Oneing With the Community

(Opening Remarks of A. S. Agcaoili at the 2007 Festival of Drama, Songs, and Short Video, Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program, U of Hawa`i at Manoa, Art Auditorium, April 14, 2007)

In the name of the Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program of the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, in the name of all our students who are about to showcase their talents and gifts this morning, and in the name of all the members of the faculty of this program, please allow me to greet and welcome you all.

In this gathering, we are truly proud to walk hand in hand with our students in this program so that they will be able to confidently show their abilities that demonstrate their love for the heritage they come from. Many of them, we know well, have been born here; many others grew up here and have their minds molded and formed here. But despite these accidents of their birth and growth, they are ever-ready and prepared to go back and trace and retrace their roots and learn as much as they can the ethos, the ways, and mindsets of their ancestors. This readiness and openness in their hearts and soul is, to me, a virtue, and it is a virtue for all of us in the program as well. This is a virtue that is at the same time the wellspring of the pride that is ours, and with you becoming witnesses as well, together we shall all be proud of them.

Please allow me to offer in oblation this program—this Festival of Songs, Drama, and Short Videos—to the two professors of the program who are both retiring this school year, Professors Prescilla Llague Espiritu and Dr. Josie Paz Clausen. Between Profs. Espiritu and Dr. Clausen are 63 years of nurturing our program, long years, indeed, of caring for the culture and the language of the Ilokano who has come here as an exile in the State of Hawai`i, the Ilokano who has come one hundred years ago. It is not pure accident that it is in this centennial of the celebration of the coming of the first sakadas that we are also celebrating our remembering of our debt of indebtedness to Prof. Espiritu and Dr. Clausen. Brothers and sisters and guests, join me then in honoring Manang Precy and Manang Josie and through our festival this morning, we give them our gratitude and thanks because of their patience, industry, and goodness. We bless them as well so that in the years of their retirement, they are blessed with health, strength, joy, and well-being.

Today is indeed extraordinary because we witness a gathering and re-gathering of the members of our community. The joy in me is particular and palpable in witnessing that the parents are here, that the relatives are here, that the Ilokano heritage community is here, and that all those who have come to our assistance and help and aid are all here to be with us. With your presence, you are telling us that we need to continue to develop the Ilokano program in this University because this program is not only for our students who are your children but also for the entire community of Ilokanos and the peoples of Amianan.

Please join me, therefore, in greeting and congratulating the officers and members of Timpuyog: Ilokano Student Organization because of their tireless and endless effort to make this festival happen this morning. Good morning to all of you and long live!

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