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Showtime Contestant from Lipa Teaches Vice Batangueño Pronunciation

Comedian Vice Ganda, who is half-Batangueño, got an impromptu lesson in how to pronounce a couple of Tagalog words the Batangueño way from a young contestant from Lipa City in one segment of the noontime ABS-CBN show “It’s Showtime” earlier today.

For the benefit of those who do not get to watch the show, there is this segment called the “Gandang Lalake.” It is basically a male pageant but one that does not seek to glorify good looks and talents alone.

Instead, it also seeks to highlight the importance of a man having a job.

I do not really watch this segment because I find its premise stupid enough; but I was cleaning up after a very late lunch and had the television on. When the second contestant was announced as from Lipa – where I live – my attention was naturally captivated.

The contestant was a skinny teenage lad named AJ Cabrera, who introduced himself to the nationwide audience as student and magtatá-tak. That is Tagalog for a shirt-printer, a craftsman who prints shirts using silk screens.

But I was so proud of this lad AJ who did not feel he had to hide anything. On the contrary, he flaunted his being Batangueño!
Note the accent on the third syllable.

Vhong Navarro, Anne Curtis and Vice Ganda were quick to correct him and say mág-tatatak. Note the accent on the first syllable.

Frankly, the lad had even me pausing for a while to think – and I have lived practically all my life in Batangas. I probably would have said mág-tatatak the way the three hosts were insisting the word ought to be pronounced.

However, after some thought I realised that, yes indeed, there are those who will say the word the way AJ did. But there really was no cause for argument because both the show’s hosts and AJ were correct.

It is just that Tagalog is spoken over a wide area in Luzon and there are subtle and none too subtle differences in the way the language is spoken in different localities.

The way AJ pronounced the word simply highlighted the differences in inflections from one locality to another. Here in Batangas, we do use the language differently from somebody, say, who lives in Metro Manila.

I rather hoped that Vice Ganda, whose late father was from Taysan here in Batangas and who had done authentic takes on the Batangas accent in the same show before, would enlighten the other hosts on why AJ was pronouncing the word the way he was.

On the other hand, maybe he did not live in Taysan long enough to have learned the various idiosyncrasies of Batangas lingo. Thus, it was comical when AJ tried to teach him the Batangueño pronunciation of the word magtatatak by leading him on like a child syllable by syllable.

Until Vice Ganda threatened to slap him in the face for trying to make a fool of him. It was so funny I just had to laugh out loud.

There was another word that AJ and the hosts were in disagreement about.

Asked by one of the judges how he juggled his studies and his job, AJ narrated briefly how he managed time by going to school during the day then printing shirts after school hours.

The printing he would even do after practice “sa sá-yaw” or dance. Note the accent on the first syllable.

And of course, all three hosts were quick to correct him again with sayáw, accent on the second syllable. I would have thought that by this time, all three would have realised that there really was no problem; and if at all there seemed to be, it was because they were talking to a Batangueño.

I had to pause for a thought again about that. I would have said the word the way the three hosts insisted it ought to be pronounced. But there are, indeed, many communities here in Batangas where they will say ‘sá-yaw’ the way AJ did.

Language experts consider Batangas as a hub for old Tagalog; and there are God knows so many supposed Tagalog words that are used in pocket communities that I do not even understand let alone use.

Although Lipa is a fast growing urban center, its agrarian roots are still very much evident. The rural communities around the city are still rich libraries of Tagalog as it used to be spoken in the old days.

Many Batangueños, on national television, would probably have opted to tone down the punto. I can understand that. After all, when in Rome…

But I was so proud of this lad AJ who did not feel he had to hide anything. On the contrary, he flaunted his being Batangueño!

Oh, and the boy can dance! Catch him in the weekly finals if you missed today’s show.

Acknowledgment: Top photo captured from It's Showtime video on http://www.iwantv.com.ph/.

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