Nov. 2008, Volume 5, No.6 (Serial No.


Journal of US-China Public Administration, ISSN1548-6591, USA

English literacy: Consuming the Kapampangan oral antecedent
Julieta C. Mallari
(University of the Philippines, Pampanga 2023, Philippines)

Abstract: This paper discusses the effects of American colonial rule on the cultural life of the
Kapampangans and inhabitants of the province of Pampanga. The colonial masters, who seemed to deliberately
marginalize the local language of the community and succeeded in eventually arresting its natural development.
The American policy to “educate” the Filipinos resulted in the waning of the Kapampangan language and
literature. A brief overview of Kapampangan literary history will be given to emphasize the folk tradition, the oral
nature of Kapampangan verbal art as well as the worldview and ethos of the people embedded in their literature.
To be mentioned are two Kapampangan writers, Crisostomo Soto and Jose Gallardo, who represented the periods
during and after the American regime respectively. Each responded to his time and scene; both struggled against
the most powerful colonial machine which was the English language. They were aware that this medium and its
message were one, and that their own language would, sooner or later, be a lost medium and a lost message. The
shift from orality to literacy, as a consequence of western education, will also be discussed. In particular, the
reaction of Kapampangan verbal artists to the reductive pressure exerted by literacy upon their literature will be
Key words: Kapampangan; oral; culture; English; literacy

1. Introduction
Renato Constantino, a Filipino nationalist, provides remarkable insights in his analysis of the colonial rule
established by the Americans in the Philippines:
The re-creation of Philippine society in the image of its conqueror, the conversion of the elite into adjuncts of
colonial rule, and the cultural Americanization of the population became integral parts (sic) of the process of colonization.
A program of virtual de-Filipinization was therefore instituted (Constantino, 1975).

Renato Constantino (1975, p. 312) laments the idea that the “colonial power gained a tremendous advantage
from its imposition of the English language in education and government administration”. Moreover, he
underscores the “myths that are deeply ingrained in the Filipino consciousness: …that Americans came not as
conquerors but as friends to give the Filipinos democracy, education, roads and sanitation…”.
To a great extent, Constantino’s perception was validated by the disruptive consequences of American rule in
the Philippines. America’s pragmatic approach and intervention, particularly the imposition of the English
language, had its debilitating drawbacks on the part of the Filipinos. The so called development programs
practically sought to banish the old pivotal elements in the lives of the natives to make way for the new in
mindless pursuit of modernization and westernization. Whatever altruistic or humanistic spirit was assumed by
this colonial power, it cannot be denied that the means used ate into the colonized very vitals, including their
culture. Filipinos began to learn not only a new language but a new culture as well. And this cultural
Julieta C. Mallari, Ph.D. in University of the Philippines; research fields: culture, literature, sociology.

