Issue of October 13, 2019
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Our lasting culture-indicator songs

I WAS YET of Pre-school age at Bingaan (now Marian Village, Tinongdan) when I heard.. often.. some adult males - after one or two ‘rounds’ of San Miguel Pale Pilsen, or Sheok Tong, then a local Chinese liquor, say to each other, or in agreement:

MAGHARANA TAYO DIYAN (“Let’s go serenading there”). Their Quest was always that beautiful, graceful, unmarried school teacher staying with her colleagues by the Teacher’s Quarters - some 60 meters away from their actual serenades.. That was in the Sari-Sari store of my Aunt Monica.

I STILL RECALL some of their lyrics – which they used to practice with Fervor to wit:

O ILAW, SA gabing madilim.. (Free translation: “ O light, in the darkness of the night..”); Or, someone among them will begin with: Natutulog ka na ba Sinta, sa dilim nitong hatinggabi.. ay buksan ang bintana..? (FT: Are you sleeping now, admired one, in the deepness of this midnight.. could you open the window..?).

AFTER SOME TIME.. one late afternoon, that I was sent by manang Andrea to buy V-tsin (an ingredient flavouring for side-dish), I heard different lines; and a different group of male adults, I remember.. they were singing: Manang Biday, ilukat mo man.. ta bintanam, ikalumbabam.. (FT: “Sister Biday, please open, your window..) Then, laughters.. And in a moment, someone started another tune:

DUNGDUNGWEN KAN TO la unay uunay.. (FT: “I shall love you much, very much..”), And they were not joking, and laughing anymore. So, I hurried home.. I remembered the V-tsin I was tasked to buy. I just kept what I heard and saw, to myself – although I was hearing manang Andrea as if saying:

“THIS BOY STAYED long for the V-tsin.. is the store far from here?” Aunt Saminja answered: “Not far, nut maybe he saw a dog.. or some dogs.. he’s mighty afraid of them.. You know what he does? He walks very slowly, and only goes back ‘normal walk’ when he’s far enough. He once confided to me: his uncle Kohdowai, your father, taught him – ‘never run’, when the dog’s eye is on you!”

ON THE WEEKENDS, I had my stories to tell my late mother Cincha (II) in our family home in Debkow, North of Bingaan. She always enjoyed my stories – looking at me and giving some short nods or remarks in between my narrations.

WHEN ONE TIME, I told her about the male adults, I came by at Aunt Monica’s store, she said:

“YES, THEY’RE DIFFERENT groups, you’re correct anak ko. You can tell by the language they use in the wordings: the first group must have been Tagalogs; and the second group must have been Ilocanos – since they were speaking Ilokano (Iluko).., you know it – the one your maam and I use whenever I meet her – they call it Sau? I nodded. And the rest of the Years rolled by. I am always reminded of what she told me in-short: distinct culture-songs, can tell you the singers’ group and origin.

SOMETIME IN 1991, a great ‘break’ came to me for this Application. At the PRPC, in Morong, Bataan, I was one of the lucky teachers to work there under the auspices of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC).

OUR MAIN JOB was to teach the Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian refugees: the English language (ESL), Cultural Orientation (CO), and Work Orientation (WO), before they were sent to (or accepted in) their host countries: UK, Canada, USA, etcetera.

AND TEACHERS WE were – there.. from different parts and points of the Philippines, since our Employment was by individual application and processing – at the ICMC’s main office at Ermita, Manila. So

AT THE PRPC Camp, we had to meet and co-mingle with other Filipino groups: Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Pangasinenses, Bicolanos, Kapampangans, Ilonggos, Waray-waray, Cebuanos, Chabacanos (Zamboanga), Aetas, and Mountain Highlanders – myself and another Ifenget from Buguias included.

DURING WEEKENDS, FREEDAYS, and some Holidays, you could hear those culture-songs – in some parties, get-togethers, even in simple informal gatherings, and via those songs you hear, you thus can correctly guess:

DAHIL SA IYO.. (FT: “Because of You..”), and you say: ‘Most, if not all, of them speak Tagalog; or, in fact, are Tagalogs!’; or, No duaduaem pay.. (FT: “If you still doubt..”) and your eyes sparkle saying: ‘That’s Iluko; they must be Ilocanos!’ [and find out, you do.. and.. you’re right on-tract!]. Then, continue:

ATIN CU PONG SingSing (FT: “My ring..”), you can identify as Kapampangan; and Nalinac lai labi (FT: “Quiet is the night.”) is Pangasinan; Sarum banggi (FT: “One Night”) is Bicol; Matudnila (FT: “They say..”) is Cebuano; and so on.

* * * * * * * * * *

HERE, IN “THESE Heights”, ditoy Kabambantayan, could we also identify a culture-group, by media of their culture-songs? Yes! we say.

LET US TRY (but) you may change, modify, or suggest replacement(s) as you deem fit:

SALLIDUMAY, LAYAD NAN Likatan, Itetem, Numnumum.. adim kaliw-an, Enayan iman na, Pusok ansahit niman, An amis ali.

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