What triggered your Hiligaynon Revolution of 2014?
Basically just my desire to produce the work of others in Hiligaynon. On the first year of my Foundation, I helped propagate the language by giving an incentive for others to write in Hiligaynon. My Peter’s Prize contests generated a huge literary output from other writers. So my next logical step was to preserve what was collected. Since I am a one-man production company, I had to edit the works for publication. It is while editing the work of the newer writers that I realized that most people have no clue about the orthography of Hiligaynon. So, right there and then, I decided that I should do something about it. I saw the need to revolutionize Hiligaynon as we know it.
Do you like editing?
Very honestly, no. To edit means to polish what other writers cannot write very well. To spell what they can’t, and to clarify in better sentences what muddled ideas they have originally written. Then, also to feel guilty about mangling their original vision. I know that I can do much, much better, if I were just writing my own stories and poems. Given a choice, I would rather just write than edit. But if I were to be an editor, I would like to be the best editor there is. I want the final work to sound intelligent, and to sparkle like diamonds.
What did you discover while editing?
First, that new writers tend to write as they speak. For the present progressive “playing,” for example, most new writers just use “gahampang” instead of the correct “nagahampang.” Now, ‘naga’ is an important prefix, as opposed to ‘maga’ and ‘nag’ that differentiate tenses. You loose that accuracy if you short cut the present progressive form to just “gahampang.” So it seems to me that many of these writers do not understand that there is a different discipline for Hiligaynon writing. Now, I am very particular about this because I am a Hiligaynon tester of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. There is a different test for writing, and another test for speaking Hiligaynon. Second, I also noticed a lot of corrupted words that newer writers use carelessly. For “even if,” they use “biskan” when it should be “bisan.” They also use “maskin ano” instead of “maski ano” for “whatever.” My theory is that “maski” comes from Spanish “mas que” literally meaning “more what” that then came down to us as “maski ano” to mean “whatever more” or simply “whatever.” Corollary to that, “maskin” comes from “mas quien” for “more who” or “who more,” so if you use it, maybe you should use “maskin sin-o;” although I wouldn’t use it. The new generation also uses “Ambi ko” for “I thought,” they say it with a careless extra ‘m’ instead of “Abi ko.”
That’s when you decided to revolutionize the language?
As a writer, I can only be most responsible for my work. But once I graduated from mere writer to editor and publisher of other people’s work, I also gained additional responsibilities. It was like I earned the right and became entitled to initiate the standardization of Hiligaynon spelling. I mean, if I use my own money to publish the work of other people in books, I better believe in them. I better have faith in the writers and their stories, in their spelling and grammar. I better have faith in my readers’ knowledge and intelligence. I don’t believe in dumbing down the spelling and concept for readers. I believe that the new Hiligaynon readers and writers know very well how to read and spell “coiffeur” properly. And to spell “coiffeur” they would need a ‘c’ and an ‘f.’ That’s why I advocate for the 28-letter alphabet that has been adopted by the Filipino language in 1987, some 27 years ago.
Do you anticipate a lot of criticism?
Of course. And it’ll mostly come from people in the academe and our so-called veteran writers. Because I am not an academician, no MFA or PhD, or specialization degree in Literature or Linguistics, the people who have crowned themselves experts and powers-that-be are threatened by me. Well, they and the senior writers can rant all they want, but I will prevail. But they have to remember that I only waged this revolution because they didn’t do anything for almost three decades. To be very honest, I am not in business for them. My new Hiligaynon is geared towards the new generation of writers and readers who have no recollection of “hunghungan” for “telephone” or “balatangan” for “bed.” My generation is the Facebook and Skype generation, people who frequently go out of the country and have become truly cosmopolitan eating Kentucky Fried Chicken and not just pinirito nga manok, and having the Starbucks cafe experience instead of just pangapekape. My Hiligaynon revolution is the Hiligaynon for the globally aware, and for those who use “post,” “delete,” “like,” “tweet,” “skype,” and “facebook” as activities of daily living. Welcome to my global Hiligaynon.
© Peter Solis Nery and Iloilo Metropolitan Times: [June 27, 2014]