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San Pedronian vs. San Pedrense, Part 2

San Pedronian vs. San PedrenseMore than three months ago, I received permission from Mr. Pepe Alas to publish his letter to Mayor Calixto R. Cataquiz about using San Pedrense instead of San Pedronian to refer to the people of San Pedro, Laguna.  He gave a historic and compelling argument that made me change the title and header image of this blog.

Now, I received another letter in response to Alas’ own. It was sent to my email by a reader who wants to remain anonymous. Again, I am publishing the letter in its entirety, unedited. I hope it sparks conversation among us, the people of San Pedro.

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Hello Veronica,

Thank God I chanced to re-visit your site! Your blog about who we are – San Pedronian or San Pedrense – has been so insightful you needed to arrive at a wise decision to change the name of your blog and its header image.

Wait. I’m afraid my premise differs from that of the historian-letter sender. I wouldn’t be surprised if nothing has been done officially endorsing San Pedrense in a dire attempt to “correct the old mistake.”

Considering the utter lack of importance of this matter of speech involving practically all people of San Pedro, Laguna (its overseas people included), any jumping into conclusion bears nothing at all. Yet add my two cents I must, to avoid being accused of mocking my place’s identity and dishonoring its history because I also believe in the Filipino saying, “Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan.”

Let me tell you two points:

  1. Both San Pedrense and San Pedronian are correct.
  2. San Pedrense isn’t popularly used in San Pedro, Laguna so let’s promote it.

The letter-writer’s noble intention and his interest for a correction are very laudable. But when he agreed that San Franciscan is one who resides in San Francisco, he couldn’t have said San Pedronian is a wrong that needs to be rectified. Assuming that people of the USA are forever allowed to say it since San Franciscans are people of San Francisco, California, USA following his argument, allowing USA-based members of a San Pedronians club to say that they are San Pedronians forever are simply out of the question. And we are forever allowed to also follow American influences as much as we have some unobjectionable Spanish dictates.

The Philippines had 50 years in Hollywood and 300 years in the convent, so why not simply and unperturbedly view San Pedronian and San Pedrense as correct on all accounts?

Linguistically and from a socio-cultural standpoint, San Pedronian is a big mistake, according to the letter sender. Never. In fact, we cannot afford to lose that demonym just because San Pedro is Spanish that has San Pedrense as the equivalent Spanish demonym. Spanish is promoted only on an optional and voluntary basis but our official languages are Filipino and, unless provided by law, English (not Spanish). It follows, therefore, that the San Pedronian demonym is here to stay.

One need not be a language expert or require him to take advanced courses from Spanish to English and from legal writing to creative writing for him to appreciate the correctness of San Pedronian. He only knows San Pedronian as a proper noun, that’s it. We have private aspirations to let a resident know he is a San Pedrense, let’s all feel free to inform and educate him about it. But at the end of the day, the public has the right to decide for or against our private aspirations.

Veronica, mga San Pedrense tayo (Veronica, we are San Pedronians). We truly are, we would feel relaxed and unperturbed on such usage. BTW, I have used San Pedrense more than San Pedronian in my entire life. I also use “taga-San Pedro” and “tubong San Pedro” as compared to the letter sender’s “taal…”

How the letter-writer can argue with the English proper noun’s typical evolution is unfortunate. San Pedrense versus San Pedronian is just like Italyano/Italiano versus Italian, Amerikano/Americano versus American, Pilipino versus Filipino, Indiyano/Indiano versus Indian, Kastila/Spaniard versus Spanish, Israelita versus Israelite/Israeli, Mehikano/Mexicano versus Mexican, Aprikano/Africano versus African, Tsino/Intsik/Tsinoy/Chino versus Chinese, Koreyano/Koreano versus Korean, Romano versus Roman and many more, we don’t have right or wrong choices. That’s it.

Let nouns evolve (of course, with some restrictions). Let proper nouns evolve as well. But with a demonym, which is a mere sample of an upshot of evolution of words, gradually becoming an object of major queries would have consequences far more than simply academic. I would rather side with those agents of academic success; I consider the need to correct San Pedronian, Manilan, and the rest, as moot anyway.

When the late artist Francis Magalona said in part “Ako’y Manileño, taga-Mandaluyong” in one of his hit rap-songs, we allowed ourselves to be under Mga Kababayan’s leverage. That’s it. Need I say more on the relaxed feeling when we keep on singing this rap-song? Nobody cared to check where he was from, either Manila or Mandaluyong.

Contrary to the letter sender’s research, San Pedronian is accepted in its English form by people in the United States and other countries based on my Internet research. I even asked some of my American friends about it and they all verbally confirmed its correctness though, interestingly, one pronounced it as “San-Paydro-nian” and the two “San-Peedro-nian.” Also, “Pedronians” in the search engine entries could be treated as “San Pedronians” after sorting out such entries with reference to the demonym for the people of San Pedro.

