Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ing Taluîng Batiáuan

With the destruction of the most ancient town of Bacolor, the cultural and historical seat of the entire Kapampangan Nation, and the looming precariousness of the economically booming town of San Fernando - Angeles City's sure safety from Mount Pinatubo's destructive mudflows has finally put her into focus: Would she now take upon her shoulders the honour of becoming the seat of Kapampangan culture?

It is the unfortunate gift of citihood that Angeles has become politically and economically separated from Pampanga. A growing number of young Añgeleños have come to understand this as an essential separation as well: That Angeles must severe its ties from the rest of Pampanga; and that her identity should no longer continue to remain Kapampangan.

But Angeles City's political separation is not a separation of essences, but a mere accident of being: The heart and soul of Angeles was and is essentially Kapampangan. Political separation does not entail ethnic and cultural separation.

Geographically speaking, Angeles City lies at the very heart of the Kapampangan Nation, a nation whose influence stretches from the barrios northeast of the town-capital of Tarlac all the way down to the coastal barrios of Mabatang and Calaguiman in the towns of Samal and Abucay of the province of Bataan.

Sun Tzu's Art of War states that to effectively destroy a kingdom one must attack it not only from without but, most importantly, also from within. The Kapampangan Nation has constantly been under attack from without.

At the coming of the Spaniards, the Kapampangan Nation occupied almost the entire stretch of the Central Plains of Luzon. Then, throughout the centuries, provinces were carved out of her vast territories: Governor-General Simon de Anda gave the lands of Burakan and Tundû to loyal Tagalogs displaced by the Brittish invasion of and eventually became the province of Bulacan; Another governor-general carved out the entire province of Nueva Ecija to become his own personal hunting ground; Bataan was separated so as to facilitate the governance of its west coast; and Tarlac was organised as a commandancia politico-militar to pacify the northern frontiers and eventually became a separate province.

The Kapampangan Nation was finally reduced to a tiny province and a few scattered towns. Yet the assault continues from without. In a population survey conducted in 1980, the number of Kapampangan speakers dwindled to about 66.7 percent in Candaba and to 74.5 percent in Tarlac, Tarlac. The survival level of a language group in a given area is seventy five percent.

But the assault from within had already begun. The number of Kapampangan speakers in Angeles City in 1980 was only 76.8 percent. The number continues to decrease. If the Kapampangan Nation is to survive, it must prevent an attack from within. If the core caves in, then the rest of it crumbles until it totally disappears.

One sensible move is to pass a legislation declaring Kapampangan as Angeles City's official language. Another is to encourage the revival of her rich Kapampangan cultural heritage in schools and the local media.

Angeles City owes it not to the province of Pampanga alone to remain Kapampangan; Angeles City owes it to the entire Kapampangan Nation to remain Kapampangan; To the Kapampangans fortunate enough to remain here, and to the unfortunate Kapampangans shipped to the Visayas, Mindanao, or even abroad.

Siuala ding Meangubie
CURRENTS 3rd Week June 1995

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