Saturday, August 20, 2011

MLQuezon@133: Balugbugan - a fictional Pilipino debate between Aguinaldo & Quezon

Cover (left) and frontispiece (right) of Balugbugan by Florante T Collantes (1926) a.k.a. Kuntil Butil.

We discovered this booklet buried under another name [A competitive assessment of the U.S. wood and upholstered furniture industry, obviously an error] in the digital library collection of the University of Michigan.  

The work is in Tagalog.  There was no Pilipino yet at the time, and Manuel Luis Quezon has yet to argue for a common tongue and earn his sobriquet as "Father of the National Language". 

We thought this Balugbugan (rhymes and sounds like bugbugan) would be a good read this August, the Buwan ng Pambansang Wika or National Language Month.  It's a fictional comic debate, balagtasan-style, crafted by Florentino T. Collantes (a.k.a. Kuntil Butil in the literary circle of his time), between Emilio Aguinaldo and Manuel Quezon.

Just like in a balagtasan, there's a Lakandiwa (Mastermind, in today's terms), and in this fiction, it's Tio Sam (Uncle Sam, the United States).  Gat Puno (Chairman) is Leonard Wood, the American governor; Gat Payo (Adviser) is Juan de la Cruz (the Filipinos, of course), and the Paraluman (Muse) is Bb. Pilipinas (Miss Philippines). 

The author Kuntil Butil wrote in his introduction -- 

          "ito'y [this Balugbugan] lumabas na sa Buhay Lansangan
           nalagay sa pitak ng mga biruan,
           at sapagka't biro at katatawanan
           kaya pati tula'y biro-biro lamang.

The Lakandiwa says this is a debate to ferret out the "taksil sa kasalukuyan" (the traitor of today) between two presidents, one of a samahan (obviously, Aguinaldo's veterans organization) and of a partido (Quezon's political party).

           "Ito'y balugbugan ng dalawang tao
             na kapuwa bantog sa lupaing ito;
             si Manuel Quezon at si Aguinaldo
             sa harap ng lahat ngayo'y magtatalo,
             ang dalawang iya'y kapuwa Pangulo
             isa'y sa Samaha't isa'y sa Partido.

            Tayo'y manahimik at ating pakinggan
            itong bagong uring pagbabalagtasan;
            Muli't muling samo'y ang katahimikan
            ulinigin natin itong Balugbugan;
            Ang paksa po nila na pagtatalunan:
            Kung sino ang taksil sa kasalukuyan.

           Ang dalawang ito'y magkaibigang putik
           sa pagmamahala'y katulad ng pagkit,
           at pagka't ganito di samakatunwid,
           kapagka nagtalo'y pihong parang lintik;
           "cuando se pelean" itong "Magkompadres,"
           makaasa kang "salen las verdades."

The last stanza contains two idiomatic expressions, the first one in Tagalog about two friends who are very close to each other like clay (magkaibigang putik) who spit fire when they quarrel; and the second one is Spanish, about truth coming out when two gossips quarrel.

The debate opens with the fictional Quezon alluding to the protest staged by the veterans during the Rizal Day.

We hope to see a translation of this Balugbugan.


Collantes, Florentino T. (1926, Abril). Balugbugan Aguinaldo vs. Quezon. Pagtatalong may uring Balagtasan na nilahukan ng sili’t paminta.  Maynila, K.P. Retrieved

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