By Eleazar Ayudoc
Mr. John B. Buhay, an awardee in Iloco Literature and member of PLTCI CASE Faculty, was invited by the Ilocano Writers Association of the Philippines, an international writers group, known as the Gunglo Dagiti Mannurat Nga Ilokano (Gumil Filipinas) to serve as one of the panel members for its 4th Pasnaan last May 29-31 this year at Dona Josefa Edralin Marcos Elementary School, Curimao, Ilocos Norte. He talked about writing Daniw (Iloko Poetry) which is very important for teachers directly concerned
with MTB-MLE (Mother-Tongue Based Multilingual Educa-tion). The Pasnaan (anvil, in English) is a new program of the said group to give way to talented Ilocanos involved in ethnic literatures, Ilocano cultures, linguistic development, Ilocano fictions, and the Daniw. It is patterned on the UP Creative Writing Fellowship established by the College of Arts and Letters, UP Diliman, Q.C., wherein any interested person who wants to become writer presents his write-up for the panelists to dissect. Accordingto Mr. Buhay, he focused his arguments on the necessity of “poetic forms” and “ethnicity of poetic context”. Moreover, every time one attempts to write a poem in his mother tongue, especially if it is intended for children, he should start on cultural or ethnic context. There were 20 pieces of literature (10 poems and 10 short stories) written by young Ilocanos from Manila, Cordille-ras, and Ilocos Region, which were dissected by the panel members with the presence of the authors.
“An Ilocano must be fluent in Iloco before he learns other language; the Ifugaos must be fluent in their different dia-lects first, then learn the Iloco before the Tagalog/Pilipino,
Because Iloco is the lingua franca of Northern Luzon,” he said conforming with Rizal’s dictum: Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa sa malansang isda. The “sariling wika” Mr. Buhay referred to in the panel is NOT the Tagalog, but our native or mother tongue in our own ethnic group like Ilocano, Ifugao, Kalinga, Ibanag, etc., and thus the line must be “mga sariling wika.” “An Ilocano who can’t write correctly in Iloco, but he’s good in writing using Tagalog and English is a product of misguiding education of the past decade. Lots of Ilocano elementary teachers today can’t speak and write correctly in their Iloco language. How can they teach using the so-called mother tongue in the elementary grades?” Mr. Bu-hay argued. “Reading poetry in our mother tongue is an interesting refresher in elementary classes if the teacher can exercise it properly. The love of our native culture and language is getting lost not only here in Nueva Vizcaya but even in the Ilocandias.“ That is what the 4th Pasnaan tried to do in order to save our cultural identities as Filipi-nos by giving attention to writing poetry for children.” Mr. Buhay ended. Other members of the panel were Juan S.P. Hidalgo Jr.
(Father of Modern Iloco Literature) Cles Rambaud (Ban-nawag Editor, Manila Bulletin), Arthur P. Urata (Gumil President) and other selected Iloco Literature awardees: Roy V. Aragon (Cagayan), Joel B. Manuel (Ilocos Norte), Junley L. Lasaga (UP Baguio City), Ariel S. Tabag (Manila), Estella B. Guererro (Pangasinan), Daniel Nesperos (Ilocos Norte) and Juan Al. Asuncion (Bannawag Comics/Literary Editor, Manila Bulletin). Ironically, Mr. Buhay is NOT an Ilocano but a genuine Ifugao by blood. But he is delivering his lectures in Iloco grammar in some linguistic seminars to the Ilocanos who forget the syntax of their own language. He is fluent in Ayangan, Tuwali, and Kalanguya, aside from Iloco, Taga-log, and English. He is the first Ifugao who writes fiction and poetry for publication bringing the name of PLTCI in different literary studies in Luzon.