Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
December 24, 2012, 6:32 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

greeting 2012ed

                                   May the joys of the season

                        spangle your days the whole year

           through and on. May your wishes be like               

dewdrops on your mornings from hereon. With

                    songs of angels for you and yours. . .


           Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Thank you for your following and continued support

Naimbag a Pascuayo ken Naragsak a Baro nga Tawen  Kadakayo Amin

Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon sa Inyong Lahat

Maysa a Burburtia (A Riddle)
November 25, 2010, 9:25 pm
Filed under: essay, language | Tags: , , , , , ,

Uggor na ti lubong. Awan biag dagiti darikmat no saanda nga aglasat iti bitekna. Kas anniniwan ti agdaliasat nga aldaw no saanna nga marikna ti agek ti parbangon, arakup ti malem, no saanna a mangeg ti arasaas dagiti bituen, duayya ti rabii. Kaingingas ti papel dagiti sabong no saanna ida taliawen, no sanna nga aprosan ti sim-meda nga isemda, no saanna nga ikidem nga sul-uyen ti bangloda.

Uray dumanarudor dagiti bambantay no mariingda, awan kaipapanna no saanna nga madlaw ti sakit ti nakemda. Uray di agpatingga ti ririaw dagiti riniwriwriw a bulbulong ti kawayan awan makaawat kadagiti ananek-ekenda no saanna nga ipalubos ti kabagi-anna nga mangnga-asi.

Anianto payen no saan nga matokar ti maysa a timek ti bitekna, no saan nga agbaliw ti widawidna a kas awan mangmangegna, timek a mangal-allukoy, sam-it nga agayus iti sanguannanna. Agsawisiw ti angin, agsenna-ay dagiti pakak a metektkan nga agur-uray ti isungbatna.

Masangpetanna ti sabangan nga maang-san. No saanna a maikaso nga isang-at dagiti ladladingit daytoy, malnekanton nga agsansaning-i dagiti dalluyon . Nupay agguilap-guilap ti masipngetan a waig awan pategna no saan a maaawis dagiti bitekna ket babaen ti mata a mangmingming kadagiti darepdep dagiti bituen.

Iggemna ti napalabas. Agbibiag iti masukunsukot a silidna, silid nga awan ridiridaw. Petpetna ti agdama. Nalukay unay nga kumaradap daytoy kadagiti agsisillapid a dalan iti kaungganna, dagiti rinibribu a pagayusan ti rikna. Padpadaananna ti masanguanna, dagiti darepdep nga agam-ampayag nga ilillili ti bulan ket no saanna nga sippawen dagitoy, matnagda kas bato iti kumkumraang a kapanagan.

Awan masao a bukelna. Maysa laeng daytoy a kas prasko, awan nagyan, awan aglasat kaniana ket agbayag. Masapul nga bayat bitekna maiwerret dagiti pampanunot, rikriknaen, sasao, an-anek-ek, dardarepdep a bibiagen dagiti bituen.

Uggorna ti ayat. Ngem awan makatiliw, makapugto no ania ti kita daytoy, no ayanna ti nangitukelanna, ayanna ti pangsibsibuganna. Uray no kasano ti gagar dagiti agsisiim iti parbangon, wenno tengga’t aldaw, wenno iti panagkeppet ti langit a makatiliw ti daytoy kapatgan nga uggorna, a ti lubong ti kaibatoganna, mapaayda.

Mapaayda urayaman no pirpirsayenda. Uggorna ti lubong dagiti agayan-ayat, lubong nga ubbog ti biag, lubong a kadakdakkel wenno kabasbassit ti gemgem, ket kas gemgem awan matiliw, awan masirip a nagyan, kas rikna.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Alegria Imperial

Posted in 02/14/2010

Ti Agur-uray (The One Who Awaits)–daniw/poem

Another poem from my Iluko soul

I’ve posted this poem (daniw) at sometime ago and then I decided to submit it to Bannawag for consideration. More and more as I write in Iluko, I realize how I can transmute images that somehow flow into the theme from different tributaries so to speak, diving deep into waters I thought I had not been steeped in as a child. I’m still in awe–in fact, constantly exhilarated each time words well up and flow into images and thought. Now I can say I can write from my soul—the totality of me.

