(Note: This is a news feature from the MMSU's website. We are reproducing here for the information of the public and in anticipation of other dispatches and feature articles on Nakem 2007. Some of these articles have been published in Hawai`i papers. We are now also beginning to assemble the conference papers and will soon be ready for uploading at the Nakem website maintained by Dr. Raymund Liongson of Leeward CC-University of Hawai`i).
THE 2007 Nakem International Conference drew to a close May 25 at the Teatro Ilocandia with the passing of separate resolutions requesting both Houses of Congress and the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino to support the Nakem Conference initiative to declare Ilokano and other minor Philippine languages as national and official languages.
In a one-page resolution, the 182 participants and delegates of the said international gathering declared their recognition of the importance of the lingua franca and other indigenous languages in the production of critical knowledge about themselves, communities, social relations, and the country and of the role of Ilokano and other Amianan languages in the production of such knowledge.
They, likewise, declared their recognition of the spirit of the 1987 Constitution which provides that the Filipino language is a product of all existing languages of this country, thus the indispensable role of Ilokano and other Amianan and Philippine languages is to materialize this provision of the said constitution.
Conference participants also passed a resolution establishing Nakem Conferences Philippines, Incorporated in their recognition of the importance of a concerted and national effort to produce critical and productive knowledge about the Ilocos, the Amianan, and the Philippines. Fifteen members were elected as members of the board of directors, namely: Andres T. Malinnag Jr.–UNP; Bonifacio V. Ramos – Saint Mary’s University; Anabelle C. Felipe – MMSU; Mary Rose Rabang – UNP; Alicia T. Pingol – Ateneo de Manila University; Noemi U. Rosal – UP; Norma B. Fernando – DepEd; Carmen P. Centeno – DepEd; Zacarias A. Baluscang – Apayao State College; Josephine R. Domingo – MMSU; Edil H. Duran – DepEd; Alegria T. Visaya – MMSU; Nancy B. Balantac – MMSU; Jaime G. Raras – UNP; and Elena Toquero – ISU. The members of the board of directors were nominated by the participants themselves who came from different higher education institutions, from the Department of Education, and other agencies and institutions from Regions I, II, III, CAR, and NCR.
Another resolution was passed where the participants committed to bind themselves for the formulation of various consortium programs to pursue the aims of the Nakem Conferences.
Lastly, the participants passed yet another resolution commending MMSU for hosting this year’s conference stating that with the generous act and visionary spirit of the university, they had the opportunity to come together and come up with a concerted effort to organize the Nakem Conference Philippines.
In the same closing ceremonies, Juan S.P. Hidalgo shared – in Ilokano – his stories and struggles to continuously promote, preserve, and produce works of merit that reflect the realities and dreams of the peoples of Amianan. Hidalgo is a painter, a master poet, essayist, critic, novelist, short story writer, and translator. For a time, he played bit roles in Philippine films and served as associate editor of Bannawag.
Welcome program and dinner.
Earlier on May 22 at the Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel where a welcome program and dinner sponsored by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte was held, Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili, University of Hawai’i-Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program (UH-IPDFP) coordinator and Nakem conference co-convener, spoke on how the conference started with the idea of a gift or “daton”. He related the time when he and Prof. Precy L. Espiritu, former IPDFP coordinator and 2006 Nakem Conference steering committee chair, were brainstorming on what they could do to bring together scholars, academic leaders, policy makers, creative writers, researchers, and language and culture educators.
“For there is no better way of conceptualizing what we can offer to our people except to look at this offering as an oblation for the past, a sacred remembering of the present, and a sanctification of the future that we ought to know,” he said.
He added that the idea of “exporting” the Nakem conference to the place “where it is supposed to” could not have happened without the enthusiasm and welcoming spirit of MMSU President Miriam E. Pascua which they capitalized on to strategize the holding of the said gathering in the Philippines. He also mentioned Dr. Alegria T. Visaya, MMSU professor and conference co-convener, as a “workhorse” whom he “burned wires with many times to check on the developments of the conference preparation”. He further thanked Dr. Lilia Q. Santiago, University of the Philippines Diliman professor and conference co-convener, for her belief in the people of Amianan; and Dr. Ricardo Ma. Duran Nolasco, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino chairman and University of the Philippines Diliman professor of linguistics, for his “openness of heart and soul and for his belief in the sacredness of diversity, multiculturalism, and multilingualism.
Agcaoili stressed that the story of Nakem is “a lesson in humility and in boldness”. He said that his group could not have pulled through with the conference without the sacred sacrifices of the many personnel of MMSU and UH. He said that Nakem is an idea “whose time has come” and that as “people imbued with the mission, vision, and goal of Nakem, our moral duty now is to become a signatory to the rectification of all forms of social, cultural, and linguistic injustices that have been inflicted upon us. He stressed that Nakem is here “to correct the mistakes, to help us reclaim who we are, to remind us that our language and our culture, and our stories are all we have got and we must, at least, make good with them”.
