articulating Filipino Self-Determination in the United States􏰀

E. San Juan, Jr., 

Polytechnic University of the Philippines

 

From the time Filipinos arrived in the United States as “colonial wards” or subaltern subjects in the first decade of the twentieth century, the practice of speaking their vernacular tongues (whether Ilocano, Cebuano, Tagalog, or any of the other dozen regional languages) has been haunted by an interdiction. This accompanied the defeat of the revolutionary government of the first Philippine Republic at the end of the Filipino–American War (1899–1903) and the institutionalization of English as the official medium of communication in government, business, education, and so on. American English became an instru- ment of political and ideological domination throughout colonial rule (1898–1946) and neocolonial hegemony (1946–). With competence in English as the legal and ideological passport for entry of Filipinos into the continental United States as pensionados and contract laborers, the native vernaculars suffered virtual extinction in the public sphere. In exchange, the Philippines acquired the distinction of belonging to the empire of English-speaking peoples, texting messages intelligible at least to the merchants of global capitalism if not to George W. Bush and the Homeland surveillance agents at the airport. That is also the reason why Filipina domestic workers are highly valued in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and other countries in Europe and the Middle East.

U.S. linguistic terrorism has continued via subtle cooptation and juridical fiat. Up to the last quarter of the twentieth century, the custom of speaking the vernacular in the workplace was discouraged if not prohibited. Filipino nurses and government employees talking in Filipino/Pilipino were penalized, triggering legal suits by the aggrieved immigrants or naturalized citizens. “English Only” prevails.

􏰀A shorter version of this article appeared in DANYAG (June 2002).

Socialism and Democracy, Vol.19, No.1, March 2005, pp.136–154
ISSN 0885-4300 print/ISSN 1745-2635 online
DOI: 10.1080=0885430042000338462 # 2005 The Research Group on Socialism and Democracy

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Filipinos need not be heard or listened to so long as they performed according to expectations. Why learn or study the Filipino vernaculars when “they” can speak and understand English? With the sudden increase of Filipino migrants after 1965 and the growth of the multi- cultural ethos of the ’80s and ’90s, Filipinos discovered anew that they have always been speaking their native languages even while they ventriloquized in English. Filipino (usually referred to as “Pilipino”) has indeed become a lingua franca for recent immigrants in the “land of the free,” making it possible for the newly arrived from the “boondocks” to read post-office guidelines and tax regulations in Filipino.

But Filipino is still an exotic language, despite its vulgarization and accessibility via Internet and satellite media. While today courses in Arabic have become necessary aids for preparing all students for global citizenship, a college course in Filipino is a rarity. In the ’50s and ’60s, when the Huk insurgency disturbed the peace of the Cold War Establishment, courses in Tagalog were introduced in the univer- sities as part of Area Studies; experts were trained at least to read cap- tured documents from the underground, if not to assist in the propaganda and psy-war effort of the local military (San Juan 2000). In the ‘70s, politicized Filipino Americans successfully initiated pro- jects to teach Tagalog inside and outside the academy. With the displacement of the Philippines as a contested zone in Southeast Asia (despite the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front), administrators have shifted resources to the study of Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese cultures. After all, isn’t the Philippines now a suburb of California? And hasn’t the current Arroyo administration reversed the trend of Filipinization by promulgating English as truly the privi- leged language for individual success, prestige, and acceptance?

Historical necessity has once more intervened in the “belly of the beast.” Filipinos have become the largest group in the Asian American ethnic category and are slowly beginning to realize the political impact of this demographic trend. With the upsurge of Filipino-Americans entering college and moving on to graduate schools, and given the heightened racial and ethnic antagonisms in this period of the border- less war against terrorism (recall the hundreds of Filipinos summarily deported in handcuffs and chains immediately following the 9/11 cat- astrophe), a new “politics of identity” seems to be emerging, this time manifesting itself in a demand for the offering of credited courses in Filipino as part of the multiculturalist program (San Juan 2002). In Spring 2002, I was requested by the community of Filipino and Filipino American students at the University of California, Irvine, to share my

E. San Juan, Jr. 137

138 Socialism and Democracy

ideas about the “language question.” The following provisional theses attempt to address this question in the context of the struggle of the Filipino nationality in the U.S. for democratic rights and the Filipino people in the Philippines and in the diaspora for national self- determination. It goes without saying that there are other still undiscerned factors overdetermining this complex conjuncture, particularly in this stage of the advanced corporatization of the U.S. university in late modernity; the following observations are meant to induce an exploration of the totality of social relations subtending this issue.

