The Revolution is a Circus

The revolution is a circus.
Each of them is a showman now,
The clerics and idiots, the pretenders and politicians,
Bishops and presidents and the priests who run and run.
We do not know who takes in all the killing or the billing
But the people know: they who know how to spell
Democracy and prepare its raw materials:
The blood in our sleep
Or the dream of beds, soft and pungent
With the smell of love and embrace
Or of romance spent only to come alive again
In springs when flowers relearn the road
To putting on color and riot,
Only to end up in crystal vases
Of greed and want from some mistresses
Not able to see the sorrows of leaves,
The agonies of each petal as it seeks
The sun or soil.

We have yet to tell the rebels,
Ask them to go on and on like bees,
Making honey out of deceit
As is the enemy's penchant for impossibilities
Like a revolt, for instance, with its parent,
With its child, parent and child becoming
Parent and child to the revolution of circuses
So that from here on happiness
Shall no longer be allowed
But episodes of egalite even if we do not mean it
But episodes of fraternity even
if we will murder all laughter
But episodes of liberte with no flesh
But words stripped of miracles or magic.

To remember the homeland
We need only to summon a soldier
We do not know how to guard
A bishop whose prayers we do not hear
A vice president who welcomes what old age
Means by declaring the independence of charlatans
Who double as spider man for a fee
Or that cathedral of the lost-and-found-and-lost angels
That is built upon stones and stones
Bricks upon bricks but with the odor of death
The ardor of a circus man collecting entrance fees
Before the show begins.

We expect more to come, say the papers,
Our only link to the reality of our days:
This business of calling the shots
To announce the holding of a war
Against the obligations of the sun
Or the universe to come warm us
Even as we die of grief from laughing
Too hard the stomach gets out
To say hello to our fears and tears.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Nov 29, 2007

Two Hundred Pesos for your Body, Baby

(For those who joined the Makati crowd so there would appear to be supporters of the cause of that most recent revolution staged by the honorable men, two hundred pesos for showing up body and soul, and seven hundred pesos for the jeepney owner. These facts are from the claims of Virginia Tutay of Isla Puting Bato and a member of People's Movement Against Poverty, an organization allied with the deposed president Erap Estrada, the very president who was imprisoned, found guilty of plunder, and pardoned by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo out of the magnanimity of her spirit. The facts are from PDI, November 29, 2007; insterspersed commentaries are the author's)

It comes with clowns, and their antics.
It is revolution, alright, and we call it quits.

Never mind the traitors or leaders.
In our homeland, they wear the same face
and smile. The guardian angel,
the guarded angel or both, they lie.
They mouth metaphors we want
to hear, something that balms
our heavy hearts.

The news is clear: two hundred pesos
for your life and limb and liberty, baby,
and seven hundred pesos for your jeepney
to cart the supporters away
bring you to a hotel where fine dining is a bad dream
for kibbitzers and those on a payroll
for putting the patience of our days on trial.

In cozy rooms, the gun is the rule of the day.
The light is subdued and romance and revolution
are sisters, to be politically correct.

They say you can hear the sound of silverware,
the polite talks of those who count
calories every single day commenting
about stock prices plummeting or skyrocketing
afterwards. Or sweeteners they do not need
but the poor do, the quick energy to obey orders
quickly without second thoughts. We do not know
how the menu goes. The staccatto of guns
and the tear gas are reminders of our past lives
relived over and over again like old movie reruns.

But it is evening here thousands of miles away
as the panic from home grows weary. And we all
try to think of the prayer to the saints
in the early mornings at the cathedral
of the wooden saints now beginning to show
fear and tear and wear so we can call the bishops
to come spread their wings and declare a junta
of gods to redeems us all. We take the bullets
for answers, as it has always been.

How can we go back to the land of our poems
and song, pray you tell, even if we are tried
for abandoning the themes of our protests
like the harnessing of evil words
uttered in quiet cadence, their lyrics the music
of our souls thirsty for what a country gives?

The rebels look at the dark.

The dark looks back at us,
we who can feel what tomorrow brings.

The two hundred pesos will buy us
some kilos of rice to last us a memory.

Or a lifetime of dread when vice presidents
and men of god join the fray and tell us, come on, come on,
it is time the newest bombs bought in dollars dance.

No one dies, but our hopes do.
We think of our exilic dreams going on a flight.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa, Nov 28/2007

Remembering the First Rains of Summer


To remember the first rains of summer is to remember for always what summer brings to a father whose life has been and will forever be marked by exile and the experience that attends to being absent in his household especially during the days that his children need him most.

There is always this guilt somewhere here, even if you can easily justify your absence by appealing to the persuasive power of emotions—and that excuse about not having enough money to put food on the table of the family especially when the children are moved by what pasalubong you can bring home each evening, with that threat that the gate would not be opened for you to get in when the pasalubong is not to their liking.

The guilt, of course, is founded on the illusory gift of self to children—an illusion that is based on the parental fear that you might not be giving the things that you were deprived of when you were a child yourself, believing that you have no right to deprive them of the very things that you were deprived of in the first place.

And so you run away—away from it all, away from the humdrum drama of the everyday to seek fortune and fame somewhere else, some miles and miles away from home—with only the memory of children’s laughter to keep you company.

To be an exile is not easy, this you now understand.

So you guard the days on the dumb calendar—and count the months to speculate on possible joys you can have when you get back to the homeland and spend some good days with your children, imagining that you wake up on normal days with the youngest on your side and, in the early hours, books in tow, would ask you to read “Cinderella” for the nth time.

The heat when you came back on that year was unbearable. May was it, and you had hoped for the rains to come.

But it did not come right away but so many days yet after.

And when it came, you knew what joy was.

Your younger daughter had just had first of baby teeth fall off, her baby teeth getting ready to welcome her sixth birthday.

The rains were sputtering when her tooth fell off and we were both watching the leaves in their rhytmical swaying with the cold wind. There was gaeity in the dancing of branches of trees that still dot our otherwise blighted landscape, what with tall homes blocking our visual access to the mountainsides in the east.

But the rains came and the insects of the earth began to chirp.

Like cupping with your hand the first rains of May as my father did, and with the grace of the palm of a man of the soil and sun rubbed the cold water on my tummy to drive whatever evil resided in there, I did the same to my youngest daughter, as I did to the first two children years before when life in Marikina was easier, less complicated, and the misty mountains in the east had still the charms of mistiness.

On the last days of May after the Mayflower festival of queens and kings and that obligatory barefoot procession to the Virgen Buenviaje in Antipolo, we get all those funny feelings of hot and cold of the weather after a long spell of heat.

The last spasms of summer heat gets into your nerves and challenges the capacity of your ability to withstand the push-and-pull of day and night, with the break of day playing up a drama of long-day brilliance of rays dancing on water surfaces and edges of leaves as the sun streak through the clouds with its promise of more sun and, yet, in the afternoon, another stage show greets the homeland you have just gone back to with dark clouds and the ‘Bose-like’ of thunder and the blast of lightning. This is the time you hear people say, “Agbobolingda manen ‘diay ngato, apo, pakawanem kadi! Ken ti anak ti sal-it, anak ti sal-it a talaga! (They do the bowling up in the heavens. Damn the child of lightning, damn the child of lightning!”

In the summer of 2007, this is what I did to the daughter who has been growing up each day even as I was away: I cupped the first rains of May, the profuse rains marking the end of the summer season and the beginning of floods and storms and the commenment of the time for planting the rice that wouldl feed a multitude of our own starving people.

And then one of her front teeth fell off, the falling off inaugurating some terror in her child’s eyes as she sow blood, red and terrifying, oozing out of her mouth and staining the paper napkin she used to clean up her lips.

Shhhh, I tell her. Shhhh.

Will it come back? she asks. She means her missing tooth.

No, I tell her, as honestly as I could.

But we will ask the house rat to replace it for you.

Ayoko, I am afraid, she tells me.

Now, now, I thought that you are brave.

Yes, but I do not like rats.

I know. But have you seen their teeth?

Yes, strong and shiny and white.

Let us ask then to have your teeth look like them.

What will I say?

Come, I tell her. I carried her on my shoulder.

Tell the rat: “Bao, bao, sukatam iti baro.”

I cannot say that. That is her, protesting, remembering perhaps her primal fear of rats.

You want a brand new tooth, I say it, deliberate, each syllable stressed. I threaten her, however veiled the threat is.

She looks at me, pleading.

She gets her tooth, says the Ilokano phrase while she throws her tooth to the imaginary rat at the roof of our house welcoming the first rains of May.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa, November 28, 2007

Sana Di Ka Umalis, Ani ng Bunso

(Pasintabi: Isusulat ko ito para kay Leah Francine. Balang araw, mababasa niya ito--alam kong nakakabasa na siya sa gulang na anim, subalit di pa niya kayang arukin ang tagong damdamin sa talaang ito. Pakasipin nawa ng bunsong hirang na hindi nagliwaliw ang kanyang ama kundi naghanap--at naghahanap pa magpahangga ngayon--ng paraan upang makabili ng panahon at espasyo para makaupo at maharap ang mga kahingian ng kanyang sining.)

Ganito ang henesis ng ulat na ito: Tumawag ako sa Filipinas upang kumustahin ang angkan. Ang bunso ang nakasagot--na palagiang nangyayari sanhi ng pagkakaiba ng oras sa Honolulu at sa Marikina.

Kumusta, anak? tanong ko.

Mabuti lang naman po, ang tugon, may kung anong lungkot sa tinig. Kailan lang niya nalikha ang ganitong tugon, na bago-bago sa aking pandinig. Tuwu-tuwina ay napapangiti ako sa ganitong tugon.

Anong ginagawa mo? tanong ko.

Sana, papa, huwag ka nang umalis, sabi niya. Diretsahan ang pag-iwas sa aking tanong. Ayaw magpaligoy-ligoy.

Sana, papa, dito ka na lang. Huwag na sa malayo, dugtong niya.

Isang hiling, isang kahilingan ng isang supling na pagkadilat pa lamang ay iniwanan nang lumaki na wala ako sa kanyang piling sa araw-araw.

Ang tuwing tag-araw na bakasyon ang siyang tanging panakip-butas ng aking pagliban, ng aking paglayo, ng distansiya sa aming buhay at alaala at ugnayan pang-araw-araw.

Sabi niya: Kung di ka na umalis, madali akong magsasabi ng problema. Madali akong makapagsumbong sa iyo kapag inaaway ako nina kuya at ate.

Di ako nakaimik--pero di rin ako nagpahalata.

May nagbara sa aking lalamunan.

Simula nang matutong mangatwiran ang bunso ay sinusorpresa ako ng mga ganitong pangungusap na naglalaman ng mga mapapaklang leksyon ng pagiging mandarayuhan.

