The Rituals of the New Year

I am missing home and the homeland.

Today as I write this, the new year has come into the homes of our countrymen and the feasting is over, and the post-new year languor is about to set in, with that lingering feeling possessing them and us exiles and immigrants and people of the diaspora.

For us away from home and the homeland, the feeling of being lost is palpable.

We wake up in the wee hours of the night to dream, in half-wakefulness, that soon, soon, we will join the revelry with the loved ones, and soon is really soon, not in this eternity that we feel at this time.

Oh, how time flies, how it escapes from our hands as if it is that same quicksilver in the firework that so suddenly lights up the sky and then the spectacle is all over.

This passing quality of time hits us so hard and we remember that we have not shared the new year revelry with our loved ones for a number of years we now almost do not remember some of the details.

But the rituals, I know well.

But my own rituals in the land of the exiled like me are their own extension--or vice versa. I call home twice, thrice, and endlessly we burn the wires, with the youngest irked that she has to be called time and again away from her favorite show, which, when that one is going on, she does not care about any other worlds, any other people, any other cares, no, not even the residents of some fancy palaces down on a murkey river in the heart of my big city, the metropolis of a sad memory of struggle and survival.

I remember Jane Aragon now, she in her Amman teaching stint, celebrating the new year by herself or with some others who have left home to teach the rich children of Arab bosses, them with their oil, and us with our dream that someday soon, we can strike it quick with our oil wells so that our fortunes will be on reverse.

Why do we sell our brains to others, I do not understand. It is the idea that we can sell our brains, our wit, our knowledge so we can get by in life, never mind the trade-offs, like being away from famiy and home even in days like these ones, the days of our merry-making, the days of our memory-making.

We are all the same, us teachers and writers trying to live, finding the difficult route to surviving the most difficult tests of our profession and our duty to ourselves, to our families, to our children.

The most difficult job, indeed, is to be a writer, or to have the curse of writing and not being able to write at all because you are too damn busy earning a living.

And so I imagine that I am still a writer--I am pretending I am--and I write all these, investing on my memory of the rituals of the new year, the rituals that I keep intact in my heart.

Our family rituals for the new year are us as well--but the rubrics are the wife's, she with her covenant to usurp all our rights to contribute to what counts before the onset of a new year.

She plans days before: what usual food to prepare, the round fruits to hang, the crisp bills to sew on lacy curtains, the bigger denominations close to the dining table so these would not disappear.

She counts them, because the morning after the rituals of the new year, she goes through a solid accounting of all the paper bills that she has reserved for this momentuous occasion of welcoming good luck by driving away all mad thoughts and evil ideas and lurking demonic spirits.

You snatch one bill and you are identified.

The reckoning comes in too fast and there is no pardon.

The children tried some prankter's act and they were caught.

That was their first and their last one-act play of circumventing the matriarchal law and power in our house. That power is absolute, Lord Acton or no Lord Acton in sight.

There has not been any occasion for the money bills disappearing in the last twenty years that she had been doing this ritual of entertaining the possibility of us becoming rich--a thought I need so bad in the hope that I can buy time to sit down, relax, enjoy, and write the books I have in my mind, the books that will retell the stories of our lives, of our dreams, of our desires to make it through the dark nights of our broken and bruised lives.

Sometimes I ask myself, Why is the curse of creative writing inflicted on those who do not have the means to sit down and have the luxury of time to write without worrying where to get the means to put food on the family table?

I called up, Did the golden coconut tree bear fruit for the fruit salad?

She says, Yes, and the stalks are laden but no one is able to harvest them because the tree is so tall now.

I remember that tree when I first planted it as soon as we moved to that humble abode, our modest house that keeps all the memory of the children growing up.

The times were not easy then when me moved in the first time, with that water rationing the most tiring and irksome ritual of our days because the realty developer did not make it sure that we have the water we residents would need.

The city's water system was yet a dream so far away in the pipeline at that time and so we had to make do with drums and drum of water rationed to us, with each drum as costly as the price of crude oil in the world market when no conscienceless capitalist is manipulating the prices, and when wars were not in the minds of crazed men and leaders.

I watered that tree with laundry water and it grew and by the fifth year or so, its arrogant and long stalks would shoot up with those little yellows that ballooned into fruits, green at first, and then golden when they ripened. Sometimes, we would clothe the tree trunk with those starlights from China that blinked and flickered and the tree would look like a magnificent Christmas tree, minus the wrapped boxes and ribbons on its stump.

Are the firecrackers ready? I asked.

I bought some, just to drive away the bad entities with their booming sound, said the wife. We will take pictures and we will email them to you.

Ok then, happy new year, I told them, one by one.

Ah, the rituals. They do mean a lot, a real lot.

A Solver Agcaoili
Waipahu, HI
Dec 31/06

Bisperas ti Ipupusay

(Ket ti pannusa iti ranggas: mabekkel a maibitin iti las-ud ti tallupulo nga aldaw, damag kalpasan a masentensiaan ti diktador.)

Ti bannuarmi ket pinadsoda met
iti kastoy nga aldaw. Dagiti rimmaut iti bukod a daga
dagiti mannaniw ti ranggas. Nauyong dagiti balikasda
kas iti ebanghelio a nilaon dagiti kassaba
dagiti bugawbugaw iti alintatao
dagitay mabutbuteng nga aniwaas
ni kinaasinno gapu ta pammigatda payen piman
dagiti kapuyo ti puso.

Sakbay ti isisingising ti init ti pannusa,
panangrabsut iti agmatuon iti kararua
dagiti amin a manglanglangit a kas kenka
agkarkararag kas iti panagkarkararag idi dagiti madusa
iti kabibilgan a saom, kas kimat nga agbassawang
sumarot kadagiti disierto, angin a mangipuruto
kadagiti amin a rason tapno makitinnibnok
kadagiti lana a mailako kadagiti kabusor
ramen dagiti turayda a kas kenka
iti ay-ayam a linnib-atan
wenno panangtalimudaw kadagiti mayat
iti innala, iti man ayat wenno panaginkukuna.

Mapugsat ti anges kalpasanna,
itaray nga iparagsit nga ipangas
dagiti barabad ti tengnged a mairotan
sa dagiti saksi dagiti amin a gulib
dagiti amin a panagbakabaka tapno saludsuden
iti sayangguseng dagiti agbuybuya a kapanagan
ti kanito ti maudi a pannakaisalakan.

Adda regta ken rugso ti pakasaritaan.
Idulinna kadagiti baul ti agnanayon a lagip
dagiti lugar ti unget dagiti bala ken kanion
dagiti kanalbuong ti bales a kankanayon a pangrabii
iti sipnget dagiti maidasay ng aldaw.

No agkitayo iti bannuarmi
a pinatay dagiti kinarkok
idanonmo ti ayatmi,
pakumusta met manipud
iti inulilada ng ali. Aginnga ita, kunam,
ket ti pakasaritaan ket kaskasdi:
rautenda dagiti bannawag
nga in-inawen dagiti rabii
a panagpalpalamami iti kaasi.

No makitam ti diktadormi
ibagam a sayang, sayang ti inrugi
inringpas dagiti nagindidi idi nga ab-abuyot
ti ranggas dagiti kararanggasan a bulbuli
wenno dagiti agarsab ken aganangsab a tali
wenno dagiti sarangusong a dadaulomi.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa, HI
Dis 30/06

The Day the Panaddamman Dancers Came

"The Day the Dancers are Coming" would have been a big hit. It was a big project, initially, with our students at the University and with the community participating.

Then again, there are things that are not meant to be. There are things that are not within our control, things that we cannot change. Here, acceptance and being resigned to these things is a virtue, the mark of being a man, a woman, a child. The mark of being a true person.

The former representative Jun Abinsay broached this idea to us in one of those meetings we held to put together many things, including the holding of the 2006 Nakem Centennial Conference.

The solon who traces his roots in the Ilocos, as usual, was always the cool mind, with so much hopes in his heart for the Filipino people, with that singular dedication to the cause of the Ilokano community in immigrant land, in this land of the exiled, he being the adviser of a number of civic and cultural organization, and, in my reading of the literary history of the Ilocos and Amianan, was at one time involved with the Gumil Hawaii, and had, in fact, been co-editor of a number of their anthologies.

The dancers, singers, and performers were to be a good number number, more than 30, he said, so we would expect some issues with the visas, with the immigration professionals at the American consulate possibly raising some employment concerns if they were to come here as performers.

I will join hands with you, I told him, eager to have all these cultural exchanges, and with our students in the Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program almost all local born, this show might create in them some kind of an awareness of the kind of culture that their parents came from, but which, by this force we call assimilation into the local American culture, these students have only heard of such a heritage culture and thus the performance of that heritage culture assuming some form of a hearsay. Or plain ignorance, as the case of some of them, who know more of Hollywood and its pop and pulp forms than those "indigenous" cultures of the Philippines and the Pacific, those of the Hawaiian islands included.

At worst, this heritage culture is alien to them, as the case of our students who try to speak Ilokano with that funny accent only Americanized tongues could produce.

In our use of English, we immigrants mangle the language as well and so we are returning the favor to this local born and Americanized Filipino immigrants and local born. As a consequence, our English becomes one of those Englishes in the world, with our Ilokano accent intact however much we try to acculturate the tongue with the schwa, the rolled r's, the short a, the t's, and the f's and p's, this last one sometimes not different for the Ilokano training to pronounce the Philippines with a P and not an F, which, in a way, is a real illogical sound, come to think of it, a waste of a letter when a single letter could have been just fine.

The plan was huge--a multipartite program, with the academic community, with the cultural and civic communities, and with the business community. Abinsay was to head the committee, and we were to support him--we being Dr Raymund Liongson from Leeward and I and all other individuals and organization who see the urgent need to remember the best from our culture.

With the concurrence of the legislator Abinsay, I set the schedule on December 15, with the venue at the Art Auditorium reserved, but for the lack of time, and with the visa problem really becoming a problem, the schedule had to be cancelled. At about that time, we do not know how many of the dancers and singers would be able to make it--and would have their Philippine passports stamped with that powerful US visa for tourists.

These performers showed their unique talent and dancing prowess during the January 2006 State of Hawaii visit to the Philippines, with the Gov. Linda Lingle herself heading that delegation. Mrs Lolinda Ramos, the doyenne of Ilokano cultural patronage, was still all-heart and spritely at this time and she, with hundred others, joined that historical visit of the officialdom and the business people of Hawaii to the Philippines, with the Ilocos as one of the important stopovers. If Mrs Ramos were still alive today, I bet she would be the first one to welcome them, perhaps extending to them that generosity of heart she had extended to the many Ilokano writers who had come to link up with the writers based in the State.

Four years of absense from the homeland is not a lot in terms of historical data but I am justified for not knowing beforehand the Cabugao Internationa Performing Arts Group of Ilocos Sur nor the Panaddaman Dance Troupe of the Cagayan State Univeristy: they are the newest cultural kids on the block, and they are one of best, said Abinsay during that meeting and in the many other chance meetings and telephone conversations we would have in the spirit of the preparation for their coming.

Bien Santos' sad story, "The Day the Dancers Came," came to my mind as we went on with our planning, and I searched deep in my heart the conflicted feelings I had, the feelings that have something to do with that nasty thought about leaving the homeland to the devices of the political and economic and religious and cultural opportunists and the feeling that in this adoptive land, in this America that offers to us immigrants something different, some opportunities, some chance at material comfort if only we tried harder until the body cannot take in all the exhaustion and the overworking, I can have the luxury of "imported" cultural performances like that energetic singing of Martin Nievera at the closing of the centennial celebrations.
Such would be a conflicted experience as well: it is some kind of a way to reconnecting with the homeland--and it is also a escape from the humdrum of daily life in this land of the many exiled like us.

