As fate would have it (or is it destiny?), that high school’s best bet in oratorical competitions, now a freshman in the university where I teach, became one of my debaters. He is a prized find. Very diligent. Eager to learn. Fun. Charming. And respectful.
Recently, ehem, we emerged as champion in a debate tournament with Ilocano as the main medium.
And guess who was hailed as best debater?
More than the trophy and prize, and the bragging rights that go with it, I am happy that a student, previously barred from speaking his mother tongue on campus, could shine and show the world that wisdom is no monopoly of any language. And that Ilocano could, and, in fact, should, be used for intellectual endeavors.
Congratulations, John Marvin Galat aka Jamjam. We–I, your kuyas and ate in the MMSU Debate Society–are proud of you.
Agbiag ni Ilocano! Narambak a baro a tawentayo, kakabsat.
Unlike last year’s inaugural list dominated by politicians, this year’s is a more interesting mix of personas who have made a significant dent in their respective spheres of influence. The youngest is 21 while the most senior, actually the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award which we are introducing this year, is seventy something. Among the Top Ten, there are more male awardees, 8. Nine are based in Ilocos while one is a US migrant.
As chair of the selection committee, let me invite you to meet the Top 10 Ilocanos for 2013 picked by the Editorial Board of The Ilocos Times, the oldest and most read newspaper in the North.
Thank you for accepting the noble task of sitting as judges in the Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals. You were, of course, chosen on account of your sterling credentials and unquestioned integrity.
I argue that no singular activity has raised awareness of and pride in Ilocano greatness more than the two-year old Tan-ok. With tens of thousands of people watching it live and many more witnessing it on television and online, it is no doubt the most witnessed event in Ilocos Norte history.
It is a wonderful activity worth every centavo (or million) spent for it, and Governor Imee Marcos is right to push for this showdown of the respective festivals of every Ilocos Norte town and city. Its return of investment cannot be quantified; in fact, it is priceless. The greatness of the performances on stage permeates the consciousness of our people, who in turn reflect and multiply greatness in their respective spheres of influence.
I have one concern though, and this is on truthfulness. Some groups have won in previous years because the performances were really artistic and entertaining though lacking in authenticity while some authentic festivals lost mainly because they were dull and unexciting.
Ilocos Norte Tourism Officer and Tan-ok organizing committee head Ianree Raquel wrote an article for The Ilocos Times when he was still an arts instructor in a state university. It was aptly titled “Awe inspiring but untruthful.” During a municipal fiesta, he witnessed a festival performance which, he observed, gave primacy to entertainment over truthfulness, artistic license over cultural integrity. His essay, excerpts of which follow, details the same words I wish to convey. Continue reading “AN OPEN LETTER TO THE TAN-OK NI ILOCANO JUDGES”