Thursday, October 30, 2008

SUBANO, an endangered language

The Zamboanga Peninsula is a piece of land almost detached from mainland Mindanao like a tail of an unknown headless animal heading for the Pacific. The isthmus between Panguil Bay that separate Lanao del Norte from Misamis Occidental and Illana Bay that separates Lanao del Sur from Zamboanga del Sur is what connects the Zamboanga Peninsula from the rest of Mindanao island.

The original inhabitants of this piece of land are Subanons. They are all over the peninsula from the western end of Zamboanga to the entire province of Misamis Occidental. They own the land without possessing documents to prove ownership. They lived nomadic life clearing vegetations to grow their crops moving from one area to another when the land becomes less fertile after a few cropping. When settlers from the rest of the islands of the Philpppines came to the peninsula, they moved to the mountains where the new settlers are least interested. They remained there until today.

The language they speak are distinct from the Subanos of Misamis Occidental and the Subanos of Katipunan, Polanco, Pinan, Sergio Osmena, Josefina, Domingag, Suminot, Midsalip, Bayog, Leon Postigo, Siayan, Roxas, Manukan, Jose Dalman, Sindangan area. Their language is also different in the areas from Salug, Godod, Buug, Diplahan, Imelda, Siay, Naga, Kabasalan, Titay, Tungawan, Liloy, Labason, Gutalac, Baliguian, Siocon, Siraway, Sibuco, the barangays around Zamboanga City. Still their language is different in the Dumalinao, Lakewood, San Pablo, Guipos areas down to Margosatubig, Vincenzo Sagun. It is a lanuage difficult to learn unless learners are exposed twenty four hours a day for six months to a year to the language. Some Subano words are difficult to pronounce; some words are spelled easily but pronounced differently which makes the language difficult to learn. No published rules on how to pronounce and spell their words. Neither published rules on how their verbs are conjugated and on how their nouns changes from singular to plural. The only way to learn to speak write and read their language is to live to with them. And while their language is different, there are some words they share with some major languages in the Philippines. Niyog which means coconut in Tagalog, Tausog, Ilocano. and other Filipino languages, also means coconut to the Subanos. Patay which in Pilipino means dead is MYATAY in Subano. And in some pronunciations, the pronunciation of IW like magiliw, a word in the Philippine national anthem, the Subanos pronounce as MAGILIO, the way Tagalog speaking people in Liliw, Laguna, would pronounce the name of their town as LILIO. When a Subano sings the first line of the Philippine national anthem he'll say "bayang magilio." Although not exactly the same, in Bicol a language spoken in the provinces of Camarines Sur and Norte, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and most of the northern part of Masbate, SIRA means fish. In Subano, the word for fish is SARA

Until the early 1950s, the Subanos remained in their mountain homes rarely having contact with the settlers in the lowland except when they came down to sell orchids, forest ferns, baskets and return to their mountain homes with salt, salt-preserved fish. soap, kerosene, matches and other necessities they want to enjoy from time to time. They come down to the lowlands through foot trails carrying their wares on their shoulders and heads.

With the advent of heavy equipments, the foot trails were widened into mountain roads. The lowland influence then became easy to creep into their way life and into their language. By the late 70s and early 80s, Subano children began to feel ashame to use their language in conversations among themselves especially when there are non-Subanos listening. The death of the language officially began when the last of older generation of Subanos that speak no other language but their own were all gone. The younger generations of Subanos who have acquired both the lowland language from their lowland peers and the Subano language from their parents do not speak the Subano language anymore to their children cutting off the passage of the language to the next generation of Subanos.

Within the next 40 or 50 years the Subano language, will be, not just dead but extinct. By then Subano will be a language nobody neither speaks nor understands

Some conversational Subano

Piag andaw - Good morning
Piag sises'lum - Good afternoon (between 9am and 2pm)
Piag delabong - Good afternoon (after 2pm and before 6pm)
Piag gabi - Good evening
Ta' don - I don't know
Da' masunay - I don't understand
Ta' pagaw? - Where are you going?
Ta' ma pangay? - Where you been?
Santa' me'n? - How much?
Gataw Buwid - Mountain man
Myatay na 'leh - Already dead
Muli na sug balay - I'm going home now
Malo gusay - Always have sex
Muli na sug buwid - I'm going to the mountain now

Subano Basic Vocabulary

buwid - mountain
dupi - rain
geto - dog
b'ring - cat
lusi - penis
ba'a - vagina
gataw - man
libon - girl
mamag - betel
bunga - areca
gapoy - fire
gandaw - day
gabi - night
sises'lum - afternoon
suba - river
sara - fish
saraan - viand
palay - rice
timuay - tribe head

Subano Garay 1

Nanowa ma magunsawa naowg
Bos na saa naugulang nga na
Pigunlaan mo gupiya i'g gubalol naowg
Anon nalang gumang i'g gumbal buntod

When are you getting married girl
Will you wait until you're old
Don't waste your cunt
As food to hermit crabs

Subano Garay 2

Si yaya Maria
Detub suba neglaya

Old mary
Castnets in the river

1 comment:

Dell Maxim said...

this is a good post~ and the only one i've found in the internet so far.
My mum is partly subano, and came from the area of misamis occidental- but i've never saw she pratice cultures of a subano.from your post i can feel that the subano is really an endangered culture.

quite sometimes, i also can feel mild racisms towards subano in the phillipines. dunno why..but i hope you can explain in the next post in the future.
I'm half Malaysian and half pinoy. But i'm proud of myself; whoever am i.