At the forefront in the work of advancing, promoting, and preserving the cultures of the peoples of the Philippines in the diaspora is the recently concluded Fiesta Ilokana and Amianan, a one-day gathering that saw the various immigrant communities showcasing their cultural heritage.
The Fiesta was under the auspices of the Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program and the Philippine Consulate General of Hawai`i in collaboration with various individuals, organizations and cause-oriented groups. The Fiesta was also in consonance with the spirit of the Philippines’ National Arts Month, a month-long celebration of the arts and culture showcasing the best of artistic productions of the various communities in the country and held each February.
If at all there is one thing that sums up the event, it is this: communitas.
Communitas in its most pristine and unadulterated form is the same sense by which we go back to the ways of the men and women of the country uncorrupted by other economic and political and cultural interests except to be part of the purok, the place, the pagilian, the home country.
For veritably what happened last Saturday, the 24th of February, was celebration in its most communal form, with boisterous laugher and merriment gaily mixed with some sense of the formality of a cultural program that saw an extravaganza of performances that hinted not only variety but the dynamic richness of a national culture that is a product of the many cultures of the country, including the cultures that the immigrant peoples of the Philippines would become part of, such as the living Polynesian and Hawaiian cultures in these parts.
While there is something nostalgic in events like this, the nostalgia is more of an epistemology of the heart and mind—some sense of a window through which the immigrant peoples of the Philippines can get to have a reading and an understanding of themselves even as they try to become part of the new demographics that include them as Asian Americans—or more specifically Filipino Americans—without the hyphen.
With the various communities and organizations coming together, we can only gather in prayer and thanksgiving—in an ugayam, in an araraw—hopeful that in the years to come, this Fiesta Ilokano and Amianan can get to become the model for other forms of coming together of all peoples of the Philippines, a coming together that is celebratory because joyful, and joyful because it is birthed by a moral remembering of where we Filipino Americans come from and where we are going.
The future is forged: we can only come together.
There is no dividing, not anymore, not any longer.
A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Published as Editorial, FilAm Observer, Hawaii, USA, March 2007