I

In dealing with the issue of linguistic freedom and bondage, I begin with the thesis that language cannot be separated from material-social activity, from human interaction. Marx and Engels write in The German Ideology: “Language, like consciousness, only arises from the need, the necessity, of intercourse with other humans.” Language is essentially a social phenomenon, embedded in collective human activity. Con- sciousness and language cannot be divorced; both are social products; they originate from work, from the labor process, whose historical changes determine the function of language as a means of communi- cation and as an integral component of everyday social practice, a signifier of national or ethnic identity.

Work or social labor then explains the structural properties of language. This does not mean, however, that given the unity of thought and language, linguistic structures imply different ways of thinking, world outlooks, etc. Contrary to Hitler’s idealizing slogan “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Sprache,” race, culture and language are not equivalent. We do not live in isolated language compartments with singular “takes” on reality. Forms of thought manifest a certain universality that are not affected by linguistic differences, even though speech acts derive their full import from the historical contexts and specific conditions of their performance. “Ideas do not exist sepa- rately from language” (Marx, Grundrisse, 1973, 163). And since the ideas of the ruling class prevail in every epoch as the ruling ideas, the uses of a particular language often reveal the imprint of this ruling class. Various classes may use the same language or operate in the same lin- guistic field, hence this domain of sign usage becomes, to quote Bakhtin/Voloshinov, “an arena of class struggle” (1986, 23). For exam- ple, Rizal used Spanish to counter the corrupt abuses of the friars and

reach his Spanish-speaking compatriots as well as reform-minded liberals in Spain. Likewise, Tagalog and other vernaculars were used by the Filipino elite in persuading peasants and workers to conform to American policies and ideas.

In sum, language as a practice of signification is not only reflective but also productive and reproductive of antagonistic social relations and political forces. It is a vehicle and an embodiment of power. Language usage manifests the pressure of contradictory class relations and concrete ideological structures that are registered on the level of special subcodes and idiolects.1 Language then is a socio-ideological phenomenon whose empirical manifestation can be investigated with scientific rigor.

Using this frame of inquiry, let us examine the status of Filipino/ Pilipino vis-a`-vis English within the Filipino community (totaling nearly 3 million) in the United States. A historical background is imperative in assessing the worth of languages relative to each other, specifically in the context of the fraught relations between the Philippines as a former colony, now a neocolony, of the United States, and the hegemonic nation-state, now the “only remaining super- power” in this period of “endless war” against terrorist multitudes.

With the violent conquest of the Philippines after the Filipino– American War of 1899 to 1914 (I include the wars that tried to pacify the Moros), which cost 1.4 million Filipino lives, the U.S. imposed colo- nial institutions on the subjugated natives. The process of what Renato Constantino famously called “the mis-education of Filipinos” began with the imposition of English as the chief medium of instruction. This was not, as one historian puts it (Arcilla 1971), because the teacher-volunteers who arrived on the St. Thomas in 1901 knew no Spanish, but rather because English was the language of the U.S. ruling class, the vehicle for inculcating the American “way of life,” its institutions and normative practices, in their colonial subjects (see Martin 2002). Contrary to the supposed intention of democratizing society, the use of English “perpetuated the existence of the ilustra- dos—American ilustrados” loyal to the United States, analogous to the Spanish-speaking Filipino elite who sought reforms within Spanish

1. While “idiolects” refer to those aspects of an individual’s speech pattern that deviate from group norms, the idiolect of, say, a Christian or Islamic fundamentalist believer represents a code of free variants mimicking certain sociocultural patterns of thought (Ducrot & Todorov 1979, 57). An idiolect then becomes intelligible as a departure from the normal usage of words (Riffatere 1983) and resembles what Mikhail Bakhtin calls “ideologeme” or “utterance” amenable to rational semantic analysis (1981).

E. San Juan, Jr. 139

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hegemony. Constantino cites Simoun’s denunciation of the latter in Rizal’s novel El Filibusterismo:

You ask for equal rights, the Hispanization of your customs, and you don’t see that what you are begging for is suicide, the destruction of your nationality, the annihilation of your fatherland, the consecration of tyranny! What will you be in the future? A people without character, a nation without liberty— everything you have will be borrowed, even your very defects! . . . What are you going to do with Castilian, the few of you who will speak it? Kill off your own originality, subordinate your thoughts to other brains, and instead of freeing yourselves, make yourselves slaves indeed! Nine-tenths of those of you who pretend to be enlightened are renegades to your country! He among you who talks that language neglects his own in such a way that he neither writes it nor understands it, and how many have I not seen who pretended not to know a single word of it! (quoted in Constantino 1966, 55)

In 1924, the American scholar Najeeb Saleeby deplored the attempt to impose English, in the manner of Alexander the Great and Napoleon, on multitudinous groups speaking different tongues. It was already a failure twenty-five years after the U.S. established schools in the pacified regions. But in preserving imperial hegemony, the policy was not a failure at all. It has proved extremely effective: English as linguistic capital has functioned to sustain the iniquitous class hierarchy and maintain the subordination of the nation-state to the power that monopolizes such capital in the form of control over the mass media, information, and other symbolic instruments and resources in a globalized economy. I think the purpose was to make English-speakers not out of all Filipinos, but just out of those classes—the elite and intelligentsia—that have proved crucial in reinforcing and reproducing consent to U.S. imperial rule.