Opening program and keynote speech
Dr. Ricardo Ma. Duran Nolasco keynoted the formal conference opening on May 23, 8 a.m., at MMSU’s Teatro Ilocandia. He imparted the vision, directions, and programs of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino in the next three years hoping that the Nakem organization would embrace these as also their own.
He said that recently, the commission decided to modify its vision to make KIW a “sentro ng kapantasan sa mga wika at literatura ng mga Pilipino”. He said that this vision is in line with the commission’s mandate to develop, spread, and maintain the languages used in different areas by Filipinos.
“Ang ganitong bisyon at misyon ay pag-amin na bagamat ang KWF ay siyang opisyal na ahensyang pangwika ay malayo pa rin ito sa pagiging tunay na sentro ng kapantasan at kaalaman sa mga wika at panitikan ng mga Pilipino. Ang itinatayo namin ay isang sentro ng impormasyon, dokumentasyon at pananaliksik na may kuwerpo ng mga mananaliksik na may mataas na kakayahan sa linggwistika at applied na linggwistika at pagsasaling pangwika; isang sentro na katatagpuan at naglalaman ng lahat ng mga pag-aaral at akda tungkol sa mga wika ng Pilipinas; isang sentro na may kamalig ng mga datos sa iba’t ibang wika, at sa ibat ibang genre, kasama na ang audio at video recording ng mga pangyayaring komunikatibong may mga anotasyon at komentaryo; isang sentro na lumilikha ng mga orihinal at huwarang mga diksyunaryo, gramatika, ortograpiya, iskolarli na mga babasahin, materyales sa literasiya at reperensya sa pagtuturo sa magkakaibang disiplina; at isang sentro na dalubhasa rin sa teknolohiyang pang-impormasyon at pangkomunikasyon upang magampanan ang gawain ng pagpapaunlad, pagpapalaganap at pagpapanatili ng mga wika sa Pilipinas,” he explained.
The rationale behind this vision, Nolasco said, stems from the organization’s recognition of the importance of the languages used by Filipinos – such as the national language, the local dialects, and the foreign languages – “para sa magkakaibang mga layunin: para sa literasiya at edukasyon ng ating mamamayan; para sa layuning pangkultura at intelektuwal; para sa pagkakakilanlan at etnisidad; para sa pakikipagtalastasan sa loob at labas ng bansa; para sa pag-unlad na pang-ekonomiya; at para sa kaisahan at katatagang pampulitika.”
Gone are the days, he said, when the commission was exclusively concentrated on the national language; when the commission neglected the more than 170 languages in the country; when the commission did not consider yet another official language of the country which is “English” or “Philippine English”.
“Ito ang landas o linya ng ‘isang bansa, maraming wika’, na siyang simulain ng kasalukuyang tema ng Buwan ng Wika 2007, na ‘maraming wika, matatag na bansa’. Ang batayan at katwiran ng temang ito ay may kinalaman sa pagiging multilinggwal at pagiging multikultural ng mga Pilipino. Sa halip na isang disbentahe, itinuturing ng komisyon na napakalaking bentahe ang pagkakaroon ng Pilipinas ng mahigit na 170ng wika. Pangsampu tayo sa pinakamaraming wika sa buong daigdig, sa kabila ng palasak at mapangmenos na palagay na ang mga wikang ito’y pawang mga dialekto lamang,” he explained.
Nolasco mentioned some constitutional provisions “na nagpapahayag din na ang mga wikang pangrehiyon ay pantulong na wikang opisyal at midyum ng pagtuturo”.
Recently, a group of researchers, Nolasco said, came out with a KRT 3 Formulation of the National Learning Strategies for the Filipino and English Languages. According to them, “contrary to being a hindrance, the languages of children must be considered as enabling factors on which student learning and achievement can be based. The use of the mother tongue in learning has been found to be the most effective way to bridge learning in all subject areas including the development of future languages. This is a generalization based on numerous experiences of other multilingual countries as well as empirical studies conducted in the Philippines.”
In closing, he said: “Nais kong iwan sa inyo ang kaisipan na galing sa isang katutubong Amerikano. Ang sabi po niya ay: kailangan natin ng wikang dayuhan para mabuhay sa kasalukuyang panahon. Pero kailangan natin ang wikang sarili para mabuhay ng habang panahon.”
One-hundred eighty-two academicians, researchers, and Ilokano scholars gathered at MMSU for the four-day international conference which started May 22. Forty-two papers discussing issues on migration, exile, and return; Ilocano settling and material and non-material cultures; and culture change, translations, and transformations were presented by participants from state higher education institutions and other agencies from the Philippines, Hawaii, the United States Mainland, and Canada.
The conference, which ran with the theme: “Panagpanaw ken Panagindeg – Exile and Settling in Ilokano and Amianan History and Culture”, was made possible with the collaborative efforts of MMSU and the UHM-IPDFP.
The 2008 Nakem International Conference will be held in its original venue in Hawai’i and will go with the theme, “Panagkakannayon: Linguistic and Cultural Diversity and the Imagined Philippine Nation in Amianan and in Exile”.