This could have been a poem but you resisted the metaphor.
Or the play of language, the tropes of a regular Sunday resisting the Sundays that we are all going through now in preparation for the 2006 Nakem Centennial Conference.
There is that countdown feeling here, and the panic grows in the mind even in midnights when you wake up to think whether you have, indeed, put the name of the person who donated his rage to make you realize your own rage--or cou-rage, whichever is appropriate to the moment--to make the centennial conference works.
But now you also see that both rage and cou-rage can be present in your mind.
In all these, you have learned to sit down and relax in rare moments in the late nights in the university where only your office door is ajar to welcome the evening, and then, the midnight air. The other doors are closed before dusk sets in, reminding you that there is life--there ought to be life--after class hours. But here you are, still in your cramped office, sweating it out to make things work for the conference--this conference that will be the beginning of other Nakem Conferences in Hawai`i, in the Philippines, and in the World. You let the idea take root in your heart: That the Ilokano has to struggle it out and assure himself that his language and culture will survive, in the Ilocos, in the Philippines, in the world--or whichever he finds his memory intact.
As you listen to the chirping of the birds in late afternoons from Monday to Sunday, you learned to realize that you still have the energy to fight all that which is unfair, unjust, oppressive.
Perhaps you have seen so much of those that you can spot right away if you saw one such that the revolting feeling comes quickly to alert you into summoning the spirits of the revolutionary and tell you, Hey, hey, you do not allow the trampling to come about again, no more, no way, Jose!
It is resistance, you would say to yourself, this resistance that comes naturally as if it were a second skin.
It is re-claiming again--and again--our self-respect.
It is reflecting on that which matters because they last, because represent the sublime, the revolutionary, the salving, the salvific.
In all these is the rule of the many political games people play: humility, or the lack of it. This is what makes everything different.
Humility is that buzzword--a keyword too--in living life to the full in its everydayness. It is being rooted to the grounded, always and forever. For the word is the ground itself: humus, the ground, the earth, the feet planted firmly on the ground of everyday realities, realities that are as difficult as the text of life itself.
In your exilic life, now commencing the fourth year, you have seen the bigger picture: how people can be true to themselves. And there are many who still have this view of life, this sense of integrity.
But there are those who have lost it, Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike. Especially those who cannot identify with any of the ethnic identities they have become--or refuse to become. Or that ethnic identity they came from.
The deaf and mute and blind and ignorant Filipino-Americans are worst off here. They cannot navigate the gulf of contradictions in their lives and they cannot come into a synthesis either. In this war of selves and battle of identities, they are neither here nor there, neither Filipinos nor Americans.
You admit that these roles are not easy to come by and neither are they easy to play. In many cases, these roles are imposed or are simply products of the accidents of life. And there are deep sorrows here, that I know.
Then again, like the Bhutans, you have to raise the question, What to do? What to do?
We cannot just sit down and watch sun rise and set, day in and day out, you remind yourself, even as you count the hours for this countdown to the D-day of minds, the more brillinat ones, converging in the Nakem Conference for the first time.
You know there will be other times, but this will set the direction for all the other conferences and you grow weary even as you grow more prayerful, offering everything to the spirit of the future that is as past as the present, this fture that is unknown, like the past that is not familiar to you.
But even the present is unfamiliar as well, you console yourself. You realize the magic of moments and the miracle of moments, and the mercies of moments.
This realization is more than enough, you tell yourself. You say your little prayer as you take in all the birdsongs on Maile Way, the early evening tune in its mix of joy and welcome on riotous tree tops giving you company, their colors rich as ever and bursting even in the fall.
A Solver Agcaoili
U H Manoa, Oct 22, 2006