Swardspeak: Ang Pulos sang pag Beks ko sa Lengguwaheyyy kag Forma

| Austere Rex Gamao
Pride March , 2023. Makati City, Metro Manila with Bahaghari Philippines. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Swardspeak: Ang Pulos sang pag Beks ko sa Lengguwaheyyy kag Forma

Swardspeak: Ang Pulos Sang Pag Beks Ko Sa Lengguwaheyyy Kag Forma | Austere Rex Gamao

Agiii bato-e ang mga shokot!  

Wiz gakatabo ang mga Pride Marches lapit sa akwoahn. Sang una, ga-commute ko pakadto-pakari sa safari. Gin-amin ko kiber lang akon participation certificate, awrahan lang ganern. Gusto ko lang mag picture-picture para sa akwoahn essay. Pakadto sa martsa, ang lola mo Isaac. Cate kwoah akon lawas nga ga-juya-juya kag daw ma-anek. Chz, self-conscious ah. Daw namanol kwoah sa akon lawas. Naabtan kwoah ang martsa sa tunga-tunga na. Ginapangita kwoah kung diin ko ma plastar of paris. Nakita ko mga chaka nga companies sa ila mga T-shirts kag baneritas. Wititit me mag-wish na cater feslak kwoah sa gusto lang i-tarjet ang DEI nila, biskan daw Rica Peralejo man amon goalshie. Pero na-cater ko ang Bahaghari Philippines, isa ka non-profit organization kag LGBTQ+ rights activists boogsh! nagsunod! Wiz! Ila mga tingog ang una ko nga nabatian, ga-tsuwariwariwa kag ga-Reyna Elena. Na-invite kwoah last year sa cultural nightlalu nila para magbasa sakon poetry upod sa mga queeries nga writers kag artistahins. Joinela agada ko sa mga baklosh. 

Gakiat-kiat na akon lawas, sa spyokining, hindi na kwoah sige Maria Clara. Pa alon-alon lang lola mo forevs. Wiz ko kagwa, ara lang sa akon makipot nga kuweba. Virgoness kwoah, so you know, pa Hermit-hermit nga OA. Pero super shutiful nga ara ko guwa kag out na kwoah. Kanami sang feelingshu nga gabelong ko sa crowd, gabelong ko sa struggle-ya.  Akon tingog juts lang kag hinhin, indi ko kanowang mangakig. Ila mga tingong nag Mariah Carry sang akwoahn. Yiz, na-quail ko ang mga pictures pero indi na siya importante. Upodangs sa ila tananshie, ginahimo ang amon dapat himuon, nashula ang akon pagkafeyk. Wiz dapat gina-separation anxiety ang lawas sa warla. 

 + , 2023.  Isaac ka placard nga gahambal, ‘Kay ang paghigugma gapahilway, ang paghigugma ko sa imo upod sa paghimakas.’ CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Pride is a protest. Spinokelya na again and again sa Pride March. Ang mga organizations nag Givenchy sang mga updateshu sa mga shunod nga 1-2-steps para makuha naton ang aton rights. Gasiyaget ang mga beki, ‘SOGIE Equality, ipasa na!’ kag ‘Makibeki! Wag mashokot!’ Ang Leyte swardspeak sang sikat nga protest chant. Swardspeak, Gayspeak, o Bekimon nag shulpot sa communitie, espasol sa mga bakloosh, para sa codashi lexiconalia.1 Nagshalin ang ‘makibeki’ sa ‘makibaka’ nga buot silingon maupod sa warlahan. ‘Beki’ meaning ‘bakla.’ ‘Wag mashokot’ meaning indi magpakurdam. Malaysia ka? Magets mo na ah. Sa ‘Gay Language: Defying the Structural Limits of English Language in the Philippines’, hambal ni Norberto Casabal, form siya sang verbal sublimation para ma Winona ta sa pawer sang mga bad daddies. Nagshimo-shimo mga sisterets sang bago nga mga spyokenilya nga parehos sound, ka-meaning, or ano da nga echos.  

Damo-damo wordelies ang ara sa Swardspeak. Makaisplok kanesh sini sang tadlong. Pero ka entiende mi amor na ang tanan kay famosa na siya sa guwa sang kumonidades. Nanamian ang mga tawo kay ka-funny. Daw ka i-quail mo ang chakadoll nga sentence tapos sabwagan mo glitters, diba winner? Ang nalipayan ko guid ang musicality sang swardspeak, kung paano ginahampangan sang mga agitoy ang chuchurapipap sang ila bibig. Ginaprobar lang nga ang spokanelya pwede mabagelya sang kadlaw. 