I would imagine the dancers with their umbrellas, their camisas, their barongs, their slippers, their bamboo poles for that eternal tinikling wherever a big occasion becomes a tentative and tenuous reason for Filipinos to get together and stop their bickering for a few hours and instead, put their hands together so they can produce a lusty clapping for the visiting performers.

And so the Panaddaman dancers came to dance for us on December 29, that same day that I was able to hoodwink my local two born nieces and one local born nephew--all in their early and mid teens--to come and watch our dancers. It paid that I connived with my sister, their mother and aunt, respectively, so we would have a reason for them to pick up some Ilokano--and Filipino culture--along the way, what with their Americanized view of things.

Language, for instance. The sound of Ilokano is simply alien to them, strange. Their souls are simply somewhere else, like my children who could connect with me in Tagalog but not in Ilokano.

Or food taste and smell. The MacDonaldization of their culinary preferences is absolute, total, totalizing.

Or family relationships, with them unable to understand, what, in reality, is the Filipino relevance and meaning of an extended family, knowing, as imaged in many of the popular American forms of culture, that family, if at all there assuming that divorce has not come assaulting their young minds, is as nuclear as the nuclear program of some wayward country or countries bluffing us all about their project to destroy humanity: a father, a mother, and the cute little children with their bratty ways because, even when so young and tender, they know which telephone number to dial to call the attention of the police and/or social services in case a parent does some kind of disciplining that amounted to some whacking of the butt.

And dance the dancers did, with that delicate balance between art and body mechanics, grace and skill, and wit and historical correctness. Their presentation, "Hist-O-Rama" is a study on the fusion of memory and mindfulness, of history and high-jumping, of consciousness and cadence. There is also that cultural correctness on the effects of colonization and imperialism, of domination and power, and identity and self-formation. There questioning, embedded in the movements, in the gestures, in the body language, in the steps, is much too complext but not complicated to absorb so that those who do not know the dynamics of Philippine history and culture, the show could have been a lesson in critical civics and Philippine cultural awareness. In short, it could have been an occasion, a rare one, for that awakening to commence.

The $20 entrance fee was worth it. I gave them copies of the "Saritaan ken Sukisok" to bring home and to make them realize that on the day they performed for us exiles, our remembering will begin.

The day the Panaddaman dancers came, I went home renewed and refreshed after the show, ready to embark on some soul-searching about what to do to contribute to the long-lasting loving of the homeland.

My local born relatives abandoned themselves to the sights and sounds--and to the symbols in between the shrieking cries of the performances and the silences. The nephew from Florida even danced the tinikling, his graceful execution of the steps after some on the spot rehearsal before the paying audience showing much promise. I do not know if he will ever find his way back to Philippine language, culture, and consciousness, what with his East Coast ways, but the memory, I am sure, is worth it.

Many of the Filipino Centennial Celebration commisioners were there. The day the Panaddamman dancers came, they stole our hearts.

Now we are finding our way back to the homeland.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Dec 30, 2006

A Militant Is Murdered

(From the news, Juan Sangalang, murdered December 24, 2006, in Lian, Batangas, by those who swore to protect the people)

Your name is militancy itself
murdered for what murder is,
& we do not know how to grieve.

The same question we ask
until the dawn of your death
will answer the same mysteries

we do not understand:
who, from the high heavens
who from the uncaring earth,

will ever protect us from our enemies
when your protectors, your soldiers
of faith of law of justice

make sure you are vanquished,
make it certain militants do not learn speech
lose the power of language

go the silence that is beyond word
lead to the grave and there keep secrets
die with them until no one dares to speak again?

The time could not have been
more ominous, the morning hours
rising to your last breath, countryman & friend

your last breath welcoming you
into the bosom of day
when Christmas carols are on their sweetest

their joyful crescendo your last cry
your anguish in rigor mortis
as if the savior's birth is all that matters.

Our president, the lady of all of our pains,
perpetual and relentless, declared a truce
and here you are, cold, a corpse, dead.

How many children have you got?

How many dreams did your look for

long for in your search for relief
from all these that shackle us
we who do not know much about graft

we who do not know much about cheating
we who do not know much about stealing
we who do not know much about enriching ourselves

except to ask the difficult questions
about where freedom is at this time of our want
where food is to be found at this time of our hunger

where liberty resides at this time of our fear
as it is not in our homes these promises she made
in our streets in our days in our lonely lives

even when the days are long and agonizing
even when promises mock us calling us naive
calling us names calling us useless

for the poor that are us are made of flesh
our sufferings are writ in rivers of tears
flowed to the sea with its emptiness?

One other man is dead, this militant
& his dreams have been murdered
& in this Christmas of our glad tidings

he is one exhibit of our growing impotence
gathering strength from our callousness
we who live our days as if murdering is a masterpiece.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Dec 28/06

Today I Drove Towards the Rainbow, Literally

Day in and day out now, I am taking my chances as a writer and researcher.

The university is all-calmness and serenity and peace and quiet, with only a few ringings of the office phone to break my self-imposed silence and the obligatory cleaning lady's ransacking of my garbage can in mid-morning.

The whole of the last floor of my building is all mine.

It pays that my office is in a corner overlooking a mountain hedging the Manoa part of the campus, towards the east where the Waikiki sun rises religiously and predictably even if some mornings are for lingering and waiting and meditating. From my window, on the northwest, I get a glimpse of the magnificent incline of the Tantalus mountain, the mountain famous for its lookouts, the lookouts giving you a panoramic view of the sea in the south, and the Pearl Harbor in the south-west farther up. Either way, when good luck comes in handy, I see a big rainbow dotting the vast expanse of a light blue sky, with the light rain giving the blessing when the raibow exhibits its colorful glow that always hints of hope and happiness somewhere.

The rainbow scene is regular. The Manoa valley is known for its spectacular display that, on a regular day with that light drizzle wetting the blades of grass, you see young people taking out their cameras and ever-ready to digitalize that colorful canvass as large as life itself.

I tell myself now: When life is all but bluster and bluff like the empty promises of unpredictable wind from the silly waves on the shore not far away, you simply look to the rainbow and there, with its colors, you remember the promise of Yahweh to his people: that promise of renewal. Of hope. Of new beginning. Of the universe that was dead but coming to life again.

At three, I get tired doing many things at the same time.

I need to stretch a bit, I remind myself.

I get up to look at the sun now beaten by the gusty wind and the rain that abruptly comes and goes, as if, indeed, the elves and the fairies are on their way to a wedding ceremony with the forces of the universe.

I remember that late in the morning Rep. Jun Abinsay called me up to say that the Cabugao Performing Group will have their day at the Filipino Community Center and he said, could I go and lend my support and I would be his guest. I will, I told him. I will also call up Raymund Liongson, I promised him.

This Ilokano performing group made up of out-of-school youth are here to showcase the best that we can ever have from the heritage our ancestors put together so we can celebrate life in its earnest. I think of all the Ilokanos who have remained steadfast with their culture and language.

I took my coffee mug, and finish up the French vanilla coffee that has gone cold for many hours, the coffee tasting like a bland frappe from a street-corner coffee house.

I get out of the office, cramped now with books and index cards and research boxes snatched from some shoes, the boxes wrapped in colorful paper to hide the brand of shoes that I bought for the first time to reward myself for one hell of a job I have done right. Of course, only I knew that, and to psyche myself up to doing good next time, I dangled before me a carrot and here, here, the shoe box is a proof.

I need to breath--take in as much fresh air as I could.

I need to forget all the debates about the literature of exile I am reading to brush up my theory, about Urrea's account of the the tragedy of border crossing in that "Highway of Death" in Arizona, about the phrase I have yet to think about some vague hope springing eternal in the hearts of men and women even if some of them are beyond redemption.

I need to forget about my play "Red Earth, Brown Earth" that I am trying to revise, make it full-blown, and develop a two-hour, three-act play out of it.

I needed to write "Pukan Cane," that screenplay of a commercial film that I want to offer as an oblation to the perennial Filipino, the one who does not die but comes to us eternal, the "Pukan Cane" his own story and detailing at the same time all the tales of the sakadas and Filipinos during the last hundred years of their sacrifices and thus, a century of their sanctifying acts in the name of country and people and the future. "Pukan Cane" is an ambitious project but I keep praying I will have the nerve to keep it going and ever-fresh in my mind.

I need to sustain my momentum for all these--and the best time to jot down the outline is now--this now before things get too complicated once classes will again pick up and your holy hours are all snatched from you because these hours are not yours but are meant to serve others.

I run out of the office, jog around a bit, and then walk to the Structure, that famous general parking area, five floors in all spanning many acres of parking spaces, and a real distance away from my building.

I hop on my trustworthy car and get out of the campus, drive west, to the foot of the mountain and there take in all the fresh air I could take, breathing consciously like the Sadhana way, and always remembering my "Om, Om." Many years of hardship and prayer and studies in the religious and vowed life pay sometimes, and when the spirit goes awry and directionless, the Sadhana breathing comes in handy, and the remembrance of my God comes in quick and easy. I always relax this way.

I drive some more to the west, past the Pali that leads to the Philippine Consulate, past Likelike that leads to the heart of the Kalihi Uka where there, at the back of the homes of Ilokanos, there, a living brook murmurs the song of relief and renewal.

I get refreshed and I turn back. Now I am driving to the east.

At five, the sun is still up--and the drizzle keeps on with its shower of water, blessing the earth and blessing it some more.
I see puddles in some areas, and I witness the delicate dance of tree leaves, gracefully swaying with the south wind.

I drive some more, and there, before me, the beautiful and big rainbow appears, its colors those of the earth that breathes, the universe that lives, my mind that imagines how to seize this moment, catch it in a metaphor no one has thought of before.

Tough luck. I give up.

I drive towards the rainbow, and that was enough.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa
Dec 28/06/7:20 PM

The Night We Navigated Distances Among Us Writers in Exile

Something good happened tonight--and it is salving and saving.

You savor each second you talk with--not talk to--two exilic writers and another one planning to become one because, he says, the dear old homeland has ceased to give us writers and citizens and workers some ray of hope.

We all should add--obliquely at best, that some writers here and there, are also hopeless, especially those that accidentally got into the business of writing the first lines of their dubiously 'major' works, the quality of these works the same mediocrity we see among pulp poems and dismissible writing produced by uncreative and uncritical writing factories these hopeless writers have put up to perpetuate themselves, to enthrone themselves--with the glory of Rome in their hands.

There is that banality and vanity in this--that desire to call eternity for eternity's sake, cheating time, and cheating Ilokano consciousness to the tilt. We do not know how to learn--we do not learn, we are not learning.

There are a number of them, this cabal of pretenders calling themselves writers or poets or some other literary terms that they fancy upon depending on their company, who normally are their own friends and court-jesters. I say this: there is incest in literature and writing, in the Philippines and elsewhere, and we have become a witness to this incredible game that borders on make-believe.

It is past eight and I was about to call it a night after spending long hours writing and writing--and endlessly reading and cataloguing and researching and note-taking. I have learned to punish myself by not taking lunch--and to get away from that, I take a hearty Ilokano breakfast of sauteed bawang leaves and dinengdeng so that at eight, when the whole university is all mine, I feel that pang of hunger from some crevices of the gut.

I promised myself to be kind to myself this Christmas, to be kind with my self-criticism, to keep on thinking and praying as well, hoping that that right language and expression would come right off so I can continue with my commitment to produce something I could be proud of, with myself competing with myself and not--never--with anyone else. For the best competitor is oneself, and if one were to look at it some other way, if you compete only with yourself you are not pulling another along, pulling him down nor decapitating him so that you will rise, and rise above the rest, as some people are wont to do. This, to me, is one unpardonable act any writer with a conscience ought to not do, instilling in his or her head that self-respect is fundamentally respect for other people. He or she needs to instill this in his or her soul as welll, if he or she has one--or if he or she has not allowed it to be corrupted by flimsy literary awards he or she won in a short shot.