The historical record is summed up by Constantino: “Spanish colo- nialism Westernized the Filipino principally through religion. Ameri- can colonialism superimposed its own brand of Westernization initially through the imposition of English and the American school system which opened the way for other Westernizing agencies” (1978, 218). Superior economic and technological power, of course, enabled the American colonizers to proceed without serious resistance. Inscribed within the state educational apparatus, American English as a pedagogical, disciplinary instrument contributed significantly to the political, economic and cultural domination of the Filipino people. American English performed its function in enforcing, maintaining, and reproducing the values and interests of the imperial power and the dominant native class. Its usage was not neutral nor merely prag- matic; it was a deliberately chosen ideological weapon in subjugating

whole populations (including the Muslims and indigenous commu- nities), in producing and reproducing colonial—and later neocolo- nial—relations of production.

As I have said, no language (like English) as a system of signs is by itself exploitative or oppressive. It is the political usages and their his- torical effects that need evaluation. Consequently, the use of the coloni- zer’s language cannot be separated from its control of the educational system, the panoply of commercial relations and bureaucratic machin- ery which instill consumerist values, white supremacy, and acquisitive individualism within the procedural modus operandi of a so-called “free enterprise” system. Over half a century of tutelage de-Filipinized youth and “taught them to regard American culture as superior to any other, and American society as the model par excellence for Philippine society” (Constantino 1974, 39). Individual and public consciousness had been so Americanized that a Filipino national identity was aborted, suppressed, unable to emerge fully except in outbursts of revolt and insurrection—a durable tradition of revolutionary resistance that we should be proud of.

What of Filipino and the other vernaculars? When the Philippines was granted Commonwealth status in 1935, an attempt was made to develop a national language based on Tagalog. This exemplifies the kind of language planning where a colonial state engages in the forma- tive task of constructing a formalistic notion of nationality using one of the local languages as a means of authentiticating the legitimacy of the Americanized elite (Fishman 1972). Pilipino evolved despite the objec- tions of other regional ethnolinguistic groups, a hostility born from the “divide-and-rule” strategy imposed by U.S. colonial tutelage that undermined the hegemonic ambitions of the minority elite. Note that, of course, the ruling bloc of local landlords, compradors and bureaucrats was completely subservient to U.S. dictates even up to and beyond formal independence in 1946. Up to now, it is no secret that the Philippine military is completely dependent on U.S. largesse for its weaponry and logistics, including the training of its officers in counterinsurgency warfare (as witness the prolongation and systema- tization of joint training exercises against the Abu Sayyaf and other insurgents in violation of the 1986 Philippine Constitution which prohi- bits the active participation of foreign troops in local law enforcement). Over 80% of Filipinos can speak or understand Filipino in everyday transactions throughout the islands. While some progress has been made today in institutionalizing the use of Filipino as an intellectual medium in university courses, English remains the preferred language of business and government, the language of prestige and aspiration.

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142 Socialism and Democracy

Decolonization of the Filipino mind has not been completed, hence Filipino remains subordinate, marginalized, or erased as a language of power and self-affirmation of the people’s sovereign identity.

Like other colonized parts of the world, the Philippines was a mul- tilingual society during the heyday of Spanish imperialism. While formal colonialism no longer obtains, a linguistic imperialism con- tinues, with English employed as the international language of science, technology, business and finance, world communications and international academic studies—despite some nativization of American English in the Philippines. This will continue unless the poli- tical economy and power relations in the whole society are changed.

II

The rise of the U.S. Empire in Asia beginning with the defeat of Spanish power translated into a reassertion of Anglo-Saxon “manifest destiny.” This is a continuation of a long saga of territorial expansion from the Eastern seaboard of the continent. When Filipinos entered U.S. metropolitan territory, first in Hawaii as recruited plantation workers in the first three decades of the last century, the U.S. was already a racial polity founded on the confinement of the indigenous Indians, the slavery and segregation of blacks, the conquest of Spanish-speaking natives, and the proscription of Asian labor. The U.S. was and is a multi- lingual polity, with English as the hegemonic language.

