Tag Archives: Philippines

Naylor’s Argument That Tagalog Lacks A Subject

The most persuasive and clearest argument I’ve found for the claim that Tagalog lacks a subject is Paz Buenaventura Naylor’s in her contribution to SUBJECT, VOICE AND ERGATIVITY (ed. Bennett, Bynon, Hewitt).  The majority so far of the posts in this blog have been attempts to wrap my head around this argument and to state the argument in my own words; I am placing this set of arguments in the category ‘Wrapping My Mind Around The Argument That Tagalog Lacks A Subject.’ In trying to gain a maximal grasp on this argument, I’ve learned a tiny bit of linguistics; but any illusion I may have produced (not likely anyway) of having any authoritative voice at all on the subject is just that, an illusion.  I am writing to learn, not to force-feed the world from my <this is meant ironically>vast store of knowledge</this is meant ironically>.

What follows is Naylor’s argument in a nutshell.  Further posts will be going into the details and articulating some disagreements.  I reserve the right to go back to her article and find out I have horribly misrepresented her position.

1)  A verb is a relation whose relata are (in the case of 2-place relations) subject and direct object and (in the case of 3-place relations) subject, direct object, and indirect object.  Conversely, a subject and object (direct and indirect) are always relata in a verb.

2)  Tagalog doesn’t have verbs.  What look like verbs are really something else:  They are names of actions rather than syntactical verbs.  We know that Tagalog doesn’t have verbs because ‘ng‘ is always a genitive.

3)  Since Tagalog doesn’t have verbs, and since subjects and objects are relata of those relations that are verbs, Tagalog does not have subjects.  (Neither does it have objects, direct or indirect.)

4)  This should be enough to show that Tagalog does not have a subject, but one can’t resist pounding in an additional nail in the coffin by pointing out the claims about syntax made by linguists such as Paul Kroeger are just wrong.

Many of my further posts in the blog will be elaborations on and criticisms of the above outline of an argument.

 

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ISANG BALUTANG PANSIT

The following is my translation of Edgardo Reyes’ short story Isang Balutang Pansit.  The version that I am using is available here; the version to be found in his anthology of short stories, Sa Aking Panahon, differs quite a bit from this one.  

Warning:  My Tagalog is shaky.  Where I wonder if some other phrasing might better express the author’s intention than what, to my definitely non-expert eyes looks like the literal translation, I put that inside square brackets.  I tend to be a bit literal in my translation of naman (principle meaning:  in turn; subsidiary meanings:  also, too, really, namely) because I haven’t yet lost my fascination with that word and the heavy use of it made in Tagalog.  My translation sometimes has a slight bias towards the literal, but sometimes veers slightly away from the original when I think the impact will be greater in English.  I’ve often kept the original interjections as a way of showing this is a very different setting.


A PACKAGE OF NOODLES

Imo tugged at the right pocket of his rather dirty pants.  He felt the only wealth he had during those moments:  a twenty-cent piece of silver that he had just  begged from a driver of a jeep whom he knew.  Hopefully 20 cents, thought Imo.  [I was lucky to get 20 cents, thought Imo.]

From his position at the door of a small and dirty restaurant he looked inside.  His vision, clouded like smoke, was nailed to a glaring sign there:  Noodle Special — 40 cents.

For a long time Imo stared at the packages of noodles stacked on top of one another inside some glass shelves.  How many times he swallowed semi-consciously.  The pain in his stomach became more severe.  How many days ago was it that he had tasted rice?  He could not remember.  Usually what he ate was cheap and dry bread.

Imo strolled through the door of the restaurant.  Just maybe one of the regulars there would be someone he knew who could give him the additional amount needed to enable him to buy one package of noodles.

By and by, he was surprised when a boy entering the restaurant at a run accidentally brushed against him.

“Hey!” exclaimed Imo.  But the boy, continuing inside at a run, paid no attention to him.  The Chinese proprietor  of the restaurant approached the boy.

“I would like to buy some noodles, e” said the boy in a tone of voice that was chock-full of pleading.  “But I have only 20 cents.”  And he showed the Chinese man the coin in his hand.  “Just cut one package of noodles in  half.”

“One package of noodles is 40 cents,” said the Chinese man with a thick accent.

