It may take some time, but hopefully no longer than several modules and academic calendars, before we see whether teacher-participants in the recently concluded GUMIL Filipinas webinar this month had imparted for the Ilokano-speaking the ABCs of Ilokano orthography.
At the same time, there is hope as well that writers – aspiring and professional in the different genres – had picked up marbles for models of alphabetic literacy acquisition, the first grade in learning of alphabetic orthographies.
We need not over-emphasize the issue that Mother Tongue Based-Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) policy in the country, which has at least 13 regions with languages as major as Tagalog of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, involves implementation of local mother tongues as the language of instruction in Kindergarten to year Grade 3, with the official languages (Filipino and English) being introduced as the language of instruction after grade three.
Our friends from the Tagalog-speaking regions will take note that the official language is not Tagalog but Filipino, although many still cling to the sentiment that Tagalog is the same as Filipino – an insult to the other regional languages like Bisaya, Waray, Ilonggo, Pampango, Bikolnon, Pangasinense, Maguindanaon, and Ilokano.
We have seen modules distributed by the central office of the Department of Education to public school teachers in the Ilocos Region, the modules filled with inclusions of Tagalog items and songs some northerners think are not helpful at all in teaching the young of the area to be proud of their culture.
There is a persuasive argument and observation that other modules sent to other regions had a heavy load of Tagalog “gems” of the culture of Metro Manila and the nearby Tagalog-speaking provinces.
For instance, why teach the Ilokanos the epic Florante at Laura when they have their own Lam-ang?
Or why teach Tagalog love songs and lullabies to the Ilokano children when they have their own “Diro Ni Ayat” or even “Ti Ayat Ti Maysa Nga Ubing” or the Cebuano children popular Tagalog songs when they have their own “Matud Nila” or even “Usahay”?
And the problem is aggravated when the uncomplaining public school teachers could not even make suggestions, out of fear they might be marked by the central office, which previously earned valid criticisms due to grammar lapses and other errors in the modules during a test broadcast run in October.
It only showed and it shows the condescending attitude of some that anything Tagalog must be considered exemplar, kind of a model, for the other regions that want erased from the culture map of this multi-ethnic, multi-lingual nation of at least 110 million people.
If the public school teachers who participated in the GUMIL webinar would not be able to impart properly and effectively the learning they got from Rambaud et al, then the webinar was a waste of time.
The same holds true in the case of aspiring writers, including, sadly, some professional writers, who have their own bordered orthographies, the checkered threads of winning in some literary contests despite.
Until such time that there is a unified orthography for one language – and this must be true as well for other regions – then orthography, whoever would be pushing it, would be a failure.
And we are not talking here of one orthography where the Tagalogs’ imperialistic proclivities would be allowed to gobble up the other existing orthographies of other regions, making the latter disappear into the sunset of such hegemonic predisposition.
Only time, really, can tell how successful the GUMIL webinar on orthograohy had been, and what major inroads it had paved for Ilokano children and their teachers and for writers who continue to write about their dreams and observations in a world confronted by climate change and the imbalance in the flow of news as well as other issues.
It will not be the fault at all of the lecturers if any success had not been notched by the participants.
As some academics have openly suggested, it is not the fault at all of the scholars working in orthography templates where cognitive psycholinguistics and research in reading acquisition has a long and competent tradition.
They say, rather persuasively, this reflects the fact that the question of orthographic differences in reading acquisition in alphabetic orthographies has been outside of the focus of research, and that the implicit assumption has been that the non-English findings are somehow less universal than the findings concerning the English orthography.
This holds true for Philippine orthographies, the different writing systems as it were, which can be classified according to the levels of linguistic information that is coded in the script.