How about questioning the letter sender’s being a Filipino with his spelling of “alcalde” and his phrases “dito sa Filipinas” and “tayong mga Filipino” and many other Spanish words he mentioned despite their being popularly spelled the Filipino way to follow his logic? I tell you, “mayor” hasn’t been popularly spelled as “alcalde” in one of its Filipino versions since the 1987 Philippine constitution, and same cases with his two three-word phrases. Check with average grade-schoolers, chances are they would have the guts to say that these were wrong and should have been spelled as “dito sa Pilipinas,” “tayong mga Pilipino” and “alkalde.”

San Pedrense versus San Pedronian? It’s a non-issue to the people of San Pedro, Laguna in particular and the Filipino people in the Philippines and abroad in general.

 

Comments

  1. The following is a quote from my book, Thru the Lens of Latin America: A Wide-Angle View of the Philippine Colonial Experience:

    Related to the phenomenon of “mother-child cultural rift” is another, … the Law of Inertia, applied … to processes of mentality shift. Once implanted, a first colonizer culture [Spanish culture], already fused or syncretized with the original local one [native or authoctonous culture], will resist the advent of a subsequent colonizer [U.S.] culture. However, with the passage of time, the new generations — who did not experience the moment of cultural transition and its accompanying resistance to a new transculturation (in other words, the people’s resistance to adopting a new transplanted dominant culture, due to the inertia of the preceding cultural process) — will have no awareness that such a phenomenon ever occurred. They’ll simply assume that what is now there has always been there, and has always been universally embraced. The younger generations will accept the culture they were born into, notwithstanding their parents’ or grandparents’ having once perceived it as invasive and alien, and perhaps even having sworn to resist assimilating it at all costs. [End of Quote]

    Probably until the 1930s, the accepted parlance was “Los habitantes de San Pedro somos san pedrenses”. After World War II when the younger generations of Filipinos became fanatically pro-U.S., pro-English, the san pedrenses started calling themselves “San Pedronians”.

    So the easiest solution today would be to use either, depending on the writer’s preference. But Filipinos ought to be informed that there was an old Philippines that existed in the time of their grandparents and great-grandparents, where Spanish was the language preferred by the Filipinos.

    Regards,
    Isabel de Ilocos

    • Thank you, Ms. Elizabeth for adding to the discussion. And what you have commented, that it’s the American influence that lead us to call ourselves San Pedronians, makes a lot of sense. Now I feel a little bit foolish to have changed the name of the blog so impulsively.

  2. This Pepe Alas is all over the place these days! I consulted Liz about this when Pepe and I was working on Cataquiz’s biography project a few years ago. My take on the subject is that the local government should take the initiative to use the older version, san pedrense, in all official communication. This does not mean that there’s a need to change the names of the local civic groups that already carries the san pedronian name. The important thing is that by using san pedrense today local people would be reminded of the town’s history beyond the American occupation. I think that’s important – more than half of the town’s population are not originally from San Pedro – it’s our obligation to teach them about San Pedro’s culture and history.

    A

  3. Hi Nica,

    Pepe here. ¿Cómo estás?

    It was I who told Miss Medina to comment here because I don’t have much time to do so. However, judging from your reply to her (“Now I feel a little bit foolish to have changed the name of the blog so impulsively.”), I was alarmed that her comment must have been taken out of context or misunderstood. It seems that my “plan” backfired, haha! So now I’m compelled to answer you directly.

    In my opinion, there is really no need for you to feel “foolish” for having changed the name. You should even be proud of yourself, because you are one of the very, very, very few Filipinas today who have just instilled a love and respect for our identity (albeit local/municipal) as well as our history as a people. A people without a knowledge of the past is like an individual with no memory, thus an individual with a questionable identity.

    San Pedrense is still the correct demonym. San Pedronian is also correct. But the problem is this: the Philippines is not an English-speaking nation. Your anonymous letter sender will most likely scoff at this. But let me explain. We Filipinos (or many of us, at least) do understand the English language since it has been taught to us since we were all little kids. Even in college, we have English subjects (which for my part I find funny). We also use the language for business (sometimes), particularly when applying for a job. But we never use it among ourselves as if it is our first language. We don’t speak English to our parents. We don’t speak English among our friends. We don’t use English to commute. We can survive in the Philippines healthily and happily even without uttering a single English word in this country. That is why the justification to use the English equivalent of San Pedrense, which is San Pedronian, is ultimately weak.

    “But when he agreed that San Franciscan is one who resides in San Francisco, he couldn’t have said San Pedronian is a wrong that needs to be rectified. Assuming that people of the USA are forever allowed to say it since San Franciscans are people of San Francisco, California, USA following his argument, allowing USA-based members of a San Pedronians club to say that they are San Pedronians forever are simply out of the question. And we are forever allowed to also follow American influences as much as we have some unobjectionable Spanish dictates.”