character and quality of their life.e.… the 58 . In particular. In the process. in a sense. in particular). where these are defined as the ‘unconscious assumptions’ or ‘unstated premises of a culture’” (Palmer. (It) may be taken as including ethos and cultural configuration. norms and beliefs. it was made the medium of instruction in the public school system. the disruption of inherent homeostasis in their cultural life had negative consequences. This paper demonstrates the inevitable impact of such aspects of colonial rule. The Kapampangan language.. “Worldview” refers to “the fundamental cognitive orientation of a society. the language is the unique and specific matrix of its civilization”. To quote Constantino (1975. Its congruence with their reality consisted in the recitation and remembrance of the very substance of their existence: It was the very matrix of their own creative leap as a people generating their traditions. soon created the great divide.English literacy: Consuming the Kapampangan oral antecedent Americanization has had far-reaching effects. the Kapampangans evolved the contours of a coherent design of their cultural civilization. For those who used to live and communicate in close harmony with their community (the verbal artists. its moral and aesthetic style and mood. waste and inefficiency. “the tone. Moreover. might be defined by Geertz in Palmeas in 1996 “the moral (and aesthetic) aspects of a given culture. i. the evaluative elements”. 2. To have a clear qualitative perception of the reciprocal determinations of language and worldview. English became the language of the educated and the affluent and. The case of the Kapampangan language and literature Pampanga is a province in the northern part of the Philippines. therefore. subgroup or even an individual. it was the language to know for any Filipino looking for opportunities for employment or advancement in his/her career. In the inner layers of their tongue. The real objection was that the use of the local dialect would delay the spread of English. “Ethos” in turn. inhabited by the Kapampangans who developed their own natural and local speech habits. was an ostensible mechanism of creating the civilization and culture of the people. the use of local languages was discouraged as they were deemed inferior—consciously or unconsciously on the part of their speakers—as though to be consistent with the etymological sense of “vernacular”. In fact. Corollary to this is the metaphoric conception of the Kapampangan language as a crystal reflecting the worldview of its speakers. acquired a distinct ethnic configuration by means of its linguistic individuality. This bill sought to amend the Educational Act of 1901 by providing that the language or dialect of each province or region be used as the medium of instruction in the public elementary schools. 148. who seemed to deliberately marginalize the local language of the community and succeeded in eventually arresting its natural development through their language policy. a definition of the latter may be stated. The American-dominated Philippine Commission rejected the bill on the ground that it would create confusion. The region. English was declared the superior language. There is therefore a reason to suppose that the Kapampangan linguistic weltanschauung determined and animated the entire landscape of the socio-cultural and communal behavior of the people. 311) again: Another instance which demonstrated the American determination to impose the English language was the clash in 1908 between the Philippine Assembly and the Philippine Commission over Bill No. 1996). It was used to “educate” the Filipinos and supposedly to improve their living standards. the colonial masters. “slave-born”. p. To be focused will be the shadowy influence and effects of colonialism in the cultural life of the Kapampangans and inhabitants of the province of Pampanga. This concordance between language and civilization is an affirmation of the notion by Humbolt in Steiner that “Civilization is uniquely and specifically informed by its language.

English literacy: Consuming the Kapampangan oral antecedent underlying attitude toward themselves and their world that life reflects”. Kapampangan language. the oral culture of the Kapampangans was well-nourished by their value system and the inherent dynamism of their language. Folksongs. For instance. close to the human life world. the first being didactic and instructive. To begin with. were enjoyed at social gatherings or during family leisure moments. The language system evolved an “epiphany” of the Kapampangan civilization. by their resonant language. consists of verbal jousts. For that particular period. traditionalist. Apparently. ethos. 59 . linguistic patterns corresponding to the “thought worlds” of the group operated within the microcosmic and macrocosmic realms of the Kapampangan consciousness. metaphorical as well as pragmatic conjectures on life of Kapampangan society were stored in the memory of the people through the constant application of the verses. communicating simple sentiment. the Kapampangan language has always been called their “amanung sisuan”. The language took on a specific gravity: Specific to the unique association of the users who built a strong and resonant langue. and worldview definitely cohered in this primordial verbal art. The people’s artistic vision being reciprocated by orality can be observed in the fundamental modes of literary expression starting with the base form namely. Among the characteristics of orally based thought and expression exhibited by the oral culture of the Kapampangans were agonistically tuned. Their artistic temperament has been engendered by the semantic system of their language and is reflected in the shadings of their phonology and grammar. as it were. The two forms were foundational in the development of Kapampangan literature. It is to be noted that the Kapampangan tone is loud. In their pre-colonial era. The object of the games is to offer prayers for the soul of the deceased and to comfort or mitigate the pain being experienced by the bereaved family. the literary history of the Kapampangans presents the classic image of