But the call of the novelist from South San Francisco is as important as recognizing hunger and taking up the duty to feed onself--or this promise to keep things to myself after breaking my silence for an issue I have kept at bay for so long.

Organizing writers to come to a bargaining table and make them see that we have a vision to pursue for and in the name of our language and culture and people is not a walk in the park, this I have known for quite sometime. I knew deep in my heart that we will come to this farce--the most farcical of all the farcical-- with the authors and characters choosing to remain anonymous to protect their honor but not minding that those that they are destroying are also people deserving of their own self-respect and honor. There is a huge question of basic justice and fairness here.

In the Philippines, I had come from various organizations and from a writing institute based in one of the country's better universities. These various exposures have equipped me with the relational skills I need to get by. But I am at a loss now. We should call for all the baglans to come and heal us all, heal our hurts, heal our bleeding hearts.

I make do with my silence, my solitude, my aloneness. For a writer has to summon the energy in silence, in solitude, in aloneness.

But hearing the novelist from the Mainland has shattered my illusion of keeping to myself for this season of song and sorrow, of contemplation and consciousness building, and of patient understanding and perseverance.

I hear him and that illusion of aloness is gone like a smoke or a morning fog, and the tentative feeling of hunger for missing my lunch--missing it intentionally for creative writing reasons--flies out the window and goes to the wet mountains to the northwest, their leaves dripping with the Christmas rain--or so I imagine. It is night, and the flickering lights yonder remind me much of Lorenzo Tabin's sad and irredeemable tale on Escopa and its wretched people. But I fight the feeling now, prefering to summon the spirits and angels and the anitos to come give me company in this not-so-dark night of my writer's soul.

I hear them: the novelist of exile and settling, and the other great writer from another city with its white christmas grandeur, the writer a pillar in the history of Ilokano writing, a pillar in many of the genres no one ever dared to explore. Name the literary genres and he was there, he is there, and he will, I am sure, not stop going into their possibilities and promises, with his transcendental literature good pieces for what we, students of literature and creative writing would call, the nexus between literature and religion, the nexus alive, infused with the spirit, inspired by the notion of the divine we can never find in the warrooms of capitalistic generals and clumsy presidents and imperialist prime ministers, and in the narrow minds of pretending writers.

I connect the dots now: Salt Lake City going into South San Francisco and crisscrossing into the channel of the night and the airwaves get to link up with me, in this evening of joy and hope. There is another voice at the other end of the line: the equally capable writer with his poems on the miserable city of our lives in the homeland, the city like Quiapo and its joyful jeepneys and its mean streets, and the University of the Phlilippines chapel, the details of that poem you imagine like the sensitivity of an evangelist John, the hours intact, the shadows clear despite the semiotic richness of the painted images, the painting a fusion of light and its absence.

Forget the hunger.

Forget the promise to allow aloneness and solitude to get hold of you.

A writer like me should be given the opportunity to break his promise once in a while. For a cause that is grander, greater, more glorious.

With the dots of distances bridged, I am dining twice over.

No, I am dining thrice over, with three creative minds bombarding me with the simple truths of life, social and human relationships or their absence, and writing.

I am filled with energy, and I feel it, the same feeling, I must confess now, you realize you have in your heart when you are before mindful people, mindful because they are decent and dignified--and simple in their honest ways like Amado Yoro the poet whose presence you cannot exchange with some other braggarts and honor-seekers.

When you are with decent and dignified people, you ought to allow yourself to be infected, and you can count your marbles: you cannot be with them unless you allow infection to come about, and let that human infection reside in your heart as well. Which is good, because, the infection checks your finitude, your mortality, your humanity--realities all that every writer in his or her right mind must continually account, check, and re-check. Winning one or two awards does not a writer make. A consistent communication of the creative vision is what a writer makes--because that is precisely what he or she leaves behind. Not the one or two mediocre awards--not even all the awards he or she has gotten, whether legitimate or calculated.

I am dining tonight, and three times over, and it is Christmas, and I am pardoning myself for this flow of grace when I talk to these three great minds with their intents that are only blessed and graced. Blessed. Graced. And I can only thank what tough luck I have got tonight, one tough, rare, rarified luck.

I am dining with dreams, despair, and depression--and then the whole conversation has this coup de grace: hope for the Ilokano language and culture, a living legacy for Ilokano writing despite all the shenanigan of those who can afford to come up with all these verbal gymnastics, their claims as empty as the empty promises of emperors and empresses running around town and in the valleys of our shocked and surprised consciousness, running around in their self-proclaimed glory but with no clothes on.

But they do not know, of course, that they are naked, nude as nude can be, their minds as narrow and infertile and infantile as some wretched earth in a wretched land peopled by a wretched people, these people talking about wretched ideas only wretched thoughts and wretched imagination can think of. The circle, indeed, is vicious.

Can we have a teleconferencing? the San Francisco writer asks me.

Shoot, I say. But can we use my landline? I am at work. Working still, and trying to catch a metaphor, or pursue a dream.

Ok, then, he says, his reply curt as always, and to the point. A classic him, the business savvy that made him rich in the pocket and in the heart despite all. He does not know how to surrender, this man, taking all the faith that he can summon, taking each day one at a time, and even enjoying the name-calling thrown his everyday existence. He must be afflicted with that cross-bearing sickness, a sufferer of some kind of a Messiah complex, and a masochist.

But I do not tell him this, in total deference, because if I did say that, I should, at least tell that same thing to the other writer in Salt Lake and the wife. And now the other writer from Manila who is allowing his powerful metaphors to go on vacation so he can meet up with his wife based in the US Mainland. Oh, what exiles have we all become, exiles of our art and poetry and stories.

And then our phones connect, the sound crisp and clear.

We simply abandoned ourselves to laughter. I threatened them that I would blog this--and I thank them for this wonderful night of exile, a night that makes you remember your missing home so bad you did not tell them that you just called up your Manila home just to say hello to your children and wife.

I hear their voices ringing with so much hopes for our land, for the homeland, for our people, for our language, for our literature.

Our abandoning ourselves to laughter made us bolder, braver, more daring--and we tell ourselves: Let us move one, let us put zest and spirit on our next steps.

I imagine Herman Tabin's poem set at the University of the Philippines chapel, and I remember that same chapel I went to many times to ask for blessings, to commune with my God, to summon the spirits of life.

I imagine Lorenzo Tabin's quick wit, his "Pakpakawan Berde" needing critical evaluation and which I am beginning to re-read and write about in the hope of bringing the work to light and to the attention of students of our culture, pretenders to glory and fame included.

I imagine Terry Tugade's insistence on his middle name, and which he threatened me with forgetting by history if I did not include my mother's maiden name in my work. I imagine him as Alvaro Cortez, the exile who made good, who found love, who found himself by synthesizing all the bundles of contradictions in his immigrant life.

I imagine Amado Yoro's salient metaphor of 'siit'--the thorn, literal and religious and symbolic. But I imagine his pen, the creative rage in there, the consistency in there, the decency at its tip, the quiet dignity of his words.

I look at the night. I see many brilliant mornings in its womb.

I went home to dream--again.

To dream about our language. To dream about our poetry. To pursue those dreams for our people.

A Solver Agcaoili
U of Hawaii at Manoa
Dec 28/06

Putok ti Pistola

Adun ti makaammo a mannaniw
iti daytoy nga ebanghelio ti panagsurat:
maysa a putok ti pistola ti balikas
isawang man wenno ikutan iti ulimek
kas nana wenno gitebgiteb wenno panaas
nga ipeksa iti kaltaang ti rabii
wenno idulin iti siled ti puso
ket iti isip, sadiay nga arikapen ti dungngo
ti agas ti panagkamang kadagiti bang-ar
manipud kadagiti umbi ken lallay
ti tao nga agay-ayat
ti tao a makaammo iti bugas dagiti bunar
nga umarak kadagiti nasam-it a dayyeng
wenno iti diro nga agubbong iti samiweng
kaipapanan amin dagitoy dagiti sennaay wenno liday
a naganan ti daniw, pauluanna kas salaysay
iti panagbirbirok iti gameng kadagiti mapartuat
a nakem, maisagut dagitoy kadagiti ubbing
isuda nga agindayon kadagiti dagidagi
ti sao a nasudi wenno kadagiti ules a maitali
iti agsumbangir a panagaklili.

Putok ti pistola ti sao
ket iti katengngaan ti konsierto
a kas kuna ti pilosopo, sadiaymo a matimud
ti aligagget ken buteng ket agsilud ti dila
iti imatang ti nadiosan a panagmalmalanga:
dimo kukua a bukbukod ti sao
aradoyo daytoy a kaduam ti puli
pangsukayyo iti bengkag dagiti utek a kimriit
dagiti man agkudaap a di met agsangit
muriskiyo daytoy a kaduam ti mannamay
pangpatagyo kadagiti bingkol ti salidummay
wenno dagiti kankansion a nalipatan
a pampakalma iti barukong
no ti kararua ket agkitakit a maipasngay.

Putok ti pistola ti sao
ti mangabalbalay ti maikulbo.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Dis 27/06

Darfur Deranged

"The government fills their bombs with shrapnel to mark us with their hate."
Mohammed Dufala Ishak, Darfur Survivor, Time ad, Dec 25/06-Jan 1/07

Your story is not news to us.
Not new, its novelty wears off
on us. Even as we say this, we cry with
you, people of Darfur, a land of pain
and sun and moon and rage

and bombs.

A survivor tells us of your tale,
its title in his pocket for fear
of making it into another bomb

or bullet

against his surviving people
who, because of hatred
hate themselves
hate hate itself
until there is only hatred left
such as those that they need
to kill their people's smiles
to murder their hopes
to imprison their desire
to live. In times like these,
you do say, and I hear you clearly
like the wind in the dessert,
cold and inviting and just right
for the feasting
that we all think think think
after all this raging: Death is life.

But the government is not wont
to let you call the spirits
from the mountains
the many beginnings in your rivers
the breath in your fields:
to waste bombs bullets bread
is good business
the return a million times more
more than caring for babies
who dream of milk and food and caress
the cooing of mothers long dead
the lulling of fathers decaying
in the trunks of trees
with the brown leaves for comfort
with the soil to complete the ceremony
of a million Darfur deaths.

It could have been only
in Darfur.

But no.

In my country,
lives come in cheap:
lawmakers are lawbreakers
and they salvage those who say so
or those who call them thieves
braggarts pretenders opportunists
leeches devils honorable murderers.

In my country, they execute
poems that tell us of our common pains:
they mark the bombs the bullets
the babies and they all call them
our resident terrorists,
the first lines of novels too
or the ends of short stories
so that in fiction as well as in fact
we are Darfur through and through
we are Darfur on our way to genocide
well, we have been long before
it ever became a fad
long before some powerful country's president's
speech on the need to make painkillers
for quick relief, instant and effective
while wars everywhere continue to be waged
the wars against peoples and faith
wars against food and hunger
wars against poverty and knowledge
slogans all, like some parts of a Darfur decalogue
meant to deliver us all from a sinful world.

Yes, we are marked with hate
and the winner, I know,
is the one who makes the sales pitch
for the commerce of war
some little emperors somewhere
in your midst, some warmongers somewhere
among your country's powerholders
like ours.

We recap your sadness
and we can only grieve.

Our stories are not different.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Dec 26/06

Ang Bagong Tipan, II

"Isang Pinay na naman ang nagahasa sa Kuwait noong nakaraang linggo. At sa lahat ng naghasang Pinay sa Kuwait ang pangyayari noong nakaraang linggo ang pinakamalupit sapagkat 17 lalaki ang nagpasasasa sa hiyas ng Pinay."
Pilipino Star Ngayon, Dis. 27, 2007

Hindi maaaring isipin
na ang pangingibang-bayan
ay isang sumpa ng panahon, sabi mo,
habang inuusal ang dasal
kontra sa sampu at pitong demonyo.