“Isn’t twenty one half, e?” said the boy.

“We don’t do halves,” said the Chinese man with his thick accent.  And the man turned to face his other customers.

The boy’s body was dirty.  There were many blackened holes in the t-shirt he was wearing.  His hair was shaggy and probably had not been cut for some months.  He was probably about ten years old.

Imo smiled faintly as he watched the boy.  They both had the same problem, he thought to himself.  But his smile vanished at once when a little idea flashed in his mind.  He looked at the boy again, who in turn was now facing the Chinese man.

“Come on, please,” said the boy with a terrible sadness in his voice.  “Sell to me, o.”

“I’ve already said we don’t sell halves,” said the Chinese man irritably.

Imo hissed at the boy to grab his attention.  When the boy looked at him Imo beckoned to him.  The boy approached.

Imo put his arms around the boy’s shoulders.  They went outside a ways in order to not be visible from inside the restaurant.

“I would also like to buy some noodles, but I am lacking the money,” he said.  I also have only 20 cents…”

The boy stared squarely at Imo rapidly blinking his eyes.  Imo could read from his gaze the meaning:  “You are virtually a grown-up, yet you have only 20 cents!”  Imo laughed.  Instantly, the reason why he was in such a circumstance pressed its way into his mind.  It was because he was set firmly on the only dream of his life.  He wanted to become a writer.  He had written many stories already but not one had yet been published.  His parents were angry at him because they thought he should be turning his face to other work.  They said such profitless things were only a waste of time.  And in order to avoid the reproaches of his parents, he ran away from them.  He lived by himself now.  His friends were  his only aid.

“We’ll gamble, we’ll play a game of chance, if you like,” said Imo.  The loser….that’s just tough…he’ll just have to bear it … [play me a violin]….”

“What game of chance?” the boy cut in rather brusquely.

“If  my 20 cents go to you, you will then buy some noodles,” said Imo.  “If on the other hand your 20 cents go to me, I then will be the buyer.  Now, we’ll play kara-krus.  I throw.  Should both our coins turn up heads, your 20 cents are mine.  Should both coins turn up tails, my 20 cents go to you.  If one coin turns up tails and one heads, the contest will be a draw.  You will then throw.

The boy gaped.  He looked up, seeming to ponder.  For a long time he stayed in that form.

“Well, do you agree?” Imo asked.  “No cheating.”

“All right,” agreed the boy after some moments  had passed.

Imo squatted.  The boy also squatted.  They faced one another.

“To me and mine the first throw,” said Imo.

For a while, the boy hesitated.  Then he handed over his 20-cent silver piece.

“No cheating, ha?” said the boy.

“None,” said Imo.

Imo placed the 20-cent silver pieces one on top of the other.  He looked up pretending to throw.  When the boy’s gaze followed, by the quickness of his fingers [by sleight of hand] he threw both pieces heads facing up.  As a matter of fact, the pieces fell heavily like cement.  But I have the advantage, Imo thought to himself.

The two pieces of silver clinked:  both were heads!  But the boy picked up the one 20-cent piece.

“You cheated me, e,” said the boy.  “You threw both coins heads up.  I saw it when you switched their sides down below.  I don’t like that.”

Imo smiled.  This boy is cunning, he thought to himself.  He rejects the throw when it turned up both heads.  But had it turned up both tails, he would have ignored the cheating!  No, he would not have contested it!

“I didn’t in fact cheat, ” said Imo.  It’s your turn to throw, if you want.  You have both heads now.”

The boy agreed.  He threw in turn.  The one coin kept flipping over from side to side, then proceeded to stop:  tails.  But the other coin was still wheeling towards the feet of the boy.  He quickly withdrew his feet in order to avoid touching the coin’s wheeling roll.  It dropped to the bottom of the gutter and disappeared from their view.  The boy picked it up and showed it to him:  heads!

Imo didn’t say anything.  Now the boy in his turn was the cheater.  Imo clearly saw the coin facing heads-down in the hand of the boy when he picked it up.  But when the boy showed him the coin it was facing heads-up.

“Draw!” said the boy.

“Oh okay, draw,” said Imo.  “I have the next throw.”

