Ilocano writers condemn KWF's 'faulty' orthography

By Reynaldo Andres

October 29 2018, 9:48 am Updated on November 29, 2023, 10:59 pm

LAOAG CITY – Members of the established Ilocano writers’ group in the country and abroad have expressed resistance to the Ilocano orthography issued by the Commission sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) and called for the resignation of KWF’s Ilocano commissioner, Purificacion Delima, and chairman Virgilio Almario.

In a press conference held on Sunday at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) Graduate School in this city, the Gunglo Dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano iti Filipinas (Ilocano Writers’ Association in the Philippines), or simply GUMIL Filipinas, said it joins various organizations and individuals who are stakeholders of the Ilocano language in taking a firm stand against the Tagalog-based Ortograpiya ti Pagsasao nga Ilokano of the KWF which it launched last October 18 at the regional office of the Department of Education (DepEd) in La Union. 

Cagayan Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Vilmer V. Viloria, who is concurrently GUMIL Filipinas president, said that “while we support the initiative of the KWF to develop the national language, we take exception to the move of Chairman Virgilio Almario to compel a regional language to use the standards set by the Ortograpiyang Pambansa, disregarding in effect its existing and popular system of writing.” 

In 2012, the KWF has already formally standardized the Ilocano language with the publication and distribution of the Tarabay iti Ortograpia ti Pagsasao nga Ilokano (Guide to the Orthography of the Ilocano Language). The Tarabay was formulated by the KWF after proper consultation with language experts, writers, editors of various Ilocano newspapers and magazines, and teachers, following the standards used in Ilocano dictionaries, weekly magazines and other publications, translation of the Bible, and other Ilocano form as taught in state universities in the Philippines and abroad that offer courses in the Ilocano language. 

However, when Almario assumed chairmanship of the KWF, he disregarded the 2012 Ilocano orthography and, through Delima, the KWF formulated a “malicious” and “bastardized” version of the Ilocano writing guidelines by commissioning people with no experience in writing Ilocano.

Viloria said none of the reported writers of the revised orthography are educators or writers knowledgeable of the Ilocano writing system, nor have they written a decent Ilocano article published in magazines and newspapers of general circulation.

“Even Delima herself who invited the non-experts to prepare the draft of the revised orthography has not attained professional level of its command of the Ilocano language and linguistics,” Viloria stressed. 

“We are informed that KWF only consulted with teachers and some DepEd officials in Ilocano-speaking provinces, because they are the target users of the revised KWF orthography in the teaching of Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE),” Viloria said. 

“However, forcing the children the “Tagalized” version of Ilocano words in the classrooms only gives them spelling rules different from what substantial number of speakers who are already acquainted with the existing printed materials that uses the long-established orthography, thus, sowing confusion in using the language,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili, professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who teaches Ilocano language courses, also expressed condemnation against the revised orthography written by Delima saying that such “garbage” is a product of a mindless and authoritarian imposition of her own brand of Ilocano guidelines in writing Ilocano. 

Agcaoili said that in various forums that KWF conducted since 2014, he and the 400-strong members of GUMIL Filipinas in the country and abroad have already opposed the revised Ilocano orthography because it is not scientific and educationally sound, not respectful of the diachronic form of the language, and is not the result of proper consultation among all stakeholders. 

“We have already this productive 2012 Ilocano orthography that various academic and private institutions are using,” Agcaoili said, adding that the revised version of Delima is not respectful “of the history of the language and that this insistent act and incompetence of the KWF is a case of betrayal of its mandate to respect regional languages in the country.”

As of press time, Delima has not issued an explanation about the issue. She promised to attend the press conference on Sunday but did not appear for still unknown reasons. (PNA)