concentric circles produced. on the other hand. and the second recreational. Kapampangan folk literature. are plain and direct. It was pivotal to the appreciation of their identity. thought and feeling. participatory and empathetic rather than objectively distanced. their “kasebyan” (proverbs) and “bugtong” (riddles) both in versified forms were the inherent aspect of their social life. One is called “Karagatan”. The people’s earliest civilization delighted in the highly rhythmic oral patterns of their folklore. Such conceptual base brings light to the crucial reciprocities between the Kapampangan language and the socio-culture as well as historical character of its speakers. an ancient poetic game and the other is “Bulaklakan”. usually after dinner. with their imagination taking shape in its oral form. Being the reference point of the people’s collective and identity. In the past. which is also an aspect of the people’s folk tradition. homeostatic and situational rather than abstract (Ong. literally “the language they sucked”—a much stronger metaphor than the English “mother tongue”. in which deeply entrenched are their worldview and ethos. the Kapampangan literary center of gravity consisted in the endlessly fertile rhythms of communal consciousness inextricably linked with orality. Values were encoded. To be underscored is that the oral nature of Kapampangan verbal art should be recognized as a cultural dimension that needed to be sustained by the local people. The proverbs of the Kapampangans exemplify the fundamentally creative and psychic functions of the Kapampangan language itself. This linguistic timbre exactly correlates with the people’s culture. both being performed during funeral wakes. on the other hand. preserved and transmitted by these linguistic constructs. strong and emphatic. To trace the roots of Kapampangan literature. The other category of Kapampangan verbal art. Riddles. a discussion of the beginnings of their literary development is important. their sensibility showed itself consistently in their creative affairs. 1982).

Furthermore. As the native poets domesticated the form and content of the foreign texts. they experienced a kind of literary “déjà vu”. the romantic and the melodic animated even more the existing verbal art. who believed in the inherent musicality of his own language. were easily adopted and embodied into their own repertoire. the fantastic. The Spanish zarzuela (musical play) was introduced in 1629. thus continually affirming the relevance of their primal verbal art and culture. metrical romances. What the Spaniards introduced blended naturally with the Kapampangan sensibility. 1984). in great measure. is the “crissotan”. they were expected to recite authoritatively and theatrically to make their audience feel and savor the beauty of their language. it is never surprising that the medieval literature brought by the Spaniards (16th century) easily broke open the core of the native literary ground. The later writers sought to establish the inscape of an ideal social order. meshing two levels of culture and two world-views. Kapampangan literature took on a new form that came to be an incitement for the movement of the province’s literary history. verifiable in the movement of the native literary history. The orality of folklore has always been the overriding touchstone of the verbal art of the tribe. the elasticity of linguistic spheres and the functional aspects of verbal art, all these secured a natural habitat for the otherwise alien presence of Spanish literature. known to the 60 . As such. the people’s identification with the conquistadores’ lifestyle. be it personal or tribal. Another Spanish literary form adopted by the Kapampangan writers was the “comedia”. it was adopted into Kapampangan by Mariano Proceso Pabalan Byron (the first writer to Filipinize the genre). etc. folk literature substantiated the Kapampangan linguistic sense and folk literature was both the medium and the message. Thus the religious items. integrating the foreign elements into its own system. in fact. it was more ostentatious and grandiose. from the pseudonym Crissot of the Kapampangan writer Juan Crisostomo Soto (Lacson. In fact. Performing “crissotan” before and after World War II encouraged the leading poets of Pampanga to continue their oral tradition. The latitude of normative conventions. The literature they brought to advance their imperialistic cause pressed on the folk with a delicate authority. Given the linguistic-cultural matrix shaped by folk wisdom and mentality. this foreign genre gave the Kapampangans a profound sense of fulfillment. The colorful costumes and the good-looking actors and actresses in the newly introduced plays were relished by the Kapampangan audience and became part of the tradition.English literacy: Consuming the Kapampangan oral antecedent These communally produced oral legacy remains to this date essentially pulsating in the cultural life of the rural people. still folk in form. They prided themselves on the fact that Kapampangan is most sonorous and declaimers must prove themselves worthy of their language. The acclaimed poet laureates would be pitted against each other and the champion was called “Ari ning Crissotan” (The King of “crissotan”). being theatrical. To a great extent. be it lyric poetry or narrative fiction. And this new form was still oral in nature. as well as their acceptance of the Spanish religious and cultural baggage could be expected. Recited or sung. Significantly. the functions of folklore in validating the stability of an oral culture and in maintaining social cohesion brought about the inherent social bias which conditioned the production of Kapampangan literature. Such form and content of folk verbal art have become antecedents in almost the entire literary activity of the race.. folkloric incursion into the realm of the creative act is. There was an apparent reciprocity and commonality in the Spanish and Kapampangan literary sense and sensibility. Thus. A more recently developed argumentative verse. With the Kapampangan romantic and imperious temperament. “corridor”. Kapampangan verbal art acquired a new flavor when the Spanish colonizers came.

