You only have to set foot on Calabanga’s heart (the ever commotion-packed Parada) in order to know its language. “Oatat ka man magmarat nin iwos?” a Calabangueño would ask you if you are a stranger. Several dialects would come rushing into your mind but not a single word from the sentence just uttered would equal that which you think you know. That of the Calabangueños is far distinct and tells why he is from the town rather than an outsider.
Editor’s Note: This is a dated feature of Cbanga360, only minor editing was done. A walk down memory lane with the colorful words and description by the author who had her childhood years and early adulthood spent in Calabanga. Of course the town’s landscape has changed drastically to what can be obtained now: circa 2011 as versus that of the early 80’s.
This sowi (reverse) dialect has an obscure origin. Some say it was mouthed out unconsciously while some contend it sprang from the Calabangueño’s vain desire to be different. Some, however, reiterated that this originated from the good-for-nothing fellows (the tambays) in their day-to-day attempts to attract attention of passersby, especially “chicks” (girls) by hurling inverted Bicol words interspersed with nosy catcalls. Whoever grabs the credit (or discredit), the fact is, it has dominated most of the native’s tongue for several motives—good or otherwise.
For one thing, a Calabangueño can talk honestly with this new inverted dialect to a fellow town mate about a third person or something. He could praise profusely as well as he could censure to his heart’s desire. With this he could curse an enemy while smiling. Or, how many times has he spared himself or his friend’s life by telling in “sowi” language the secret plot or the onslaught of an enemy (especially an enemy from other town).
Thus, “ukabs kang yanut na taga igdied kung iads ka oatat magmarat ni iwos.” Bako kang tunay na taga igdi kung dai ka tataong magtaram nin sowi), (You are not a local of the place if you do not know how to speak the inverted words) so a Calabangueño says.
Besides his distinct dialect, he knows his town and his people. A grader for instance could exactly tell why Daculang Dalan (the big alley at Del Carmen) is so named; why the twin roads (San Pablo and San Francisco) is a twin road; why is the Gavaldon building once a haunted school and why the amhi tree at its backyard was cut off (because of the engcantos); why the notoriously famed parabansoc suddenly stopped molesting children (real or reel); why a Hippo is not a Jester, a Dusa, a Saints, a Cadca or a Philos; why Quipayo is Calabanga’s pot of gold; why James theater is not a billiard hall or a gambling den; why “Panalo” is a household word than Sabang.
He also keeps abreast with the times. He knows the latest in fashion and follows it religiously. He knows the latest in art and culture and appreciates it. He is also aware of the skyrocketing cost of living. And in-between his round-the-clock work, he couldn’t really fathom why his town Calabanga has not tried drilling oil from beneath the ground (who knows). He knew Skylab and ceased talking about it. A Calabangueño who is sleeping would be awakened by a question, “Yaon saen ka kan nag-uran nin linugaw?” (Where were you when it rained porridge?)
A Calabangueño willingly affiliates himself with a breed of a proud people. For they are a proud people. Their pride stems from the fact that they are intelligent (that’s what other people of other neighboring towns say of them) if not for their being very near God (and so they would prefer to believe). A Calabangueño, in making God’s proximity to him really saves a few steps away from his yard to Hinulid to kiss the feet and hands of Jesus Christ. The heavenly feel is instant!. It pushes him to to dream dreams anew, to hope some simple hopes, to explore the wide expanse without qualm yonder… and when successful, looks back to the “sleeping mestizo” in tears, and pray in thankful words, “Mabalos po saimo, Ama Ko!” (Thank you, Lord!)
A Calabangueño’s intelligence is manifest in whatever he does. He could, for instance, make the monotony of day-to-day life bearable with wine and liquor. At sunrise, noon or sunset, he wants to be with friends- people he treasures much and no amount of talking could make them feel treasured unless the talking (sometimes arguing) be held over a glass of wine. When he goes home at midnight or beyond, either his wife nags him or scolds him and is left out the whole night or outside the kulambo (mosquito net), if “crime” is grave!
Or he is an open prey for poison (mahilo) from unexpected stroke of events (namaloan) during the drinking spree and pay for his life. He rationalizes this, though. “Kung marahay bolong; kung magadan, balon” (If I get well, its cure, if I die its last drink for the afterlife) or “Dai baleng magadan basta sa pakikisama” (It is okay dying because of friendship.)
On Sundays, he joins the throng of movie buffs and inquires why Rio Locsin was raped and how (Disgrasyada) or whether it was Heathcliff or Edgar Linton who impregnated Catherine Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights fame. In the evening, he’ll love to stroll around (this link leads to a post about the Tible monument) Tible’s plaza (the town’s only) and sometimes drop by nearby beer joints for a bottle or two in the company of a sweetheart or a friend. In-between his gulps, he feels the necessity of swinging with the music and out, he goes to F.L. disco pad. He swirls and twirls with the Bee Gees tragedy and laughters. And when tiredness gets the better of him, he longs for the music that really soothes the senses, and alone, he goes to VilRus. Here he loves and for one fleeting moment, feels the world.
He also gambles- lucky nine, poker, 44, pusoy, entre cuatro, padis-padis, bingo, monte, mahjong- you name in, he can play it. For variety, he goes to Calabanga gallery and experiences how it is to be torn into shreds if the rooster he made a bet with his P50.00 lost in the fight. He goes home whispering an oath of Emerson “one vice can maintain two children” and wishes to be a good boy forever (if there are no more Sundays in a week).
More Ed’s note: Even if some details are already outdated we are publishing here: A CLOSER LOOK AT A CALABANGUEñO by Ms. Araceli G. Calomos. She was past Editor, then Adviser, of the Naga College Foundation’s publication The Naga Collegian. At present, she is a faculty member of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Nueva Caceres in Naga city. This article first appeared in the commemorative issue of My Hometown.
In 2004 her literary entries to the Premio Tomas Arejola para sa Literaturang Bikolnon earned a framed Diploma of Merit and a second Diploma for being a double finalist. Her entries: For Rawitdawit or Poetry Category: “Magmata ka na, Uryol” and for the Osipon or Fiction Category: “Apat na Uryol.”