It’s no longer a mystery to me why native speakers write with ease—one word alone recreates a universe only they could conjure. I always take the Iluko word ‘ranitrit’ as an example. For me it does not only translate into ‘creaking’ but it also pictures the ‘kawayan’ and ‘bolo’ groves by the ‘kali’ where a kingfisher used to lord it over on early afternoons I used to frequent in the summer as a girl when the sun had just slid off the zenith with siesta-calm. I had loved this time to go there by myself braving through my grandmother’s warnings of rice snakes and phantoms just to listen to the wind soughing against the tightly clamped bamboo trees—in togetherness. ‘Ranitrit’, what a sound, what images, what feelings!

But there’s also ‘alusiis’, ‘sutsot’, ‘wagsak’, ‘palanguad’ and so much more I’m recalling and picking up from reading more Iluko pieces here and in a number of Iluko websites. Discovering has been a grace that has brought me home where I would have been lost forever.

But what steeped me deeper in waters I may never want to step out of now—deep in a consciousness that world I thought I had forgotten keeps sousing my heart in whispered songs—is my having stumbled upon the blog ‘basi republic’ (named after the legendary Ilocano wine) and dared to submit two of my poems. The blog owner, Roy V. Aragon, a name Iluko poet, liked my haiku with iluko translations, but two of my attempts at iluko poetry, “No Umadalem ti Rabii” and “Agsapa” have been accepted by the young poetry editor of Bannawag, Ariel S. Tabag, and this third, “Ti Agur-uray” published in August.

I grew up reading Bannawag, the 75-year old Iluko vernacular magazine. I used to want to finish all the stories and serialized novels that I wouldn’t stop even when the sun had set and the light has grayed over. Before our Coleman would flood my grandmother’s house where we lived, I would snuggle by the kitchen oil lamp, reading with a wavering tongue of light. Could all that possibly caused my astigmatism that still lures me to dive into floods of light as though these blind me?

Long before I knew who F. Sionil Jose was, the National Artist, I lived in worlds he created; I remember ‘The Pretenders’, one of his early novels in Iluko. But I left for university in Manila and hardly went back home. I lost my tongue and never once wrote with it. What a great gift to have it back, like perhaps a miracle of sight and speech. This poem for me, speaks of it.

Lynn Canyon river bed, Lynn Valley, BC 2009






Ti Agur-uray (The One Who Awaits) 

(Published in Bannawag 080210 page 6)

Nagangon dagiti bulbulong ngem awan ti imparipiripmo a panagsublim.

Ania ti nakataktakam ket di met nagsarday ti panagayus ‘ta karayan?

Ania koma no sinurotmo lattan ti lenned, kabus ken sellag?


Saanko met ket nga immaldit dagidi darepdepta iti kawaw a langit.

Sinurotko dagitoy kadagiti rimat dagiti bituen, kadagiti gilap ti init

No matnag ti sikigna iti danum a masinsinit, kadagiti agpukawpukaw

Nga apros ti bulan bayat ti panagdaliasatna iti umatiberber nga angep.


Naggapuanna koma ti im-impek a banglo iti pusok?

Intanemmo babaen ti arasaas a kas kalag-an ti panagtangep

Ti langit ken taaw— saan a marukod, matinep, masukog.

Kasano koma ngata a lipatek ti diak maaprosan?

Saanko nga inggagara ti panagrusing ti bukel— nagsabong met lattan.


Naraniag unay dagiti matam, kinuna dagiti makasabat kaniak,

Adda aglaslasbang a sabong iti kaunggam.

Ngem no agsarmingak, dagiti nasilap a luak ti makitkitak.


No agbisngay ti langit iti rumabii ket masilawan ti addangko

A mapan aguray manen iti ruangan, kuna ti kannag kaniak:

Anian a raniag ti anninawanmo!


Diakon mabilang dagiti rabii a nagkaradap ti bulan

Tapno bugiawenna ti sipnget ket ulsannak, kaduaennak.

Ta ti raniag, para kadagiti agladladangit iti sipnget.


Agyamanka kadagiti rabii a sinangsangitam

Umayen ti dimo koma maur-urayen

Silawanto ti sileng dagiti luam

Sabtento ti ayamuom ti pinetpetam nga arasaas.



Pilipino (or Iluko) for willow tree, anyone?
March 20, 2010, 7:42 pm
Filed under: essay, language | Tags: , , , , ,


I took a break from the haiku that I usually post in and wrote this reply to someone who got to the site searching for the word willow in Pilipino.
I don’t think we have one like we don’t have a Pilipino word for snow–we call it yelo (hielo), which means ice in Spanish (Pilipino and some other Filipino dialects have a lot of Spanish words, understandably imprints of 300 years of colonization). Kaskas yelo is how Filipinos look at fresh-driven snow the first time as they scoop it to taste, recalling or wishing for a glass of halo-halo in hand.

