In an archipelago in South-East Asia, spores reenchant errors spewed from a language imposed by colonial histories.
The etymology of the country’s title has shape-shifted over time. The first title recorded was ‘Las Islas Filipinas’, after the King of Spain. As time passed and colonial masters changed from Spain to America, the spelling shifted in order to survive. In hope for culture to thrive and propagate:
Las Islas Filipinas became the Republic of the Philippines.
It is speculated that the shift from F to P was an effort to anglicise the country and language. Although Tagalog (the national language) lacks the sound ‘ef ’ in the first place. So perhaps this shift signifies an evolution that honours a culture mirrored through language. An alternation of generations occurs.
These mutations are central in how the Filipinos/Pinoys resist archaic and colonial terminologies. At first glance, they may seem like the spelling errors of those who were illiterate. But looking closer, it seems that this is a formula for resistance by a nation intent on nurturing their own culture. On caring for it. On tending to it. In order to share it with the next sequence of generations to come. This resistance operates like spores, where a change in conditions entails a shift in the spore’s genetic makeup. It lurks under the folds of the tongue and misbehaves like a sonic cousin.
An ocean away from the (m)otherland, spores are conjured through politics and union strikes. They manifest from a culture organising for fair labour rights in California. To unify farmers who could not communicate with each other through language, a Filipino farmer and union organiser introduced a singular phrase to unify Filipino and Latino migrant workers together. The phrase, Isang Bagsak, shifts into a unity clap. A soundscape that cross-contaminates between languages for a cross-cultural campaign for fair labour rights.
it starts slow and steady sturdy like a heartbeat then it grows faster
it builds stronger becomes louder
the chorus swells
it ends with one final clap
it starts with one and ends with all
It is unclear whether Latino migrant workers knew what the phrase meant. It did not matter anyway. When they heard the rhythmic beat swellthrough the fields, it was enough to know they weren’t alone.
In another iteration from the archipelago, spores reenchant and take the form of a family surname: Esporas. The earliest record of the name dates back to the 19th century. The surname emerged either from a census error or misspelling of colonial names from Spaniards. Filipinos would often misspell Spanish terms. It is theorised that this method led to the formation of Tagalog itself.The original surname does not exist anymore, yet Esporas has prevailed. Even in unfavourable conditions, spores fly across borders and oceans. Spores refuse to be defined by a species or theory.
So it manifests differently every time it awakens from slumber.