30 April 2009

Ilocano writers

The most internationally visible of Filipino writers writing in a vernacular language are those writing in Ilokano (variously called Iluko or Ilocano). Representative websites are Bilingual Pen, which hosts a number of major Ilocano writers in English and Ilokano, and Dadapilan, which has news items of interest to Ilocano writers. Unless I am mistaken, the very first website (now no longer existing?) focusing on Philippine literature was that of GUMIL, an international organization of Ilocano writers.

One of the followers of my blog is Ilocano and has his own blog. I once translated an Ilokano poem (by 19th century writer Leona Florentino), using a dictionary and an Ilocano informant, but otherwise, my knowledge of Ilokano is zilch. If I were given another lifetime, I would certainly learn it, since it is the language of many Filipinos living abroad, particularly in Hawaii.

Every time I am asked to be a nominator for the Philippine National Artist award, I nominate Juan S. P. Hidalgo Jr., who writes in Ilokano. Unfortunately, he never makes it, for the simple reason that the judges (who usually are English or Tagalog-dominant) cannot read Ilokano and, therefore, cannot say if his writing is of high quality or not. I know his writing is excellent, because I have asked quite a number of people who read Ilokano and they all say he's one of the best, if not the best, of living Ilocano writers.

1 comment:

  1. Juan Hidalgo, Jr. would be a worthy nominee for National Artist. His recent inclusion as an NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts)awardee in Literature is a recognition of what he has achieved as an artist from the Ilocos region.

    I am sure the National Artist Award secretariat could find a way by which all the regional artists could be evaluated for inclusion in the list of nominees, and judged according to their achievement.

    The National Artist Award in Literature is certainly not only for those writers who write in the English Language. That would be an anomaly.