Sa pagiging exilo, ine-exilo rin ng exilo ang kanyang damdamin--kinakailangan ito--upang mairaos ang arawang lumbay na kapwa exilo lamang ang makakaintindi. Na sa paglaon ay kabisado ko nang gawin.

Subalit dumarating ang pagkakataon na nasusugat pa rin ang dibdib, ang mga salitang humihiling mula sa mga anak ang nagsisilbing panaksak, tumatarak sa isip.

Magdudugo at magdudugo ang utak. Napakahirap ang ganitong dalahin. Mahirap sa lahat ng mahirap.

Sapagkat sa isang magulang na tulad ko na kinakailangang lumayo at magpakalayu-layo upang makakita ng kawangis ng kusing na pang-agdong-buhay at upang sa malayo rin ay makalikha ng mga obrang kahit di obra maestra ay magawan na magkaroon ng panahon upang maupo at mag-isip, mag-isip at magsulat, at magsulat ng magsulat.

Sapagkat sa bayang sinilangan ay kakaiba ang kalagayan ng isang manunulat: kinakailangan maghanap-buhay ang manunulat, maghanap ng pagkain na mailalagay sa mesa para sa pamilya, mag-isip ng paraan upang mapag-aral ang mga supling, at makapag-ipon ng kusing din para sa kinabukasan.

Ibig sabihin, ang manunulat sa bayang sinilangan ay hinahablutan ng panahon sa pagsusulat sapagkat kinakailangan niyang makipagsabayan sa katulad ng nino mang naghahanap-buhay.

Sapagkat ang manunulat sa atin ay kinakailangang umasa sa sahod kung di kayang magpatayo ng negosyo--at umasa sa kikitain ng kanyang mga libro, kung meron man.

Ayokong pakaisipin ang nangyayari sa ibang bansa. Dito sa dayo, hindi rin pare-pareho ang pagkakataon na naibibigay sa mga manunulat. Ang kawalang ng oportunidad kahit saan at tila isang unibersal na kalagayan sa malikhaing pagkatha mula sa mga posibilidad ng santipikado at sagradong wika.

Marami din sa Estados Unidos ang mga manunulat na nagbabanat ng buto upang mabuhay, mga manunulat na kinakailangan harapin kung saan kukunin ang kanilang buwanang renta, ang panggasolina, ang pambili ng gamot sapagkat hindi makayanan ang seguro para sa kalusugan.

Ganyan-ganyan ang maraming manunulat na Filipino, at lalo na ang mga manunulat sa mga inieetsapuwerang mga lengguwahe sa Pinas tulad ng Ilokano.

Tanging ang mga manunulat sa Ingles at Tagalog ang tila nakakaangat--isang pribilehiyong kakambal ng mga aksidente ng kasaysayan ng bansa na nakakabit sa balorasyon na ibibigay sa dalawang wikang nabanggit.

Aminin na natin ang hubad na katotohanan: ang manunulat sa atin ay umaalis sapagkat walang paraan na makakayanan niyang isabalikat ang ekonomikong tungkulin kung sa pagtuturo lamang ang inaasahan sa pagtugon sa pangangailangan sa araw-araw na buhay.

Kung ang manunulat sa inietsapuwerang lengguwahe ay walang minanang milyon-milyon, mahirap pakaisipin na magkakaroon siya ng pagkakataong todo-todong seryusohin ang tungkuling maging taga-tala ng kolektibong alaala ng bayan.

Kalimutan na natin itong ganitong ilusyon sapagkat ang paglikha--sa panahon ng lantarang inhustisya sa isang lupain at bayan at pamayanan--ay isang kalbaryo.

Kalbaryo sapagkat nangangailangan ng panahon--na wala naman sa manlilikha sapagkat kinakailangan niyang kumayod.

Kalbaryo sapagkat nangangailangan ng rekursos--na wala naman sapagkat ang manlilikha ay isa lamang sahuran.

A, kahit sa dayo, ang manlilikha ay di pa rin nakakalaya sa karsel ng pagdarahop sa bulsa, sa isip, sa dibdib, sa papel, sa tinta, sa pluma.

Pero kahit na, sisikapin pa ring magsulat sa kabila ng kahilingan ng bunso na di na sana aalis pa ang makata upang nandiyan lang lagi sa tabi ng anak kapag ito ay nangangailangan ng kakampi sa kanyang pagmamalay.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Nob 26. 2007

Dumawatka kaniak iti verso ket itedko ti paulo ti daniw

(Ken Ka Lydia Abajo Quides, kadua iti tignayan ti kontra iti kinaranggas iti taeng ken mangiruprupir iti kalintegan dagiti babbai a maidaddadanes ditoy Hawai'i)

Dumawatka kaniak iti verso
ket itedko kenka ti paulo ti daniw.
Idulinko iti panunot dagiti kakas-angan
a padas ket iduayyak ti isem.
Kastoy ti aramidtayo amin,
datayo a pimmanaw
datayo a binaras ti bangungot
a sagut ti ili kadagiti amin nga agdawat
iti ugaw wenno makidilot iti ayat
wenno mangipadigo iti panagragut
ti lasag iti sabali pay a lasag
kas kasingin dagiti amin a liday.
Wenno salaknib kadagiti agmironmiron
a kinadaksanggasat.

Adda ranggas kadagiti balikas, kabsat,
ken ti arrabis dagiti agmalem a pananggudas
dagiti kalsada iti pigsa wenno saririt
wenno kakaisuna laeng a kinatakneng
anian ta iti riaw a mangwaknit
iti agmarmaraisem a langit a kunam a nalimpio,
nalinak kas iti lubong dagiti nakamassayag
nga arapaap, adda ditoy nga agindeg
ti maduadua a panungpalan ti agdadata a kapay-an
dagiti busel nga itayyetayyek ti angin:
agbalin dagitoy a lulua ita ken idi kalman.

Narigat met ngamin ti panagungar iti ballasiw
dagiti adayo a makabiag a sao para kadagiti exilo:
datayo dagiti pagsangladan dagiti sayangguseng
nga agariwawa, kas iti Sao idi ugma,
iti henesis dagiti agsampaga a sabong
santo met laeng aglaylay kadagiti uluanan
dagiti pimmusay a ragragsak
wenno maris iti mata uray no agsisiim
ti adalem a rabii nga agpagungga
iti patpatiray-ok ti nagabay nga agsapa.

Datayo nga immadayo ket agpalpalama
a kankanayon iti kaasi ta kasta ngarud ti banag
dagiti gasat nga impabus-oytayo
kadagiti dingnguen iti ili, dagitay
man agsambuambo a bulbulitor
kas iti presidente ti kusit
kas iti diputado dagiti dagensen iti barukong
gapu kadagiti di agsusurot a kassaba
para kadagiti malmalday
para kadagiti mamirmiraut nga altar
para kadagiti nagawan a no mabirokan
ket awananen iti rupa, lasag, tulang
wenno kabaelan a mangidayyeng iti "Pamulinawen"
wenno aminen nga ayug ti puli.

Saan a kas karina ti panangisagut
iti paulo ti daniw a nakalemmeng iti barukong.

Manglaglagip ti pluma
kas iti atang a naikari iti panagmalmalanga
tapno maiyayab ti panaglak-amtay amin,
amin, mairaman dagiti bulding, pilay, sul-ot
ken ti nasantelmo a daniw iti namarmarna nga agmatuon.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Nob 25, 2007

Black Friday on a High Note of Hope for a Pilgrim

Today is Black Friday in Hawai`i, as is the whole of the United States.

I cannot figure out the metaphor here, not yet, but it has something to do with shopping, this wild abandon that can only come about when there is so much purchasing power in the hands of the people who are not homeless, not starving, not unemployed, or not on welfare.

In short, Black Friday is for the moneyed--or for those who can afford its cost.

For yesterday, in Los Angeles, at the Skid Row, the Father Dollar did it again: that early act of late gift-giving: early because it was too early for the joys and pretensions of Christmas; late gift-giving because all one can do at this time is to prolong the agony of the desperate and the despondent in the face of the despotic acts of social injustices in that great city of glitter and gold, fantasy and illusion, glory and gumption.

For Los Angeles, like this Black Friday, is a seductive lover with nothing to offer but seduction--or that illusion that it does offer one.

For there, in the Los Angeles of our minds formed by popular culture, with those pyro-technique kind of films giving the coup d' grace for a bombastic understanding of what illusion can offer, a hilly portion of the city looms large, like some kind of a hill in the mind on a Black Friday when you have opted out not to go through this ultra-capitalist right to own and own and own without let-up.

From the hilly portions of the city is the Cathedral of the Angels coming clearly into view, with its proud spires reaching out to the heavens like arms outstretched, as if in perpetual prayer.

From there, with the Virgin of Guadalupe as your witness, a vastness of the landscape greets you with the matins of birds for effect and remind you of the hope that one can expect from the heavens, assuming that the people of, and with power, have not arrogated unto themselves, nor have they squandered, that hope that is supposed to be for everyone.

Even in Honolulu where I now count the days as a peregrine going on another peregrination what with a commitment to the teaching of a heritage language of more than 80 percent of Filipinos over here who descended from the Ilokanos, I remember the contours of that hope the Cathedral embodied when I was still trying to figure out what life awaited me as an exile.

The Cathedral was a fountain of fervent prayer and a temple of thankfulness.

There I lighted candles, the cheaper kind, one that could go with the dollar that was coming in as meagerly as the desire to stay put and watch the parade of stars and reside in that fantastic world of doubles and triples and megalomania, not to mention the kind of universes created by paid spin doctors who have the power to manipulate their own stars so that their stardom would appear aglittering even in that deepest of the dark night of the Los Angeles soul, whether that soul is a migrant's like my own or a long-term resident like Leah Salonga who saw to it that she would be wed in that temple of faith and love if one believed in its resident cardinal who cared for immigrants and cared for pedophiles in soutanes as well.

The Skid Row is that stretch of a road that begins from the eastern side of the city, from the side of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and flows to the west before it hits the main thoroughfares that lead to the old Los Angeles with its ancient, almost primeval, charming, and warm European-styled brick buildings whose ground floors are center stage for what commerce offers: diamonds, McDonald's, and more diamonds. Or those boutiques that sell jeans the price of which is equivalent to the salary for one month of those selling them.

It was one of those shop-in-the-wholes that I bought a black, ivory rosary for a discounted price because the owners, a couple from South America, thought I could speak Spanish, and that they thought as well that I was one of those Native Americans of Asiatic ancestry that finally called it quits with the Temple of the Aztecs and crossed over to the borders and declared that from hereon, this side of the Americas was to be my home.