A language community is not by itself sufficient to produce an ethnic or national identity. English cannot by itself define the American national identity as such, even though it is within this linguistic com- munity that individuals are interpellated as subjects, subjects as bearers of discourse—persons defined as subject-positions sutured within discourses of law, genealogy, history, political choices, pro- fessional qualifications, psychology, and so on. This construction of identity by language is open to incalculable contingencies; what makes it able to demarcate the frontiers of a particular people is a prin- ciple of closure or exclusion. And this fictive ethnicity is accomplished in the historical constitution of the U.S. nation-state based on the dis- courses of the free market and white supremacy.

Etienne Balibar has shown how the French nation initially gave pri- vileged place to language or linguistic uniformity as coincident with political unity; the French state democratized its citizens by coercively suppressing cultural particularisms, the local patois. “For its part,” Balibar observes, “the American ‘revolutionary nation’ built its original

ideals on a double repression: that of the extermination of the Amerin- dian ‘natives’ and that of the difference between free ‘White’ men and ‘Black’ slaves. The linguistic community inherited from the Anglo-Saxon ‘country’ did not pose a problem—at least apparently— until Hispanic immigration conferred upon it the significance of class symbol and racial feature” (Balibar & Wallerstein 1991, 104). In other words, the phantasm of the American race defined as English speakers materialized when the Spanish-speaking indigenes of the Southwest were defeated in the war of 1848. Thus, the national ideology of the ‘melting-pot’ of a new race emerged “as a hierarchical combination of the different ethnic contributions,” based on the inferiority of Asian labor immigrants and “the social inequalities inherited from slavery and reinforced by the economic exploitation of the Blacks” (Balibar & Wallerstein 1991, 104). It is within this historical process of ethnicization of the American identity under an assimilative or plural- ist ideology that we can then locate the supremacy of American English over the other languages of various ethnic groups within the polity. It is also in this historical context of the formation of the American multicul- tural pluralist imaginary that problems of citizenship, equality of rights, multilingualism, neocolonialism, nationalism or international- ism, should be placed and analyzed.

In the United States today, we have various languages spoken and practised everywhere—Spanish being the most widespread, Black English vernacular (BEV), creole in Louisiana and New York City, Russian in Brooklyn, and so on—testifying to a multilingual society. But as studies have demonstrated, the failure of the school authorities in the U.S. to recognize BEV as a separate language has continuously retarded the educational progress of black children (Spears 1999). BEV, like the varieties of Spanish, functions as a symbolic marker sig- nifying membership in a particular ethnic group.

Why is one’s use of a particular language important? Language usage or behavior is closely connected with one’s perception of self and one’s identity. The British sociolinguist Robert Le Page has pro- posed a theory of language use in terms of acts of identity. According to Le Page, “the individual creates his or her own language behavior so that it resembles that of the group or groups with which he wishes to be identified, to the extent that: he can identify the groups; observe and analyze such groups; is motivated to adapt his behavior; and is still able to adapt his behavior. By so doing the individual is thus able to locate himself in the ‘multi-dimensional’ space defined by such groups in terms of factors such as sex, age, social class, occupation and other parameters for social group membership, including ethnicity”

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(Cashmore 1984, 173). In Britain, the use of a modified Jamaican creole by second-generation Britishers of Caribbean descent is an example of acts of identity-formation, an assertion of an ethnic identity associated with such cultural interests as rastafarianism, reggae music, and so on. By consciously adopting this creole or patois, the youth are expressing their solidarity, ethnic pride, and symbolic resistance to what they perceive as a repressive and racist society.

One may ask: Has the Filipino community in the U.S. considered language as one of the most important social practices through which they come to experience themselves as subjects with some critical agency, that is, not merely as objects trained to consume and be con- sumed? Have Filipino scholars examined language as a site for cultural and ideological struggle, a mechanism which produces and reproduces antagonistic relations between ethnic immigrant communities and the dominant EuroAmerican society? In my forty years in the U.S., I have not encountered among our ranks—except for a few academics influ- enced by the late Virgilio Enriquez—any special awareness of the importance of Filipino and the other vernaculars.

In the dismal archive of ethnic studies of Filipino Americans, we encounter a species of identity politics that is unable to escape the hege- monic strategies of containment and sublimation. Ironically, this poli- tics is really designed for encouraging painless assimilation. For example, Antonio Pido’s The Pilipino in America (1986) is a repository of scholastic cliches and rehash of received opinions, at best an eclectic survey that tries to coalesce the contradictory tendencies in the research field as well as those in the community during the Marcos dictatorship. Recently, the collection Filipino Americans: Transformation and Identity(1997) edited by Maria P.P. Root, tried to advance beyond the Establish- ment banalities, but to no avail, although gays and lesbians have suc- ceeded in occupying their niches amid cries for “healing the cultural amnesia and sense of shame.” I have no problem celebrating Filipino firsts, but I think historical memory of this ingratiating kind cannot decolonize our psyches since we use such memory to compete with other people of color in grabbing a piece of the American pie. Pido’s contribution to this anthology compounded the muddle of pseudo- egalitarianism afforded by “melting” into the multiracial “pot” that still informs Establishment versions of multiculturalism. This is particularly lamentable in the neoconservative climate of the ’90s when one encountered everywhere the wish-fulfilling belief that Filipinos have transcended their ethnicity in assuming some kind of mutant or freakish existence. The ideological basis of assimilation by keeping one’s ethnic identity may be gleaned from this version of