Dapat nating di isipin ito, sabi mo rin,
at sa mga buhangin mo ito ipinangako.

Siya, wala na ang mga anting-anting
sa mga puso nating makabayan
wala na sa mga puso ng saging
nasa mga herederong makapangyayari
na heredero ng bayan ang mga mutyang
mga galing din, mutyang
sa mga malalaking tao pa rin
ngayon, noon pa, matagal na.

Tulad ng iyong mga kalalakihang manlulupig
kanila ang lisensiya sa kalupitan,
silang sampu at pitong hampas-lupang
nangapira-piraso ng iyong mumunting pakiusap,
ng huwag po, huwag po, huwag
sa Tagalog ng iyong daan-daang takot
na wika rin ng sampu at sampung pagmamakaawa
o sa Ilokano kaya o sa Binasaya kaya
na sa puntong iyon ng pagtangis
ay ikaw yung birheng walang bahid
ng sinaunang kasalanan
ang takot ay sa bibig nanahan
sa lalamunan sa mga hibla ng buhok
sa malakambing na amoy ng mga hayok na hayok
na karahasan na umaagaw sa iyong hininga
sa pagkubabaw kasama ang mga hiyaw
ang tagumpay ng mga saksi sa pagpapasuko
sa tuhod sa talampakan sa tadyang
sa dibdib sa sinugat ng libong libog
ng disyerto doon sa araw sa gabi
sa putang-inang langit
sa lilim iyon ng kagampan ng lahat
ng isasama sa dung-aw ng kapaitan
doon sa eksenang iyon ng paghingi
ng paulit-ulit na kamatayan
doon doon doon ang banal na altar
ng lahat ng mga nandarayuhan
ng mga kinubabawan ng pagkatao
inagawan ng tapang ng kakayahang
pangalanan ang huling alay
doon ang ultimong sakripisyo
ang paghahain ng pagdurusang
binabalewala ng bayan

Sa balita ka lang mauuwi, babai
pagkatapos ng pasko: manananatili
kang walang pangalan, matatakot sa kaapihan.
Yan, yan ang ibig ng bayan.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa, Dis 26/06

Ang Bagong Tipan

2005. Anim na Pinay domestic helpers and ginahasa sa Kuwait.
2006. May naitala nang apat na Pinay DHs ang nare-rape.
Pilipino Star Ngayon, Dis. 27, 2006

Ito ang bagong tipan:

magpapatuloy na pandarayuhan
ng ating mga kapalaran
tayong mga nilalang ng dasal at diaspora

mga barya-barya kung sumahod ng grasya
sagad-sagad naman ang tumbas na pagluluksa
ng kalamnan, ng hitang hindi naman laan

sa banyagang nasa, laway, paghagod sa paglulugso
ng puring matagal nang isinanla ng bayang mahal
ng bayang di naman marunong magmahal.

Ngayon ay paulit-ulit ang puno't dulo
ng mga pagtangis:
sa mga ibinukakang pagitan ng mga babae ng bayan

ay ang pagtutubos sa lahat ng kapalaluan
sa mga hita nila ay ang milyong semilya ng kawalan
ipupunla ng mga banyagang kawatan sa damdamin

ng mga dorobo sa puso
ng mga isnatser ng pagmamahal
sila, kasama ng bayang minamahal

magkakasabwat silang lahat
sa pagtutuldok ng naiwang ulirat
bago ang pag-aangkin sa dangal

pagkatapos ng dahas sa puson
sa lagusan ng lahat ng batibat
sa taguan ng mga duguang luha

habang ang pagkubabaw na paindayog
ay siya ring pagraratrat sa pangarap
ng mga nasang sablay.

Uuwi ang mga babae
ang mga sinapupunan ay saksi ng mga bituin
ayaw nang magningning, ang pagitan

ay yelo na kung ituring, doon ay walang katapusan
ang taglamig habang ang isip ay nagpapaningas
ng bulkan, mangangako ng pagdilim

ng walang ngalang kinabukasan.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa
Dis 26/06

Narasay ti Ragsak iti Fuga Island idiay Aparri

Kalpasan ti International Conference on Philippine Studies nga insayangkat ti Filipino Centennial Celebration Commission ken ti Center for Philippine Studies iti Unibersidad ti Hawaii, napagasatan daytoy numo a nakaam-ammok ni Karie Garnier, maysa a documentary filmmaker a taga British Columbia, Canada.

Nagsarak dagiti danami, kunak koma.

Kas iti naisayangkat a 2006 Nakem Centennial Conference ditoy Unibersidad ti Hawaii iti Manoa a konkontrobersiaen dagiti dadduma a partido gapu ta dida mabatok ti kaibatogan daytoy a Nakem Conference iti kritikal a produksion ti sirib ken laing ken ammo maipapan iti kina-Ilokano ken pannakipagili iti deppaarna iti Amianan a Luzon, nakaad-adu dagiti nain-iskolaran a conference papers ti naikalendario a maipresentar kadagiti nagduduma a panel ken sesion iti Philippine Studies conference.

Culminating activity daytoy ti centennial commission a pagmiembroan--pagkomisioneran--dagiti tallo a nasinged a gagayyem: Lindy Aquino iti Center for Philippine Studies-UH Manoa; Raymund Liongson iti Leeward Community College-UH; ken Amado Yoro, maysa kadagiti teddek a mannurat nga Ilokano iti Norte Amerika. Gapu iti kaadu dagiti sesion, imposible a maatendaram amin dagitoy--ket kadagiti experiensiado kadagiti international a conference, ammomon ti pamayam.

Agpilika kadagiti kayatmo a papanan. Ta ti kayat a sawen ti international a conference ket merkado daytoy dagiti idea, konsepto, adal, diskurso--saan a kas daytay ordinario a panagdiskurso lattan dagiti napusgan--wenno intudo--nga agdiskurso.

Kinitak ti kasla awan patinggana a listaan a no lablabesam ti agsao ket apo, anian, ta naglalaing ket aminen nga agdiskurso kadagiti nagduduman a panel!

Dua ti pinilik iti maudi nga aldaw: ti healing session ni Virgil Apostol a taga-California ken ti "The Silent Natives of Fuga" ni
Karie Garnier.

Sabalinto a blog ti para ken ni Virgil, ti mangngagas nga Ilokano nga Amerikano a luklukuek gapu ta ammona ti agilokano ngem Amerikano iti Los Angeles ti benggatna, maysa a bengngat a malasinko gapu ta sumagmamano met a tawen ti panagindegko iti dayta nga umabagatan a parte ti California.

Unaek ni Karie Garnier--ta ti Fuga ket maysa a lagip para kaniak ket ti documentary filmna ket maysa komitment iti dayta a lagip. Maysa metten daytoy nga obligasion.

Idi dekada saisenta ken setenta--iti agang-anged pay laeng datao--adda idi ulitegko nga agtrabtrabaho iti sawmill ni Alfonso Lim a nasinged a gayyem daydi Presidente Ferdinand Marcos.

Namin-adu a nakapanak iti Taggat, iti Claveria, no kasta a bakasion, ket iti kadaratan nga asideg iti sawmill, iti kadaratan nga agtunda iti maysa a turod a mapanmi idi ul-ulien tapno sirpatenmi ti Apo Lakay-lakay ken wanawananmi ti Isla ti Fuga, sadiaymi nga abalbalayen dagiti tarukoy. Sukitenmi ida kadagiti abut, ket dusaenmi ida, kas iti pannusa nga ipakpakat dagiti pada nga Ilokano a no tippuogenda dagiti natatangig a duogan a kayo ket kunam la no isuda a mismo ti nagpatanor ken nagpadakkel kadagitoy. Anian a panagubing--daytay panangbugtak kadagiti tarukoy! Iti pannakabuyak iti pelikula ni Karie, kasla man laeng tarukoy ti panagipapanko kadagiti tao iti Fuga.

Mangmangngegko idin dagiti estoria maipapan iti Isla ti Fuga. Numan pay as-asideg daytoy iti Claveria, iti Aparri ti pakairamanna a lugar, agarup innem nga oras a birayenda.

Mangmangngegko idin ti kina-islana: ti kinaadayona iti ili, ti kinawaywayasna, ti kinamisteriona.

Kinunak idi iti bagik, "Kayatko ti mapan sadiay. Kayatko ti agtalappuagaw nga agpuga iti Fuga. Sadiay a bulosak dagiti inuubing a darepdepko, bulosak tapno sumurot iti apres ti baybay, makisinnala kadagiti burek ti allon a no agsabbuag ket kunam la no katedral dagitoy."

Isu a napanak iti documentary film ni Karie--ket idiay a nakitak ti agdama a kapay-an dagiti taga-Fuga--ken ti Fuga iti lagipko idi ubingak pay.

Kaduak ni Raymund Liongson a mangimaton met iti Philippine Studies iti Leeward Community College ti Unibersidad ti Hawaii, ni Fred Magdalena a maysa a sosiolohista, indarasmi ti nangaramid iti programa tapno manen maipresentar ti sasaaden dagiti taga-Fuga. Inaramidmi daytoy iti Tokioka Room iti UH ket inimbitaranmi amin a mayat a makakakita iti pelikula. Naangay ti pabuya idi Disiembre 22.

Adda dagiti immay, numan pay awanen ti klase--numan pay kaslan 'ghost town' ti sibubukel nga unibersidad iti Manoa. Ti laengen bantay ti Tantalus ti nasaldet nga agtantannawag iti kampus nga awananen kadagiti agpaspasiar ken agpagnapagna ket agkatkatawa.

Iti maikadua a gundawat, maasika iti makitam--ken maasika iti bagim, ket maasika kadagiti taga-Fuga.

Maasika iti kapay-an dagiti agindeg sadiay, ti kinaawan ti makan iti laksid ti baybay a mangliklikmot iti isla, ti buteng nga agindeg kadagiti barukongka iti rabii ken aldaw, agindeg kadagiti utek dagiti agindeg a sipud pay idi ket nagin-indegen idiay Fuga. Anian a pakasaritaan daytoy!

Makitam dagiti ubbing a no agsakit ket matayda lattan nga awan labanda--agkidemda lattan ket mataydan.

Makitam dagiti masikog a matay lattan a di man makakita iti mangngagas--maudatalda lattan kalpasan ti panagpasngayda ta awan met ngamin makan iti Fuga, ta lugar ti panagbisin ken panaggagawat ti baro itan a nagan ti Fuga.

Mangngegmo dagiti estoria maipapan ti panag-desaperecido dagiti agsursuro a mangtakuat iti bukodda a bileg kadagiti timekda, maitabon iti bubon, wenno maipisok lattan iti narabaw nga abut.

Mangngegmo ti panagballa ti dati nga akinkukua.

Mangngegmo ti pannakaplano ti pannakapapapanaw--ti panangpapuga--kadagiti taga-Fuga. Anian!

Mano pay ngata a Fuga ti mapasamak tapno iti kasta ket makariing ti gobierno, makamurmuray iti maysa a kinapudno: a ti ili ket para iti umili, a ti pagilian ket para kadagiti amin nga agindeg iti pagilian?

Agdara la ketdi ti pusom a makabuya iti "The Silent Natives of Fuga."

Agbibinegka--ket kalpasanna a manguruska, kasla agtatapaw ti ulom.

Ita, rugiantayon ti kampania tapno iti kasta ket mapreserba ti isla ti Fuga--agtalinaed daytoy iti ima dagiti umili ket saan a maiwawa iti sabali.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa
Dis 25/06


Linteg ti ili a nagubingan
dagiti rikna nga itan
ken nayaw-awan. Basaek dagiti pangta
kadagiti binatog, lasinek sadiay
ti pammutbuteng dagiti nabileg,
isuda a napagasatan
iti babato dagiti artek a baglan
dagiti palimed iti panagpalak-am
iti dunor wenno dara wenno danios.