“I don’t like it if it’s you,” said the boy.  “Me again.”

“You cheated, if truth be told,” said Imo irritably.

“You were the one who was cheating first there, eh,” said the boy.

“Okay, you throw again,” said Imo.  “But no cheating now, ha?”

The boy didn’t reply.  He tossed the two 20-cent silver coins into the air.  They bounced on the ground a bit then finally stopped.  Both tails!

“There, it’s clear now, ha?”  Imo said laughingly.  You lost.  There is nothing you can say.  The throw was  yours.

The boy was silent.  He gaped at the silver coins in the palm of his hand like an idiot.  He looked as if he wanted to cry.  But the boy stayed silent.

Before standing up Imo first touched the shoulders of the boy.  “You had the misfortune of losing,” he said.  “Better luck next time, ha?”

The boy didn’t move or say anything.  Imo saw him rubbing his eyes.

Imo shrugged his shoulders.  He left the boy, and proceeded to go inside the restaurant.  He bought a package of noodles, then went outside to go home to the hut he had erected in the squatters’ neighborhood.

It was only a few steps away from the restaurant when it occurred to Imo to look back.  The boy was still looking up from the place where he was squatting.  He was looking at Imo, gaping.

Imo turned around to go.  The boy was to his right.  To his left in turn was the street heading towards his home.

Imo whistled while he walked. He moved his head from side to side.  Darkness started to spread.  Bright lights were shining in the buildings lined up on both sides of the street.  There was a scattering of people walking on the sidewalk.

Finally, his stomach would experience having enough, Imo thought.  For a long time, he had not been able to eat any noodles cooked in that restaurant.

Imo was turning into the narrow alley leading to the addresses of the squatters when he was caught by surprise.  All of a sudden, the package of noodles he was holding was snatched from him.  Immediately, he turned around to look.  He say the boy whom he had defeated earlier in kara-krus running at top speed like a demon.  He was carrying the package of noodles!  Imo chased after the boy.

The chase lasted for a long time.  Through how many streets they swerved.  The boy got further and further away from him.  Imo could not make himself run fast enough even to keep up with the boy’s run.  He was embarrassing himself in the eyes of the people who saw them.

He saw the boy swerve left around a corner of a tall building.  Imo was still following him.  But when he in turn swerved left, he found himself completely baffled.  The streets were clean there.  Nor was anyone walking around.  But there wasn’t any boy either!

Half-consciously, Imo scratched his neck.  He looked around.  He searched for where the boy may have swerved, or where he may have hidden himself.  He saw in turn nothing.  The street did branch off into several paths a little way ahead.  But before the boy could have arrived there, Imo would have seen  him first.

Just as he was about to leave, Imo saw a large wagon stopped by the side of some garbage containers that in turn were not far from him.  Maybe the boy is inside the wagon, Imo thought to himself.

Imo quietly approached the wagon.  But after taking just a few steps, he stopped.  The neck of the boy was visible.  He was in the wagon.  But he was talking with someone.

“You, boy…you, boy..[itoy…itoy].” said the boy.  “Wake up.  Here are some noodles, e…you said that you wanted something to eat.  Wake up now.  You will get better when you eat these.  Boy!  Boy!  These are the noodles I bought for you.  You were just hungry that’s why you got sick.  This will heal you; you’ll be as good as new.  Wake up now.  Wake…” and the boy stopped.  “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the boy cried.  He proceeded to weep forcefully.

Imo approached.  He saw the boy hugging another large boy who was lying inside the wagon in the midst of some dirty paper, iron, cans and what he made out to be some agricultural implements of some kind.  The boy lying there was almost nothing but skin and bones.  He was probably only 5 years old.  His hands were stretched out as if they were dried-out wooden branches.  He didn’t move.  His eyes were closed.

“D…dead…my brother is dead!” cried the boy sobbingly.  You, boy!”  And he again wept.  The package of noodles fell from his hand, landing on a rusty gas can.

Imo felt as if his breath did not want to pass through his throat.  Completely empty inside, he bent over into the inside of the wagon to reach for the package of noodles, and picked them up.  Trying to hide his feelings, he tightened his fist without his knowing it.  The flesh of the noodles squeezed out through the spaces of his fingers.

