Research Director Presents Paper in International Conference on Postcolonial Praxis

By Dr. Bonifacio Ramos
Director of the SMU Research Center

Dr. Bonifacio Ramos, Director of the SMU Research Center, presented a paper entitled The Question of Nation in the ‘Ilokanized’ Regions: The Expansion of Linguistic and Cultural Experiences and the Consolidation of the Sense of Ili/Pagilian during the International Conference on Postcolonial Praxis: Theories, Cultural Practices and Movements for the Global South, at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, on July 21-23, 2010. His paper was part of the Panel entitled, “Problematizing the ‘National’ in National Cultural Practices” which included Dr. Aurelio Solver Agcaoli of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, whose paper was entitled Interrogating Philippine Nationalism, Subverting the ‘National’, ‘Nationalist’, and Hegemonic Cultural Practices.
Ramos’ paper argued that the ili/pagilian (homeland/nation) are proofs of the living political imagination of peoples in Northern Luzon. This political imagination, while mediated by the Ilokano language as a lingua franca in Region 2 and the Cordillera Administrative Region, transcends language to account a plurality of cultural experiences that celebrates difference while at the same laying down the groundwork for solidarity and subsidiarity – or solidarity based on subsidiarity. These are dynamics that are absent in the current national cultural practices of the Philippines, practices that ‘sing about a homeland for all’ but a homeland, in truth, only for those in the center and for those who share the values of that center. The paper questions these practices and problematizes the conception of ‘nation’ based on that center’s political epistemology.
On the other hand, Agcaoili’s paper argued that the current cultural practices that privilege, entitle, and demonize non-Tagalog/non-Manila-centered practices by resorting to labeling are anti-people, Fascistic, and undemocratic. Using the frame of cultural nationalism and diversity, the paper proves that the claim to the ‘national’ and the ‘nationalist’, claims that are legally accorded to all linguistic and cultural expressions and practices from the center, is a claim that is based on an unnecessary fiction of ‘national language’ and ‘national culture’ that are both based on an unfortunate legal fiction that bastardized and made illegitimate the linguistic and cultural expressions from the other non-Tagalog/non-Manila parts of the homeland. The practice of ‘national artist’ award and the deluge of popular media forms are both extensions of the same logic of the national language that is at best, an extension of the (il)logic of the center of power. The need to say otherwise—to subvert this unethical claim—is not only required by social justice but also by cultural democracy. In the end, the Philippine Nation must be understood as ‘a nation among nations’.
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