Wiz ko kabati swardspeak masami. Ginabasa ko lang sa akwoahn coconut, tapos chaka ang akon gakabatian. Teh fly high pinay sa kalipay sang nabatian ko isa ka sesame street sang mga beki kag shiboler nga gora chant daw feelingsu may eclavu lang. Ka-alive-awake-enthusiastic sang Pride subong nga tuig. Maybe it’s Maybelline kiber lang ko sa una. Maybe it’s Maybelline korique akon ginupdan nga tawo. Sa One Moment in Time, may siopao sa fyutura sang mga queeries. 

Bakla? Agi? Anetch itey? 

Stararet ang spyokelya nga ‘bakla’ sa Philippines, tapos damo-damo meanings: drag queen, gay, hermaphrodite, homosexual, queer, third sex, and transgender.2 Ginagamit ang ‘bakla’ sa tagalog-spokenilyang regions sang Philippines kag sa mainstream media. Kiber lang kwoah sa wordell. Kung echosin ko sina, keribells lang ang lola mwoah. Mas feelingsu ko pa ang ‘baccla’ nga may humuk nga C. Dapat OA ka kung i-hambal mo.  

Sa akwoahn region, tawagshi sakwoahn ‘agi’.3 Ginatawag na ko ‘agitoy’ biskan Malaysia pa ko. Daw ka it’s me, mhie. Kiatan ko, soft-spokening, girlalu ang kadlaw. Hangag ko ya sa akwoahn kadramahan. Ginsplokan ko nila nga tadlongon ko akon awra. Sang Y2K era, ginpadayaw sang akon mudrakels sa teachers kag sa mga paryente nga gakanta ko ‘My Heart Will Go On’ ni Celine Dion kag garecite ko bible verse, tanda-tanda kuno pero binabaye. Akon pudrakels kag iban nga paryente ginsplokan ko nila nga indi ko mag-agi kay isulod ko nila sa sako, i-hanger sa puno, kag jombagon para ma lalaki ko. 

Sa ‘The bakla, the agi: our genders which are not one’, ginbutang ni Jaya Jacobo ang mga meanings sang agi:4   

1. agui = tándà
2. huella = alagyan
3. rastro de lo que paso = ági sang ági
4. pasar andado = ági  
5. tandang̃a tago = tago nga alagyan 

Gahabyog-habyog ang agi sa duwa ka awra, ang patago kag ang pagpakita. Sang bagets pa ko, ang iban nga mga jugets gina-into ko nila nga agi ko, tapos kung mangakig ko mahambal sila, ‘Excuse me, ma-ági ko.’ Ang ma-ági, ang maalag-ag nga katingalahan. Kanami nga mga konseptosh pero sri-langka pa ko sang 8 kwoah. Ginbalabagsh lang ko nila. 

Ang agi gihoan.5 Dapat magiho para makaabot sa chenes, sa chorva. Ga-Sharon Cuneta ko sang vision express nga isa ka ferfecc world para sa akon LGBTQ+ family. Ang pagambit naton ines gapabalo ta nga ari kita gagiho, bulag sa hada hada kag kung sinetch ta. Gagiho sa gay time ang bakla, agi, or queer, batok sa straight time nga dititch ang worldash.6 Mga writers gikan sa Philippines like J. Neil Garcia kag Jaya Jacobo, ang ila gushto i-examine kung kebs ang queer experience nga gamit English ang pagnowang para sa bais-bais sang tanan. 

Anetch Sunod? Palaabwoton Kwoah 

‘Kwoah’ (pagbasa quah), swardspeak siya sa wordell nga Ko. Kung ginaspyokelelya nga gahod, dapatwa drama ka guid, daw gakanta nga OAbells. Isaac ka mga wordells ang mabal-an mo sang Jamaica ka pa ay ang Ko/Ako (I, Me, My). Kung agi-on natwoahn ini, ginadeklara ta ang atwoahn pagka-akesh! 


Notes

The full version of Austere Rex Gamao's essay was first published in Cordite Poetry Review's Issue 110 on September 1, 2023 with the title, "Ambot sa Essay Kwoah: From Swardspeak to Hiligaynon, What Queering Language and Forms Means to Me"

1. Basaha ang John Iremil E. Teodoro, “Anitch Itich? Bekimon, or the Secret Code of Gays,” GMA News Online, August 12, 2010, https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/lifestyle/artandculture/198393/anitch-itich-bekimon-or-the-secret-code-of-gays/story/.Hambal pa guid ni Tedeoro ang Bekimon ga givsung sang spaceship para sa mga beki nga mag chika nga wiz gakabalaka nga makabati ang mga True Blue nga puro homophobic. Teh, sagi changelaloo ang Bekimon.  