His giant shadow has always cast itself over the landscape of Kapampangan literature. the later writers concurred with the prevailing tradition of their predecessors. The most popular “kumidya” which was based on an obviously “Filipinized” Spanish heroic character was “Gonzalo de Cordoba” by Padre Anselmo Jorge de Fajardo. In terms of extent. Members of the lower class. the “kumidya” perpetuated orality. the writers paradoxically subverted their colonizers by transforming and molding their borrowings unto the local image. Another Kapampangan literary giant is Crisostomo Soto (1867-1918) or Crissot. and Tomorrow). Tagalog and Spanish. Sharing the limelight in the world of Kapampangan literature. it was the educated upper class who took an active part in the production and propagation of Kapampangan literature. and their oral tradition even enhanced. by its very nature. What is worth mentioning is the idea that most of the successful Kapampangan writers were Spanish literate. Aurelio Tolentino (1868-1915) was as versatile and prolific as Soto in his literary writing. Today. at Bukas (Yesterday. their own language retained its vigor to the extent that the literati took it upon themselves to propagate Kapampangan. Kapampangan. as it were. Since Spanish was not imposed. It enabled them to cultivate their own literature: Its evolution was internally sustained and synchronized. Although their products were imbued with Spanish ingredients. Moreover. A cursory look at the themes and substance of his works will show their romantic and socio-political nature. produced a good number of playwrights and poets as well as drama troupes propagating the use of the 61 . The previously mentioned writers dominated the literary scene. simply following the cultural leadership of the elite. Orality and folk conventions flowed most naturally in the stream of their literary consciousness and appeared as thematic patterns in their works. Kapampangan literature flourished until the first two decades of the twentieth century. the first quarter of the twentieth century. His lyrical versification. He started an overpowering monolithic tradition among almost all the writers of Pampanga. from which generations of Kapampangans delighted to quote (Zapanta. They were ardent defenders of their language and culture. sometimes called the Golden Age of Kapampangan Literature. p.English literacy: Consuming the Kapampangan oral antecedent Kapampangans as “kumidya”. were the consumers of the products. 15). During and early after the Spanish regime. In fact. he gained his reputation as a national writer because he wrote in three languages. Reinforcing further the homogeneity of the literary development in Pampanga. by common consent. Nevertheless. the virtuous and the humane. what was established as literary tradition provided the social cement that welded together the social classes in Pampanga. As in most cases. The unbroken literary tradition of strong and definite rhyme scheme and the underlying Kapampangan folk world-view. Again. both spiritual and secular. namely. specifically articulate in the didactic persisted. a symbolic play charged with intense nationalism. Ngayon. The Spanish colonial policy of controlling and inhibiting the natives’ education according to the Western standards somehow worked to the cultural advantage of the Kapampangans. is acknowledged as the “Father of Kapampangan literature”. these native producers of culture transcended the otherwise disparaging effects of colonization. has always been invoked from his time to the present. Their worldview remained intact. The work thus became a veritable treasury of maxims. namely sustained conception of the heroic. His poetry and fiction also remain highly acclaimed. 1981. but they never considered their own language inferior to the foreign one. His zarzuelas (musical plays) have unsurpassed popularity. the work appeared to run the entire gamut of human experience that allowed the poet-priest Fajardo to moralize on all aspects of human experience. He is best known for his Kahapon. in fact. In effect. further enriching the ethos and worldview of the people. Both the content and the style of the “kumidya” appealed to the Kapampangans so much so that Padre Fajardo. a most versatile and prolific writer. with scanty education.

