Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why Isinay Is Vanishing

I JUST FOUND in the inbox of my email account a questionnaire sent in by a student of the University of the Philippines Baguio who, after finding this Isinay Bird blogsite in the internet, wrote to me last year and asked help on what references I could suggest for her thesis on Isinay.

The questionnaire's cover letter went this way:

Magandang araw po sa inyo. Ako po si Lianne Lelis, BS-Mathematics ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas Baguio. Kasalukuyan po akong gumagawa ng undergraduate thesis “Ang mga Isinay ng Nueva Vizcaya at ang Panghihina ng Kulturang Isinai”. Kaugnay po ng thesis na ito ay ang mga sumusunod na tanong tungkol sa mga Isinay. Maari po bang sagutin niyo ang mga ito. Malaki po ang maitutulong ng mga sagot niyo sa aking thesis. Pasensya na po sa abala. Salamat po sa inyong oras.

The following item (Item 4) in the questionnaire caught my fancy: 

Nabasa ko po ang thesis ni Celine Cruz na isa sa mga endangered language ang Isinay. Bilang isang Isinay, sa sarili niyong perspektibo ano ang dahilan ng paghina ng kulturang Isinay sa paglipas ng panahon?

I have yet to send my answers to the survey, but the question indeed sent my little coconut into motion. 

Very quickly, this humble observer attests to the following as having contributed to the Isinay culture and language as being endangered:

1.   Effect ng TV. Many kids in Dupax (and I presume even in Bambang and Aritao) now speak or are more at home with Tagalog -- even if you talk to them in Ilocano or Isinay. Worse, rather than enjoy the sunny outdoors, kids today prefer to watch Mr. Bean or the noontime shows exhibiting how sexy some Filipinas are or the antics of gay personalities . Consequently, there are no more "inheritors" of such formerly common Isinay ways as manpattol si nuwang (pasturing the carabao), mangamabuvun (collecting mushrooms), manumpup (gathering bamboo shoots), umeyav si sompalo (climbing tamarind trees), mansoppeng (swidden farming), and manalin si tulin (drive away rice-eating sparrows)
2.   Influence ng paaralan. Aside from the language of instruction not being Isinay, teachers and pupils now also speak in Tagalog or accented English. I presume that (like what we had when I was small) schools prohibit pupils/students from using Isinay in the classroom, so that they will have better mastery of English. Or so they say. It is probable, too, that grade school boys are no longer required to engage in such projects as manlajat uvi (weave chicken nesting basket), manubuj si masetas (water ornamental plants),  or mamangbang si pantanoman si gayya^ (dig a garden for string beans). Similarly, I wonder if  schools still offer Home Economics where girls learn how to manguhut (sew), man-asuh (cook vegetables), mangijar si niyuj (grate coconuts), manlutut pising (cook guava with coconut milk), or manajpat (wash the dishes).
3.   Pagdami ng populasyon ng mga kapitbahay, kaibigan, kamag-anak na hindi Isinay. Naturally, what can a native Irupaj or Iromang do when everybody in the neighborhood speaks a different language? With many young people getting married to Visayans, Bicolanos, Cordillerans, Americans, Europeans, Australians, Japanese, Indians, and Chinese, what language would Aritao, Bambang, and Dupax natives use to minimize communication gap and to show how friendly and warm as a people the Isinays are?
4.   Pagkaubos ng mga likas-yaman tulad ng gubat, ilog, isda, ibon, atbp. As a consequence, of the despoliation of its once fabulous forests and along with them the rivers, and the loss of wildlife, not so many are encountering or doing Isinay things associated with such natural resources anymore. For example, with forests gone, gone too are the wildlife that used to be part of the Isinay culture -- and so, no one hears of such words as salejap (trap), barale (preserved meat), and manganup (to hunt wild animals) anymore. With the rivers now dry in summer and flooded in the rainy season, gone are the sappilan (stone goby) and gone too are the methods of catching them like maneyup, mangintoj, mangemu, maniwattan and manlipit.
5.   Modernization. With the presence of electricity, people in Isinay country now prefer to watch TV or sing in videoke rather than watch the tallivong (full moon) or count how many matutina (shooting star) one sees in the night sky. With the convenience of gas stoves, children no longer do such chores as mangayu (gather firewood) or manisij (split wood with axe). With tricycles now available, many folks no longer experience mirungpil (hitting one's toe on a stone) or malurun (getting spine on one's sole) when walking on the road. Because the hand-tractor has replaced the carabao, such things as patuji (sled) and araru (plow) are becoming rare sights.

Lianne, if you're reading this, salamat si dee (thank you very much) for giving me ideas on what to write. 
Mansor ayu lojom (just you wait). I'll give these topics more bones and muscles in future blogs very soon.

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