(Note: This is a monologue on Filipino American Ilokano identity written for Rachel Aurellano, B.A. Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program, UH Manoa, for her Ms Oahu Pageant Talent Contest scheduled for June 2007, Honolulu, HI)
(Still, silent, looks at the audience. Spots one, gazes one, locks eyes with that one in the front)
You, you, why are you looking at me?
Do you know who am I? Do you know all these layers and layers of me, these layers that are these that are me?
Who knows what is it to be a local born, born of immigrant parents from the Ilocos, from the Philippines?
I am this woman, this skin, this memory, this flesh, this blood, this vein.
Look, look at me!
Listen to my story.
I am tired of these layers and layers of skin!
I am tired of these layers and layers of stories!
I am tired of these layers and layers of memories!
Okininam, says my neighbor. Okininam, okininam!
I heard her screams, and the door banging, and the slap—oh I do not know, the slap, on the face—pak! pak! pak!—and that scream, that primal scream, okininam! Okininam! Patayennakon! Kill me, kill me, but bring my body back to my country, you son of a bitch, you son of a bitch! I feed you with my hand, I work for you, I scrub the dirt on your stinky body, I cook you food, and you make me a whore on my bed.
No, I do not want to think about it.
No, because I have loved.
I have loved the memory of being born in these islands, in the air that makes the leaves dance, the wind that caresses the waves, the mountains guarding all the sorrows residing in my heart.
I want all these to come to an end—all of them, get back on my knees to stand up again, erect, straight, proud.
I take off—this pretension.
I take off—this bad dream.
This Americanness that is not me.
I take off—this nightmare.
This Filipinoness that is a fraction of me.
I take off—this desire, not pure—that is not me.
This Ilokanoness that half of me, one-fourth of me.
I take off, all these layers and layers of me.
One more, one more, one more that is not me.
I take off, my being a local born, my being a daughter, my being a dutiful sister—
All these are killing me, and I take off, all of them, I take off.
I want to be me.
Listen, listen—or are you listening?
This is the last of me.
I am a woman, a human being, American, Filipino, Ilokano.
I am one.
A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/May 3-07