2. Basaha ang Jaime Oscar M. Salazar, “How ‘Bakla’ Explains the Struggle for Queer Identity in the Philippines,” Foreign Policy Magazine, July 30, 2022, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/07/30/bakla-queer-identity-philippines/

3. Hambal sang Hiligaynon Dictionary ang mga agi: soft, effem, not manly, mga mentos nga may girlalu nga tingog kag giho, hermaphrodite. https://hiligaynon.pinoydictionary.com/ 

4. Halin sa Diccionario de la lengua bisaya hiliguiena y haraya (1841).

5. Hambal pa guid ni Jacobo nga ang agi gindibuho metonymically, nga gahitabo nga giho. 

6. Spyok ni Muñoz nga ginapabalo sang straight time nga wala fyutura pero ang dititch of the here and now of our everyday lives, mhie! 

Swardspeak: What Queering Language And Form Means To Me | Austere Rex Gamao
 +  A placard that says, ‘Because love is liberating, to love is revolution.’.

Swardspeak: What Queering Language and Form Means to Me


Swardspeak: What Queering Language and Form Means to Me

Queer resistance that sings 

Pride Marches don’t really happen near me. In previous years, I had to commute to them. I accepted that my participation this year was only artifice, that I cared about appearances and nothing else, and that I needed to take photos for this essay. Walking alone to the march, I felt a certain singularity. I saw my body as timid and anticipatory. Okay, I felt self-conscious. As in the self makes itself known to the body. I arrived mid-march, stopping before the parade to spot an opportunity where I can blend in with the crowd. I saw companies sporting their T-shirts and their banners rolling by. I wasn’t really interested in joining companies trying to hit their DEI goals for the year, even though I shared some of their motivations for the day. Then, Bahaghari (Rainbow) Philippines, a national democratic, non-profit organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights in the country came into view. No, their voices reached me first, loud and ringing and direction-full. I was invited to their cultural night the year before to read my poetry along with other writers and artists. I immediately joined them.  

My body in motion, in utterance, pushed my self-conscious-ness outward. I am a solitary person most of the time. The indwardness as my cave. I am a Virgo and, in the tarot, the Hermit card represents me. But it felt nice being out, in every sense of the word. It was nice finding a place in that crowd. It was nice knowing that there is room for me in the struggle. My voice doesn’t carry that much weight. I’m soft-spoken and don’t know how to express my anger. In that crowd, the other people’s voices carried mine. Yes, I got my pictures but then it didn’t seem important to have them. Being in the crowd, doing what we do, stripped my assertion of artifice away. I shouldn’t separate myself from what we have to fight for. 

 + Pride March Photo: Austere Rex Gamao, 2023. Makati City, Manila, the Philippines. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Pride is a protest. That’s reiterated in this year’s Pride March with organizations giving updates on the next steps to attain our rights and with the protest chants, ‘SOGIE Equality, ipasa na!’ (Sogie equality, pass it now!), ‘Makibeki! Wag mashokot!’ The latter is a Swardspeak version of the slogan. Swardspeak or Gayspeak or Bekimon arose in the community, particularly with gay men, as a coded lexicon.1 Makibeki comes from the word Makibaka which means to participate in the struggle. Beki is the Swardspeak for Bakla which means gay. Wag mashokot comes from huwag matakot which means don’t be afraid. Wag is the shortened version of huwag and mashokot is the Swardspeak of matakot. I know it’s a lot to take in but once you get it, you get it. In ‘Gay Language: Defying the Structural Limits of English Language in the Philippines’, Norberto Casabal posits that it is a form of verbal sublimation of gay people against the domineering power of patriarchy. The Filipino gay community began coining words that can be associated with the original word, either by its literal meaning or denotation, or by using other shades of meaning or connotation. It also includes the collocation of words through their phonological resonance and resemblance.  

There are many-many words in the Swardspeak vocabulary. One can even say a full sentence with them. Because of its rising popularity, almost everyone outside the LGBTQ+ community can understand it. Part of its appeal is that speaking it is fun. It’s like taking something plain and putting glitter all over it, creating something exorbitant, an ornamentation. What I like most about Swardspeak is its musicality, how the LGBTQ+ community’s inflection turns playful, that language is a vessel for laughter. 

