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Updated last August 18, 2008
Welcome to Aklanon Literature




March 16, 2001
Revised: July 24, 2004

Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a speakers would always joke Aklanons as pihit. It allegedly started when Datu Bangkaya could not pronounce letter L. Because his followers loved him so much, they followed the way their leader spoke. Later, his method of speaking became the correct way. So the letter L became the letter E. We therefore have baeay instead of balay; baeo instead of balo. But not all L in Aklan is changed to E. We therefore have balot, Kalibo, Balete.

There is no rule how to change l to e. It is only the Aklanon natives who know when to use e instead of l. But I have a theory, that Aklanon words that existed before the coming of the Spaniards had no letter l. But words that were introduced after the arrival of the Spaniards carried letter l.  So we have bala, and bilding, lugar.


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Another idiosyncrasy the Aklanon language has is its vowels. I think the only language in the Philippines that has seven continuous vowels in one word is Aklanon. For example we have nagaueo-ueo, (cajoling), and nagakaeaeaeam, (itching all).

This is one reason why Aklanons wanted to become independent province from Capiz. This dream came true when Pres. Ramon Magsaysay signed into law R.A. 1414 on April 25, 1956. But this separation was just a confirmation that Aklan was once a separate province. We can recall that when the Ten Bornean Datus came to Panay, they separated this island into three sakup: Irong-Irong, Hamtik, and Aklan. Take note there was no Capiz. So I think that Capiz was once a part of Aklan. Capiz became the seat of the Spanish government in that part of Panay when they noticed that Capiz was more progressive than Aklan.

Aklanon poetry writing in Aklan is still a toddler, but very much alive. It started with Dr. Leoncio P. Deriada.

Since the first writing workshop held in Kalibo in 1991 conducted by Dr. Deriada of the U.P. in the Visayas, many Aklanon poets wrote poems in Aklanon and in Filipino.

This is historical because for many years, Aklanon poets have been writing in English and in Tagalog. As far as I know, it was Manuel Laserna and G. H. M. A. Tagipusuon ( pen name of Jose Ranses Manyus) who started writing poems in Aklanon. Two of their poems were translated from Aklanon to English in the book Hiligaynon Literature: Texts and Contexts of Lucila V. Hosillos (1992: 127)

Some of those works were anthologized in Patubas (1995) and in Ani 21 (Aklanon issue). Both publications were edited by Dr. Deriada.

Some of the active Aklanon poets are the following: John Barrios, Alexander de Juan, Joeffrey Ricafuente, Am I. Roselo, Roman de la Cruz, Rowena Tamayo, Sumra I. De la Cruz, Velleyzarius I. De la Cruz, Monalisa Tabernilla, Greg Ibesate, Dominador Ilio, Ronnie Inventor, Abou Ben Dianco, Allan Corro, Benny Tirazona and myself. Except for Dominador Ilio, all of them were nurtured by Dr. Deriada.

Pett Candido, who wrote a book of poetry in English and had contributed Aklanon poems in Ani, Aklanon issue, died in Iloilo in 2004.

Consequently, some of them have won awards. Alex de Juan won first prize in the 1994 NCCA All-Visayan Poetry Contest (Aklanon Division). He was also chosen as an Outstanding Student of the Year 1995 by the College of Arts and Sciences, U.P. in the Visayas on Literature. John Barrios is the 1995 Cultural Center of the Philippine grantee for Short Story in Aklanon and was chosen Outstanding Student of the Year 1995 by the CAS-UPV on Theater Arts. Roman de la Cruz, known as the Patriach of Aklanon writers won first prize during the 1994 Creative Writing Workshop held in Mt. Makiling. Melchor F. Cichon received the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas (for Poetry in Aklanon) given on 25 August 2001 at Goethe Institute , Quezon City.

Years back, Aklanon poets and fictionists have been clamoring for a magazine that could publish their literary outputs, they be in English or in Aklanon. That dream has not been fulfilled.

What has been fulfilled so far is a space for poems in Aklanon and in English in the Aklan Reporter, a weekly newspaper edited and published by Roman de la Cruz.

In answer to that, the Akean Literary Circle through my encouragement founded a one-page monthly poetry journal. Entitled Bueabod, its first issue came out in January 1994. This journal has featured, among others, the works of Roman de la Cruz, Dominador Ilio, Tomas Talledo, Felino Garcia, and Edel Cruz, a Palanca awardee. Since then, it came out irregularly. Today it is hibernating. The good point in this journal is that many of the poems in this journal were anthologized in Patubas and in Ani (Aklanon issue). Also Isagani Cruz had selected some of the poems here as the best poems in his monthly selection. This journal is edited by John Barrios, Alex de Juan and myself.

The editors of Bueabod hope to continue publishing this journal despite financial constraints. One of their missions is to erase the idea among Filipino writers that there is only one literature in Panay and that is Hiligaynon literature. To us that is Hiligaynon colonialism. The truth of the matter is that, we Aklanon writers do not want to be included in the Hiligaynon literature. We want our literature to be called Aklanon literature, nothing else. The move of Dr. Deriada to call the literatures in Panay and Negros as Western Visayas Literature is a better term, rather than Hiligaynon Literature.

It is true that there are not so many creative writers in Aklan. But Aklanons have produced poems, short stories in Aklanon and in English. Novels in Tagalog have been written by Joi Barrios of the U.P. in Diliman. N.V.M. Gonzales, by the way is an Aklanon by blood. His father is from Aklan. Jose Dalisay, Jr., that multi-awardee playwright, also from U.P. Diliman, is also an Aklanon. His father is from Ibajay, Aklan. Dominador Ilio, one of the pillars in Philippine Literature is also from Malinao, Aklan.

To those writers who want to label us Aklanon writers as Hiligaynon writers, I suggest that they first read these two simple lines:

Ro kaeamay gaeapuyot sa kaeaha.

Ro anwang gaeogaeog sa eugan-eugan.

If they can read them without twisting their tongues and understand each word, without getting help from an Aklanon, then probably they have the right to claim that Aklanon poems, riddles, legends, and short stories should be part of Hiligaynon literature.

Otherwise, they should think thrice.

Revised: July 24, 2004

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