particularly patriotism. In the case of the Kapampangans. they wove products that should have kindled the Kapampangan love for their language As previously mentioned. With American textbooks that gave Filipinos a good dose of American culture. American literature was made to appear so distinctly superior that it was considered by the colonizers a model par excellence for indigenous literature.English literacy: Consuming the Kapampangan oral antecedent local language. in one way or another. representing the periods during and after the American regime respectively. their language being the wellspring of such remembrance. Kapampangan writers’ verbal behavior changed in proportion to the degree of proficiency in the newly acquired language. So immersed were the writers in their literary endeavors during the first part of the American era that in their body poetic was nurtured intense feelings. Since both maintained their folk tradition—which remains to this date an enduring framework—they aspired to make their people retrieve their collective memory. They were aware that this medium and its message were one. 3. sooner or later. The two writers produced works that had deep and sincere socio-cultural consciousness. With the promised development through education. be a lost medium and a lost message. Unlike the case of Spanish literature which blended naturally with Kapampangan folk literature. He wrote poetry and prose which sensitively espoused nationalism. That American culture is superior to the culture of the colonized was primarily the message communicated. In so doing. Soon. and both struggled against the most powerful colonial machine which was the English language. de-Filipinization ensued. from being sent to oblivion. This paved the way to the massive colonization of the Filipino mind. What cannot be overemphasized was the slyness of the master that suppressed the native tongue. judiciously selective or impulsive. He also denigrated those who gave in to the American cant of altruism and cultural subjugation. even the worldview of the language users was blurred. In contrast. Thus. most of them valiantly resisted American influence and domination. Whether their attempts were successful or not. Kapampangan writers’ reaction to cultural Americanization It is important to note that the coming of the Americans and the introduction of English apparently undermined Kapampangan literature and might have possibly brought it to a crisis. This tribe’s natural language and personal experiences had to succumb to the dictates of the foreign tongue. and that their own language would. the alien way of thinking created an abyss between the two languages. both invoked the Kapampangan Muse whom they knew had to be rescued. Kapampangan was completely overshadowed by English. This prose work is a classic representation of the gradual distortion and deadening of the tribe’s linguistic sense and sentiment. and local writers could not help reacting to such severe consequence. Only a handful of them continued to write in their own language and most of them simply followed their predecessors’ folk tradition. the process of Americanization gained a powerful impetus at the expense of local culture. Crisostomo Soto was well-recognized as a prolific and versatile writer. To be mentioned in particular are two Kapampangan writers. He wrote Miss Phathupats to ridicule Kapampangans who allowed their minds to be colonized by the English language. Local writers were caught flatfooted and made to believe that there was no literary development outside the American tradition. the American policy to “educate” the Filipinos worked for the waning of the Kapampangan language and literature. To quote some lines which basically summarize the story: 62 . so to speak. Significantly enough. Each responded to his time and scene. Crisostomo Soto and Jose Gallardo.