constructing a hybrid figure: “Such solidarity did not happen to the Pilipino Americans because they are Pilipinos who are in America, as their parents and grandparents were, but rather because they are Americans who are Pilipinos” (Pido 1997, 37). An ambivalent opportu- nist indeed if not an enigmatic trickster figure. None of the essays, if I recall, deal with the discrimination of Filipinos on account of their speaking Pilipino/Filipino at the workplace, or elsewhere.

In a study on Filipino Americans, Pauline Agbayani-Siewert and Linda Revilla comment on the Filipino group’s lack of a “strong ethnic identity.” They give a lot of space to the issue of whether Filipino should be spelled with an F or P. In spite of disagreements among post- 1965 and pre-1965 immigrants, they note that Filipinos are distin- guished by their adherence to “traditional Filipino values” relating to family togetherness and respect for elders. So what else is new? What is interesting about their survey is that they touch on the issue of language, remarking that “language is a questionable indicator of Filipino immigrants’ acculturation,” without adding that of course their country of origin has been thoroughly Americanized in language, if not in customs and habits. They cite a study which indicated that 71% of Filipinos speak a language other than English at home, although 91% of them claimed being able to speak English well or very well. Their conclusion: “This suggests that most Filipinos who have been natura- lized citizens [Filipinos have a 45% naturalization rate, the highest among Asian groups] and who can speak English well still prefer to speak their native language at home” (Siewert & Revilla 1995, 152). What does this signify? In general, third generation children no longer speak the languages of their grandparents.

One interpretation is that of Yen Le Espiritu, author of the ethno- graphic collection, Filipino American Lives. While conceding that Filipinos, despite some mobility and cultural adaptation, are still not fully accepted as “Americans,” Le Espiritu claims that this is not bad because Filipinos are really “transmigrants,” that is, they resist racial categorization and at the same time sustain “multistranded relations between the Philippines and the United States” (1995, 27). This hypoth- esis is flawed. Espiritu wants Filipinos to have their cake and eat it too. While some may succeed in manipulating their identities so that they both accommodate and resist their subordination within the global capitalist system—a tightrope performance not really warranted by the biographies she presents—they do not constitute the stereotype. Especially in the case of those who came in the last two decades, Filipinos have not really become the full-blown hybrids conjured by postmodernist-postcolonial academics. The majority of the testimonies

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gathered by Espiritu provide incontrovertible proof that despite sly forms of resistance, institutional racism has continued to inflict damage on the lives and collective psyche of the Filipino community, whether some of them are perceived as transmigrants or not.

In fact the transmigrant paradigm cannot explain adequately the linguistic behavior of Filipinos. Siewert and Revilla report that Filipinos have begun to challenge the “English only” policies at the workplace. They cite one case in the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where seven Filipino workers filed a grievance after being penalized for failing to use only English for business purposes (on the assumption that “only English” use facilitates the efficient perfor- mance of mandated routine tasks). The policy was eventually rescinded, but we are not informed what the views of the experts are. Since they are obsessed with acculturation or cultural assimilation, they probably feel that the case was not really significant since Filipinos are bilingual anyway, and they can be flexible or versatile in adapting to the exigencies of their minority situation. Never mind that they have to suppress their need to speak in Filipino.

To recapitulate: The development of U.S. capitalism concomitant with the growth and consolidation of American English has proceeded from the onset of imperial expansion in the U.S. victory over Spain, to the conquest of world hegemony during the Cold War (1947–1989). The Civil Rights movement succeeded (through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and later the Bilingual Education Act of 1968) to mandate the use of non-English voting ballots and the funding of bilingual edu- cation programs serving primarily Hispanics to expedite their tran- sition to competent English users. Due to various revisions, bilingual education programs (which started in 1963 in Miami, Florida, to help the children of Cuban exiles) only serve a small proportion of the total population. And yet some were alarmed by the increase of Hispa- nics in many states. One of them, Senator S.I. Hayakawa, a naturalized Canadian immigrant of Japanese descent, founded the organization U.S. English in 1983 after sponsoring a bill in 1981 to make English the official language of the U.S. (Fischer et al. 1997). In a penetrating critique of the ideological scaffolding of the “English-Only” movement, Andrew Hartman traces its genealogy to the “historical racism” and white supremacy that continue to legitimize the hierarchical class division in U.S. society. With perspicuous documentation, Hartman not only emphasizes the racist ideology of colonialism underlying the subjugation of Native Americans, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, and other nationalities, but also underscores how the English-Only campaign “reinforces the divisive effects of capitalist stratification,” undermining

labor solidarity and scapegoating immigrants; in effect, “the English- only movement embodies the colonial model of language as oppres- sion” (Hartman 2003, 199; see also Emerman 1991).