 

UPDATE:  01/01/2014:  Added link to the original Tagalog story.

UPDATE:  01/08/2012:  corrected some typos, attempted a better translation of some words.


Nagmahal Ako Ng Bakla

Nagmahal Ako Ng Bakla. In a nutshell, the rapper protagonist tells his ex-girlfriend:  ‘You dumped me…sniff sniff sob…besides you never did treat me right … sob…sniff sob sniff… so I am dating a gay guy instead. Gay guys are everywhere, after all.’ The writer of the song, Daniel Darz of the group Dagtang Lason, based the story on the experience of a friend of his.

Openly gay people are everywhere in the Philippines. The amateur anthropologist in me wants to attribute this to the survival of American-Indian-like attitudes towards gay people in the indigenous population that the Spanish were never quite able to stamp out, but of course I have no idea if that is true. Whatever the cause, one apparently can be openly gay in the Philippines without fearing violence; town mayors will sponsor gay beauty contests; at least some families in the slums are wonderfully supportive of their effeminate children (see Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros — The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros); there is a beauty parlor operated by openly gay people in every town; whatever misogynistic-inspired disapproval arising from men insecure in their macho-hood gets met with delightfully flamboyant fearless mocking defiance (see Markova); relentless swarms hit on one when he is at all gwapo.  ( Although I do have to admit that when I visited to the Philippines, I did not experience the constant, open, relentless not-seeming-to-know-what-‘no’-means propositioning that some visitors report; but that may have something to do with the fact that the taste for fat, balding middle-aged men is relatively rare.)  In spite of the tolerance, however, openly gay people in the Philippines often encounter a glass ceiling and tend to get shunted into a restricted range of professions.

Doubtlessly I am exposing my ignorance of Rap Music, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear a rapper being (relatively) supportive of gay people. From a Rap Song, I expect something more along the lines of “First I machine-gunned down 20 <<derogatory term for women>>, then I killed 5 <<derogatory term for gay people>>.”

Yes, Nagmahal Ako Ng Bakla is badly misogynistic . . . and whether the misogyny is intended ironically I have no idea. At least the ‘sniff…you never  treated me right then you dumped me…sniff sniff’ seems to invite an ironical attitude.  The line “Seriously….why do they always leave me?” seems rather vulnerable to any list of unattractive traits (“For one, have you considered picking up your socks?  For another, maybe you can stop picking your nose in public….”).  Nor is homophobia completely absent from the song. But the difference in attitude from what I expected from this genre is wonderful.

Plus the boys are cute!  (Though tastes vary.)   Plus it is nice to see straight guys (or at least guys presenting themselves as straight) not being afraid to touch one another.  The homophobic paranoia that started to suffocate relations between males in the United States after the 19th century does not seem to exist yet in Southeast Asia, and hopefully never will.  When I visited the Philippines and Vietnam, I frequently saw men walking around with their arms around one another.  Let that open warmth thrive for a long, long time.

Here are the lyrics, along with a translation.  The translation is partly mine, partly taken from a source I have lost track of.  (I will include the source here should I ever come across it again or if anyone sends it to me.)  My Tagalog is shaky, so let the reader by forewarned.


Mga tambay lang kami sawa sa babae
May mga babaeng manloloko
Pineperahan lang kami
Kaya ngayon bakla na lang ang aming iibigin
Masarap magmahal ang bakla
Ohh kay sarap… damhin.

We are just lay-abouts who are sick of women
There are women who betray us
For them, we are just ATM machines
So now it’s just a gay man who gets our love
Sweet is a gay man’s love
Oh how good …. feel it!


Simula’t sapul ang puso ko ay lagi nang sugatan
Sineseryoso ko bakit ako ang iniwanan
Kaya ngayon nagising na ko sa
Katotohanan na lolokohin lang kami
Ng mga kababaihan.

Starting from way back when, my heart has always been wounded
Seriously….why do they always leave me?
So now I have already woken up to
The reality that for women we are just jokes.


Kaya ngayon napagpasyahan
Na bakla ang aking iibigin
At ipapadama ko na himig na aking
Damdamin sa kanya
Oo nga! At hindi sa isang babae
Dahil ang puso ko ay kanilang sinabutahe
Para bang ako’y isang laruan.

