Monday, July 2, 2012

Vernacular Shock in "The Big Miracle"

Okay. So you comfortably sit as a story unfolds in Barrow, the northernmost town at the fringes of the arctic. Three gray whales have been trapped in this enclave of the frozen ocean. The only remaining space for breathing is briskly freezing into icy solid, putting the lives of these three mammals - a father, a mother and a baby whale - in quandary. They need to intermittently come up for air because they need oxygen to breath, like other mammals. But what should be an open ocean has already developed into an arctic tundra of solid ice.

Adam Carlson (John Krasinski), a local news anchor, and Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore), a Greenpeace environmental activist, is doing their best to summon the attention of the politicians, the military, and the townsfolk of Barrow to help these gentle giants. The younger one they called Bambam is hurt. His "snout" has scratches from constantly bumping against the constantly forming ice on the surface of the ocean. Time is of the essence because one could hardly stop the course of nature.

Then from out of the blue, a reporter files her report in the gustiness of midwinter:

"Dalawang balyena ang nabitag ng yelo..."

I had to pinch myself from my reverie! Yes, a reporter was speaking Tagalog for her live feed! I was suddenly made aware of how beautiful the vernacular is. Sure, I may not be able to write well or as fast in Tagalog, but I do know the beauty of the language. "Balyena?" "Bitag?" "Yelo?" They seem unnatural in the context of trapped whales and the arctic tundra, but the words provide a sense of urgency for the situation. The emergent condition is multiplied many times over when you hear it in your mother tongue. Suddenly, this isn't a leisurely moment of cinematic fiction (it isn't - the story's based on real events that happened sometime in the late 80's when Russia and America were carefully treading on the spirit of "glasnost").

Sometimes, we need to help make miracles happen to carve out a kinder, more humane, and ultimately, a better world for ourselves! Sniff!

Russian vessel tries to break the ice.

Drew Barrymore

John Krasinski


sineasta said...

Bakit nagsalita sa Filipino ang reporter? Philippine report ba ang ginamit?

Pero totoo ka. Masarap magsalita at magsulat sa Tagalog, lalo na kung medyo malalim. Napakamalumay kasi niya. Parang kahit na galit na galit na ang nilalaman ng sinusulat mo, malumanay pa rin ang tono mo.

Cathy Pena said...

@ Jheck:

Pure Tagalog is "nakakabighani", actually, although when it isn't spontaneous and turns didactic, it tends to lose its magic in me. It becomes an alien tongue.

Otherwise, in such straight foward manner, it is quite beautiful.

The reporter was doing a live on-the-scene report along with other TV journalists. :)