I don’t hear Swardspeak being spoken out loud often. I usually read it online with the voice in my mind and that always pales in comparison. So, hearing a street full of people shouting protest chants in swardspeak filled me with a giddiness I only felt the first time I fell in love. This Pride felt more alive. Maybe because I came in with ambivalence, only wanting to take pictures.  But I think it’s because I chose the right crowd to be with. In that moment, there was joy and there was hope that the future won’t be the same as the present. 

Bakla? Agi? What’s that? 

The bakla is widely used in the Philippines and holds a number of meanings such as drag queen, gay, hermaphrodite, homosexual, queer, third sex, and transgender.2 The word bakla is used in the Tagalog-speaking regions of the Philippines and in mainstream media. I don’t have a strong relationship with the word bakla. When someone calls me that, there’s a wall of unfamiliarity. I don’t turn my head towards it. I like the Swardspeak version of it more which is baccla with the two soft Cs replacing the hard K. You have to say it with more flourish.  

In my region, I am called an agi.3  People called me agi even before I knew what it was. My existence just gave it away, I guess. I spoke softly, swayed my hips, laughed girlishly. I was filled with shame and guilt over something I didn’t understand. I was told to fix how I spoke, walked, and positioned my pinky finger when holding things. In the early 2000s, my mother would tell other teachers and relatives that I sang Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ and recite bible verses, proud that I can do that at a young age but ignoring the fact that I was effeminate. My father and other relatives would tell me not to be agi or they’ll put me in a sack, hang me on a tree, and beat me till I become manly.  

In ‘The bakla, the agi: our genders which are not one’, Jaya Jacobo presents the meanings of agi:4 ‘agui’ is registered as ‘señal’ (sign), ‘huella’ (track),’rastro de lo que paso’ (trace of passage). It also refers to the act of walking by (pasar andando), manifesting in various aspects of the voyage, as ‘transitar,’ ‘transito,’ ‘transitorio.’ Paradoxically, it conducts itself as a ‘hidden trace’ (tandang̃a tago) by way of ‘ostugo,’ intimating the aleatory rhythm of passing through, its visibility alternating between countenance and camouflage. When I was younger, the other children would call me agi and when I looked upset, they would switch inflection and say, ‘Excuse me, ma-agi ko.’ (Excuse me, I’ll pass by.) To pass by, to become an indeterminate phenomenon that only settles when it wants to was not a concept I thought of back then (I didn’t have a masters at age 8). I only felt thwarted. 

The agi is always in motion.5 A movement is necessary to arrive at something, somewhere. I share a utopic vision with my LGBTQ+ family in attaining our rights. This shared goal identifies us as a phenomenon, separate from our sexualization and sexuality. To be bakla or agi or queer is not a static identity but that moves in gay time as opposed to straight time.6 Both J. Neil Garcia and Jaya Jacobo want to examine the merits of a universality of queer experience with which English is the main mode of discourse.  

What’s next? Future Kwoah 

‘Kwoah’ (pronounced quah) is Swardspeak for the word Ko which means My. When spoken aloud, you can’t help but be more musical and dramatic. Ko/Ako (I, Me, My) is one of the first words you learn. Making it gayer is a declaration of our existence. 

 


Notes

The full version of Austere Rex Gamao's essay was first published in Cordite Poetry Review's Issue 110 on September 1, 2023 with the title, "Ambot sa Essay Kwoah: From Swardspeak to Hiligaynon, What Queering Language and Forms Means to Me".

1. See John Iremil E. Teodoro, “Anitch Itich? Bekimon, or the Secret Code of Gays,” GMA News Online, August 12, 2010, https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/lifestyle/artandculture/198393/anitch-itich-bekimon-or-the-secret-code-of-gays/story/. Teodoro adds that bekimon provides a space for gays to talk about their lives without being understood by heterosexuals around them, many of whom are homophobic. Because of this, bekimon is quick to change or mutate. 

2. See Jaime Oscar M. Salazar, “How ‘Bakla’ Explains the Struggle for Queer Identity in the Philippines,” Foreign Policy Magazine, July 30, 2022, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/07/30/bakla-queer-identity-philippines/

3. The Hiligaynon Dictionary says agi are soft, effeminate, not manly, said of men with feminine voice and manners, hermaphrodite. https://hiligaynon.pinoydictionary.com/ 

