I am an Igorot, a Filipino, an earthling. My ethnicity may have made me different, but so does yours and the others out there. Our disparities may be glaring at times, however, if we look through our heart, we will notice our commonality as human beings.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Bisarots - Mga Bisayang Igorot

I got a niece and a nephew (see inserted photo) who spent their early years in Masbate where they learned to speak the Visayan language. Fortunately, they were also taught to speak Tagalog/Pilipino while they were in the province. When they came here in Metro Manila to study, the younger boy who entered pre-school didn't bother mixing the Visayan and Tagalog languages (that's the Filipino language, isn't it?) He seem not to mind at all when he was told of the equivalent terms of his Visayan words as if he knows better. However, my niece got ridiculed by her classmates in the first grade class for her "hard" accent.

To those who are unfamiliar, some Visayans and even Igorots and Ilocanos have this problem pronuncing the Tagalog "e" as "ee" or "ea" while "i" is often mispronounced as "e". Tagalog words are spelled as they are pronounced.

One day, my niece came home from school ready to spill a bucketful of tears. She complained that some of her classmates called her Bisaya (Filipino term for Visayan) for mispronouncing some words in the class. I gently told her that she is indeed a Visayan for her father is Bisaya, but there's nothing wrong with that. To my astonishment, she declared that she don't want to be a Bisaya. (See how even small kids can cause others to disown their roots?)

"Bisaya ka (You are Visayan)", I insisted, "at Igorot ka rin dahil Igorota ang nanay mo (and you are also Igorot for your mother is one). In short, you are Bisarot".

I can't help but laugh when she looked at me in utter disbelief as if I just sentenced her to death.

"Pero lagi naman nilang niloloko mga Bisaya at Igorot (But they always ridicule Visayans and Igorots", she complained.

"Ignorante kasi iyong mga nanloloko sa kanila (Those who are ridiculing them are ignorant)", I explained. "Ang kagandahan nga nito, pag Bisaya ka at Igorot pa, mas marami kang alam na salita kesa sa iba (The advantage of being a Visayan and Igorot at the same time, you know more languages than the others). Kagaya ko (Just like me)", I candidly added, "nakakaintindi at nakakapagasalita ako ng salita ng mga Bisaya at Igorot kaya naibebenta ko iyong ibang tao na di nila alam (I understand and can speak some Visayan and Igorot languages and I can sell other people without them knowing it)".

She and her brother who was listening intently to our conversation laughed at my last line.

Somehow our talk enlightened my neice and nephew. When they later transferred to La Union, they told their cousins that they are Bisarots - Bisayang Igorots. And right now, though they dominantly use Filipino, they can still speak Masbate-Visaya, they can do straight Ilocano sentences (the major language in La Union) and their cousins started teaching them Kankanaey (one of the Igorot languages).


shykulasa said...

i envy your nieces, imagine they can speak visaya, ilokano and kankanaey! they should be proud :)