Wenceslao: Bisdak Magasin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I WOULD say that I write better in Cebuano than in English. I won a Palanca award (third place, year 2000) not for my work in English but for “Ang Mga Langgam-Langgam,”a short story in Cebuano. I have a better grasp of Cebuano than of English as a language. It’s just that my writing in English provides me with better economic opportunities than writing in Cebuano.

I belong to a generation that caught the tailend of radio’s dominance as a source of information and entertainment. we were addicted to radio soap operas like “Diego Salvador,” “Amorsola” and “Manok ni San Pedro.” The songs we preferred were those of the then rising novelty singers Yoyoy Villame and Max Surban. And we often read Bisaya magazine.

When my mind was old enough to move past the bounds of entertainment, the serious stuff I delved in included the works of “Bisayistas.” there was Natalio “Talyux” Bacalso, the politician (either I wasn’t born yet or was too young when the man reached his peak as a writer and Cebuano films director), and radio commentators like Vic Abangan and Migs Enriquez.

I always find the Cebuano delivered by fluent Bisayistas magical. Talyux was “the man” for me as one of the stalwarts of the opposition Pusyon Bisaya in 1978. Migs was a favorite not only because of his wit but more so because of his command of the language. I didn’t have a favorite among Cebuano writers but reading their best works was an experience each time.

Radio has since waned in influence and has largely been replaced by television, a medium that is being controlled by giant networks whose programs emanate from the Tagalog-speaking National Capital Region. These networks compensate by offering local TV newscasts and a few programs. but many practitioners’ command of Cebuano is not good.

Radio soap operas in Cebuano are no longer as popular and the new breed of radio commentators are known less for their fluency in Cebuano and more for their brusque and rough ways. what saved the day for Bisayistas was the entry of tabloids written in Cebuano like Sun.Star Superbalita and Banat News. These publications enjoy wide readership.

The latest entrant is Sun.Star Bisdak Magasin, published by Sun.Star Media Group. and conceptualized by the same people behind the creation of Superbalita. It’s first two issues (October 1-15 and October 16-31) have already been off the press. for Sun.Star Media Group chairman Jesus B. Garcia Jr., the time is ripe to introduce a magazine type publication following the successful run of tabloids like Superbalita.

“Ang Bisdak,” Garcia said in his introductory article “Bunga sa Gugma” in Volume 1 of Sun.Star Bisdak Magasin, “”minugbo sa Bisayang Dako, usa ka pulong nga binugoy ug gipadalin lang. Apan kini hatagan karon og bag-ong kahulogan sa magasin nga puno sa garbo pinaagi sa kinatibuk-ang presentasyon sa produkto, gikan sa unod ngadto sa desenyo nga moharong sa kompetisyon.”

Garcia, who is also one of the officers of the Akademiyang Bisaya Foundation, considers Bisdak Magasin as, “bunga sa pagmahal sa atong Inahang Dila–ang lubas nga sukaranan sa adbokasiya sa Sun.Star Publishing Inc. sa pagpalambo ug pag-asdang sa pinulongang Binisaya.” It’s a cause that Bisayistas should continue to nurture.

I would consider Bisdak Magasin as an experiment like Superbalita was when it first came out. I therefore hope, for us Bisayistas’ sake, that the experiment would be successful.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 26, 2011.

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