So now I have firmly decided
That a gay man be my love
And to express to him the melody of my feelings
Yes! And not to a woman
Because my heart is where they work their sabotage
For sure I was just a toy for them.


Na kanilang tinapaktapakan pagkatapos
Pagsawaan kanilang tatalikuran
It’s so unfair kaya bakla na lang
Ang iibigin kaya ngayon pakinggan niyo
Para sa inyo itong awitin.

After getting stepped on for a long time
I will be loathed, thrown out, and abandoned
It’s so unfair….so only a gay man
Will be my love …. so now you listen
This song is for you.


Mga tambay lang kami sawa sa babae
May mga babaeng manloloko
Pineperahan lang kami
Kaya ngayon bakla na lang ang aming iibigin
Masarap magmahal ang bakla
Ohh kay sarap… damhin.

We are just lay-abouts who are sick of women
There are women who betray us
For them, we are just ATM machines
So now it’s just a gay man who gets our love
Sweet is a gay man’s love
Oh how good …. feel it!


Hinanakit sa babae ang dahilan
Kung bakit nagmahal ako ng tulad niya
Kahit siya ay pangit
At di niya pinagkait at sakin di lumapit
Kaya hanggang ngayon virgin pa ang aking pwit
At alam ko naming wala akong kahati.

Hurt from women is the reason
Why I loved such as him
Even though he is ugly
At least he did not hold back [sex] and did not hit on me [did not try to be the penetrator]
So my ass is still a virgin
And I know we won’t have issues.


Di ko siya mabubuntis
Pagkat pareho kami ng ari. Grabe!
Buong buhay niya ay sa akin binigay
Lahat-lahat kanyang inalay
Basta wag akong mawalay sa kanya
Di na kita iiwan kahit na ika’y bakla
Basta’t tiwala mo sa akin sing kinang
Ng tala at totoo.
Relasyon natin ay parang ginto
Mahal kita wag lang sana kong magkatulo.

I won’t get him pregnant
Because we both have penises. Seriously!
He has given his whole life to me
He offered everything
As long as I don’t wean myself from him
I will never leave you even though you’re gay
As long as you trust me to me you will be as bright and shing
As the stars and true
Our relationship will be like gold
I love you — just don’t give me an STD.


Mga tambay lang kami sawa sa babae
May mga babaeng manloloko
Pineperahan lang kami
Kaya ngayon bakla na lang ang aming iibigin
Masarap magmahal ang bakla
Ohh kay sarap… damhin.

We are just lay-abouts who are sick of women
There are women who betray us
For them, we are just ATM machines
So now it’s just a gay man who gets our love
Sweet is a gay man’s love
Oh how good …. feel it!


Na sulat ko ang kantang to dahil sa galit
Pagkat sa tuwing nagmamahal
Puso ko’y napupunit
Ginawa ko naman ang lahat
Sa kanya inilaan
Binigay ang nais na luho
Pati ang aking katawan.

I wrote this song all because of madness
Everytime I love
My heart is torn into a million pieces
I gave everything she wanted
And I gave her some more
I gave all that she ever desired
And my body I even offered


Pero kapalit nito ay isa palang kataksilan
At nagawa pa niya na ako’y pagtawanan
Kaya ngayon si Len Jack
Ay labis ang pag-iyak
Puso ko’y parang nasagasaan
Ng limang milyong truck.

Yet in exchange all I got is betrayed
And after all of that she even laughed at my face
So now Len Jack is crying
Way too much of an attack
It’s like my heart has been run over by 5 million trucks


Siya ay simpleng tumatak
Ang sakit ng natamo
Kaya nagdesisyon tuloy ang puso na laging bigo
Na bakla na lang ang iibigin ko
Di na ko masasaktan nagkapera pa ako.

Everything is so simple
But the pain still remains
So the heart made a decision in spite of all of its pains
That maybe I’ll just love someone who’s gay
I’ll never be hurt, and I’ll make money anyway


Mga tambay lang kami sawa sa babae
May mga babaeng manloloko
Pineperahan lang kami
Kaya ngayon bakla na lang ang aming iibigin
Masarap magmahal ang bakla
Ohh kay sarap… damhin.