he succeeded in influencing his people: The fictional derogatory name became a byword and was used to rebuke those who manifested colonial behavior. the people there naturally looked up to her because they saw that she knew more English than they did. danger. dreamers are looked upon with great interest not only for possible lucky “jueteng” {a form of gambling) 1 “patupat” is a Kapampangan word which means tightly bound suman or rice cake wrapped in banana leaves. lend themselves a socio-linguistic context. clearly understood the inevitable. by Manlapaz) To be observed in the last lines is the moralistic and didactic appeal of the story. Gallardo ushered in the poem entitled Bangungut (Nightmare) to suggest the haunting state of possible death of his language. Apparently. and secondly. That there was an ideological rift between the two languages was commonly perceived by the verbal artists. This is a common practice in Pampanga. coming from an imperious foreign tongue. the word’s associated meanings such as fatality. which was why she could no longer speak straight Kapampangan. according to her. etc. she is no longer Kapampangan. Moreover. It is interesting to note that Soto’s tone and perception would still point to the essentially romantic tradition of the Kapampangan writers. his story was employed as “a means of controlling individuals who attempt to deviate from social conventions”. also predicted the inevitable loss of Kapampangan language. The word “bangungut” is inadequately translated as “nightmare” since its connotation far exceeds the idea of having a horrible dream. She also claimed that Kapampangan was hard to pronounce and twisted her tongue. Soto. difficulty. who maintained the romantic worldview. was both compassionate and critical of his people. Thus. Faced with the dilemma of linguistic entropy (Kapampangan being replaced by English and Tagalog as dominant languages). particularly in the remote villages where traces of the oral tradition are still apparent. Jose Gallardo. Gallardo engaged the reader in “listening” to “what happened” in his dream. He used ridicule to drive home the idea that language shift among the Kapampangans was degrading. she had already forgotten how. The chances of survival for people going through a “bangungut” are almost nil because the usual medical findings associated with this attack are heart failure and high blood pressure. However. because she has long associated with the American soldiers. responding to his times. which would maintain conformity to the accepted patterns of behavior. As in their folk tradition. Soto. …Do not wonder that the Miss does not know Kapampangan: first. like his contemporary writers and those who came after them. Gallardo was more realistic. The Kapampangans understand the term as implying fatality.1 How many Miss Phathupats are there these days. A more recent writer. preparing the reader. or they are simply regarded as stories to be enjoyed. 63 . The pressure within the natural language. He expected his readers to learn their lesson from his story and counted on such response to prevent them from becoming like Miss Phathupats. …Miss Yeyeng hardly ever spoke Kapampangan anymore because. he was quite aware of the evisceration of the Kapampangan language. apparently an attempt of the writer to address his Kapampangan readers. who no longer know Kapampangan or who are ashamed of Kapampangan just because they can speak pidgin English? (Soto trans. While merely condescending toward those who were easily trapped in the scheme of colonial appropriation. presumably a Kapampangan or any culturally aware individual. The character Miss Yeyeng is mockingly called “Miss Phathuphats” to refer to her wide hips which she tried to constrict by means of a tight corset she wore. he was appealing to their sense of cultural pride and dignity. rendered its speakers innocent vassals doing homage to this alien tongue. unlike Soto. And for a time. The proof of this is that her name is Miss Phathupats. Dreams are common topics of discussion for possible interpretation.English literacy: Consuming the Kapampangan oral antecedent Once she became a teacher.

the poem recreates the possible speech habit of the Kapampangan community in its projected linguistic situation. The language designed and employed arouses laughter as it assumes the possible configuration of a ludicrous language. Gallardo’s style suggests the meaning of the text. Elicited in the eulogy is an appeal to the pride and glory of the Kapampangan language. As 64 . sasabyan dang Ang Kapampangan daw kanu Is one of the most malambing And very sweet ka Hamanu. There is a great deal of mysticism. His grandson’s grandson was to declaim a poem in a celebration that happened in hell. Implied in his poem is also his anticipation of the fact that most of the writers. Gallardo effectively developed his narration by mentioning the “dramatis persona” in the dream who also serves as the mouthpiece of his linguistic enterprise. No wonder. is also a stylistic device to arouse laughter. that reaches out to native intuitions or primal perceptions in apprehending dream. The medium is not just the message. Tagalog and English get mixed up. The following stanza evolves a verbal pattern to be heard only from people in a jesting mood: Very many salamat pu Sa kekayung palakpakan At ing kanakung Good Evening Yang babye ku sa kekongan. Kapampangan. the users of his language. the use of a deviant language begins. are in their twilight years. The obvious intended effect is humor as words drawn from three languages. Moreover. then. The style manifests Gallardo’s gambit of utilizing language to subject the latter to its own deficiencies. the Kapampangan idiosyncratic misuse of the letter “h”. antagonism and resistance to foreign intrusion even through language domination. which is actually the medium. Ang