I said my gracias for mistaking me as of their own, although they probably descended from those with fairer skin, some frailes perhaps, like those of my ancestors on my mother side to whom I always throw an accusation that they were all descended from the landgrabbing Spaniards and Americans, with those maternal surnames hinting at giveaway clues for good measure: Martinez and Solver.

Contrast those surnames with my father's ancestors, possibly also a contradiction of history, with some Spanish blood streaking through in those veins of the Agcaoilis with a surname Hispanicized for convention, in keeping perhaps with that abominable Claveria edict for surname change for control and administration; with some 'Bombay' connection as a distant relative Joey Ayala the singer has told me in one conversation (yes, Joey Ayala is an Agcaoili on the mother side), and some Cordillera blood courtesy of our ancestral origins in the Piddig, Vintar, and Dingras border, those places that always had something to do with the Basi Revolt and with the revolt of Ari Almazan, border places peopled by the Yapayao and some other mixtures.

I deliberately passed by Skid Row on that noontime that I got my 'green card'--in a sacramental act of committing to memory the good things that the United States of America bestowed upon me as its another faceless, unknown newest immigrant.

I remember that long walk quite vividly, even after some years, because I took in all the details from both sides of the road on that noontime that I finally had that universally coveted card in my pocket, that card which is not green but pinkish, giving me some form of entitlement in this land of plenty and want, in this land of abundance and misery, in this land of hope and despair, in this land of tribulation and victory, in this land of rootlessness and rootedness, and in this land of song and lamentation. By golly, I worked for that card, and now, at that noontime, I had it. The immigration officer told: "You can go home now, back to the Philippines, without having to ask for another 10-year tourist visa! I am canceling your working visa now, so use your card."

All these memories are part of this one long road I am trekking as an exile in this land of immigrants and exiles and diasporic peoples.

And now this Black Friday: I chose to go away from it all.

No long lines for me to get that darn discount of ten-twenty dollars for a camera even of the best kind.

Or no long lines to buy something to fill up the balikbayan box that has been doubly taped to form a cube and is now gaping open, awaiting all the goodies the country churns out like hot cakes. Never mind that many of these come from China, with their lead content for an exercise at scaring consumers or making them aware of health hazards, or some economic ploy of some unseen hands, no one knows what the real thing is all about.

And never mind too that these could be cheaper at the Divisoria Mall, that crowded shopping plaza of all our Christmas hopes and merriment on that other stretch of the LRT 2 that spans the east side of the suburbs, in the Marikina Valley where the faithful tropical sun rises and where my home is, and the west, to the farther stretches of Manila Bay where the sun sets.

Black Friday shopping. A, forget it.

I have poems to write and memories to commit to paper. The lot of a pilgrim poet, peregrine as ever in this pilgrimage called the lonely life of an exile in these islands.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/November 23, 2007

The Lies of the 1934-1935 Constitutional Convention

The summer of 2007 in the Philippines was a date with history.

Like a detective, I did some exercise in disjunctive syllogism, the one that I taught in many convent schools, catholic colleges and seminaries, and in graduate school. Now I can announce: I did some sleuthing regarding the proceedings of the 1934-35 Constitutional Convention.

I pored over the records kept at the Lyceum Library, the National Library, the Supreme Court Library, and the Laurel Foundation Library.

I urged librarians to help me, giving them some clues to the problem I wanted to solve, pouring out my heart to that feeling that has something to do with how scholars did not do us justice by not telling us exactly what happened between the deliberations about the ‘common national language provsion' of the 1935 Constitution by going back to the original documents of the proceedings. Even Andrew Gonzalez, with his Language and Nationalism, did not seem to have gone to the original records, judging from his discussion of the matter.

So what we have got is secondary information, some commentaries of commentaries of scholars commenting on the works of others. For instance, in his treatise on the 'evolution' of the Philippines national language, he simply reports, as follows: “The clamor for a national language as a symbol of solidarity and unity received official recognition during the 1934-1935 Constitutional Convention. The committee on official language presented a proposal which went through three drafts, in essence mandating the search for a common national language based on the existing Philippine languages. The committee on style, under Quezon’s prodding, made a substantial alteration by stipulating that the common national language be based on one language rather than on many” (Language and Nationalism, 1980: 24).

Here we see that Gonzalez never bothered to look into the proceedings. The references listed at the end of his book did not mention anything about the Convention’s proceedings; he relied, as is the case of his discussion, heavily on Aruego’s 1936 account of the 1935 Constitution (The Framing of the Philippine Constitution, 1936).

I have grown weary of the language struggle so what I did was to revisit the records.

I first went to the National Archives and the National Library, two of the record-keepers of our memory as a people. Then I went to the Lyceum Library, to the Supreme Court, and lastly to the Laurel Foundation.

More than ten years ago, I had the good fortune of poring into the records kept in these government agencies when I was trying to understand the idea of the Philippine Revolution—or more appropriately, Philippine revolutions—from the point of view of the small man, the one who does not have the authority, the one whose desire was to love the homeland as a gentleman would love his woman. In short, I was interested with what scholars call today as “a history without authorities,” if by “authorities” we mean the big names, the big actors, those who played center stage roles in the drama we call the Philippine revolution/s. I had by this time grown suspicious of the self-conceit of heroes and their paid hacks. I had by this time begun to refuse to accept that idea that ‘the revolution’ was declared and finished by the Tagalog Republic.

By this time as well, I had read accounts of Ilokano katipuneros committing themselves to the cause of the revolution—in Ilokano, and with their own blood! Some of the surnames I could easily recognize including my own—surnames that were never mentioned in that ‘national because nationalized’—and then eventually made ‘natural’ because already 'naturalized', as is the case of Tagalog as P/Filipino—accounts, in a dogmatic form, of Zaide, Agoncillo, Guerrero, and Constantino.

You look into the history books fed to the minds of the young from the grades upwards and then in the university history courses, you have the same story, a grand and master narrative of some sorts, with the predictable names and the predictable incidents, minus the mulct and the dirt and the betrayal in the social drama that became a myth for the central and mainsream view of what Philippine history is all about. Never mind that in this grand and master narrative, the rest of the peoples of the Philippines, who had since the incursion of the invaders, been staging revolts, however unsuccesful these were from the point of view of the Tagalogistic notion of 'revolutionary success.'

This is the same tragic story we see in the story of the making of Tagalog as a national language and its being rammed into our throat until today by the monolingual Filipinos who know only Tagalog and who are reading the complexities and vast possibilities of the Philippines experience—and experience that necessarily tells us, to borrow Arnold Azurin’s exitentialist and phenomenological phrase, that we are morally obliged to pursue our ‘being and becoming.’

Here is what I found: That there was conspiracy, connivance, and collusion in the declaration of Tagalog as the basis of the national language.

As I write this, it is Thanksgiving in this land of our exile, and I have a lot to thank for-- such as this discovery of the triple cancer—the tripod of a C that continues to gnaw at our mind as a people, depriving us of that collective memory that should have been history's gift to us who try to keep on remembering.

But no, there are criminals of the Constitution, as the esteemed Vicente Albano Pacis declared for at least three times in his commentary on the national language situation, on the state of English language teaching in the country, and the ramming into our throat of the Tagalog language that, like the chameleon, continues to change color depending on the political, epistemic, and cultural ecology of the homeland.

First, the Gonzalez account of someone’s account that there were three drafts that led to the ‘framing’ of the national language provision of the 1935 Constitution is lacking in perspective. The technical development of all the provisions of that constitution went through four ‘drafts’, with the fourth draft considered as the final draft and which was approved by the delegates of the convention, to wit, the title of that Fourth Draft as appended in the 1965 Proceedings of the 1934-1935 Constitutional Convention put together by Jose P. Laurel and published by Lyceum: “Appendix K-4: Final Draft of the Constitution of the Philippines, as approved by the Constitutional Convention on February 8, 1935.”

Second, here is what is found in the Laurel Proceedings, which is not found in the version published by the House of Representatives: a first, second, third, and fourth draft of the Constitution.

Third, I must take note here that there are two accounts of the convention, one kept at the Supreme Court Library, and another that is put together by Laurel and is kept at the Laurel Foundation Library. The Supreme Court version, published by the House of Representatives between 1965 and 1966, does not contain the other drafts of the Constitution but only the final fourth draft and the proceedings beginning 1934 and ending in 1935.

Fourth, in terms of ‘completeness’ of the records therefore, the Laurel Proceedings contains a wealth of materials that reveals to us the kind of manipulation that happened during the convention. (I will continue to expose these manipulations by presenting documentary evidences and conjectures.)

It is not therefore true to say that the crowning of Tagalog as the glorified language of the land came as a logical choice of the people as represented by their delegates. This myth has to be unravelled for what it is: a myth that contains all the contradictions to our claims to linguistic justice and cultural democracy. In some of the accounts of Pacis, first at the Daily Express and then at the Inquirer, he recalled that right after the work of the convention was completed, many people who were in the know had been clamoring for the publication of the proceedings. This was an honorable way to check of the veracity of the proceedings and of the provisions of the 1935 Constitution.

That request was never granted.

The publication of the 1934-35 ConCon Proceedings happened only 30 years after when many of the delegates were long gone, senile, or had lapses in memory and judgment. Think of the kind of reaction and counter-reaction if these lies and manipulation were exposed as soon as the 1935 Constitution was approved.

The dishonesty of those involved was something.

The continuing linguistic injustice committed against the peoples of the Philippines at this time is an addendum to that dishonesty that became the basis for Tagalog as P/Filipino, that schizophrenic language of the center of power, commerce, education, and now media.

Think of academics schooled in this monolingual mindset, as is the case of many of the Tagalog teachers in the United States, many of them ignorant Ilokanos passing themselves off as Tagalog, or academics who cannot afford to have some intellectual breadth and depth—and resonance. One even had the temerity to say that we need to drumbeat Tagalog, a.k.a. P/Filipino as a ‘global language’ to, among others, avoid ‘regionalism.’ In cases like this, we need to pray to the anitos and ask for patience so that these linguistic idiots will come to their senses.

Fifth, let these drafts from the Laurel Proceedings tell you of the ruses that happened.

First draft: Article XIII, Sec. 2: “A national language being necessary to strengthen the solidarity of the Nation, the National Assembly shall take steps looking to the development and adoption of a language common to all the people on the basis of the existing native languages.”

Second draft: Article XIII, Sec. 2.a: “The National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on the existing native languages, and until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish be the official languages.”

Third draft: Nothing on Article XIII. Other parts of the draft of the Constitution had provisions. We must note here that the second draft was to be ‘polished’ for style—but not for substance! —by the Committee on Style chaired by Claro M. Recto. We note here that in the third draft, only those provision that have revisions for stylistic reasons were to be reviewed so that these provisions could be incorporated as part of the final, fourth draft. In the case of the provision on the national language, that was not mentioned, there was nothing, and thus, logically, the second draft is deemed that which was to move to the final, fourth draft.

