Writers hit “unauthorized” amendment to Ilokano orthography

By Leilanie G. Adriano

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte, June 14 (PNA) –Ilocano writers based in the Philippines and abroad have opposed the amendment of the “existing” Ilocano orthography without proper consultation.

In a letter of the Gunglo Dagiti Mannurat nga Ilocano iti Metro Manila (Ilocano Writers Association in Metro Manila or GMM) to the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF) dated June 6 to KWF chair Virgilio Almario, the association particularly asked the commission to uphold Tarabay iti Ortograpia ti Pagsasao nga Ilokano, issued by KWF in 2012, as the official orthography for the Ilocano. They said it is now being widely used by stakeholders of the language, including the Department of Education (DepEd) Region 1.

The letter was in reaction to a report reaching GMM that KWF is adapting the amendment proposed by Joel Lopez, Assistant Superintendent, of Laoag City. The said amendment is said to be patterned after the Ortograpiyang Pambansa issued by KWF last year.

In a six-page booklet issued November last year, Lopez changed major rules in Ilocano grammar and spelling in accordance to the rules set by Ortograpiyang Pambansa.

A change would result in the insertion of w or y in Ilocano diphthongs (e.g. the word dua has been changed to duwa), separation of a pronoun from the noun preceding it, and change of the rules in the use of the ligatures “a” and “nga.”

GMM, in a statement, said that the said changes are incompatible with the inherent quality of the Ilocano language.

“The Ilocano language has been using its standard orthography for so many years now, and the rules we’ve been using reflect our identity as an Ilocano, thus its eccentricities from other languages,”GMM president Vivencio S. Baclig, a retired Regional Trial Court judge, said.“These changes must be in accordance to the natural evolution of the language and not based on a whim of a single person,” he added.

The group also claimed that Lopez changed the rules without consultation among stakeholders of the Ilocano language, and a valid well-researched material. This is a blatant disregard of established rules on preparing resource materials for teaching mother tongue in public schools, they said.

According to Elizabeth M. Raquel, president of GUMIL Ilocos Norte (GIN), Lopez first issued a 22-page pamphlet in 2012 detailing changes to the Ilocano orthography. “But without clear authority from DepEd central office, he started distributing his booklet to the teachers in Ilocos Norte as guide in preparing their teaching materials for the mother tongue education,” she said.

Lopez’s action prompted the Ilocano writers group in Ilocos Norte to write a letter to DepEd Secretary Arman Luistro. In reply, then Undersecretary Yolanda Quijano told Raquel’s group that “the KWF-approved orthography is the one DepEd officially recognizes.”

According to Raquel, the KWF-approved orthography is the one Tarabay iti Ortograpia ti Pagsasao nga Ilokano now being widely used in schools, and not the one made by Lopez.

But Lopez, upon the release of DepEd Order 34 s. 2013 endorsing the Ortograpiyang Pambansa (OP) to the teaching of the Filipino language in schools, revised its earlier material and patterned it under the OP.

“Again, without proper consultation, Lopez started distributing its materials to Ilocos Norte and other parts of the province, thus creating confusion among our teachers,” Raquel said.

Raquel also revealed that a letter from Undersecretary Dina Ocampo last month, in response to an earlier letter from GIN, clarified that DepEd has developed its own working orthography and this was presented to the stakeholders and was used as reference in contextualizing the learning materials for MTB-MLE.

“It’s very clear that the orthography of Lopez is out of the picture, therefore, its use in preparing learning materials for the Ilocano in Region 1 is clearly without authority,” Raquel added.

On the other hand, Bannawag Magazine editor Cles Rambaud said that Ilocano writers groups and other stakeholders will continue supporting the fight against any move to change, amend or revise the Ilocano orthography.

“Nauunawaan namin na ang isang wika ay nagbabago sa paglipas ng panahon pero kailangang dumaan ito sa proseso at tamang konsultation,” he said.

In a separate interview with Lopez, he clarified that he is merely following orders from the DepEd central office and he is mandated to implement it being the Mother Tongue-based Multi-lingual Education (MTB-MLE) in Ilocos Norte.

Citing the issuance of the Kautusang Pangkagawaran Blg. 34, Serye 2013 or the so-called implementation of the Ortograpiyang Pambansa by the DepEd, Lopez said this was use as his basis in introducing some changes such as the use of diphthongs and pronominal adjective.

“I follow orders (DepEd order 34). Legitimate orders from the department I am in. They (Ilocano writers) don’t have the right to impose orders on me,” Lopez said referring to the GUMIL Filipinas, questioning the Ilokano Orthography he developed for use by the department.

When asked if he has sought public consultation prior to the development of his version of Ilokano orthography, he said, “I have dictionaries with me. I have all the authorities with me and I have the DepEd order as my basis,” Lopez reiterated.

Recently, the writers’ group in Ilocos Norte has asked the DepEd Secretary to clarify its order stating that the Ortograpiyang Pambansa may be used as basis for other languages.

“If ever language stakeholders would decide to adopt the Ortograpiyang Pambansa, it must be done so with a widespread and thorough consensus among language stakeholders such as writers, translators, linguists, and members of the academe with the DepEd,” the association said in their letter considering the wide use of Ilokano language with an existing working orthography being adopted by a long existing Ilokano magazine which has shaped the language into what it is now.(PNA)