mga Poets and writers Sa prosa ampon king bersu Kabilang la among the best Keti mabilug a yatu. Damutan ye ing tula ku Na hakin pung pemansagan Mahalin at palabungin Ang Hamanung Kapampangan Noong araw. Bear with my poem which I entitled Love and cultivate the Kapampangan Language In the past. if not superstition. namely.English literacy: Consuming the Kapampangan oral antecedent numbers to be derived from their dreams but also for points to be marked in speculating the future. Conscious of his social matrix. his strategic employment of mimicry also suggests his predisposed agonism. Moreover. The highlighted stylistic expression of the poem within a poem. His deviant language becomes a functional form as it incarnates the very language it refers to which is undergoing deviation. And writers of verse and prose belonged to the best among the writers in the whole world) The code mixing employed though appearing funny is well understood within the Kapampangan community since it is aware of the phenomenal reality of verbal discordances usurping its language. it was said that Kapampangan was One of the sweetest languages. He provides mimicry of verbal patterns of rhetorical hugger-mugger to reveal amusingly the absurdity of the self-inflicting transformation and dissipation of his language. ironically written in its pidgin-like or mutant form. adding it to words with vowel sounds or deleting it from words requiring an “h” sound. Put in a total perspective. Possessing his grandfather’s poetic talent. he willingly recited a number. (Very many thanks For your applause I greet you all a Good Evening. that the poet-addresser who is himself part of the list of writers he proudly presents and begets an illusion of a nightmare. Another thrust of the poem is a litany-like enumeration of the different writers and poets from the various towns of Pampanga: The catalogue is an exhibit by itself of the literary glory of the province.

more so. is now verging on extinction. was integral to their folk literature. consequently. the pristine Kapampangan consciousness inevitably yielded in to modern and “literate” reconstruction and would depart from the oral culture. he assumes that Kapampangan literature may be destined to simply become an object of his nostalgia. Apparently. The private reading world would shatter the unity of the participatory audience and called for poems and other forms of verbal art that would nest thoughts in printed texts.English literacy: Consuming the Kapampangan oral antecedent they vanish. they could not but be alienated from the present cultural order. a new formula that was incongruous with what the verbal artists practiced. began to lose its flavor. In response to changing requirements for survival and success. in the final analysis. Orality. The consequences of this transformation were far-reaching. With the dawning of literacy. to be contrasted with orality which promotes spontaneity. With the advent of high technology during the American era. the language they sucked. as Gallardo prophesied. For one thing. the obvious reason is the failure of the Kapampangan writers to cope with the dominant language and. He argued that. English literacy: Consuming the Kapampangan oral antecedent It may be reiterated that during the pre-American period. The cognitive challenge of abandoning their tradition was not welcomed by the Kapampangan verbal artists. Kapampangan. As mentioned. Written texts would increase conscious control and could achieve self-contained and tightly-structured compositions. The case of the Kapampangan writers illustrates the effects of the overwhelming impact of the adoption of English literacy. They have been too overpowered to resist cultural disintegration that. the natives’ language and literature began to be threatened. But the expected development of Kapampangan literature was superseded by the sophisticated plan of Western literacy. for readers. the literacy imposed by the American masters was generally accepted because the “new forms of social interaction” would make life convenient for them. literacy established a climate of analytic literary creations. Relative to this point. Moreover. the communal world of oral culture was suddenly replaced by the distanced. The loss of contact between the writers and their usual audience as a result of the shift from the “oral” culture to the “literate” culture also created a vacuum. Street’s ideas (1984) are worth mentioning. individualistic and personalistic consciousness of the “literate” culture. the Kapampangan writers were confronted with the problem of adjustment: That a printed text was not only for listeners but. The Western-driven pursuit was in effect a “politics of disappearance”. “since the introduction of literacy is generally accompanied by new forms of social organization. the oral culture of the Kapampangans was well-nurtured by their value system and the inherent vitality of their language. differences in cognitive processes may not be due to literacy itself but rather to the new forms of social interaction that arise to foster literacy” (1996). English literacy certainly rendered orality obsolete. Little or no attention was paid to the changes that were expected to occur. and their literature. The evolutionary potential of the latter could have been realized had it not been for the radical departure that the colonial power created. Their expression of their ethos and worldview as constituent individuals of a particular habitat and culture has been stunted. First. the natives would have to accept the impersonal and mechanistic forces of the West. writing opened up the increasing interiorization of thought and effected distancing. with the world of print signifying a Western bias. 65 . With the imposition of the English language. 4. which is the very nature of their language. In the case of the Kapampangans.