But, here is what we have got:

Fourth draft: Article XIII, Sec. 3: “The National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages. Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages.”

Now, we see a hand—or some hands.

The sleuthing continues.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Nov 22, 2007
Thanksgiving Day

Solitude, Thanksgiving, and Writing

Solitude. Thanksgiving. Writing.

Three seemingly unconnected concepts, it seems.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be spent with others, with that ritual gobbling up of turkey meat with the cranberry sauce or hazelnut gravy bought a la express from some enterprising chain of retail stores that invariably dot each verdant landscape in Hawai`i, as is the case of the mainland United States.

Thanksgiving is thus not for solitude—not for that sentimentalized way of internalizing that exilic experience and then getting Biblical for effect, importing images of the abused and oppressed tribe of Israel going into diaspora and then called back into the Promised Land by some gods that came in too late like the policemen of Manila when they arrive in droves after each crime.

But I did, at least before 5:00 PM on thanksgiving, when the early dinners begin. A writer—a novelist of our sorrows and a poet of our redemption, who just joined me to the university from the homeland in order to assist me run the Ilokano program –had accepted, with me in tow, to go to three dinners on this day.

There is much misery and poverty and hunger in the homeland and you accepted to go to three dinners? How could you do that, Manang Lilia? I raised my voice, but smiling at the same time.

I did not for her response. We were laughing—laughing at the possibility that we are going to finally commit the sin of gluttony on Thanksgiving Day.

Which number is this sin? I asked another visitor of the Pfeiffer household at the foot of the Manoa Hills.

Gluttony is number five, I guess, she said. A, forget it. She looked at me straight in the eye. I am taking back what I said about the number in the hierarchy of sins. I never went to a Christian school, much less raised as a Catholic one. I never believe in those.

As I sit now imagining the prospect of heaps and heaps of turkey on each plate for the three dinners we were expected to go, I look at the mountain slopes framed by my office window. Solitude for me is going to my office in the university where the whole fourth floor is mine—all mine—and the only sound I hear is my breathing and the soft, whirring, of an air-conditioner. I remind myself now: We cannot say no to friends, not in these parts. We have to go and bless their turkeys, baked or roasted, with a generous heap of cranberry on each slice, and then in the silence, thank the god of turkeys and the god of thanksgiving days.

So this solitude has to be broken.

So writing has to be put aside, believing that even a writer has to connect with friends, smile at the contradictions of Thanksgiving, and eat one heap of a sliced turkey killed for today, the turkey whose life had to be offered to people so that people would remember to thanks the god of turkeys and the god of life. Or even the goddess. Or the gods and goddess in the fullness of their genders, and therefore, like the turkeys on thanksgiving, they are no longer male or female but simply the giver of gifts and grace.

These are our joyful realities we have got here in Honolulu.

Apart from that regular banquet in hotels that you need to go to—because, remember, you are running a heritage program, and therefore, you have to be nice to people even if some of them are not nice to you, playing to the hilt that congeniality you have seen from the ranks of the academic elites and the political elites and the cultural elites that can afford to make that beso-beso in exchange for connection (“It makes a difference if you have got connections, brahh!”)—you have to sit it out with coronation balls and those dubious pageants that only reproduce a cloned form of Robinhood morality.

So given all these, this Thanksgiving morning is all mine, and mine alone. I tell my sister: I am going to work and I do not want any calls. I want to catch up with what I have not done, with all the deadlines that I have to meet, some of them deadlines I imposed upon myself, forcing me to sit down, lotus-like in my mind as I watch the coming of the rainbows in this valley of the rainbows in the early afternoon even as the sun in this late part of Fall slips to the west, to the mountains in Kapolei, to the sea in the North Shore.

For me, this day comes as a balm, with solitude generating the energies I need for writing, and with writing generating thanksgiving in that endless circle of creative production and Zen-like rendezvous with the magic moment that seldom comes in the land of exile. As an academic of a heritage language, I am bogged down by the pretensions of intellectual rigor, by the commitment to new and critical knowledge, and by the service that I have to extend to the community.

In these parts, when you run a heritage program, you do not depend on the government for help; you need to creatively pull all your punches to look for money in every corner and pocket so you can run your heritage program the way it should be run.

Add to this unenviable situation the fact that in these parts, the long hand of that oxymoron we call ‘national language’, aided by that moronic boob-tube programming exported here by the same pulp culture forces reigning supreme in the homeland is clawing its way to all the hearts of the peoples of the Philippines who are all nostalgic about patis, bugguong, suman, and the ‘good life’ down there, with anecdotes about the ease with which the household help can do wonders to our otherwise humdrum existence.

I know that this Thanksgiving business is what it is: a business of a nation and a business of the retail stores and a business of mythmakers.

We should know. A Spaniard who came here to the Americas more than half a century before the pilgrims performed their Thanksgiving with dead turkeys broke bread with the Native Americans one day on September 8.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Nov 22-07

Running a Heritage Program in the Land of Capital and War for Export

There is one thing that can be said of heritage languages in the world: that many are going the route to extinction.

The native languages of the United States of America alone, according to Krauss, as cited by Crawford in "Endangered Native American Languages: What is to Be Done, and Why?" has 155 moribund--or 89 percent--of the total of 175 indigenous languages.

We must remeber here that current data in the Philippines tells of 172 indigenous languages, with only Tagalog being valorized for what is worth as the quixotic Quezonian and Rectonian language and culture ideology in the 30s, at the time when the homeland was a commonwealth and under the tutelage of the colonizing Americans.

The ranks of the Tagalistas, of course, resist this temptation to welcome the thoughts of other peoples of the Philippines.

The Tagalistas--with their totally flawed Tagalism, many of them not knowing any other languages in the Philippines except Tagalog, cannot see that the act of loving a homeland is a collective act, one that is also grounded on cultural and linguistic rights, and not only on myopic legislations that mainstreamed a language at the expense of the languages of other ethnolinguistic groups. Some Tagalistas in the United States that I know even have that Pharisee-like attitude and say to all who are willing to listen to them, "But it is the law, this making of Tagalog as P/Filipino." There are ignorant academics as well, even if they in the United States.

We submit that it could be that the framers of this nypic law declaring Tagalog as the basis of the 'national language' did not intend the unjust linguistic and cultural consequences of this act, but we declare: the lack of an evil intent does not justify the evil consequences of an act, more so when this act affects the life of millions of people who have as much right to exist as the other valorized group.

Kraus, in an earlier work, estimates that of the 6,000 languages of the world at present, 'as many as half' are deemed moribund--that is, 'spoken by adults who no longer teach them to the next generation.'

The key here is moribund, languages as moribund, Philippines languages, sadly, most of them, being moribund.

Even those that are deemed major as going through a death spasm, with relatively a token help from the government, with only the Commission on the Filipino Language, at this time, having declared a language and culture policy that is based on a productive understand of the role of language and culture in building up a homeland that is not monolingual and monocultural but diverse ever since.

In the United States, there is a playful term for the immigrant languages being taught, however unpopular, in some of the universities, colleges, or schools in basic education. It is called 'heritage language'.

But that is not even exact, as it does not provide a cover term for the fact that they are not commonly taught, so someone invented that term, 'less commontly taught languages.'

And with the coming over of that wave of terror beginning that fateful day in September, a new term came about. This is 'critical languages,' which simply means that these are the languages spoken of by terrorists.

In this dizzying sense of historical events whose patterns are difficult to put together, we realize that language is not simply language, not a tool, not an instrument you wish to discard when you have need nor use for it.

We realize that language is connected to the sense of being and becoming of peoples and communities--and without language, the sense of being and becoming becomes simply non-sense.

There are certain tensions and stresses coming from the economic life of peoples all over the world. We know for certain now the this world is peopled by many people who look at the world with knowledge, understanding, and cultural competence.

Not this Tagalistas who know how to interpret the world using only a single frame.

Like warriors or exporters of wars.

Or the unethical capitalists who cannot be reigned in.

F/Pilipino the language of a non-existing nation has turned into a Pacman, a Frankenstein monster.

The gobbling continues, the terrorizing continues, the muffling continues.

Dictatorship did not die in the homeland. It is alive and kicking in that curious philosophy of language we call Tagalogism.

Even as I run a heritage program that celebrates another language of the homeland, I feel that this struggle has to be waged each day. Not waging it now leads us to perdition, to extinction.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Thanksgiving Day

Silent March at Dusk

I came to the Silent March with an empty heart.

The news of another Filipino American dead from stabbing boggles me. The mind can grow tired and numb. Or even dumb with news like this one. It escapes me that in this time and age when life in this land is a bit better--many times better than the one we have got in the homeland--domestic violence can have that power to snuff out a life.

On the road to the Silent March, I had all these in mind, remembering and remembering for always my mother, my wife, my two daughters and all the mothers and the wives and daughters everywhere.

I wrote that poem in English (I wrote others in two Philippines languages) to wrestle with my thought in that late night that I received an e-mail announcing that another Filipino nurse was dead. I sent it to Charlene, and pretty soon, the poem got into the hands of other people who are in the know about the atrocities of domestic violence. The poem was written to honor a life lived shortly but lived with kindness and care for others—as the life of a nurse is supposed to be all about.

I arrived at the Capitol early enough to realize that I did not have to put in more quarters in those metered slots on Punchbowl, on the east side of the venue for the Silent March. One lady who was going home, bag in tow, told me, with a sing-song voice, that the 'meter people' are already gone for the day and that I did not have to put in money in those slots since they--these meter people--were no longer coming back to check and to issue traffic tickets, in case the slots flash, "Expired! Expired! Expired!"

It is the force of serendipity--this "Expired! Expired! Expired!" business of the metered slots. I came to the Capitol precisely for that reason: to honor one mother, one wife, one parent, one nurse, one immigrant in Hawai'i who succumbed to stab wounds from the very person who should have loved her forever, took care of her, cooed her to sleep, fed her, and provided for her.

"Expired! Expired! Expired!" says the metered slot and here I was, at dusk in these parts, going to that Silent March that was to honor Erlinda Adviento who 'expired,' the Erlinda who as a nurse, gave so much of her life to save others but ironically she could not save her own. Her death is her oblation now--her offering to all of us, believing that in this tragic end of her mortal life, we all could learn. We are assuming, of course, that we are listening to the many silences of her death.

As soon as I got to the Capitol, I saw several people, some DV advocates and educators, I was to learn later on, and a camera crew from a TV station, and reporter, Lisa.