    The letter sender has failed to recognize that this is the Philippines, where English is “the emperor with new clothes”. We may have been colonized by the US, but the English language never took root here the same way that Spanish did. As a matter of fact, the English language is on a fast decline. It is funny to hear that our government boasts that our country is the third largest English-speaking nation. Hardly. I would even say that it is a lie. Go outside the streets yourself. Go to Suki Market, even inside Liceo de San Pedro. Even in banks and in the new municipal hall. You don’t hear San Pedrenses speaking English with each other. And to hear a Tagalog-speaking San Pedrense tricycle driver refer to himself as a “San Pedronian” would have been a total blast.

    Now, let me also add that I have been in the BPO industry for years. We use English to communicate with clients. But among ourselves? No. Some call centers are even implementing strict rules among its employees with regards to language use inside the office. In a call center in Alabang where I have worked for more than four years, the HR department was having a headache on how to implement their “English-only policy”. Hangáng sa umalís acó doón, yun ang isá sa mañga malaquí niláng problema.. So if the Philippines were an English-speaking nation, there would have been no need for such rules. And call centers should no longer worry that much with recruitment. But heck, they still are. In call centers, probably only 1 or 2 out of 10 or 15 applicants make it during the recruitment process. And even with those who made it, their communication skills are still questionable. And correct English usage is always the reason why many are not accepted. Worse, many people in Metro Manila and in nearby provinces use Taglish, which is a linguistic aberration. All this, after “enjoying” 50 years of Hollywood.

    Anyway, let’s go over his/her two points:

    1 “Both San Pedrense and San Pedronian are correct.” Of course. But it depends, i.e., correct usage in a proper setting or milieu will make demonym usage all the more politically correct.

    2 “San Pedrense isn’t popularly used in San Pedro, Laguna so let’s promote it.”
    Here I see a problem with the letter sender — because with this second point, his/her letter reeks with contradictions. HIs/Her statement is inviting: “let’s promote it”. In her letter, did she do that? No. She wouldn’t have even wrote a long letter like that if it was his/her intention to “promote” the use of San Pedrense. HIs/Her letter, instead, was in defense of San Pedronian. HIs/Her invitation, sorry to say, is a hollow one.

    Anyway, if this were the US, I would not question the use of San Pedronian anymore. But, again, this is Filipinas.

    And about my usage of orthography which Mr./Ms. Anonymous is questioning, well. I have a lot to explain about that. Unfortunately, I do not have much time to do it. Once I’m done with this book project that I am writing for La Laguna province, I will tackle this issue, especially since many of my readers all over the internet are also intrigued, questioning my way of writing in Tagalog. There is a reason to that, and I’m not doing it simply out of whim.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if nothing has been done officially endorsing San Pedrense in a dire attempt to “correct the old mistake.”
    What kind of “promotion” is this letter sending talking about? The tone itself is clearly mocking. Anyway Nica, I’d like to inform him/her directly: Mr./Ms. Anonymous, I have not done anything yet except regarding this demonym thing. I merely submitted my open letter to Mayor Calixto Catáquiz to the owner of this blog (Nica). You should not have been to assuming that this “attempt” of mine will just die like that altogether. I haven’t even mentioned this to the mayor or to anyone else in the municipio. They may or may not give it much importance. We still do not know. So let us not sound too negative about this. What won’t be surprising here is if the municipality will endorse my request to bring back the demonym San Pedrense AND you will be the first one to complain.

    “So the easiest solution today would be to use either, depending on the writer’s preference. But Filipinos ought to be informed that there was an old Philippines that existed in the time of their grandparents and great-grandparents, where Spanish was the language preferred by the Filipinos.”
    Truth to tell, if Miss Medina will have her way, she will still choose San Pedrense. Those words of her should not be misunderstood. Indeed, the easiest solution is to use either demonym. I may accept the demonym “San Pedronian” only if it stands side by side with “San Pedrense” which is not happening. Remember her last words about our “grandparents and great grandparents”. She was implying a respect for them, a respect for history, a respect for the past which should never be forgotten. And the preferred language during their time was Spanish. It implies that they preferred the language; it was not forced to them. But English? It was forced upon us (long story).

    But why all this talk about demonyms as if our lives matter so much to it? Because here lies the configuration of our identity. The Filipino Identity. Our identity can never be measured in this language that I am using right now.

    But that is another long story.

    To end this, perhaps another justification for the use of this (pardon me) funny sounding “San Pedronian” is to rename our municipality, from San Pedro to Saint Peter. But then, there might be a move to rewrite the demonym to “Saint Petronian” or something like that. :D

    But hey, I don’t own Nica’s thoughts and opinions. It is up to her if she will maintain the name SAN PEDRENSE or if she will go back to the other one which is for me very unFILIPINO. Anyway, this is her blog. She may run it anyway she wants.

    Best regards,

    Pepe Alas,
    Un orgulloso SAN PEDRENSE desde 2004

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