On the whole, I agree with Hartman that this phenomenon of lin- guistic nationalism may be construed as a symptom of the sharpening contradictions in U.S. hegemonic maintenance. In addition I would suggest that the program to subtly institutionalize English as the official language of “free-market” capitalism may be construed as one plank of the IMF/World Bank/WTO neoliberal agenda for continued transna- tional domination which has been effectively challenged by antigloba- lization forces (Mazrui 2003; San Juan 2003). In actuality, what has been happening in the last decades involves an implicit “reorganization of cultural hegemony” by the ruling elite faced with a sharpening politi- cal, social and economic crisis of the system since the end of the Vietnam War. We may interpret this English-Only movement as an index to the resurgent nativist hostility to the recent influx of immi- grants from Latin America and Asia—aliens that supposedly disunite America and threaten the supremacy of the “American Way of Life” (Nunberg 2000). The English First anti-immigrant phenomenon can easily be demystified and translated as the symptom of a moral panic, a fanatical zeal to preserve the status quo, “a fear of cultural change and a deep-seated worry that European Americans will be dis- placed from their dominant position in American life” (Douglas Massey quoted in Zelinsky 2001, 192). This symptomatic reading finds its rationale in Antonio Gramsci’s insight:

Each time that in one way or another, the question of language comes to the fore, that signifies that a series of other problems is about to emerge, the for- mation and enlarging of the ruling class, the necessity to establish more “inti- mate and sure relations between the ruling groups and the popular masses, that is, the reorganization of cultural hegemony (1971, 16).

III

In 1985 then Education Secretary William Bennett judged bilingual education a failure because it only promoted ethnic pride despite the fact that programs like the Transitional Bilingual Education program and the Family English literacy programs no longer seek to fund classes conducted in the original ethnic languages. Four million language-minority students are now herded to monolingual “immer- sion” English classrooms which, according to one expert, often fail to teach anything but English. And this avoidance of using English as

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the only medium of instruction is supposed to explain why they don’t have equal educational opportunities and become complete failures.

One opponent of the bills to make English the official language, Rep. Stephen Solarz, expressed a sentiment shared by many liberals who endorse pluralism or multiculturalism under the shibboleth of a common civic culture. Language is a matter of indifference, these liberals argue, so long as the cement of the civic culture holds the market-system, individual rights, and private property together. Solarz argued that the proposals “represent a concession to nativist instincts and are incompatible with the cultural diversity and ethnic pluralism that constitute fundamental strengths of our nation . . . We are…a tapestry of many races, creeds, religions, and ethnic back- grounds—each independent, but all interwoven with one another . . .The glue that bonds these diverse communities together is not com- monality of language, but a commitment to the democratic ideals on which our country was founded” (1997, 251). Aside from these banal- ities, Solarz also opined that those proposals could pose significant threats to the civil and constitutional rights of citizens with little or no English proficiency.”

In this he was right because English triumphalism signifies a mode of racialization: the institutional subordination of other communities and other languages to white supremacy and its cultural hegemony. This was in part the thrust of the challenge made in the class-action suit of 1970, Lau v. Nichols, in which 1,790 Chinese children enrolled in the public schools in San Francisco argued against the SF Unified School District that they were not being provided with an equal edu- cation because all instruction and materials were in English, which the children did not understand. Futhermore, the plaintiffs contended that English-only education for non-English-speaking children was unconstitutional because it violated the 14th Amendment, which guar- antees to all citizens the equal protection of the laws. Moreover, such education was illegal under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which rules that “no person in the United States shall be . . . subjected to dis- crimination under any program receiving Federal financial assistance” (the District was receiving funds from the federal government). The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the Chinese students, but only on the basis of the Civil Rights Act; the Constitutional issue was avoided and the Court left the remedy to local school boards (Fischer et al. 1997, 242–5).

It is this 1974 Lau decision that can serve as the basis for litigation against public educational institutions that refuse to provide language services to students of limited English-speaking ability. It is a legal

precedent on which institutions receiving federal money can be held accountable. But it is not one which engages the question of injustice, discrimination, and inequality in a racial polity such as the United States. It is not one which addresses, more specifically, the subordina- tion of nationalities (like Filipinos) and their diverse languages as a consequence of the past colonial subjugation and present neocolonial status of their countries of origin. This is not a matter of personal opinion, feeling or subjective speculation, but a matter for historical inquiry and empirical verification.