Ballatek, kunada,

kas iti panagwerret ti rungsot ti alipugpog
kadagiti agpagungga a narayray nga aldaw
daytay panagibulastog iti balligi
ni pluma ni agindadatlag a mannurat
isuna nga agranggas kadagiti langit
iti arapaap dagiti sabali a kabinnulig koma
mangisagut itay kanulbuong
iti tengnga dagiti ragragsak
iti tengnga dagiti padaya
dagiti naipapuson a pangngarig
pinagindeg iti taeng nga adda iti kararua
ti daniw a pangaskasaba

Mannamay met ti sao,
kunada pay:

iti angin nga isuratna
dagiti amin a pannusa panagsingir
panagsubbot panagbilang kadagiti agpullo
isuda nga agari-ari kadagiti templo
ti agmamayo a dios kadagiti pagpupurokan
dagiti amin nga aginlalaing
a kasingin ni kinapimpiman
dagiti mannanao nga umel
dagiti umel a bassawang a bassawang
tapno laeng iti nagan ti pakasaritaan
ikur-itda ti magatadan a kaipapanan.

Iti puli nga agballatek amin dagitoy:

di agkibaltang a mangusig kadagiti ar-artiok
dagiti pamulinawen a di met bannatiran
dagiti bannatiran a di met pamulinawen
dagiti agmanang-biday a di met agnaraniag a bulan
isuda nga uloulo dagiti sarampiting a kaibaan
isuda nga agtakaw kadagiti espiritu dagiti sao
sadanto piman isubo tapno agtulakak
ket iti maudi a tulakak
sadiay nga isuratda ti kayat a sawen
ti panagpampamayan
dagiti awanan nagan.

Basaek ti pangta kadagiti binatog
ti lunod kadagiti paggaak a sinsinan:

Ayna, ta agballatek ta agballatek
ti sao kadagiti di mangurus
sakbay a mangiramraman.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa
Dis 25/06

Surat a Silulukat

Silulukat a Surat Para ken Apo Akang—

(Wenno Abstrakto a Sungbat Kadagiti Saludsod iti TMI a Nakairamramanan)

Patgek nga Apo Akang:


Maysaak kadagiti nagtalawataw a mannurat ket iti pannakabasak iti suratmo iti Dap-ayan—ken iti kalikagummo kenni Manong Loring Tabin kenni Manong Terry Tugade a mangsungbat kadagiti nailanad kadagiti immun-unan a saritaan iti daytoy met laeng a Dap-ayan, rimsua man kaniak ti maysa a rikna a mangsarurong iti kinatakneng dagiti inyibbetmo a balikas.

Saanko a panggep ti makiraman iti agdama a debate kadagiti nagkaadu a panagkakampo dagiti sinnungbat maipapan iti Timpuyog dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano uray no kadagiti immunan a panagraratsada dagiti maipana a balikas, nadakdakamaten ti nagan daytoy namuno a kabsatmo.

Kabsatmo, kunak kadi lattan a kas panagpasig.

Dispensarem no saanak a maikarkari nga agbalin a kabsatmo ngem sapay ta ikkannak iti lugar iti nakemmo. Babaen ti panangsarurongko kadagiti inibbatam a balikas ket sinanamaak a makitam met ti sinseridad ti balikas nga isublik kenka, uray no saanmo dagitoy a dinawdawat.

Ibilangmo koma ngarud daytoy a silulukat a suratko kenka a kas suratko met laeng iti bagik tapno iti kasta, babaen kadaytoy permanente a dokumento ti kapampanunotak itatta ket dumawatak koma iti bendision kadagiti espiritu dagiti daniw, sarita, salaysay, nobela, drama, ken aminen a kita ti literatura a gubuayen dagiti nakasudsudi ken makapabang-ar iti rikna a kananakem dagiti kadaraan iti deppaarna iti Kailokuan, iti Amianan, ken iti ballasiw-taaw.

Kayatko koma a dokumentaran daytoy nga isasarurongko tapno iti kasta ket agbalin daytoy a tulag—maysa a testamento a saan a para kenka no di ket kontratak iti bagik tapno iti kasta, manipud ita, ket agnanayon a silulukat dagiti rikep iti panunot ken pusok maipapan kadagiti amin a bambanag a pakaseknan ti puli, ti padas ni Ilokano, ni kina-Ilokano, ti lengguahena, dagiti dardarepdepna iti Ilokano.

Anian, Ka Akang, no agsardeng nga agdarepdep ni Ilokano iti Ilokano—no kadagiti estranghero a lengguahe nga ammona a baliksen ken suraten ti agbalin a lengguahe dagiti darepdepna! Daytoy ngatan ti kakakas-angan a mapasamak iti maysa a puli.


Ipalgakto ti kinaasinnok tapno iti kasta ket awan koma duadua ti panangawatmo iti panaglugayko iti respeto nga it-itedmo iti balikas a naimaldit—ti balikas a naimaldit a maysa a tipo, Apo Akang, ti lengguahe a narigrigat ngem amang a balusingsingen wenno retokaren wenno ibabawi wenno punasen no idilig daytoy iti balikas a balbaliksen wenno isawsawang laeng.

Ta agduma ta agduma ti bileg nga ik-ikutan ti balikas nga insawang ken ti balikas nga insurat, Apo Akang.

Ti balikas nga insawang ket adda kenkuana ti kettat a panangibabawi no saan nga umiso daytoy wenno addaan daytoy iti biddut, inggagara man ti biddut wenno nairanrana laeng.

Ngem ti balikas nga insurat ket addaan iti kinaagnanayon: piho daytoy, maaprosam, kongkreto, masaksiam, madagdagullitmo a basaem, manen ken manen, ket babaen kadagiti mahika dagiti letra wenno dagiti ar-arapaapen wenno malaglagip nga uni a gubuayen ti panangbasa kadagiti naibalikas, oral man wenno babaen iti mata wenno isip laeng, agbalin a nainsagraduan a testamento daytoy ti isip. Iti kasta, narigat ken saan a rumbeng nga abalbalayen ti balikas ti tao aglallalo no naisurat daytoy.

Siak, Apo Akang, ket maysa a nanumo laeng makikabsat kenka, maysa a bassit-usit a mannurat iti pagsasaotayo, mannurat a nagkatangkatang ken simmursurot kadagiti angin ken kadagiti allon.

Bay-annak koma nga ideklarak daytoy: Iti pannakabasak iti suratmo, nakulding ti riknak, ket adda iti sulinek ti barukongko ti maysa nga amiris nga awanan nagan: nga adu pay laeng dagiti kadaraan a kas kenka ti makaawat iti kayat a sawen ti kinatakneng babaen iti nasamay a panagusar kadagiti balikas a saan a makasudak wenno makasair wenno makadunggiar.

Anian a ragsak ti sagut nga adda kadagiti balikasmo—daytay balikas a panangdawat kada Manong Loring ken Manong Terry a sungbatandan dagiti agsalsaludsod.

Nagisemak, Apo Akang, ket malagipmo dagiti hermeneut iti pagsasao—dagiti pilosopo iti lengguahe a mangipatpatigmaan kadatayo: adda kadagiti saludsod dagiti bukel dagiti sungbat no dagiti saludsod ket naamnot ti pannakayebkasda!

Dawatek ti idedenngegyo, Apo Akang—dawatek nga ipakaasi: maysa a lanseta ti balikas, maysa nga imuko, maysa a badang, maysa a buneng, maysa a beinte nuebe, maysa kampilan, maysa a punial, maysa a pana nga addaan iti sabidong ket iti apagdarikmat, kabaelan ti balikas a padsuen ti darepdep a madama pay laeng nga in-inawen.

Apo Akang, dumngegkayo: usarem ti balikas iti wagas a nakas-ang ken makasudak ket ti soltero a rugso a rumsua kadagiti mail-ila ken agay-ayat a sellang ket agnagandanton iti tellay.

Daytay tellay, Apo Akang, daytay tellay a panaginutil ti ania man nga agragut a rikna, a kumarab-as koma, nga agwayawaya koma tapno iti kasta ket iti kapatagan dagiti idea ket sadiay a makiginnantil kadagiti sabali pay nga agragut met a rikna, kadagiti sabali pay a rikna nga agbirbirok iti pakikinnaiganna.

Kabaelan ti balikas ti mangratrat ken mangburayray iti nakemtayo—ket kabaelanna met a patayen dagiti maipaspasngay pay laeng a kapampanunotan.

Iti panagubingko a kas napeklan nga Ilokano, addan salamangka kaniak ti sao, addan mahika iti lallay a gubuayen ti panagiyebkas, addan engkanto iti panagpartuat kadagiti uni kadagiti nainsagraduan met laeng a realidad.

Dagitoy, Apo Akang, dagitoy a lagip ken padas a residente nga agnanayon iti nanumo a kinaasinnok ken iti nanumo a kinataok ket binalonko iti pinagtalawatawko, iti panagkatangkatangko, iti yaadayok tapno kadagiti estranghero a lugar a pakangkangngegak kadagiti sabali a timek, uni, prase, ken bengngat ket saan ta saanto nga itulok ti kararuak ti panagindegna kadagiti sitio ken purok ken siudad dagiti estranghero a lengguahe a nasursurok iti panagkatangkatangko.

Agkitakit ta agkitakit ti riknak nga agindeg kadagiti lengguahe a numan pay ammok met a baliksen uray no kas kasano, paggaammok a ninto kaano man ket ti kararuak ket saan nga umannugot nga agbalin a permanente a residente kadagiti lengguahe ti sabali a tao a paggaammok ket awanan met iti panagduyos tapno mataginayon dayta a pagsasaok.

Daytoy, Apo Akang, ti makaigapu, no apay a nagdesisionak a nagsurat kenka, ken no apay nga inlukatko daytoy a surat tapno iti kasta ket mabasa koma—wenno maikari koma a basaen—dagiti sabali pay.

Maysa ngarud daytoy a kumpesar iti publiko: uray no sadinno ti pakaisadsadsadak, adda dita nga agan-anninaw ti pagsasaotayo, kasla maysa daytoy nga aniwaas wenno bunggaria wenno ma’o wenno napintas a tagainep.

Ilillilinak ti pagsasaotayo kadagiti rabii a kigaw ti ridep kaniak. Ngarud, rumbeng laeng ti panagsubadko iti pagsasaotayo—ket daytoy nga isusungbatko kenka, Apo Akang, ket makitam koma a maysa daytoy a nanumo a wagas ti panagsubad.

Maysa daytoy a panangipeksa iti panagyamanko iti lengguahetayo.


Kunak a nagtalawatawak: dayta ti agdadata a kinapudno, ket iti panagtalawatawko, kasinginko, Apo Akang, ti lengguahetayo, daytay man kita ti panagsingin a dimo mapaggudua no di ket adda latta nga umip-ipus, kaduam a kankanayon a kas iti bukod nga anniniwan, wenno kas iti bukod nga anges, daytay bukod nga anges a mangipakita iti sennaay wenno dagensen wenno dagiti awanan nagan a babantot ngem bukod nga anges met laeng a mangipakita iti awan ressatna a posibilidad ti kinaadda ti pia, karadkad, ken lung-aw.

Daytoy a panagsubad, ken admitirek itan—panagayat iti pagsasaotayo—ti makaigapu no apay nga idi insingasing ni Apo Terry Tugade ti pannakabukel ti TMI, saanak a nagkitakit a nakikappeng. Wen, kinunak, ken wen daytoy nga awanan panagkitakit. Iti nakaisadsadan nga estranghero a lugar, mano dagiti kas kaniak ti agbirbirok iti taeng ti kararua? Sadinno ti pakabirokan dagiti grupo dagiti mannurat a kas kaniak? Kasano a matagibik dagiti idea nga adda iti barukong ken kararuak no awan met wagas tapno matagibi dagitoy?