Santos. This awareness is agony for persons rooted in primary orality. E. & N. Such paradoxical concept of dying in the oral world to be born into the new world of literacy has not been fully grasped or probably accepted by the Kapampangan writers. It may be conjectured that the futility of dealing with the orality issue springs from the fact that verbal artists were not given the opportunity to undergo the process of transition. Francisco. the Western “disappearing” developmental paradigm left no alternatives to the Kapampangan writers. 15) inference regarding the orality-literacy interaction is quite significant: There is hardly an oral culture or a predominantly oral culture left in the world today that is not somehow aware of the vast complex of powers forever inaccessible without literacy.). Conclusion To conclude. Palmer. Sociolinguistics and language teaching. Even at this point. but. Manlapaz. neither are they able to develop their own contemporary literature according to the Western standard. R. (1996). Kapampangan literature: A historical survey and anthology. 5.English literacy: Consuming the Kapampangan oral antecedent And the shift from orality to literacy to this date is still being resisted by contemporary Kapampangan writers: They are still focused on the times of yore. Hornberger. Kapampangan writers still seek refuge in the paradisal memory of their culture. in the process. As previously cited. They are unable or unwilling to reconcile new and old. S. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Literacy and literacies. Kapampangan writing: A selected compendium and critique. New York: Methuen Co. what is achieved is a scathed image. (Eds. (1975). (Edited by Amanda and Jennifer) 66 . The fact that strong nations are motivated primarily by utilitarian concerns resulting in possible loss of important heritage has been demonstrated. As they straddle two worlds. therefore. A kind of cultural castration happened such that literary production practically ceased after World War II. Ong. Steiner. (1984). Because of the fact that they have to undergo an evolutionary process and accept the restructuring of consciousness through writing and print. It is rather unfortunate that. p. E. Lacson. (1982). Quezon City: Tala Publishing Co. After Babel: Aspects of language and translation. References: Constantino. Rosal & A. J. S. The clear dichotomy persists and they refuse to modernize. Literacy takes its natural course and. In: McKay. Some notes on folklore and social criticism. Orality and literacy. the death knell of Kapampangan literature is about to be heard. (Eds. Since they are unable to achieve a new cultural synthesis. G. Manila: National Historical Institute. Toward a theory of cultural linguistics. they are left suspended in the memory of their literary past. (1984). Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press. (1975). McKay. or to move from a traditional to a modern way of approaching their culture so that their indigenous knowledge could be a focal point for the maintenance of cultural pride and integrity. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. A one-dimensional system was involved in the conquest made: To recreate the conquered people in the image of the colonizer. In: M. (1981).). UK: Cambridge University Press. Philippine Humanities Review. G. Austin: University of Texas Press. It is also sad to note that the distressing fate of Kapampangan language and literature is attributed to the history of asymmetrical relations. (1996). a reductive pressure is exerted upon their literature in general. Walter Ong’s (1982. The Philippines: A past revisited. Ltd. past and present. a thorough breakdown of indigenous socio-cultural systems would work in favor of such recreation. W. at the same time they cannot deny their apprehension and anxiety about the fate of their own language and literature. who want literacy passionately but who also know very well that moving into the exciting world of literacy means leaving behind much that is exciting and deeply loved in the earlier world.