Following the mandate of federal laws, Tagalog or Filipino is now being used in census forms, ballots, postal notices, and even in public announcements of flights to the Philippines in some airports. Is this a sign that the racial polity has changed and abolished institutional impediments to the recognition of the identity and dignity of the Filipino as a cultural-political subject? Are we now living in a classless and race-blind society? Scarcely. Such events as Filipino History Month or Independence parades in fact confirm the hierarchical placing of the various ethnic communities within the pluralist schema that repro- duces monolingualism and Anglocentrism in everday life. Even the concession to fund classes in Filipino, or, to cite a recent trend, Arabic—suddenly classes in Arabic multiplied after 9/11—may be a deceptive means of convincing a few that linguistic, racial and sex dis- crimination are amenable to such piecemeal reforms.

Apart from the neoconservative backlash of the ’80s and ’90s, the advent of post-9/11 hegemony of the “only remaining superpower” entrenched in a National Security State, the imperilled “Homeland,” almost guarantees a regime of unmitigated surveillance and policing of public spaces where ethnic differences are sometimes displayed. Filipinos speaking Tagalog make themselves vulnerable to arrest— recall the case of 62 overstaying Filipinos deported in June 2003, handcuffed and manacled like ordinary criminals throughout the long flight back to Clark Field, Philippines; and subsequently, the case of eight Filipino airport mechanics in Texas, victims of racial pro- filing and suspected of having links with Arab terrorists.

Filipino sounds completely unlike Arabic or Russian. What has made Filipino or Tagalog visible in our multicultural landscape is of course the huge flow of recent immigrants who are not as proficient in English as the earlier “waves” after 1965. Movies, music and other mass-media cultural products using Filipino are more widely dis- seminated today than before. In addition, the resurgent nationalist movement in the Philippines, despite the lingering horrors of the Marcos dictatorship (1972–86), has brought to center-stage the nightly

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televised images of rallies where the messages of protest and rebellion against U.S. imperialism are often conveyed in Filipino. The nationalist resurgence in the Philippines, as well as in the diaspora of 7–9 million Filipinos around the world, has rebounded miraculously from the sixties and has continued to revitalize Filipino as the language of critical protest and nationalist self-determination. I don’t have to mention the anxiety and tensions provoked when children cannot understand their parents who, as Siewert and Revilla indicate, prefer to use Filipino or other vernaculars at home.

IV

We are surrounded now by a preponderance of newly-arrived Filipinos who use Filipino to make sense of their new experiences, a necessary stage in their arduous life here, before they are able to gain mastery of standard English and feel more capable of directing their lives. But learning English language skills alone does not automatically translate to access to limited opportunities, not to mention genuine empowerment, as witness the plight of black Americans, or the 60 million functionally illiterate citizens in this affluent, technically superior society. Meanwhile, these Filipinos feel dispossessed and mar- ginalized, completely alienated, either resentful or more servile, depending on the complex circumstances of daily life. If and when they enter school (formal or informal), their language experience (in Filipino or other indigenous languages) is delegitimized by a pedago- gical system which operates on the assumption that knowledge acqui- sition is a matter of learning the standard English, thus abstracting English from its ideological charge and socioeconomic implications.

I don’t recall anytime when Filipinos have demanded access to bilin- gual education in the same way that Latinos and Chinese Americans have. And I know that the request for classes in Filipino/Tagalog is nothing compared to the substantial programs in bilingual education among Hispanics. Still, it might be useful to quote the educational scholar Donaldo Macedo’s comments on the current philosophy:

The view that teaching English constitutes education sustains a notion of ideol- ogy that systematically negates rather than makes meaningful the cultural experiences of the subordinate linguistic groups who are, by and large, the objects of its policies. For the education of linguistic minority students to become meaningful it has to be situated within a theory of cultural production and viewed as an integral part of the way in which people produce, transform and reproduce meaning. Bilingual education, in this sense, must be seen as a medium that constitutes and affirms the historical and existential moments of lived culture . . . [S]tudents learn to read faster and with better

comprehension when taught in their native tongue. The immediate recognition of familiar words and experiences enhances the development of a positive self- concept in children who are somewhat insecure about the status of their language and culture. For this reason, and to be consistent with the plan to con- struct a democratic society free from vestiges of oppression, a minority literacy program must be rooted in the cultural capital of subordinate groups and have as its point of departure their own language (2000, 309).