Anna of the Hawai`i State Coalition Against Domestic Violence met me in the front step of the Capitol facing Beretania and from there exchanged pleasantries until she brought me to the TV people who were to interview me before asking me to recite my poem for Erlinda.

Lisa asked about many things that had something to do with the poem that I wrote and what moved me to write that poem in particular.

I told her the truth, including the story behind that poem.

After the TV interview, with mike on my body--those carry-on kind that is used by actors and actresses on stage, Anna asked us to come together and told us about the importance of the Silent March, what was it for, and some housekeeping rules on how the SM was to be done. We were to go around the Capitol one block afterwhich we were to return where we came from and finish the march.

Which we did, placards on hand, hoisting them as far as the weighed down arms could go.

It was late in the afternoon and many of those who came to the Silent March came straight from their offices and work, the reason why only a few could hoist the placard above their heads for every passerby to see. My placard spoke of the prayer and hopes I kept deep in my heart: “Good men do not hurt.”

I thought of all the good men I knew in my life—in the many phases of this life lent to me on a stewardship. The good men I knew did not hurt—they only demonstrated more goodness and lived in goodness.

Now my heart has begun to speak of words that hurt. But words heal at the same time, and this Silent March, in the fullness of language beyond rhetoric and word, was a testimony to that adage.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hawai`i State Capitol, Honolulu, HI
Nov 20, 2007

In-inabokami iti Walangwalang Ngem Surotenmi ti Nasayaat a Dalan

(Sinurat para iti Farrington Ilokano Classes nga isursuro da Julius Soria ken Trixie Soria, agpada nga adda iti babaen UH Manoa GEAR-Up Program nga idirdirehe ni Dr. Rod Labrador)

Ni Aurelio S. Agcaoili
UH Manoa Ilokano Language and Literature Program

In-inabokami iti walangwalang
Ngem surotenmi ti nasayaat a dalan.
Ammomi amin ti kalak-aman
Ti di mangsurot kasayaatan.

Saan a kas karina pada nga umili
Ti naggapu iti sabali nga ili.
Saan a kastoy, ina, ti kalakana
Ti mangwaknit, ama, iti dana.

Ta ania ngarud ket kastoy ti kapay-an
Dagiti dadakkelmi a nagwalangwalang
Immadayo iti nasudi a pagilian
Nagbayanggudaw a di naginsasaan.

Ket iti Kalihikami a naipalladaw
Kadagiti tangatangna a kas ullaw
Namaris koma a biag ti silaw
A ngem ta adu met ti tikaw.

Ubingkami iti daytoy a paraiso
Iti Hawai`i met ket kalbario
Saan a kas kalakana ti agbiag
Iti sabali a lugar nga agpasag.

Ta adu, kakabsat, dagiti pakariruan
Kas iti droga, manongmi, kas pagarigan
Wenno aminen, manangmi, a pakaiballogan
Wenno ti estilo’t biag a pakaiyaw-awanan.

Kadakami a lallaki a ket ti artek
‘Tay espiritu ti arak uray awan parek
Wenno ‘tay ayan-ayat a sibubulsek
Ta ay-ayam iti puso a balinsuek.

Kadakami a babbalasang ket ti lang-ay
Daytay biroken ti bagi a linglingay
Panagpustora iti sarming kas pagarigan
Wenno agmalmalem a panagpalpallailang.

Birokenmi ti ayat kadagiti lugar nga awan
Sapulenmi ti bassit a ragsak iti lansangan
Ngem ta awan met, tallaong, ti pagbanagan
No di ti kawaw iti puso a manglanglangan.

Birokenmi ti ayat iti saklot ni kaayan-ayat
Dagitoy lallaki koma a napno’t kinasayaat
A ngem ta piman awanda metten iti arpad
Kinumaw sa metten dagiti aminen a birad.

Kasta met ti inkam kapay-an
Isu nga agnakemkan amin itan
Dakami nga Adan nga adalan
Tapno maammuanmi’t pagimbagan.

Ngarud iti inkam panagbayanggudaw
Sapulenmi dagiti napuruto nga ullaw
Pasangbayenmi ti kararua iti puso
Kas panaguraymi iti ayat a pudno.

Ta dakami ngarud ti muhon ti masakbayan
Dakami a teddek masangalto a pagtaengan.

Ta dakami met ti tulbek ti talinaay
Dakami amin a babbai a linglingay.

Aminkami ket mangaklon
Iti karit ti daytoy a tallaong
Awatenmi kas maysa a bendision
Ti sipsipatyo a gumgumluong.

11-19-07/ UH Manoa


You are invited to watch the public television show

(Appreciating Ilokano Culture, Feature 2)

on Olelo Channel 53

TALKBACK WITH DR AGCAOILI features a programming that is sound and sensitive to issues about diversity and about Philippine heritage in and outside the Philippines. It also features special programming on advocacy work and on the culture that is linked to that advocacy work, especially the culture that affects the everyday life of the peoples of the Philippines and other immigrants in the State of Hawai`i.

A special feature, Talkback with Dr Agcaoili, with guests Krystel Coloma and Rod Antalan, both students taking up courses in Ilokano at the University of Hawaii, will be aired on:

Olelo, channel 53

December 4, 2007, Tue, 3PM
December 10, 2007, Mon, 5:30PM
December 20, 2007, Thu, 6:00PM
December 25, 2007, Tue, 10:30PM

Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili, host and producer


You are invited to watch the public television show

TALKBACK WITH DR AGCAOILI (Appreciating Ilokano Culture, Feature 1)

on Olelo Channel 53

TALKBACK WITH DR AGCAOILI features a programming that is sound and sensitive to issues about diversity and about Philippine heritage in and outside the Philippines. It also features special programming on advocacy work and on the culture that is linked to that advocacy work, especially the culture that affects the everyday life of the peoples of the Philippines and other immigrants in the State of Hawai`i.

A special feature, Talkback with Dr Agcaoili, with guests Rachelle Aurellano and James Funtanilla, both students taking up course in Ilokano at the University of Hawaii, will be aired on:

Olelo, channel 53

December 3, 2007, Mon, 2PM
December 10, 2007, Mon, 5PM
December 17, 2007, Mon, 10:30 PM
December 27, 2007, Thu, 6:00 PM

Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili, host and producer

What the 2007 Ilokano Drama and Videofest Means

I am counting the semesters, and this Fall 2007 is my third in running a heritage program that it is so unique in ‘the whole wide world,’ to use a worn-out phrase that does not mean so much. This heritage program is second to none because no other program of its kind ever exists to keep it company.

The University of Hawai`i’s Ilokano Language and Literature Program--formerly known as Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program--is the only program in the world that offers the Bachelor of Arts program, with an academic concentration in Ilokano.

Not even at the University of the Philippine where all things innovative are expected, things that have something to do with the liberation of the land from the claws of the cultural enemy, whoever and whatever this enemy is.

The only boast the great UP could pretend to show before the taxpaying Philippine public, many of them Ilokanos, is that they offer, as a token of academic appreciation, and in order not to be accused of being partisan for Tagalog, a handful of courses, two in the Ilokano language, and a smattering of Ilokano literature, couched in a generic and unkind term, "Regional Literature," in the graduate program. The term ‘regional literature’, of course, gets a flak from the younger academics and scholars not any longer schooled exclusively in the ‘Tagalogized’ mindset of what constitutes 'the national language' and its twin, 'the national literature.' The younger scholars now know better—and they do understand that the crop of the crap kind of ‘Tagalogism’ permeating the whole of the educational system of the Philippines does not make sense any more, with the new-found spirit among the ‘globalized villages’ that values the local. It is this same spirit that holds that the local makes sense because it is the everyday and, thus, in putting a premium to the local, the ‘national’ and the ‘international’ must be put into question and subjected to interrogation.

Which is what many people are doing to demolish the flawed because hackneyed argument for Tagalogism as a principle for the definition of the Philippine nation, of Philippine nationalism, and all such cognates that are being used against the rest of the languages and cultures of the more than 170 ethnolinguistic groups of the homeland.

Even here, among the exilic communities in Hawai`i, such pervasive attitude remains, an attitude that is unruly and incapable of reason and rationality because, the argument goes, there is already the national language, and it is all over The Filipino Channel or TFC (that boob-tube supplier of boob-tube argumentum ad populum in the likes of that ever-so popular and invasive ‘Wowowee’). I am certain the same holds for all the exilic communities in the mainland United States and in other communities abroad reached by the long and extended arm of the gigantic competing TV stations in the Philippines and their subsidiaries elsewhere.

Now the 2007 Ilokano Drama and Videofest held November 17 this year, at the Art Auditorium of the University.

I now write it from hindsight, a day after the celebration. I write as well from a series of reflections that have something to do with the continuing cultural and linguistic injustices committed against the peoples of the Philippines by the very government of that has vowed to follow the rule of law. Other perpetrators of this linguistic and cultural injustice are the very people who are swearing allegiance to a homeland for all the people of the Philippines, a homeland that takes as its founding principle justice and democracy.

In the three semesters that I have been running the program, I have seen many of the things that make you happy. I have seen as well the many things that make you dolorous and timorous. Dolorous because you do not have many advocates, not many willing co-warriors to fight for social justice that takes into account the demands of cultural identity and cultural democracy. Timorous because, well, yes, you have to admit it, the future is yet to come and that the future is beset with many challenges. Of course, when you run a heritage program in a country that announces its respect for diversity but you must fight it out to gain that respect e ven among the members of your very own heritage community, you ought not to believe that challenges are necessarily problems.

And many of those who do not understand what we are doing at the Ilokano Language and Literature Program are Ilokanos who either are (a) busy becoming other people, (b) busy with their civic-mindedness minus advocacy for Ilokano, (c) busy jockeying for position of power within the already fractious cultural organizations of Filipinos, or (d) too ashamed to own up their Ilokanoness.

For the 2007 Ilokano Drama and Videofest, we at the faculty decided to dedicate the festival to the cause of cancer awareness and domestic violence.

On the matter of cancer awareness, those in the know say that of the many ethnolinguistic groups in the State of Hawai`i, the peoples of the Philippines register the highest in terms of the number of those who do not receive adequate services related to cancer because only a few go through a regular physical examination meant to deter the onset of early cancer.

On the matter of domestic violence, we peoples of the Philippines ranked first—with our record unparalleled—in domestic violence cases, with our latest, Erlinda Adviento, a proof of the kind of word and education that we have to do. Her husband stabbed Adviento to death.

With these as our premises, we prepared for the 2007 Dramafest and we opened it to the public. At the festival, many people came to watch our students try—and many succeeded—to act and speak like an Ilokano in the way an informed Ilokano would.

It is also at this program that we honored our partners in the holding of the 2006 Nakem Centennial Conferences: Reynie Butay, Annie Corpus, Tina Daquip, Estrella Pada Taong, and San Nicolas Lechon.