We are just lay-abouts who are sick of women
There are women who betray us
For them, we are just ATM machines
So now it’s just a gay man who gets our love
Sweet is a gay man’s love
Oh how good …. feel it!


Isang bakla ang iibigin habang buhay
Sa kanya ko lang inalay ang puso kong makulay
Siya ang nagbigay ng tawa at saya
Pag-ibig kong ito sa kanya lang
Lumigaya kesa sa GF ko
Na wala namang pake.

Only a gay man is worth lovin’ all through my life
To him I will give my heart with all its colors so rife
He’s the one who gives laughs and joy
This love of mine became happy with a boy
Heck, my GF never really cared.


Nagmahal ako sa kanya ng wala ng silbi
Kaya sa isang bakla ako ay nagmahal
Kahit sa ibang girl pag-ibig ko ay matumal
Kahit karumaldumal pa ang kanyang pagmumukha
Basta wag niya lang akong gawing kaawaawa
Kaya sa bigo, sa mga babae diyan
Umibig ng bakla nakakalat lang yan diyan.

I loved her, yeah, but it never mattered anyway
So I started to love a very gay man
Even if to girls my love was always a problem
Even if his face is a reminds me of a crime spree
As long as he doesn’t make me appeal to anyone’s pity
So if you’re like me, and you keep on losing your woman
They’re everywhere, really, start loving a gay man.


Mga tambay lang kami sawa sa babae
May mga babaeng manloloko
Pineperahan lang kami
Kaya ngayon bakla na lang ang aming iibigin
Masarap magmahal ang bakla
Ohh kay sarap… damhin.

We are just lay-abouts who are sick of women
There are women who betray us
For them, we are just ATM machines
So now it’s just a gay man who gets our love
Sweet is a gay man’s love
Oh how good …. feel it!


Ayoko ng umibig ng kahit na sino pa
Kasi ako sa’yo ay okey na
At ako’y sa’yo na
Basta yung responsibility ay wag limutin
Wala kang ibang gagawin
Kundi ako’y pasayahin, ako sa’yo ay happy
Kasi lagi akong busog
Hindi mo ako ginugutom
Cause takot kang mabugbog.

I don’t want to love anyone else
Because I am okay with you
And you with me
As long as your responsibility is not forgotten
You can’t do anything except make my glad….with you I am happy
Because I am always full
You will never let me starve
Because you fear I’ll beat you.


Sa buhay ko ikaw ang pumapapel na yaya
Pero kahit ganun hndi pagpapalit sa iba
Pero wag kang umasa na sa’kin ka maka-isa
Bago tayo magtabi sa kama magpa-opera
Oh di ba hi-tech?
Tayo ay modern na lover
Pag dumukit ka sa’kin sisigaw ako holdaper!

In my life you fill the role of my own all-around and nurse
If it’s true, replacing you’s the last thing I’m thinkin’ of
But don’t pin your hopes that you’ll pull a fast one
Coz before we lay side by side for a sex change operation
Oh yeah, high tech, we are really modern lovers
If you lay a hand on me, I’ll scream out “Holdaper!” [Hold Up!!! Robbery!!!!]


Mga tambay lang kami sawa sa babae
May mga babaeng manloloko
Pineperahan lang kami
Kaya ngayon bakla na lang ang aming iibigin
Masarap magmahal ang bakla
Ohh kay sarap… damhin.

We are just lay-abouts who are sick of women
There are women who betray us
For them, we are just ATM machines
So now it’s just a gay man who gets our love
Sweet is a gay man’s love
Oh how good …. feel it!


Mga tambay lang kami sawa sa babae
May mga babaeng manloloko
Pineperahan lang kami
Kaya ngayon bakla na lang ang aming iibigin
Masarap magmahal ang bakla
Ohh kay sarap… damhin.

We are just lay-abouts who are sick of women
There are women who betray us
For them, we are just ATM machines
So now it’s just a gay man who gets our love
Sweet is a gay man’s love
Oh how good …. feel it!

UPDATE (12/18/2011): Several revisions made in an attempt to improve the flow of the writing.

UPDATE (10/14/2012):  Corrected the name of the writer of the song.