Macedo rightly emphasizes the daily lived experiences of linguistic minorities rooted in collective and individual self-determination. He considers their language as “a major force in the construction of human subjectivities,” since language “may either confirm or deny the life histories and experiences of the people who use it.” We need to underscore the role of language as cultural or symbolic capital, a theme on which Pierre Bourdieu (1991) has elaborated.

Literacy must be based on the reality of subaltern life if it is to be effective in any strategy of real empowerment, in the decolonization of schooling for a start. Only by taking into account the language of everyday lived experience—and connecting this with the community’s struggles to survive and maintain its integrity and autonomy—can we fully grasp what role the use of Filipino plays in the nationality’s pursuit of a truly dignified and creative life as full-fledged citizens. This is, to my mind, a pursuit that cannot be achieved except as part of the collective democratic struggles of other people of color and the vast majority of working citizens oppressed by a class-divided, racial- ized and gendered order.

And this system—globalized or neoimperialist capitalism—is the same one suppressing the possibilities for equality, justice and auton- omy in the Philippines. There is as yet no truly sovereign Filipino nation. I believe it is still in the process of slow, painful becoming. If so, how do we size up or assay persons who claim to be Filipinos, or whose geopolitical identities are somehow linked to the nation-state called the Philippines? Benedict Anderson theorized that modern nations are “imagined communities” made possible by print-capital- ism and the “fatal diversity of human language” (1994, 95). If that is true, then the Philippines was imagined through American English mediated in schools, mass media, sports, and other cultural practices. Both the institutions of print capitalism and the schools were controlled and administered by the United States for half a century; even after formal independence, most of us dream and fantasize in English mixed with Tagalog (Taglish), or one of the vernaculars.

We see then that language and the process of thinking form a dia- lectical unity. While Filipino has become the effective lingua franca, the

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community in the Philippines is still imagined in a babel of languages, with Cebuanos, for example, refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance unless it is in Cebuano. Less a political gesture than a symptom, this situation reflects the inchoate or abortive project of constructing a Filipino national identity, the clearest proof of which is the failure to develop one language through which the intellectual, political and economic development of the masses can be articulated.

We have no alternative. We need to continue the task of reshaping our cultural identity as Filipinos whether in the U.S. or in the Philippines, in this perilous age of anti-terrorism. I want to quote Paolo Freire, the great Brazilian educator, whose work Pedagogy of the Oppressed has been a profound influence everywhere. Freire reminds us:

At a particular moment in the struggle for self-affirmation, when subordinated to and exploited by the ruling class, no social group or class or even an entire nation or people can undertake the struggle for liberation without the use of a language. At no time can there be a struggle for liberation and self-affirmation without the formation of an identity, and identity of the individual, the group, the social class, or whatever . . . Without a sense of identity, there can be no real struggle. I will only fight you if I am very sure of myself . . . This is why colo- nized peoples need to preserve their native language . . . They help defend one’s sense of identity and they are absolutely necessary in the process of strug- gling for liberation (1985, 186).

Whether here or in the Philippines, we are still, whether we like it or not, entangled, caught, implicated, in this ongoing process of struggling for liberation. A liberatory and radical approach to language, as part of cultural production and pedagogical praxis, is in order. How can we tell our stories in our own words? How do we retrieve the lost voices of our people, valorize their lived experiences, and in the process trans- form the way Filipinos as a group are treated in the metropolis?

To re-appropriate the submerged or erased revolutionary legacy of our people, we need a language that is an integral and authentic part of that culture—a language that is not just “an instrument of communi- cation, but also a structure of thinking for the national being” (Freire 1985, 184), that is, a tool for self-reflection and critical analysis, a crea- tive and transforming agent committed to solidarity, social responsibil- ity, and justice for the masses. That language needed to reconstruct our history and reappropriate our culture cannot be English but must be an evolving Filipino, which draws its resources from all the other vernacu- lars. If we allow English to continue in the Philippines as a hegemonic cultural force, this will simply perpetuate the colonial legacy of class- racialized inequalities—need I remind you that we are still a genuine neocolony—and allow imperial ideology to determine the parameters

of our historical and scientific development, not only for the Philip- pines but also for those who choose to leave and settle in other lands within the inescapable globalized market system. The challenge that faces us today, and for as long as we speak English, is to request or demand that the teaching and learning of Filipino be given space at every level of the educational system.

Allow me to conclude with quotes from Lenin on the question of the equality of languages:

Whoever does not recognize and champion the equality of nations and languages, and does not fight against all national oppression or inequality, is not a Marxist; he is not even a democrat . . . For different nations to live together in peace and freedom or to separate and form different states (if that is more convenient for them), a full democracy, upheld by the working class, is essen- tial. No privileges for any nation or any one language! . . . such are the prin- ciples of working-class democracy (1983, 100, 116).

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