Just a thought: ‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ – George Eliot
- • •
That Batangueño accent: Enchong Dee, who’s both Chinese and Bicolano, does it best, putting on a seemingly natural Batangueño accent nightly on ABS-CBN series “A Love To Last.”
He does it with smoothness, rough on the edges as the Batangueño accent is rather known for, but coming right on target.
The rest of the cast try hard to wear the Batangueño accent on their tongue with much affectation, OA. It’s like they’re putting up a freak show with accent on the ala eh.
The Batangueño accent, however, is much more than the famous ala eh and the kapeng barako that we have come to be known for. It goes beyond substituting ga for ba, gab-i for gabi, laang for lamang, ganire for ganito.
The Batangueño accent comes with an attitude. It is both brave and bold, fierce and loyal to the native Batangueño glossary of terms as the people of this southern Tagalog province are devoted to their homeland. Its nuances are hard to detect by a non-Batangueño.
- • •
Bea handles it well: Bea Alonzo as the lead Batangueña in “A Love To Last” makes a good pass at the accent.
She and the other cast members that make up her TV family of native-born Batangueños can learn so much more from co-actor Perla Bautista, who plays the swinging family matriarch.
Perla is a native Batangueña from San Juan. Long before San Juan town became famous for its Laiya beach, she was the town’s most famous export as a big film star in the 1960s.
Another expert on the Batangas accent on the same show is Irma Adlawan, who sleeps with a genuine Batangueño from Taal, theatre and film director Dennis Marasigan, her husband. They, too, can take tutorials from Irma, a tested theatre player and recent MMFF 2016 best actress awardee.
- • •
A favorite movie device: The Batangas accent has long been a favorite movie device, usually and unfortunately, to elicit comedy, much like they mine the Visayan tongue. But, while the Visayan tongue is attached to bungling helper roles, the Batangueño manner of speech is associated with boldness and bravery.
The late comedy actor Dencio Padilla played it to advantage in many of his movie outings. Even the late Nida Blanca became adept at the language of Batangueños as she starred in a few films where she wore the accent, notably in a film called “Batangueña.”
Not to forget, in another TV time and place, there’s Leo Martinez of Balayan town, whose caricature of Filipino politicians in the person of Congressman Manhik Manaog spoke eloquently in that thick, quaint Batangueño accent that has been his passport to fame.
- • •
Vilma Santos, the Batanguena: However, the most telling evidence of how well a person can suit language and lifestyle lies in Vilma Santos-Recto, who now peppers her conversations with traditional Batangueño lines spoken with the right attitude. Vilma has taken to calling friends as Ka Nitoy or Ka Celia, Ka being a term of endearment among Batangas old-timers. Ka is also used as a term of respect to another person, usually older.
In the late ’70s, Vilma acted in a film called “Vilma Veinte Nueve (29)” where she played a balisong-wielding fighter of a character. She was Batangueña, but of course.
- • •
Welcome to Batangas: The province of Batangas is home to a number of entertainment celebrities. They include Zanjoe Marudo, Jason Gainza (both from Tanauan), Ryan Agoncillo and Jovit Baldivino (Rosario) Lani and Millie Mercado (Lipa), beauty queen Eva Reyes (Lipa), and the late Premiere Productions star, Jose Romulo (Rosario).
Recent migrants to Batangas where they own farms or rest houses are Christopher de Leon, Aga Muhlach, John and Camille Pratts, Coco Martin, Zoren Legaspi and Carmina Villaroel, Celeste Legaspi, Laurice Guillen. Try talking to them in that quaint Batangueño accent.