Citing the absence of Pilipino (or Iluko) words for willow tree and snow demonstrates how language is deeply entrenched in culture: the totality of one’s being layered over by influences of earth, air, water, living things, language whispered, sang, murmured, chanted, stated, shouted, screamed, written for one to read under fluorescent light, Coleman light-flood, moonlight, candle light–how we whine and laugh and cuddle up wordless or word-full, with what flowers we offer our sighs, what trees we carve arrow-pierced hearts, from what looming shadows we scamper away, what wings we shoot down, from what edges of cliffs we plunge off to get to our dreams.

Borrowed language, borrowed tongues often entangle the mind. Take how words to describe autumn turn into phantom leaves in tropical groves narra trees crown and how the red and gold in song that trail sorrow are mimed on plastered walls in made-up nooks while out on a window in constant blaze, a row of arboles de fuego (fire trees).

In languages like mine born of life, a borrowed word–just one, say cry or sob–fails to bring out how anug-og in Iluko (the dialect I was born with of the 87, one of which is Tagalog out of which Pilipino is derived) pictures a bent figure broken in grief, shaking with spasms of pain, sobbing an animal cry that escapes from the depth of caves. Iyak in Pilipino (Tagalog) is less descriptive in my mind because it is a dialect I learned not one I was born with.

Dung-aw, simply translates as lament in English but in Iluko, unravels a dirge a man or a woman unleashes during a wake. An Ilokano says dung-aw and instantly pictures how a woman or man, not necessarily a kin of the deceased but known to the family (who isn’t family in a neighborhood or town, even, anyway?) veiled in black sadness has wrinkled, creeps to the dead, kneels and beating breasts, relates a life story now a dirge on the footmarks which those attending the wake follow in sorrowful steps, sniffling, but some chuckling, too, with humor thrown in–what life is ever without it?

Or saning-i, one of my favorite words, portrays someone–usually a woman in a dark corner splayed on the basar (suelo in Tagalog, floor in English), propped by a teddek (wooden post), the neckline of her dress naka-tallay (off shoulder in a careless way), the hem of her dress, nakayamukom (gathered)—deeply hurt, flayed in spirit, melting in helplessness, too enfeebled to even scream or sob, simply shaking with sorrow in what sounds like staccato coughing broken by wet sniffles. Saning-i is also the cry of a child suffering from chronic hunger pain as in children whipped into living skeletons due to kwashiorkor, or a baby burning with fever.

My sister came home once with news of how her boss shared the first laughter of his daughter on the speaker of his cell phone. The baby gurgled and laughed. Garakgak instantly came to my sister’s mind but could she tell her boss how garakgak actually describes the sound that thrilled him—how it describes how the baby’s laughter first cracks like a branch and screeches before it bursts into short squeals? Garakgak even illustrates how the mouth opens to let off three syllables coming off the cave of the mouth, hurtling from the base of the tongue. The baby must be half-bending from the stomach if she were standing or half-curled with legs up flailing if in bed that the Iluko word also pictures.

Language is as mysterious as the spirit, indeed.

Yes, I recall willow trees during Imelda Marcos’ time (said to have given orders to plant them) along a highway that beribboned a short stretch the buses to Bacarra, my hometown, pass through in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. (In pre-colonial times, according to notes on history, willow trees from Asia possibly brought by Chinese traders grew along river banks in some Philippine towns. These possibly exist to this day.) I named them but they didn’t seem to root in my spirit. When I came to North America and have walked by them through the four seasons, their name, willow, took on a breath and began to weave into my being, my writings as in one of my sequences published in The Cortland Review, Issue 39, May 2008 (New York, USA) and the haiku pieces I had posted at jornales.

No, dear friend who’s asking if there is a translation of willow tree in Pilipino, there’s none I’m aware of because unlike guijo, narra, bayabas (bayawas), algarrubo (acacia), mangga or lomboy (duhat) that spread luxuriantly under perpetual summer skies, a willow tree grows under other skies, skies that turn crystal blue in freezing winter against which weeping willow branches turn into a bundle of women whose dried thin hair hang like those of witches under the moon. None of our trees have looked as sinister—under Philippine skies that stars perforate, crowns of mangoes and some other trees sparkle. No, nothing that does not belong can be a match, can be translated.

Also posted  in its shorter version at

Copyright (c) by Alegria Imperial