Saturday, June 23, 2012


LET'S FORGET for a moment that Dr. Constantino is not a Novo Vizcayino and probably had not been to Aritao-Bambang-Dupax before doing the book (and, I guess, must not have gone back to do a possible sequel or even merely to distribute copies of the book after coming back from Japan).

But what he has done for Vizcaya, particularly the Isinays, should more than qualify him to be an adopted son of the province, particularly Isinay country.

The Book's Illustrious Co-Authors

Equally monumental as the contents of the book, is the way Prof. Constantino was able to bring into its making a synergy of Isinays from Aritao, Bambang, and Dupax del Sur. Indeed, he could not have assembled a more formidable powerhouse of informants as well as gatekeepers to produce his book. 

Consider, for example, the following  authorities on Isinay he was able to harness from Dupax alone:

Except for Carlina Liquigan Felix, Genoveva Lazam, Genaro Guzman, Mary Amador, Eufracio Toje, annd Anastacio Acosta, I'm quite familiar with most of the venerable people in the list above -- now all gone to the Isinay world up there! 

Madam Magalad, for instance, was my favorite teacher at St. Mary's High School (see "Farewell to a Great Isinay Teacher" in this blogsite). I heard the grand old man Osio Pating was married to a Maxima Castro, an aunt of my father. 

I used to call Estela Fernandez and Concepcion Felix, respectively, Auntie Tating and Auntie Concing. And I hasten to add that Auntie Tating was my teacher in Grade 6 where I got the highest grades ever of 96 then 98 for "original" and "rewritten" theme (not to forget my being Valedictorian under her care when I finished going to the Dupax Central Elementary School).

Don Alfonso Castañeda was, of course, the first and only Isinay so far who rose to become Governor of Nueva Vizcaya. Ama Juan Felix was the eng-eng (violin) player in the St. Vincent Church during his time. 

Ina Ane^ Bastero was one of our catechism teachers during my pre-Holy Communion days and was one of the golden voiced cantores (church singers) when I was growing up, along with Ina Vito^ Arroyo.

As for Ama Pio Daggao, well, I remember that morning in 1967 when it was my turn to guard the road by the Dampol Bridge for "violators" while the flag ceremony was going on at the St. Mary's High School. I think I blew the whistle when Ama Pio was still on that part of the road that used to have teak and mahogany trees on one side, and the old man got off his carabao, stood at attention, then got back to his farm animal later when the singing of the national anthem was over, and when he passed by me I heard him say: "Naveyandaj tiyen nuwang, nayyi gineje nan adal!" (This pest of a carabao, he has no manners.)

Seeing their names in the book (and reading or singing what they have contributed to its pages) is thus, for me, not only a journey back to that particular time siren poto^ (in the olden days) when I could see them or hear their gentle voices somewhere and even get to talk to them and kiss their hands during the Angelus!

Tapes Were Used but No Photos

Apart from the nap-em porat nabalitu-an an laman (packed with golden contents) main pages of the book, the author's preliminary pages are also a joy to read. 

I was particularly attracted to two parts of the Acknowledgements. Here's one:  

"The collection of the texts included in this book was begun in 1963 in a research project on Philippine languages and dialects which received financial assistance from the University of the Philippines for more than ten years.... During my one-year stay as Visiting Professor in the Institute for the Study of the Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, I was able to transcribe phonemically and translate all the texts in this book.

The items I underlined have made my imagination go on turbo mode. Since 1963 onwards to when Dr. Constantino flew to Japan, could it be possible that he took photographs not only of the Isinays he interviewed but also of certain spots in the towns of Aritao, Bambang, and Dupax del Sur? 

I guess the book would have been doubly more appealing and historical now had it included photos that were at least representative of the topics and the people, places, customs, and practices mentioned in the book. For example, a good picture of the anino^ singers or perhaps even the newly wed couples they were singing to would have been a jackpot for the children of those involved.

If he transcribed the interviews/recitations/singing, where are the tapes now? Could he have left the tapes in Japan? Or are they getting eaten by silverfish and fungi now somewhere in UP Diliman or in the Constantino household's filing boxes? If they still exist and are still usable, is it possible to borrow them so that at least we the living and caring Isinays could possibly listen to the voices of our pinavlen darauway an Isinay (beloved elderly Isinays)?