We also honored Edmund Calaycay Jr., the first-ever fully certified interpreter in Ilokano—the first-ever in the history of Ilokano interpreter certification in the State of Hawai`i, the United States, and the whole world. The Philippines do not have such kind of a program and we wonder what is happening to the courts where expertise in the Ilokano language and in the art and science of interpretation would be needed.

Two sets of judges for the drama competition came in to help. For the beginning level, we had Jennifer Alforo, Edmund Calaycay Jr., and Dr. Ella Pada Taong. For the intermediate level, we had Meann Binonwangan, Agnes Malate, and Amado Yoro.

It was hard work, with the kind of a preparation involved, the nitty-gritty details that we had to look into, the oversight that must be done even on that morning of ‘The Big Day.’

Here we are—and our Ilokano students, a number of them not even linked in any way to the Ilokanos—looking forward to the 2008 Spring Dramafest.

Our prayer is to see a full-blown Ilokano and Amianan Program in many of the Universities of the Amianan Philippines in the future. With our Nakem partnership, this dream might soon come to fruition. Mariano Marcos State University is soon putting up its Ilokano and Amianan Studies Center. We hope some other universities will follow.

We must mention here that Don Mariano Marcos State University beat everyone in the offering of a creative writing program in Ilokano. I was there at their inauguration. I should know.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Nov 18, 2007

Kudos to Manang Ella and Manong Amado

(This piece is written in gratitude to the personal and professional sacrifices of Dr Ella Pada Taong and Mr Amado Ilar Yoro, two of the better informed and professionally equipped members of the Ilokano heritage community in Hawai`i. To them I give my personal thanks; and to them the Ilokano Language and Literature Program owe naimbag-a-nakem. Let this piece be a testimony to their good deeds. Let this piece encrypt in the annals of our history as a people their offering of grace and graciousness of heart and soul.)

The most difficult part in running a heritage program in the land of exile is to harness the help of the very heritage community that ought to own such a program. It is not the teaching, for honest, when one has been a teacher all his life, and can claim that he has trained some of the Philippines' best young cultural workers, creative writers, intellectuals, and academics, then teaching does not present itself as a problem any longer.

The problem is the heritage community itself--or to put it more bluntly, some members of the heritage community who are posturing as if they got some mandate from the Heavens to hold hostage the Ilokano program in their own 'small-mind' kind of a mindset.

But I must record my gratitude here to two of the most important people who are involved in a direct way to the preservation of Ilokano language and culture: Dr. Ella Pada Taong, president of her own mortgage company and director of the Nakem Conferences (International) and Mr. Amado Yoro, one of the leading Ilokano writers in the State of Hawai`i and a humble, almost unassuming advocate of anything Ilokano.

Both of them you would love forever for their professionalism, their sense of what is right and wrong, their sense of fairness—qualities that one could hardly see among the ranks of the so-called ‘writers’ and ‘cultural workers’ in this State, many of them swell-headed, with their egos so swollen they believe they get some kind of a direct mandate from the Heavens to rule over all of us ‘other small-time’ or ‘smaller, less significant writers’ in these parts. Some of them even have the temerity to announce to the public—in a drumbeating and self-promoting way—that they are the best in town. “Nalalaingkami amin!” is that quotable quote many writers heard—and now will always remember, to mark off the dubious veracity of the claim and the clanging cymbal in that self-advertisement which is the sub-text of their statement.

Of course, let us recognize the self-conceit in this claim of excellence in Ilokano writing even if on the one hand we ought to recognize the dollar value in that empty, almost void, almost non-sense statement. With accolades and honors and perhaps prizes garnered because these people were there at the right time—and with the right connection to boot—they can always brandish that claim to their hearts’ content. But the many Ilokano writers know history—and some scholars and academics and creative writers know their literary history, this last one a specialized kind of knowledge that these braggarts perhaps do not understand. They do not remember, of course, that prizes are a matter of poltics, the politics of taste. That is an accident in creative writing, in the making of memory, in the making of the literature of our people. Then again, there is subtlety and sophistication in this form of reflexive knowledge, and in the many ways, only those with grey matter between the ears would fathom this, even if, according to these people, they are all degree holders and college graduates. Ha, accidents!

Literary history—and the literary history of the Ilokanos for that matter—will test their claim as it is being tested now by those in the know, and the initial verdict is this: “Air, air, air!”

And so one can only be consoled when he is in the presence of two people who know what care and concern is all about.

Each time I call Manang Ella for help, she is always there.

Each time I call Manong Amado for help, he is always there.

What more one can ask?

I need all the members of the Ilokano heritage community to run the Ilokano program in this University—this is the ideal.

But some have stood in the way—or a handful, and they do not even have the taste to register their standing in the way, worming their way to power even if all they have got is “air, air, air.”

I do not mind having only Manang Ella and Manong Amado. With them, and some others I can ask for help along the way, the Ilokano program is going to be fine.

There are many brilliant minds around—more brilliant than those who claim “Nalalaingkami amin!”

Ah, self-conceit! When one has put his little victories in his head, his head swells and swells.

In Manang Ella and Manong Amado, I have no worries.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Nov 18, 2007

Coming to Grief

There was some ambivalence in my heart when the hour came--that hour that had something to do with attending the wake of a person I only came to know through that late night e-mail I received from Charlene Cuaresma, the Ilokano Amerikano health activist who is into causes affecting the various ethnolinguistic groups of the State of Hawai`i.

It was the wake of Erlinda Adviento, a nurse from Urdaneta, Pangasinan. Urdaneta--and the Pangasinan Province--is of course the same place my ancestors from my mother's side came from, the same soil they tilled, the same earth they walked on, the same place of paradise and peril they had to confront, find roots, lose roots, and return to for connexion, memory-making, and healing. Adviento was stabbed dead by her husband, her death leaving all of us into causes such as domestic violence and cancer awareness gaping, muffled, speechless.

On that late Friday night that I received Charlene's e-mail, I just attended the brainstorming session Domestic Violence Clearinghouse and Legal Hotline, now also knows as Domestic Violence Action Center, had asked me to participate in--a brainstorming session that called, among others, for me to make a poem and recite it, in the Men's March that the DVAC people are thinking of putting together early next year.

It was 11:00 PM or so when I received that news, and in the solitude of my University office that looks out into the dark hills in late night like that one Friday, I knew I had to do something to that raw feeling that I had. My head was filled with resistance without any name, spinning in surprise and terror and telling me, Oh no, not again, not again.

My heart was the same, and my lips just simply went numb, unable to say one word.

Silence makes the language full, in plenitude.

I felt that silence in that dark night of my soul, in that late evening that I had to battle what the computer screen was telling me: Another Filipino woman is dead, stabbed by her husband.

The pain I felt at that time was abstract now: palpable, unbearable. My sorrow was beyond taxonomy: no term here, no classification, and no category. Refusal was the operative word and the emotion had to be allowed to make its own deluge, cyclone, storm, tsunami, allowing the wrath of that unnamed because yet to be named exorcism that would be necessary in the days to come.

I did not know the victim but I knew she was a wife. That she was a mother. That she was a parent. She probably had been a lover of that husband that stabbed her to death and then sent her to kingdom come.

I remembered what I said in that brainstorming meeting: I am joining you and you have my participation on the strength of my circumstances that my wife and my two daughters are women and that men need all the education that they can get to be able to help address the issue about domestic violence.

And now this death, senseless as senseless all deaths of this kind are.

What meaning can one ever draw from domestic violence? Nothing, not a thing!

These were the thoughts that were in my head when a colleague and I decided to go to the wake at St John the Baptist on Kalihi, a church near the hills overlooking the sea that extends towards the Waikiki in the earth.

I was to read a poem--that poem I wrote for Erlinda Adviento. Days before, some good-natured people who received a copy of my poem had told me about their plan of having me recite my poem for Erlinda during her wake. I said, yes, and so I had to fulfill that.

And so to St John we went, and there, after the communion, I saw Charlene, in one pew with Bea Razon, one University of the Philippines nursing graduate and health care advocate who has distinguished herself with her work to advance the skills and peofessional knowledge of Philippine nurses through her NAMI training program.

I read my poem, and when done, I gave a signed copy to Erlinda's first-born who was standing by the aisle in the front row and opening himself up for that hug that healed, the hug of people who were concerned, the hug of people who could not understand the meaning of another death like this one, and among Filipinos as such.

Filipinos dying from DV account for about 85-90 percent, say experts. And if you have the Consulate figure that says that about 85 percent of the Filipino population in the State are Ilokanos, that resulting figure gives you a staggering number of Ilokanos beating their wife, their children, or perpetrating DV.

Some Ilokanos would say, Enaf olredi.

I would say, Kuston, kuston, kuston.

A Solver Agcaoili
St John the Baptist at Kalihi
Hon, HI/Nov 16, 2007

Honoring our Partners

(Word of thanks of A. S. Agcaoili, on the occasion of the awarding of the Plaque of Gratitude to Dr. Ella Pada Taong, Mrs. Annie Corpuz, Mrs. Tina Daquip, Mrs. Reynie Butay, and San Nicolas Lechon, 2007 Ilokano Drama and Videofest, Art Auditorium, November 17, 2007)

I must say that Nakem Conferences is now not only a not-for-profit organization but is now a movement, in Hawai`i, in the Philippines, some parts of the mainland United States, and among many collaborating colleges, universities, and institutions in both the private and public sector.

But we did not achieve this by ourselves, by our merit, by our own action alone. We have come to the point where can now begin to see where we have come from, and in seeing where we have come from, we see etched in gold and silver the extraordinary efforts of people who had the courage to come and join us in the Nakem Conferences even at is infancy—even when we could not show anything to prove the wisdom in our daydreaming.

We would like to honor them today, believing that in doing so, we will be able to record justly our gratitude to them. I must say that Nakem Conferences, the Ilokano Language and Literature Program of the University of Hawai`i, and the students of the Program that we are serving, are all indebted to these people and the organizations they represent.

May we call out their names and ask them to come in front.

Dr. Estrella Pada Taong has always been our source of pride, strength and guidance. When we needed to put together the difficult finishing touches for the Nakem Conferences, she came to rescue.

And in her coming for a rescue, she brought along with her Mrs. Annie Corpuz and Mrs. Tina Daquip. Both Manang Annie and Manang Tina had to wake up in the early hours to prepare the food for our delegates. We had more than a hundred people eating at any one time and you could just imagine the kind of preparation that Manang Annie and Manang Tina did. I was—and I am--a witness to how they multiplied the loaves and the fish.

Next to come to our rescue was Mrs. Reynie Butay, who even if she did not know us from Eve, on the strength of the request of Dr. Ella Pada Taong, she came in to help, donating food that came from her kitchen and from her family's restaurant, San Nicolas Lechon and Longganisa.

