Lately my siblings and I have been writing daily emails to each other in Kapampangan, affectionately called amanung sisuan -- the Word you suckled on. Isn't it sweet? Our eldest brother's natural eloquence in Pampango challenged us to respond to his emails in this language. The older sister thought she will never get her tongue back; she kept mixing Tagalog and Pampango in the most hilarious ways. Now just a few weeks later the native language has resurrected itself in full beauty. The siblings in the Philippines, at first, didn't understand why the siblings in the diaspora are suddenly enamored. My older sister said there is something that happens deep inside when I speak Kapampangan. I feel happier.
I tell this here because I know what she means -- this deep inside -- that wants to be remembered and re-membered. She left the Philippines almost 40 years ago and she hasn't made a lot of return trips. She was married to someone who didn't speak the language and didn't have the occasion to speak in our native tongue very often. The language she thought she has forgotten wasn't, it merely stepped aside for a while and waited on the sidelines until it was summoned back. Mekeni! Come!
Thanks to email and echats, all six of us are now connected like stringed longganisang Kapampangan - the kind that you crave for breakfast along with garlic fried rice, scrambled eggs, and chopped tomatoes with patis. Kanyaman!! Of course, desire always begin with the tastebuds.
Now that the amanung sisuan has reclaimed us, we are always surprised by words remembered, like treasures discovered from an old baul - a chest full of jewels. What we thought was silly and just-for-laughs has turned into a serious exercise in sharpening the Kapampangan tongue.
Kapampangan has always been oral to us; we never read books written in Kapampangan (not my fault, really; ask the educators). But it is the voice of my Apu Sinang telling stories; it is the voice of my Tatang advocating for senior citizen rights; it is the voice of my Ima gently and soulfully expressing her longing for her children now scattered in a far continent. They are not here anymore and yet they are here more than ever, fully present in spirit.
My parents were of the generation who wished for their kids to dream American. Well, that happened. But did their hidden wisdom know that someday we would all come back to reclaim our Kapampangan selves?
A few years ago a friend back in Pampanga told me that I've never really left Home, that I am more Kapampangan than the ones who never left. Well, am not sure about this but it felt good to hear it.