Governor Linda Lingle to Grace Nakem Centennial Conference

By A. Solver Agcaoili
University of Hawai`i at Manoa

As the Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program’s offering to the Filipino community of Hawai`i, the other States in the United States, and abroad, and in the effort to bring into an academic discourse the experiences of the sakadas and other immigrants, the 2006 Nakem Centennial Conference will be held for four days at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. The conference is slated from November 9-12, 2006.

Governor Linda Lingle, the first-ever woman governor of the State of Hawai`i and advocate of the rights of immigrant communities, will be expected to grace the Nakem Centennial Conference during the Aloha—Dumanonkayo Ceremonies to be held November 9 at the Spalding Auditorium.

Other members of the State Legislature who have confirmed their attendance and participation in several of the panel sessions will join Governor Lingle in the ceremonies.

The conference is aimed to bring into focus the various critical practices of the Ilokanos in the United States, the Philippines, and other countries and to reflect on these practices under the prism of the nexus of cultures, of the urgent need to reaffirm minority cultural and linguistic rights in the face of the hegemonic positioning of dominant cultures, and of the need to articulate the silences in the narratives of struggle and survival of Ilokanos everywhere.

Governor Lingle’s administration, as in previous administrations, have recognized the contributions of Filipinos—and Ilokanos—in the development of Hawai`i.

Through the vision of the administration of then Governor Ben Cayetano, the centennial of the coming of the sakadas came into full swing, with 2006 as the banner year for a yearlong celebration that began in December 2005 and will end in December this year.

Governor Lingle, for her part, has inked sisterhood agreements with many local governments in the Philippines to help spur the exchange of goods and services between sisterhood localities.

The latest of these initiatives from the Lingle administration is the sisterhood agreement with the Province of Isabela, the Philippines. Governor Lingle and Isabela Governor Grace Padaca signed the agreement.

The Aloha-Dumanonkayo Ceremonies will mark the formal kick-off of the four-day conference that tackles the theme: “Nakem: Imagination and Critical Consciousness in Ilokano Language, Culture, and Politics.”

Scholars, researches, cultural workers, creative writers, media people, representatives of socio-civic organizations, academic leaders, members of the Hawai`i Legislature, many political leaders of Hawai`i and local government leaders from the Philippines are expected to take part in the Nakem Conference as speakers, panelists, moderators, discussants, and/or presenters.

Nakem Conference has drawn more than a hundred participants from the Philippines alone. The number of participants from the Philippines is based on the data from registration, the panel presentation proposals, and the abstract submitted to the Nakem Conference Secretariat.

Some other participants are coming from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United States Mainland, and Canada.

Also gracing the occasion is Dr. Bienvenido L. Lumbera, National Artist of the Republic of the Philippines and Professor Emeritus of the University of the Philippines. Lumbera, who received the Ramon Magsaysay Awards in 1993 for his pioneering work in the areas of communication, the arts, and literature, will deliver the main keynote address on November 10.

Joining Lumbera to give two other keynote addresses are Dr. Lilia Quindoza Santiago, an outstanding feminist poet, writer, novelist, and cultural critic of the Philippines, and Dr. Ma. Crisanta Nelmida Flores, a cultural mapping scholar specializing in Northern Luzon including Pangasinan Studies. Santiago, like Lumbera, is a Fulbright scholar and grantee. Santiago and Flores, like Lumbera, are also faculty members of the University of the Philippines’ Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature.

Giving assistance to the holding of this conference are various individuals and organizations. The organizations include: the National Foreign Language Resource Center, UH Manoa; College of Linguistics, Languages and Literature, UH Manoa; Center for Southeast Asian Studies, UH Manoa; Timpuyog: Ilokano Student Organization; UH Manoa; Student Equity, Excellence, and Diversity, UH Manoa; Leeward Community College-University of Hawai`i; Domestic Violence Clearinghouse and Legal Hotline-Pilipina Rural Project; National Endowment for the Humanities-Office of Research Relations, UH Manoa; Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures, UH Manoa; Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature-University of the Philippines; Western Union Financial Services, Inc.; Center for Philippine Studies, UH Manoa; Filipino Community Center; Filipino Centennial Celebration Commission; Filipino-American Historical Society of Hawai`i; and Friends of Operation Manong.

Two highlights of the Nakem Conference are a fund-raising concert for the Ilokano B. A. Scholarship Fund and a musical theatre workshop featuring Noel Espiritu Velasco, a prize-winning and world-renown Filipino American tenor, and Gigi Mitchell-Velasco, also an award-winning and world-renown mezzo-soprano. The concert, to be held November 12 at the Filipino Community Center, is dubbed “An Evening of Philippine Music and Classics.” The music theatre workshop, on the other hand, will be held on November 6, 6-9 PM, at the UH Manoa’s Art Auditorium.

The 2006 Nakem Centennial Conference is convened by Prof. Precy Espiritu and Dr. Aurelio Agcaoili, both of the Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program, University of Hawai`i at Manoa. The other members of the conference steering committee and secretariat are Dr. Josie Clausen, Dr. Raymund Liongson, Julius Soria, and Clem Montero. Apart from Liongson who is from the UH’s Leeward Community College-Philippine Studies Program, the rest of the members are on the teaching staff of the Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program, Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures, UH Manoa.

For more information on the 2006 Nakem Centennial Conference, the musical theatre workshop, and the concert, you may log on to the conference website: or call the Nakem Conference Secretariat at the Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program, 808-956-8405. Email the conference secretariat at: or fax inquiries at: 808-956-5978.

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