Here's another part that caught my interest:

I am  especially grateful to Mrs. Magdalena Larosa-Aliaga, her son Mr. Edgar L. Daniel and Mrs. Ermelinda C. Magalad for additional help for translating some of the difficult words and phrases. I wish also to thank Mr. Dominador C. Boada, Sr. for giving me the typed copy of the Isinay diaries which are included in this book and for taperecording the entire Catecismo de la Doctrina Cristiana en la lengua de Isinay & Inmeas (1876), and Mayor William Giron of Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya who extended to us his hospitality and help when we went to his town in 1976 to undertake fieldwork.

The names I underlined were both my uncles. Mr. Boada was married to my father's only sister Atanacia Mambear Castro while Mayor Giron was married to my father's first cousin Josefa Mambear Guiab. (Except for Auntie Pepang who is now in the U.S., all the names mentioned above, including my father, did not live long enough for me to at least be able to ask what their reactions to the book.)

The following parts of the 9-page Introduction also titillated my senses:

This publication is the first volume of my study of the language and literature of the Isinay people in the Philippines.

The oral compositions were collected from Isinay informants with a taperecorder between 1963 and 1982. A few texts were written down by the informants before they were taperecorded.

All the words in the texts included in this book were compiled in a vocabulary which will be published immediately following this book.

I wonder whether Dr. Constantino was able to come up with that follow-up publication.

The Isinay World Years From Now

Constantino's Isinay Texts and Translations has set the pace or ran a very good lap, were it a relay race, and it’s now up to us concerned Isinays and language activists to pick up from where he left off.

In fact, the book's Introduction carried just such a marching order:

We hope that the publication of these texts will not only result in their preservation and dissemination but will also provide original data for the study of the life and culture of the Isinays.

Continuing the race after Constantino has made a great starting run is, however, a huge challenge now. For one thing -- reincarnation aside -- it would probably take forever to wait until a convergence or at least a semblance of such could be made of the Isinay authorities he has so enviably spent many hours with.

In the interim, I just hope that the Isinay language would not degenerate further, like what happened to Aritao’s part in terms of speakers -- this, even as the Larosa and Daniel elders have done their big, big part with no heir apparent so far coming out to pick up the baton for them. 

Incidentally, I heard that the writer Edgar Daniel of Aritao (of "Mount Malussong" fame) passed away only last April. I remember he was editor-in-chief of the Vizcaya Advocate when I wrote a letter to the editor that started this way: "Ayyu-ayyu beveyoyar Dupaj!" 

In publishing my letter, Apo Daniel even did a translation of my Isinay lines and, as I didn't know he was an iAritao then, I was surprised that there was an Isinay up there in that newspaper's office. 

Anyway, that letter aired the collective grievance of the people of Dupax regarding the results of the elections where Benjamin Perez (brother of then COMELEC boss Leonardo Perez) became Congressman -- and later authored the bill that divided my hometown Dupax into Dupax del Norte and Dupax del Sur.

But so much for that lamentation. 

For now it would help Isinay language activists as well as Isinay world historians to know that Constantino has propitiously did his now-an-indispensable-Isinay-language-and-history reference at the right time and at the right place -- in particular because the unassailable authorities he consulted were still alive at the time.

Had he done it later, say in the late 1980s up to the 1990s, he would probably meet only a sprinkling of Isinays who may not have good sutsur or appoyaw to tell, genuine anino^ songs to chant, and past Isinay events and places to revisit.

In other words, I bet Constantino could not have come out with a gem of a book on the Isinay language and many of the now mostly forgotten customs and stories of the Isinay world the way he did.

Be that as it may, I hope Dr. Ernesto Constantino is still alive and would make himself available -- so that, among other things, I could possibly do a reversal of roles: this time an Isinay videotaping him making sutsur of his experiences with the Isinays and asking him to possibly sing a few strains of the baliwaway and anino^ he very fortunately taped many, many years ago!
 -- charlz castro/isinay bird

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