Ngarud, dimteng ti idea ti TMI idi panawen ti panagkatangkatang ti managkatangkatang a mannurat a kararuak.

Kas kadagiti kabaddungalan a mannurat agraman kadagiti kasadaran, adun a tawen ti indatonko para iti pagsasaotayo, para iti literaturatayo.

Ket no kunak a tagtagainepek ti aldaw a maitan-ok ti Literatura Ilokano ken Amianan iti lubong, saan a nakalablabes a panagisawang daytoy.

Adu dagiti nalalaing a mannurattayo, ngem sinno ti mangitagtag-ay kadakuada? Apay a mangabak iti Nobel Prize wenno National Artist Award ti maysa a mannurat a no idilig iti kalidad dagiti nalalaing a mannurattayo ket adayo nga artapan dagiti bukodtayo a mannurat dagitoy?

Adda genna iti lastiko ti panagawatko. Mannurat a bassit-usit ngem mangisursuroak met ket dagitoy a parikut ket sabali ti panagsaadda kaniak.

Kas manursuro, ammok a ti produktibo nga enerhiak ket adda iti pagitandudo iti laing dagiti nalalaing a mannurattayo. No agkibaltangak iti dayta nga aramid, agbasolak iti mortal a basol iti pagsasaotayo, iti pulitayo, iti literaturatayo. Makabasolak kadagiti musa ti panagsuratan.

Isu a wen, kinunak kenni Manong Terry, wen kinunak kenni Manong Loring, wen kinunak kadagiti sabsabali pay a diakon inaganan.

Inlablabanko ti pagsasao ken literaturatayo kadagiti adu a puersa a mammapatay iti daytoy.

Agingga ita, iti trabahok iti unibersidad, kadagiti sinuratko, iti panunotko, iti utekko, iti barukongko, adda ta adda ti salamangka ti pagsasaotayo kaniak ket ik-ikutannak, lugluganannak.

Ammok daytoy itan: agnanayonto a residenteak kadagiti luklukong ti pagsasaotayo, kadagiti tantanapna, kadagiti wawaigna, kadagiti banbantayna, kadagiti turturodna, kadagiti kuebkuebana, kadagiti dissuorna, kadagiti karayanna, kadagiti baybayna, kadagiti bulbulkanna, kadagiti rikki dagiti ginggined nga adda kadagiti ulimek ken ringgorna.

Saanko nga itagtag-ay ti bagik iti kastoy a panangdakamatko iti panagayatko iti pagsasao, kultura, ken literaturatayo, Apo Akang.

Dumawatak iti pammakawan no adda kasta a gubuayen dagiti balikas nga inibbatak.

Kayatko laeng nga ilugar no apay nga idi damo pay laeng a mangngegko ti maipapan iti TMI ket adda sadiay ti regget a nariknak, saan a gapu iti asinno man a mannurat no di ket gapu iti idea a mabalin nga agserbi ti TMI a kas behikulo ti panagsuratan dagiti nagtalawataw ken naitawataw a kas kaniak.

Awan gunglo dagiti no asinno man a pilato a mannurat iti lugar a nakaisadsadak, Apo Akang—ket aldaw rabii nga agbirbirokak idi iti salakan.

Ta sumabali ken agsabali, Apo Akang, dagiti padas ket rekisito ti panagipeksa kadagitoy a padas no nagtawatawka wenno naitawatawka.

Paggaammok ti integridad dagiti panggep nga adda kadagiti idea a kakastoy ket saanko nga inay-ayam ti idea maipapan iti pannakaorganisa ti TMI—wen, kunak a sigud, makikappengak, kaduadak kadagitoy a panggep, iramandak, ikkandak iti oportunidad a makigamulo numan pay maysaak laeng a nanumo a kabsatyo.

Kasta, kasta a balikas ti inibbatak, Apo Akang.

Ket inibbatak dagitoy a balikas gapu ta iti kaunggak, adda dagiti bambanag a resresponduen ti TMI, segun iti balabala a nangngegak manipud kadagiti autor kadaytoy a natakneng nga idea.

Akuek nga ad-adda manen ti panagragut ti riknak idi mangngegak dagiti natatakneng a nagnagan dagiti mangbukel iti daytoy a Timpuyog, nga idi ibagada kaniak, ket mariknak nga adda potensialna daytoy nga agbalin a Tignay, nga agbalin a Tignayan dagiti addaan umiso a nakem tapno matakderanda ti mangipateg iti pagsasao, iti kultura, iti literatura.

Nagnagan nga addaan integridad, Apo Akang.

Ket asinno ti di mangtagibassit iti bagina tapno iti kasta ket makitana ti balor ti kinanumona no makiabay kadagiti duogan a mannurat nga addaan iti respeto iti bukodda a bagi, dagiti mannurat nga iti kaano man ket diak man laeng nadamag nga agkamkamatda iti pakaidayawan, dagiti mannurat nga iti laksid ti kinaawan ti gameng ti Literatura Ilokano ket sirereggetda a nagsursurat kadagiti obra maestra nga iti panagisursurotayo ket nagbalin dagitoy a kas modelo ti panagsuratan iti Ilokano, a kas modelo dagiti nasariwawek nga imahinasion ni kina-Ilokano, a kas modelo ti managpartuat a kananakem ni Ilokano?
Ayna, Apo Akang, ditay maliwayan ti bileg ti pakasaritaan.

Malukaisanto dagiti managinkukuna, dagiti nagkamkamat kadagiti pakaidayawan.

Uksobento kadakuada ti pakasaritaan dagiti dayawda a naggapu kadagiti estranghero a puersa—dagiti puersa a mannakikamalala, dagiti puersa nga aggapu kadagiti agsiuman a rikna, dagiti puersa a parparato gapu ta aramid laeng dagitoy dagiti maidawdaw-as a mangbalbalatong, dagiti mannurat a parparawpaw ti sirmatada, dagiti aginsusurat ngem nakapobpobre met dagiti inuritda a balbalikas.

Saan amin a mannurat nga Ilokano ket kuneng, Ka Akang. Adda dagiti agul-ulimek a mangik-ikot iti laing, iti pudno a panggep ti panagsuratan, iti hushusto a pakaidatonan ti panagusar iti lengguahe a nakayanakan ken kabukbukodan.

No kunak a tagibassitek ti bagik iti sango dagitoy a mannurat a mangbukbukel iti TMI, saan a parparato daytoy: ta aminda ket paglugayan a nagnagan, nagnagan nga iti unos ti panagubing, iti unos ti panagkabannuag, iti unos ti panagpatanor iti naan-anay a pakinakem ket amin dagitoy a mannurat ket addada iti sirmata, agal-allangogan dagiti balikasda, ket dagiti karit kadagiti ulimek nga adda kadagiti sinuratda, adda, adda sadiay daytay namsek a panagayat iti nakayanakan a kultura ken pagsasao.

Wen, wen kinunak iti awis. Kasta met laeng a rikna—kasta met laeng a panagwen ti insawangko idi makikappengak iti GUMIL Filipinas a nangtenneb met kaniak, panangtenneb a pagyamyamanak.

Pinagpuonak dayta a rikna—dayta a panagwen--ket nakigamuloak iti pannakabukel ti konsepto a papel ti TMI.

Ket inyawisko ti panakaaramid ti dokumento tapno agbalin a korporasion daytoy a Timpuyog, maysa a korporasion nga agbiag iti agnanayon, biagen kadagiti darepdep dagiti nangbukel, palasbangen dagiti makikappeng, parukbosen dagiti gapuanan dagiti natakneng a mannurat a sindadaan nga agsakripisio iti nagan ti Timpuyog.

Saanko nga inaganan ditoy dagiti agsaksakripisio aginggana ita.

Saanko met nga inaganan dagiti agsagsagba aginggana ita.

Saanko met nga inaganan dagiti nakaawat kadagiti benepisio manipud ken maigapu iti TMI ta paggaammok ket awan.

Awan bimmaknang iti TMI—ngem addan dagiti sindadaan a nanglukat kadagiti pusoda tapno rumangpaya daytoy. Addan dagiti sindadaan a nanglukat kadagiti petakada.

Maysaak a saksi—ket sindadaanak nga agsaksi para iti pakasaritaan.

Adda kadi dagiti agpapaos iti dayaw—dagiti agraraman iti bileg?

Daytoy ti sungbatko, Apo Akang: diak ammo. No natakneng ni mannurat, apay a gamdenna ti dayaw? Di kadi ti panangiyebkasna iti awanan mulit a wagas kadagiti agsasamusam a sirmatana a sirmata met ti sabali ket maysan—ken umanayen daytoy a pakaidayawan?

Agraraman iti bileg, Apo Akang? Ania a bileg ti birbiroken ni mannurat no daytoy a mannurat ket awan met kabaelanna a mangiyebkas iti nainkalintegan ken nasamay a wagas ti adda iti panunotna?


Kas maysa nga adalan maipapan iti pilosopia ken mistisismo ti lengguahe, Apo Akang, daytoy ti makunak: adda dagiti kita ti ulimek a nataktakneng nga amang ngem iti panaglawatlawat, nanamnamsek nga amang ngem iti panaglabidlabid, nabungbunga nga amang ngem iti panagputakputak—kas iti panagputakputak ti maysa a manok a di met agitlog.

Kas adalan a mannurat, adda kontratak iti lengguahe a sadiay ket maysaak laeng kadagiti agindeg, maysaak kadagiti adu nga agsursuro a residente.

Masapul nga akseptarek daytoy a banag ket iti panangakseptarko, maamirisko nga iti panagaramatko iti lengguahe, agparpartuatak iti publiko nga espasio, iti publiko a diskurso. Iti kasta, saanko ngarud a makuna nga addaanak iti absuluto a lisensia tapno aramatek ti lengguahe iti wagas a kaykayatko—ti wagas nga awan makatubeng.

Siaammoak, Apo Akang: kabinnulig ti wayawayak a mangiyebkas ti adda iti natakneng a panunotko ti responsibilidad a mangrespetar iti sagrado nga aspekto ti lengguahe, ti kinatao ti sabali, ti kinatakneng ti gimong ken kultura nga agserserbi a pagbunubonan dagiti artistiko ken pudno ken nasayaat ken napintas a bukbukel ti lengguahe.

Kas maysa a publiko nga instrumento, kas maysa nga unibersal a behikulo ti panagiyebkas iti kananakem ken sirmata, iti panagaramat iti lengguahe adda responsibilidadko iti gimong, adda kontratak iti unibersal nga agbasbasa ket ngarud—ket ngarud—awan ti karbengak nga agbasbassawang wenno agpagunggan wenno mangirakurak lattan iti kayatko nga irakurak a diak pampanunoten no kasano ti panagsaadna iti sabali, iti gimong, iti agbasbasa a diak masinuno ti langana, ti kinataona, ti kinaasinnona. Kasta met nga adda responsibilidadko iti sabali a tao, iti gimong, iti publiko, ken iti agbasbasa ita ken iti sumuno nga aldaw.

Iti ababa a pannao, adda responsibilidadko iti agnanayon no maysaak a natakneng ken nanakman a mannurat nga ammona nga ikkan iti hushusto a balor ti lengguahe nga us-usarenna.

Daytoy ket respetok met iti bukodko a bagi a respetok met laeng iti bukodko a lengguahe, iti bukodko a pagsasao a pagindegan dayta a bukodko a bagi.

Nakem ti kayatna a sawen daytoy--ken kinatakneng: nakem ken kinatakneng a masapul a birokentay kadagiti amin a tao a mangibagbaga a mannuratda.