I must say that when Nakem Conference was just beginning to take the first step, Dr. Ella Pada Taong, Mrs. Annie Corpuz, Mrs. Tina Daquip, Mrs. Reynie Butay, and San Nicolas Lechon and Longganisa were there for us, lending us a hand, giving us their heart, donating their time, effort, and person.

To all of you, we thank you so much.

To all of you, we are grateful.

Now, may I ask all the faculty of the Ilokano Language and Literature Program to come and hand in the Plaque of our eternal gratitude to our honorees?

Nov 17/07
UH Manoa, HON, HI



Iti nagan dagiti adalanmi iti Ilokano Language and Literature iti Universidad ti Hawai`i iti Manoa, iti nagan dagiti amin a manursuro, iti nagan ti komunidad dagiti Ilokano ken taga-Amianan, iti nagan dagiti amin a Filipino a mangipatpateg iti kannawidan, kananakem, ken kulturada, padanonendakayo amin iti daytoy a taripnong.

Ikarimi ti maysa a nakalallalagip a padas iti daytoy nga aldaw gapu ta daytoy a selebrasion ket maysa met a pananglagip iti kabaelantayo a mangitandudo iti kinaasinnotayo, kabaelan a beggang met laeng iti awan patinggana a panangirupir kadagiti kalintegantayo a kas tao, a kas komunidad, a kas tao ken komunidad nga addaan iti kabukbukodan a wagas tapno maawatantayo no ania ti bugas ti biag.

Iti baet daytoy a panagraragsaktayo, adda naigamer a liday iti kada garakgaktayo.

Ta numan pay iti daytoy a pabuya ket ginandattayo nga ipakita ti agdadata a kinadakes nga adda iti kinaranggas iti taeng, maysa manen a kabsat ti adda ita iti morge tapno iti kinaagmaymaysana a kas nalamiisen a bangkay ket maipalagip kadakayo ti moral nga obligasiontayo: ti pananggibus kadagiti kakastoy a pasamak, ti pannakakettel ti kakastoy a kinaranggas. Daytoy ti gapuna nga iti daytoy a fiesta dagiti tularamid ken iti pannakaipabuya kadagiti video, sinanamakami—sinanama ti sibubukel a programa ti Ilokano iti daytoy nga Universidad—a saanton a maulit daytoy a kinaranggas iti taeng.

Ibulonko iti panangpadonmi kadakayo ti panangirakurak nga idatonmi met daytoy a pabuya iti sibubukel a komunidad tapno iti kasta ket maibatimi ti maysa nga adal maipapan iti kinapateg iti ammo maipapan iti kanser ken salun-at. Malappedan ti panagwaras ti kanser iti selula ti tao no nasapa pay makitan daytoy.

Ibatik ti maysa a paripirit: nga agpada a kanser iti gimong—iti komunidadtayo—ti kinaranggas iti taeng ken ti sakit a kanser mismo.

Sapay ta ibati daytoy a program ti maysa nga adal: nga amintayo ket addaan iti obligasion tapno magibusan dagitoy a parikuttayo iti kagimongan.

Dumanonkayo amin, apo—ken kasta met a naimbag a bigatyo amin.

A Way of Welcoming

In the name of our students in the Ilokano Language and Literature Program of the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, in the name of the members of the faculty, in the name of the community of Ilokanos and the peoples of Amianan, in the name of all the peoples of the Philippines who value their customs, consciousness, and culture, we welcome you all to this gathering.

We promise a memorable experience today because in this celebration is that remembrance of our ability to take pride of who we are, our ability that is at the same time the very ember of the fire of the endless, relentless struggle to fight for our rights as people, as a community, as a people and as a community that has its own ways of knowing the meaning of life.

In the midst of our merrymaking today, there is sorrow in our laughter.

Even if in this presentation we aimed to show the evil in domestic violence, there is one sister in the morgue that, in the aloneness of death as a cold cadaver, we are reminded of our moral obligation: the ending of incidents like, ti snuffing out of this form of violence. This is the reason why in this festival of dramas and the showing of videos done by our students, we are hoping—the whole Ilokano Language and Literature Program of this University—that no incidents like this one is going to happen again.

With our welcome goes out announcement that we offer this festival to the entire community s that we could leave behind a lesson on the merit of cancer and health awareness. The spread of cancer cells in the human body can be stopped if the diagnosis is done early.

I end with a revelation: that both domestic violence and cancer as a sickness—are social cancers—in the community.

We do hope that this program will leave a mark on all of us: that all of us are obligated to put an end to all these problems we have in our society.

Welcome to all of you—and good morning to all of you as well.

(Opening remarks, 2007 Drama and Video Festival of the Ilokano Language and Literature Program, U of Hawai`i at Manoa, November 17, 2007, Honolulu, HI)

A Solver Agcaoili
Nov 17/07, Hon, HI



Mannakabalin a daydayawenmi
Nangisagut iti anges ken biagmi
Sika a managayat unay a taklinmi
Sika a mangbasbasbas kadakami

Iti daytoy a panagtitiponmi
Sika a taklin ti tallaongmi
Awatem kad’ daytoy a datonmi
Awatem kad’ daytoy ararawmi

Ta sika’t taraon bagi ken kararuami
Ta sika ti punganay ti karadkadmi
Pagyamanmi amin dagitoy a sagutmi
Ti awan ressat a panakaibalballaetmi

Sika ngarud ita, mannakabalinmi
Mangnaynayon iti kabaelanmi
Ipaaymo kadakam’ ti talna
Ipaaymo kadakam’ ti kappia

Idatonmi kenka daytoy a ramrambak
Iti imatangmo isagutmi a siraragsak
Awatenmi kadi a kas panagsubad
Panagtamedmi aklonen kas surnad

Ita itedmo kadakam’ ti pamendision
Dakami a makidanggay iti punsion
Itedmo kadakam’ ti sudi ti nakem
Ken kinatarnaw ti amin a gagem

Ta sika a mannakabalin amin
Sika ta sika laeng daytay taklin
Iti panagwarsimi iti sagrado nga asin
Amin a madi a riknami ket iwalin

Ta sika mannakabalin-amin
Sika ta sika laeng ti taklin
Iti panagwarsimi kadaytoy a bagas
Yadayonakam’ amin iti kinaranggas.

Daytoy a panagkakammaysami bensionam
Nasayaat a panagkakadua itedmo kadakam’
Sika ta sikat’ Mannakabalin-amin
Sika ta sikat’ tungpal ti panagngilin

Iti nagan ngarud ti maysa ken maysa
Ti bendisionmo iburaymi a sangapada
Iti kasta ket mataginayon manipud ita
Ti ar-ararawmi nga ayat manipud kenka

(NOTES: Written by A Solver Agcaoili for the 2007 Drama and Videofest, Ilokano Program, UH Manoa, Nov 14, 2007. With this ar-araraw, Ilokano students taking up IP 411: Ilokano Literature in Translation/English and Ilokano 401: Fourth Year Ilokano will form a group to do the araraw ritual that requires the performance of the 'panagwarsi iti bagas ken asin' and the chanting of the araraw herein reproduced).

A S Agcaoili
Nov 14/07
UH Manoa

2008 Nakem Conference

2008 Nakem National Conference
Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines
May 28-30, 2008


The 2008 Nakem National Conference, the first-ever Nakem National Conference in the Philippines, will be held on May 28–30, 2008 as approved and scheduled by the Board of Directors of the Nakem Conferences Philippines. Rev. Manuel D. Valencia, CICM, President of St. Mary’s University, chairs the Executive Committee, with Dr. Miriam E. Pascua, Mariano Marcos State University President and Dr. Lauro B. Tacbas, President of the Association of State Colleges and Universities – Solid North (Regions I, II and CAR) and President as well of the University of Northern Philippines serving as co-chairs. Dr. Bonifacio Ramos, NCPI Director, is Chair of the Steering Committee. Dr. Alegria T. Visaya, President of the Nakem Conferences Philippines is Co-Chair. Nakem Conferences International and Nakem Conferences Philippines will jointly sponsor and administer the conference. The U.S. technical panel (from the University of Hawaii at Manoa) will be chaired by Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili, with Dr. Lilia Q. Santiago and Prof. Julius Soria assisting. The Philippine Panel will be chaired by Dr. Alegria T. Visaya and Dr. Bonifacio V. Ramos.

Call for Collaborators, Partners, Volunteers, and Sponsors

Various organizations, academic institutions, individuals and cultural leaders in the Philippines and abroad are invited to take part as collaborators, partners, volunteers, and/or sponsors in this historic 2008 Nakem National Conference as it will be the first conference of the Nakem Conferences Philippines as a country chapter

Those interested to join as collaborators, partners, volunteers, and/or sponsors in their individual and organizational capacity, should contact Aurelio S. Agcaoili,, or U.S.A Technical Panel; Alegria T. Visaya,, Philippine Technical Panel; or Bonifacio V. Ramos,, Philippine Technical Panel.

Call for Papers

Beginning October 15, 2007, the technical panel will accept abstracts for presentation at the conference proper. All abstracts should deal on the theme, Panagkakannayon: Cultural and Language Diversity in the Imagined Ilokano Nation in the Homeland and in Exile
Sub-themes of the Conference:

• Imagining the Homeland from Home
• Imagining the Homeland from Exile
• The Homeland as Metaphor
• The Homeland as Psychic Space
• Heritage Instruction and the Homeland
• Multiculturalism, Diversity, and Basic Education
• University Education, Diversity, and the Heritage Curriculum
• Linguistic and Cultural Confluences in the Amianan
• Ilokano and Amianan Poetics: Critical Works
• Ilokano and Amianan Poetics (Poster)
• Ilokano and Amianan Narrative: Critical and Creative Works
• Public Policy Intervention and the Preservation of Heritage Cultures

Abstracts in Ilokano and other Amianan (Northern Philippine) languages are welcome provided that each is accompanied by an English translation. During the presentations, Ilokano and other Amianan languages are also welcome provided that the key aspects of such presentations are translated in English.

While we encourage full and active participation from each one, the joint technical panel reserves the right to exclude abstracts and presentations that are deemed not relevant to the conference theme or not in keeping with the guidelines and standards set forth by the same 2008 Nakem Conference Steering Committee and Technical Panels. This is to ensure quality discourses and scholarship in the Nakem Conferences.

Papers for plenary presentation (for plenary speakers) are for 45 minutes, with 15 minutes of open forum while those for panel presentation in a plenary session are for 20 minutes, with 10 minutes open forum. Creative writing workshop and teaching demonstrations are for two hours each. Please specify which category you wish to join.