4. The meanings come from Diccionario de la lengua bisaya hiliguiena y haraya (1841) 

5. Jacobo adds that the agi is configured metonymically, as phenomenal movement. 

6. Muñoz posits that straight time tells us that there is no future but the here and now of our everyday life. 


Translating The Art And Australia Landscape: Events

Translating the Art and Australia Landscape: Events


Translating the Art and Australia Landscape: Events

Baks Paki-translate! Conversations on Queering Translation

Register for Baks Paki-translate! Conversations on Queering Translation
Where: Teatro Hermogenes Ylagan (THY), Pavilion 3, College of Arts and Letters, University of Philippines Diliman  
When: 16 February 2024, 6pm
Panel Discussion: Austere Rex Gamao, Erika Carreon, Ian Rafael Ramirez, Chloe Ho
Performance: “Ambot sa Essay Kwoah” by Ang Mga Baklang Kanal

Join us on the 16 February 2024 for a panel discussion between Austere Rex Gamao, Erika Carreon, Ian Rafael Ramirez and Chloe Ho followed by a performance of “Ambot sa Essay Kwoah” by Ang Mga Baklang Kanal at Teatro Hermogenes Ylagan, Pavilion 3, University of the Philippines Diliman.

To speak in a multilingual world is to make a choice: which world(s) do we choose to engage with? This event follows Austere Rex Gamao’s ruminations as a baccla at the 2023 Pride March, which was first published in Cordite by Erika Carreon, and subsequently translated from English to Sward for Art+ Australia. Ang Mga Baklang Kanal, led by Ian Rafael Ramirez has further interpreted Austere’s writing in performance. These Swardspeak presentations are part of ‘Translating the Art and Australia landscape’, an Art + Australia Study Centre project led by Chloe Ho.

In this event, Austere, Erika, Ian, and Chloe will be in conversation. Chloe will provide broader context for ‘Translating the Art and Australia landscape’, a practice-led research enquiry across worlds on non-Anglophone ways to talk about art, and chairing a conversation between Austere, Erika, and Ian. The speakers will discuss what it means to speak beyond English or Tagalog, how to do so visibly, and the critical principles employed when translating Austere’s article.

The conversation will be followed by a performance by the Ang Mga Baklang Kanal. This is the debut presentation of ‘Ambot sa Essay Kwoah’ written by Austere Rex Gamao in performance by Ang Mga Baklang Kanal.

About the Presenters and Performers

Austere Rex Gamao is from Sagay City, Negros Occidental, Philippines. His work has appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, tractions: experiments in art writing, Queer Southeast Asia: A Literary Journal of Transgressive Art, Underblong, TLDTD, Ilahas Journal, and forthcoming in Likhaan: The Journal of Contemporary Philippine Literature. His first book, With Decade, is also forthcoming from Grana Books in 2024. He obtained an MFA in Creative Writing at De La Salle University. As of writing, he teaches at Far Eastern University.

Erika M Carreon co-founded the independent journal Plural Online Prose Journal and published hybrid art and prose projects under Occult’s Razor together with Neobie Gonzalez. Her poems, short stories and translation work have appeared in High Chair, Kritika Kultura, TAYO Literary Magazine, Philippines Free Press, Katitikan, Anomaly Journal, Kalliope X and in Ulirát: Best Contemporary Stories in Translation from the Philippines. She is currently in the final stages of her PhD in creative writing at the University of Melbourne with a special interest in eco-fiction.

Ian Ramirez works across dramaturgy, curation, and performance-making, and they have done projects both in the Philippines and in Australia. Their recent projects include Regine: The Fairy Gay Mother (Virgin Lab Fest 18 Hitik), Baklang Kanal! (Performance Space, and PACT Centre for Emerging Artists), and 'it would be a nice place' (presented by Environmental Film Festival Australia, Seventh Gallery, and Australian Environments on Screen). They are currently a Ph.D. candidate in Performance Studies at the University of Melbourne with an interest in the worldmaking practices of the baklang kanal.

Chloe Ho is a doctoral candidate in Art History at the University of Melbourne and Digital Archive Researcher with Art and Australia. Her PhD project looks at performance and installation art and other artistic, social, and political events in, from, or about Singapore from the late 1980s to the present in relation to the writing of global art history. Her broader research interests include performance art forms in the Asian context and artistic migration, particularly in relation to performance art and artists.

Ang Mga Baklang Kanal ay isang queer solidarity collective na binubuo ng iba’t ibang mga creatives at cultural workers na may layuning mag-ambag sa diskurso ng pakikibaka’t pakikibeki ng LGBTQIA+ sa lansangan, iba’t ibang larangan at lunan.

This event is organised by Art + Australia in collaboration with Cordite Poetry Review, University of Philippines Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts, and Ang Mga Baklang Kanal.

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