Daytay nakem a nairamut iti daga—saan a nakem a gubuayen ti panangipaulo kadagiti dayaw a naapit wenno premio a naawat, maikanatad man wenno nairanrana laeng.

Ta ti pudno a mannurat ket daytay tao a makaammo a mangrespetar iti kinasagrado dagiti espasio nga adda iti baet dagiti balikas, dagiti kinasagrado dagiti ulimek—dagitay ulimek nga ad-adu nga amang ti ibagbagada ngem kadagiti ringgor a gubuayen dagiti tambor a kawaw wenno tangguyob a buttaw.

Adu dagiti kari ti lengguahe ket iti ulimek, iti nagbabaetan dagiti balikas, iti nagbabaetan dagiti panagiyebkas ken panagipeksa, sadiay, adda sadiay dagiti murumor ti pannakaisalakan, ti pannakaawat, ti dalan nga agsubli iti bukod a barukong, iti bukod a bagi, iti bukod a panunot.

Adda dagiti sanselmo a mangyaw-awan iti narikut a dana ti panagsuratan.

Adda dagiti makapagel, adu dagiti masalamaan a mangmangkik, dagiti mangyaw-awan.

Ngem no patientay ti bileg ti ulimek, ngem no di mamingga ti panagsublisublitayo iti sagrado nga ulimek a pakabuklan ti pagsasao, agrukbos ti bukel ni kinatao ni natakneng nga Ilokano iti man Ilokos wenno iti ballasiw-taaw.


Nupay awan kaniak dagiti kontexto dagiti pasamak a madakdakamat iti pagsusupiatan a mabasatayo kadagiti sinnungbat iti Dap-ayan, daytoy ti makunak, Apo Akang: diak agbabawi ti pannakikappengko iti TMI.

Iti kaunggan ti barukongko, addaak iti salinong ti narukbos nga arapaap a sindadaan a mangted iti inana tapno iti kasta ket dagiti kararua dagiti agkatangkatang a kas kaniak ket sadiay a makariknada iti lang-ay, lung-aw, ray-a, wayawaya.

Iti kaunggan met laeng dayta a barukongko, awan ti uray bassit-usit laeng a panagduadua nga agsinnupadi dagiti natakneng a panggep ti GUMIL Filipinas a nagserbiak ken pagkamkamengak ken ti TMI a pagkamkamengan met laeng daytoy numo.

Ala, Apo Akang, dispemsarem ta alaekto a kas karbengan ti panagulimekko kalpasan daytoy a suratko kenka a suratko met laeng iti bagik.

Kas ‘tay nakunakon, patigmaan met a para kaniak daytoy a suratko tapno iti kasta ket makadawatak iti basbas kadagiti natatakneng a mannurat iti lengguahetayo nga immunan iti sabali a biag—isuda a nagitukit kadagitoy a panagayat kadagiti puspusotayo. Iramanko ida kas panagsagraduar dagiti lagip nga imbatida kadatayo. Babaen kadagiti imbatida a sinurat, nabakbaknang ti kananakemtayo ita. Awagak koma dagiti musa ti panagsuratan ngem nakabakasiondan sa met ita.

Dagitoy a panagitukit iti nakasaysayaat a lagip ti il-iliwek koma a mapasamak kadagiti amin a grupo dagiti mannurat iti pagsasaotayo, Apo Akang.

Kaniak a biang, awan grupo ti addaan iti prangkisa iti panagsuratan iti Ilokano, iti Amianan, iti maipapan iti Ilokano, ken/wenno maipapan iti Amianan.

Ketdi, bitibitentayo amin a mayat a mangibati kadagiti nagpipintas a kapampanunotan ken dagiti amin a naayat iti pagsasaotayo, dagiti amin a managayat iti kapada a mannurat, ken dagiti mangil-ilala iti kultura a nakayanakan.

Diakton agsurat pay—wenno diakton gamden ti sumungbat pay. Piliek ti agulimek kalpasan daytoy. Ulitek nga adda dagiti ulimek a pakabuklan ti lengguahe—ket birokek daytoy.

Riwriw a panagyaman iti panangriingmo, Apo Akang, iti makabakbakasion a riknak—makabakbakasion a kas kadagiti nakabakasion ita a musa ni panagsuratan iti lengguahe a nakayanakan.

‘Toy nanumo a kabsatmo,

Aurelio Agcaoili

A Presentation of

“The Silent Natives of Fuga”

a documentary film on Fuga Island, Aparri, Cagayan
The Philippines

By Karie Garnier

Sponsored by

Ilokano & Philippine Drama and Film Program-
University of Hawai`i-Manoa


Philippine Studies Program-Leeward Community College-
University of Hawai`i

Moore 319/Tokioka Room, UH Manoa
Dcember 22, 2006, 1100AM-1230PM


1100 AM-1230 PM
December 22, 2006, Tokioka Room, UH Manao


Aurelio S. Agcaoili, PhD
Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program
University of Hawai`i-Manoa



Mr. Karie Garnier


Moderated by
Raymund Ll. Liongson, PhD
Coordinator, Philippine Studies Program
Leeward Community College
University of Hawai`i

Komitment Para iti Pannakikammaysa iti Fuga

Dakami a makaawat ken makipagrikna iti sasaaden ti isla ti fuga ken dagiti agindeg ditoy ket sangsangkamaysakami a mangipalnaad ti pannakikammaysami iti daytoy a tignayan tapno iti kasta ket saanto a mabag-ot dagiti agindeg iti daga a nagramutan ken nakaidulinan dagiti kadkaduada.

Sipapatikami a maikanatad daytoy a pannakikammaysami ta maitutop daytoy a tignayan iti linteg ti biag ken ti pannakikammaysa iti nakaparsuaan.

Ngarud, dawatenmi kadagiti nakariingen nga itedda ti basbasda tapno iti kasta ket daytoy a tignayan ket makatulong a mangtaginayon iti kinamaymaysa ti fuga ken dagiti agindeg kenkuana.

Commitment of Solidarity with Fuga

We who understand and sympathize with the condition of the Island of Fuga and the people who live in it declare our unity so that the people of Fuga will never be uprooted and displaced from the land where their umbilical cords have been kept.

We believe that this collective action declaring our unity is the right thing to do because it is in keeping with the law of life and law of humanity’s fundamental oneness with nature.

Therefore, we ask those who have come to a knowing understanding of the Fuga condition to give their blessing so that this action will be of help to guarantee the perpetual oneness of Fuga and all the people that live on its soil.

Fuga in My Mind

"It does not matter what we think. We have no rights."
A resident of Fuga Island, Aparri, Cagayan, according to Karie Garnier

I take this as a response
my remorseful riposte
to your quick silence, kailian

the first and full language
of what we have become
we who know but do not do

anything to lead you to the light
of Fuga mornings in the barren farms and shores
that are yours, your island's hidden cities

secreted in your hearts like before
in your wild dreams like before
of bountiful fish and food like before

that for decades you have not known
not in this lifetime of strangers
collecting your stories and sorrows

We are a people, kailian,
the people of a land needing healing
a land wounded as well by the waves

the bleeding needing bandage
in the soul as in the mind of this vast sea
we people of the same home as your Fuga

forgotten for so long by the gods
of the past, those that come
to claim the shadows of your empty lives

their machines that do not feel terrorizing
your ricefields, aborting possibilities
and the innapuy for breakfast is denied you

but the gruel for atang, for the dead
so you can continue praying
until death knocks on your unlocked doors

It matters what you think, kailian
but how do you ever say that
in the language we have robbed you of

its alphabets we have kept in storerooms
its sounds in the armalites of drunken men
that break the silences of sulking dawns?

I am numb and unseeing
as the forest cathedral that the centuries
have raped of its sacred ceremonies

numb and unseeing as the seawaters
keeping you unnecessary company
but leaving you by your hunger

leaving you by your questions
as you bead the pleadings of children
in their perennial fasting and complaint

beading their hunger and yours too into the prayer
for full moons and noon day suns that do not come
in mornings as in the fevered nights

that passion for the spirit is spent
like the dreaded bullets that come
into the rice bin, there to lodge

with the fear that only fear knows
with the courage that we have lost
to the storms of all the cowering seasons

that have come and gone and come again
in all the years that you called
the ruins of nightmares your redemption

and the graves, silenced too,
as the book of the living-dead
as the book of the dying

I do not know about you, kailian,
but there is this Fuga in my mind:
the Lakaylakay will come beseech

you to stay forever and the roaring
of the waves will be yours once more
the true offering by the foam

drifting with the spirit of rains
streams the fields the sunlight
the sunrises the sunsets the evenings

that will bless the memory
of you all keeping the faith one more time
the faith of the fathers before you

the faith of the mothers before you
the faith of the ancestors before you
the faith of the anitos before you

watching over these histories
of grief and greed
one the other side of the other

one redeeming what is yours
and to you be given
by those who had died

but alive in the green of grasses
in the glorious crowns of trees
in the calming protection of caves

in the fertile welcome of the land
opening itself for the harvests
of your Fuga dreams finally fulfilled

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa
Dis 22/06

Mga Hiraya ng Pasko

Simula nang ako’y mangibang-bayan, kinaligtaan ko na ang kadalasang imahe ng pasko. Tinalikuran—yan ang mas tamang termino. Tinalikuran ang kahungkagan ng paskong naging okasyon ng kababawan at kahungkagan ng komersiyo at ng organisadong pananampalataya sa mapagpalayang Poon ng sansinukob.

Nabibilang pa sa kamay ang taon ng aking pagliban sa seremonya ng notche buena—pagliban na sanhi ng pandarayuhan—subalit parang isang siglo nang lumaya sa aking pandama ang ganitong eksena sa hapag kainan pagdating ng alas dose ng gabi ng Disyembre 24.

Tortyur sa akin ang ganito noong una--pero ayaw kong matortyur na walang kalaban-laban. Kaya nag-isip ako ng paraan upang maibsan ko ang bawat pasko na wala ako sa piling ng aking pamilya. At sa gawain kong ito, sa aking isip, sa aking malay na kalungkutan, alam ko, alam na alam ko: na hindi lamang ako kundi diyes porsiento o mahigit pang Filipino ang may ganitong mga alalahanin tuwing pasko. Sa bilang na tatlong libong Filipino ang umaalis sa bayan araw-araw, meron akong karamay sa kalungkutan na mahigit sampung milyong Filipino ang nangungulila sa kapaskuhan ng Kristianisadong kaisipan at kalendaryo.

Killjoy kung sabihin kong di ko inaasam-asam ang hiraya ng pasko, kung hindi ko ito binababalik-balikan sa pelikula ng aking utak. Subalit alam ko rin ang gamot: itago ang hiraya sa album ng alaala, ilagak doon ang dulang pampamilya at sabihan ang sarili na huwag na huwag bubuklatin ito hanggang sa dumating ang araw ng pagsasama-sama muli.

Ayaw kong mag-unan ng tuwalyang Canon, yung pinakamalambot, yung putimg-puti upang babasahin lamang ito ng luha sa magdamag. Lampas na ako sa pagyuyugyog ng balikat kapag dinadapuan ako ng napakalalim na lungkot--at lampas na rin ako sa mga walang pangalang kalungkutan ng pagiging exilo.

Alam kong ganito ang drama ng lahat ng mga nangibang-bayan mula sa mga may bato ang puso hanggang sa mga nagkukunwaring bato ang dibdib.

Alam ko rin hindi palatandaan ng kahinaan ng loob o ng pagkatao ang pagluha.

Alam ko na ang pagpapadaloy ng luha sa pisngi habang ang buong katawan ay nanginginig sa lamig ng niyebe o nagkukumbulsyon sa lungkot ay isang uri din ng lakas ng kalooban. Matinding tagapagpaalala ang mga himig pamasko sa radyo man o sa telebisyon o sa mga piped-in public service announcement system ng mga dambuhalang mall na mga sentro ng pamilihan ng mga isinusubastang pangsuhol sa mga anak, sa mga kamag-anak, sa mga kapamilya. Alam ko na ang ang "silent Night" ay isang kasinungalingan sapagkat walang katahimikan sa bawat pusong nangibang-bayan. Ang mga await ng pasko ay pawang mga itak at balisong na nanaksak sa dibdib.