For other inquiries, contact or email: Aurelio S. Agcaoili,, USA Technical Panel; Alegria T. Visaya,, Philippine Technical Panel; or Bonifacio V. Ramos,, Philippine Technical Panel.

Deadline for submission of full paper: February 15, 2008. Authors of papers accepted for presentation will be notified by March 1, 2008 by e-mail only.

Dug-aw ng Dispalinghado

Another wife is dead, stabbed many times by her husband who also tried to stab dead himself. He has been arrested.
News around the island, Honolulu, Nov. 11, 2007

Hindi sa indayog ng panaksak o ng dami ng tama
ang sukatan ng pagkalalaki. Naroon sa buhay
na pagtibok ng puso, ang palagiang pagkitil
ng mga agam-agam sa magdamag kahit sabihin
pang sa umaga ay babatiin ka ng mesang pupungas-pungas
sa paghihintay ng masaganang magdamag.

O ng paghimagas na mura na kakambal
ng sauladong pagbigkas ng pagmamahal
sa gabing nag-aapoy ang hita ng dispalinghadong
kabiyak. Lalaki siyang naturan, lalaki rin kami
at sa aming balikat ang pasanin ng pagkandili
at kayraming litanyang nakaimbak sa aming isip
mga siphayong kaban-kaban ang dami.
Nakakagaan sa palad o nakakuyom na kamay
ang pagbunghalit subalit ang pagwakwak
sa dibdib ng may dibdib ay sa demontres ng galit.

Sabihin nating mahirap mabuhay sa dayo
sapagkat dito, ang gabi ay ninanakaw, hinahablot
sa araw, at ang pagtulog ng mahimbing
ay isang pangarap ng kayhirap makamtan.
Subalit wala rin sa bumubulwak na dugo
ang kasagutan ng ngalit o ng tanong sa tanong.

Ngayon ay kausapin ang bangkay
ng pagsisi. Uutas ka pa ba ng mga pangarap
sa ginhawa gayong ang paglalaanan
ay sa bayang iniwan na ang balik upang
di na muling mandarayuhan sa iyong piling?

Wala na ang tatanggap ng mga bulong
o ng mga halinghing o ng pag-indayog
sa katawang ang sariling kainaman lamang
ang sukat ng kaalaman sa pag-irog.

Ikaw na nga ang hari ng mga nabalong sandali:
sa iyo na ang kaharian ng pagsintang tiwali.

Nasaan sa iyong bibig o dila ang linya
ng kanta tungkol sa asawang minamahal
at hindi kinikitil ang buhay?

Lalaki rin kami, at tulad ng iyong pasanin,
limpak-limpak din ang aming alalahanin.
Naghahanap din kami ng pang-agdong
sa araw-gabi ng aming pagpapagulong-gulong.
At dito sa bayang dinatnan, tatakatak ang pawis
at ang oras ay tanging panginoon.

Pero sa isip namin ay ang hinahon--
ang pagsasapahupa ng sariling daluyong:
pagbabasbas sa litid, maghahatid ng dasal
sa lahat ng sulok ng puson, at doon,
sa mga bayag ng pag-iimbot, doon bubulwak
ang salita ng nakagagaling na pagbangon.

Hindi kailangan ang pangungatang ng buhay,
lalaki sa dilim. Sa liwanag ay ang katubusan
ng mga pasakit sa mga daang nagpapaligoy-ligoy.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa, Nov 11/07

Karinio ti Kutsilio

Pimmusayen ni Erlinda Adviento, binagsobagsol ti lakayna.
Manipud iti e-mail ni Charlene Cuaresma, Noviembre 10, 2007

Daytoy a damag ti pudno a di napakpakadaan.

Agluloken ti tumeng kas iti panagbibineg ti nakem
wenno panunot wenno ti piskel iti balikas
a mangirupir koma iti kalintegan dagiti natay.

Di ta idi laeng kalmen, iti Biernes dagiti agpipiesta
a panggep tapno masursuro ti dana ti linteg
a para iti sapasap, tinagtagainepmi amin ti maysa
a padaya ti ragragsak?

Martsa dagiti kalakian, kunami, kas iti kampay-idi
iti nagabay a Febrero wenno nasapa a Marso
dagiti mairakurak a rikna--kadagitoy a panawen
ti panagibunannag: ti lalaki iti babai iti nakettat
a tanikala ni ranggas, ni babai iti lalaki
iti panagdawat iti panagwaywayas.

Kas kadagiti ullaw a mapuruto
dagiti sabsabong a yan-anud ti danum
wenno ti pul-oy iti agmoy ti buokmo,
sika a naidasay gapu ta dimi ammo ti agkariar
wenno mangdusa koma iti tirad ti tadem.

Ket ideklara dagiti lallaki ti ayat nga awanan
ressat: saan nga ayat iti imuko a manggudgudas
mangpaksiat piman iti kinapimpiman
dagiti pukkaw iti santuario ti panaas!

Punsion iti panagirupir iti karbengan
kas iti panaggallaalla dagiti napudaw
nga ulep iti agsarsarimadeng nga aldaw.

Ngem ita, ania ngarud daytoy a nagbanagan?

Ti pannakaiwekwek ti balisong iti barukong
ket pasamak a kakas-angan, awanan gapu
ken adda iti ruar ti ikub ti pammakawan.
Punial daytoy iti kakaisuna a puso
ti sulpeng a ridaw, tawa, balay.
Wenno ti daraan a lino kas iti suelo
a nangaklon iti pannakaidasay.

Ta kasano a dangram dagiti sao ni ayat,
dagiti lailo nga immulam iti puso ti kapisi ti lailo
samonto met laeng babawien dagiti rabii nga agragut?

Anian nga ubbaw ti adda kadagiti dakulap,
dagitay diro kas pagarigan nga ilaok iti sabidong
wenno abrakadabraen a kantaridas
tapno ditoy a sangalen ti pammadso
dagiti aginmalalaki nga ima ti rapas?

Sangitamton ti kapay-an ti sapata
ti lalaki nga asawa ti babai nga asawa
ti pakpakaasi, gulib, dunggiar iti kararua.

A ngem ta maisublim kadi ti panagrupsa ti bagi
iti din agang-anges a lasag, iti iladon nga isem?

Arakupem ti manglanglangan a leddaang.

Ngem uray daytoy ket orasion ti tartaraudi
a karinio ti kutsilio nga agnagan iti bagbagsol,
waneknek ti tirad iti lagip iti daytoy nga angol.

Mawangawangan ti barukong ti babai.

Iti matrisna nga agdissuor amin a dara ti panagibtur,
tinawen, siglosiglo, dekadekada iti agraraman
a tapok. Kitaem ti imam, kuna ti tadem iti lalaki.
Sadiay nga agruting ti ti semilia ti salakan, agkukutel
kas iti pannusam iti kaasi ti nagmanto a tangatang.

Ibitamto dagiti rabii, lalaki a nasanting.
Agkarayamkanto iti daga kas iti uleg.

Ngem dinton agungar ti naidasay a samiweng.
Wenno ti duayyam kadagiti rabii ti balo a sagawisiw.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa, Nov 11, 2007

Two Nakem Books

Two Nakem books have launched during starting November 2006 when the then Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program of the University of Hawai`i convened the first-ever conference on Ilokano life at the University of Hawai`i. The books, the covers are reproduced here, are available for sale to those who are interested in the growing body of Ilokano and Amianan Studies.

How to Order

Both books can be ordered by e-mail at Book order is sent to you by United States Postal Service, with enclosed invoice. Make and send payment to: Nakem Conferences Inc., Ilokano Language and Literature Program, University of Hawai`i at Manoa, 455 A Spalding Hall, 2540 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI, 96822 United States of America.

About the Books

The first book, "Saritaan ken Sukisok: Discourse and Research in Ilokano Language, Culture, and Politics," (Aurelio S. Agcaoili, Josie Clausen, Precy Espiritu, and Raymund Liongson, editors, IPDFP/Nakem/IAS, 2006) presents a collection of the initial proceedings of the 2006 Nakem Centennial Conference, the inaugural conference of the Nakem Conferences, an organization under the auspices of the Ilokano Language and Literature Program, University of Hawai`i. "Saritaan ken sukisok--discourse and research--are the keywords in the accounting of knowledge mediated by Ilokano language, culture, and literature. The book's blurb, says: "The mediated knowledge is for the present and the future generations who have yet to understand the power of language, the mystical power of words, the transforming power of enlightened discourse, the urgent need for indigenous research and other ethnomethodological means to producing knowledge with a critically conscious content and creative possibilities."

The book, in spiral binding, costs $10 excluding postage.

The second book, "Essays on Ilokano and Amianan Life, Language, and Literature in Honor of Prof. Prescila Llague Espiritu," (Aurelio S. Agcaoili & Raymund Ll. Liongson, editors, IPDFP/NCI/IAS, 2007) is the final proceedings of the 2006 Nakem Conferences and gathers the essays of 17 of the paper presenters, including four from the students' panel. It also includes the remarks of four University officials invited to address the participants.

The book, in perfect binding, costs $40 excluding mailing cost.

Another Wife Dies and Goes Home to the Homeland

(For Erlinda Adviento, a wife who died from domestic violence, October 28, 2007)

You cannot read this poem any longer.
Nor hear it recited with some fervor and fire
the way I would when rage sets in the heart
of my words. The phrases I seek seek me as well
and the seeking comes complete: you are dead
and here we all are alive and kicking and seeing
that which is difficult to see.

What anger, what is its name, is in the blade
that he used to snuff out the life in your pleadings,
a thousand of them I hear now, loud and clear
even as in these parts the waves muffling your shrieking
speak of afternoon romance you could have remembered?
As is the case, you heard the promises:
that it would not happen again,
this flesh on flesh with an open wound on yours in the end.
Or that terror in the blade of sentences that comes
with his terror of his own making. You could have seen
the fear in those eyes and the abandon,
his and yours, and then the telltale signs of repairing
that which is broken like a china's delicate look, for instance,
or its hidden charm. Which you were, as he could have said
in between the giving acts of loving when the world is sober
and alert and capable of redeeming you.

But the story of harm comes in refrain,
as if in a sad song, some wailings we could hardly hear
even if in the silence we hear the need for mercies,
a thousand of them, as the bruises tell of more
that are yet to come. You said, I can take things as they come
and we believed you until today
as you lay dying or dead or demeaned.

How can we ever say goodbye to you, sister
to our own secret pains? We are men, too,
and we see what is in the healing or its rite.
Perhaps the prayer to ask for indulgence
would make us go through as we watch you go
back to where you have come from in the first place,
to the land of your double so you can call out
to our people, ask for that one final act of love
for all wives like you, for all husbands like us.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Nov 9, 2007