The Holy Angel University – Center for Kapampangan Studies (HAU-CKS) recognized Alvin Ignacio as the latest Kapampangan poet laureate on September 13, 2023, Wednesday, at the Academic Hall in St. Joseph Building, Holy Angel University.
Among those present during the event were six (6) of the living Kapampangan poets, including Francisco Guinto of Macabebe, Sergio Calayag of Bamban, Orlando Dizon of San Fernando, 92-year-old Eufrocina Peña and poet-priest Rev. Fr. Ronnie Cao, who welcomed Ignacio, also known as Bertung Isponga into their group as Prinsipe ning Parnaso Romeo Rodriguez put the gold laurel crown on his head.
In an interview with The Angelite, the newly crowned poet laureate revealed how he began his love for the Kapampangan language when he was young.
“Megumpisa ku kanita ning ikit ko reng anak anak. Mas anak la kanaku, retang bayung suli kanita. Akakit ku la, [sabi ku], ba kayanakan damu makasulat la king Facebook. (I started writing when I saw the children back then, those in the new generation. As I saw them, I said to myself, ‘they are young, yet they can write on Facebook’),” said Bertung Isponga.
“Kayi sabi ku, subukan kung sumulat, angga ketang ditak ditak, saup da rin deng anak ampo reng talaturu, [mebiyasa ku]. (I then told myself that I would try to write, until slowly, with the help of those children and mentors, I learned),”he continued.
The Bacolor and Magalang native also mentioned that at first, his works did not have rhyme and meter, until he gained an understanding of these poem elements.
“Manigaral tamu ngeni, ditak ditak, abalu me. Ala naman tambing biyasa. (If we start to study now, slowly, we can learn. There is no one who is borned with innate intelligence),” he added.
According to HAU-CKS Director Robby Tantingco, Ignacio first came to them for the publication of his book, “Dimut Kung Daun”, mentioning that their first impression of him was “not that good”.
“The circumstances of our meeting were limited and we did not get to know him that well because it was pandemic,” stated Tantingco. “But since then, we came to realize how humble, good, and diligent he is in his advocacy for the Kapampangan language, which really impressed us.”
Tantingco mentioned that since then, the HAU-CKS observed and invited him over their activities, and realized that he should be recognized.
“It’s not because he is the best, there are many others who are better than him who are not yet poet laureates, but to us, he is a symbol of the youth that you don’t have to be very old before you get crowned to be poet laureate,” he added.
Message for the love of Amanung Sisuan
Bertung Isponga was also recognized as the Kapampangan poet laureate for the youth, who called out to those who are also inspiring to follow his footsteps.
“Ing buri ku mu, luguran taya ing Amanung Sisuan, saup-saup tamu. Nung bisa kayung mabiyasa, dakal naman talaturu. (What I want is for us to love the Kapampangan language altogether. If you want to learn, there are many teachers),” said Ignacio.
Tantingco also gave a message to his fellow cultural workers not to discourage, shame, or publicly humiliate students who are not very good in Kapampangan, but rather to make them fall in love with the Kapampangan language.
“It’s not their fault, but rather, the way to really reach young Kapampangans to speak the language is to show them how beautiful the language is,” stated Tantinco.
“You let them speak it at their own pace. If they want to change it a bit, if they want to mix it with other languages, it’s their choice. After all, the world, the future belongs to them, not to us,” he added.
The crowning of the new Kapampangan poet laureate was immediately followed by two events of HAU-CKS for the Angelites, the Himno ning Kapampangan Choral Competition and Ligligan Crissotan, with which the Senior High School bagged both the championships.
News by Sophia Rose Suarez
Photos by Miguel Ibarra, Ray Allen Paguinto, Mark Guiterrez