Sa kabila ng mga ito, ang pagluha sa pasko ay sagradong simbolo ng tapang sa dibdib, ng kabuuan ng loob, ng kakayahan na pangibabawan ang lahat ng hamon ng pandarayuhan.

Sa apat na taon ko sa dayo, ito na ang naging leksyon sa akin: marahas ang pasko, marahas na marahas. Mapanakit. Nanunugat ng isip. Nag-iiwan ng latay sa alaala. Nanreregalo ng hikbi. Nag-aalay ng libong paninikit ng dibdib. Nanghihiwa sa kaibuturan—at maraming sugat ang iniiwan sa mga nandarayuhan. Isang libong punyal ito sa sentido at hindi tumitigil sa pag-iindak ng saksak hanggang hindi nauubos ang dugo ng mga umalis sa bayan, dugo sa mga ugat na humahantong sa puso, sa dibdib, sa hita, sa mga palad.

Dahil alam ko ang mga pamilyar at estrangherong damdamin na ganito, ipingako ko sa aking sarili, “Ayaw kong magpakulong sa mga sentimyento ng pasko—at ayaw kong maipit sa mga imahe ng ‘white christmas’ at ‘santa claus’ at iiwasan ko lahat ng mga bagay na nagpapaalala sa akin kung ano ang pasko sa kaisipang kapitalista at komersiyal.” Naging parang isang mantra ito, parang isang tipan sa aking sarili, parang isang kontrata.

At isinasaksak ko pa sa aking utak ang ganito, “Na ang pasko ay wala sa panahon kundi nasa lahat ng panahon.”

Ganitong pangangatwiran ang sinasabi ko sa aking kabiyak at supling. At sa lahat ng nagtatanong kung uuwi ako sa pasko. At sa lahat ng naaawa sa akin, mga nagsasabi na, "Ang hirap din ng iyong kalagayan."

Ngumingiti lamang ako. Noong una ay naroon ang lumbay ng pag-iisa na ang distansiya ang nakakaalam kung ano ang hugis nito, kung ano ang lawak nito, kung ano ang lalim nito.

Minsan kinakapa-kapa ko sa dibdib ang tugon sa mga sarili kong tanong tungkol sa kahalagahan ng paglayo, ng pagpili na magiging exilo at harapin ang realidad na walang notche buena, na ang nakagawian nang 'kodakan' bago pagsaluhan ang handaan ay nagaganap lamang ito sa isip.

Ang pangalawang anak ang may tangan ng susi ng pagluwag ng dibdib, na sinang-ayunan agad ng panganay. “Iisang araw lamang ang pasko. Tutulugan lamang natin iyan. Paggising natin kinabukasan, hindi na pasko iyon.” Perpektong pangangatwiran--na alam ko namang isang anyo ng mekanismo ng pagdedepensa at pagtanggap sa mapaklang pampamilyang kalagayan. Merong katotohanan doon. Subalit kung papalamanan ng sentimyentong di nakakaintindi kung saan kukunin ang pambili ng almusal kinaumagahan ng pasko, merong klarong lugar ang ganoong pangangatwiran.

“Oo nga.” Ang panganay iyon, na, pagkatapos magbabad sa kaisipang kanluran sa kanyang pag-aaral ng pilosopiya sa pang-estadong unibersidad ay ang tingin sa pasko ay inimbento lamang mga kapitalista at ng simbahan at lahat ng mga kaaway ng paglaya ng sansinukob at ng sangkatauhan. Isama mo pa ang sambayanan sa listahan ng mga dapat mapalaya at magiging tigib ang tuwa noon, maniningkit ang mata sa kanyang mumunting pananagumpay sanhi ng pag-aakalang kaisa mo siya sa aktibismo ng kanyang mga ideya.

“Maghahanda pa rin ako, tulad ng dati,” sabi ng kabiyak. Paraan niya iyon para gumaan ang dibdib, makakayanan ang dalahin. Solong katawan siya sa pag-aaruga sa mga supling, solong katawan sa pag-aayuda sa kanilang makabayang mithiin, merong mang kuwarta o wala, meron mang pangwagwag o wala. Hindi masyado excited ang mga supling at kabiyak na mandarayuhan tulad ko.

“Malapit nang pasko, papa,” tanong ng bunso, isang taon noong aking iwan, at ang pasko lamang na iyon ng kamusmusan ang tanging paskong nakapiling ko siya, na noon naman ay sapagkat bagong silang pa lamang, ay pinadaan niya ang pasko sa pamamagitan ng kanyang himbing na himbing na pagtulog sa kanyang kuna samantalang kaming mga matatanda ay pinasaluhan namin ang nakayanang notche buena, na madalas, ay pinuproblema na ng kabiyak pagdating ng Setyembre, sa unang buwan ng pagdating ng malamig na hangin mula sa mga bundak sa silangang bahagi ng aming pook.

“Oo, malapit na,” sagot ko sa kabilang linya habang tinatanaw ko ang padilim nang kabundukan ng Tantalus na aking natatanaw mula sa bintana ng aking opisina sa unibersidad.

“Malapit ka nang uuwi, di ba?” tanong niya ng buong galak, galak na galak, ang tuwa ay galing sa pag-asang uuwi ako sa kapaskuhan.

Naroon ang pagkasabik ng bunso na makauwi ako subalit nang sabihing malayo ang aking kinaroroonan at mahal ang pamasahe kung kaya ay hindi ako makakauwi, nanahimik siya, wala akong narinig sa kabilang linya. Napipi ang aking bunso, pinipipi ng kalungkutang di niya ako makikita sa pasko.

Inalo ko siya. “Hindi ako makakauwi sa pasko pero malapit na akong umuwi.”

“Basta malapit ka nang umuwi,” sabi niya, ang galak ay nanumbalik.

Ngayon, hanggang sa isip ko na lamang ang pasko.

Apat na taon na na sa imahinasyon ko na lamang ito umiiral—kung ano nga ba ang pasko sa bayang pinagmulan.

Una kong pasko dito sa Hawai`i ngayon at tulad ng nauna pang tatlo sa Los Angeles simula noong 2003, nanamnamin ko na naman ang aking pag-iisa, aaluin din ang sarili tulad ng pag-alo ko sa aking bunso. Isang tulog lang ito. Papagurin lamang ang aking utak sa pagbabasa, sa pagsusulat, sa paghanda ng mga kagamitang panturo para sa Tagsibol at mapapagod na ang katawan hanggang sa pagdating ng gabi ay wala nang lakas pati ang utak na lumaban sa paanyaya ng tulog, ng isang tulog na walang panaginip.

Sa gabi mismo ng pasko, yayayain ko ang aking sarili sa pag-iisa, doon sa dalampasigan, kasama ko ang aking mayamang alaala. Kasama ko ang napakaraming pangarap ng isang maliwanag na umaga.

Sa mga burol at kapatagan at alon ng aking pag-iisa, doon, doon ko kikilatisin ang pangako ng pag-asa na sa darating na panahon—at nangangarap ako na malapit-lapit na ito: makakasama ko ang pamilya sa pasko at muli naming pagkakasyahin ang konting handaan, lalasahan ng husto ang fruit salad na ang niyog nito ay galing sa nag-iisang punong aking itinanim noong unang araw ng aming paglipat sa aming munting tahanan sa Marikina, isang tahanang ang haligi ay ang alaala ng paglaki ng mga supling, ng kanilang tawanan, ng kanilang paraan ng pagsukat sa aming kakayahan sa pagiging magulang sa kanila.

Matagal-tagal na rin ang paglipat namin sa tahanang ito pagkatapos ng isang paskong maliliit pa ang unang dalawang supling, na uhugin pa ang mga ito, na ang panganay ay “Only you” pa ang kaisa-isang alam na awitin at ang pangalawa ay pinanggigilang pang kagatin ang sintas ng aking sapatos na ang buong akala ay spaghetti ito.

Mula sa dayo, sa gabing ito ilang araw ng notche buena, lilikumin ko ang enerhiya ng uniberso at ipapalipad ko ito sa hangin upang iparating sa aking tahanan, sa aking pamilya, sa lahat ng mga pamilyang ang isang kasapi nito ay nasa ibang bayan na nangangarap na kaharap ang pamilya sa hapag-kainan.

Maraming ganito sa Estados Unidos, sa Canada, sa Asya, sa Gitnang Silangan, at sa mahigit pang isang daang bansang kinaroroonan ng mga Filipinong naglagalag upang sa dayo ay doon maghanap ng katuparan ng mga ligaw na pangarap, mga pangarap na kayhirap kamtin sa lupang tinubuan.

Hindi ako nag-iisa sa ganitong kalagayan. Sapat na ang kaisipang ito upang madiskubre ang sariling lakas at kakayahan na pangibabawan ang mapanlupig na mga panahon sa dayo.

Nag-iisa ako subalit kasama ko ang panalangin sa uniberso.

Nag-iisa subalit kasama ang mga buhay na buhay na alaala

Nag-iisa subalit kasama ang darang ng pangarap para sa isang mapag-ugnay na bukas.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa
Dis 22/06


(70 ti nagawan iti baybay ti Tsina iti asideg ti Zambales ken Pangasinan, kuna ti damag, Dis. 19, 2006)

Angin iti amianan daytoy
nortada dagiti amin a panagawan

Iti baybay a pagbirokan
iti di mabirokan kadagiti bengkag
pitupulokami ita wenno narusurok pay

umaykami nga agpaisalakan
iti asi ti danum iti dung-aw ti langit

umaykami kadagiti aglima nga aldaw
umaykami kadagiti aglima a rabii
ken awan patinggana a pannakibalubal
iti ridep, iti sirmata ti nalabon a padaya

Mapuyatan dagiti masipngetan
nga oras ti kannag ti kaltaang
mapuyatan dagiti arapaap
a dumteng ti gasat
iti daklis
iti labba nga aglaplapunosan
iti garakgak
ti asawa a nabati isuna a mangikot
iti sagrado a panggep
daytay putot dagiti rugso
ti rusing dagiti agkakanaig a rikna
iti aplaya a pagsabatan
kas iti ikamen a mangabrasa
kadagiti alimpatok
nga agbirbirok iti kaasmang

Ngem ita ket kanito ti nortada
ket danggayanmi ti makaulaw a ritmo
ti panagawan santo panagadda
tapno lumned-tumpuaw dagiti butengmi
iti mabutbuteng met a saklot
ti baybay kadagiti allon
kadagiti saplit ti naunget nga apres

Impallalladawnakami ti pulluoy
a makadudul-a, daytoy a nortada
dagiti amin a maudi a pannakatay
dagiti amin a panagmalmalanga
iti oras ti panagur-uray
iti nagawanen a grasia

Dumteng kadakami
ti rungsot ti makapabang-ar a tudo
talimudawennakami ti alipugpog
nga ipasngay ti agallawig a danum
agsisipungtuan kas iti nepnep
nga am-ammo dagiti bagimi
wenno dagiti makalamri nga utekmi

agsirko nga agbalinsuek
amin nga agbalinsuek
kas iti boksitmi nga agsaraaw
iti pannakaisalakan
iti pannnakairarem iti matris
ti nagmanto a baybay:
ditoy ngatan ti pakaitabonan
dagiti amin nga an-anek-ek
dagiti amin nga imbag iti sellang
dagiti amin a darang iti pus-ong
dagiti amin a beggang iti lukong
dagiti dakulap a baluen
ni kinapimpiman

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa
Dis 19/06