A Date with History, 1

So many things are going on today, and the way to abbreviate the many stories of our lives in exile is this: today, indeed, is a date with history.

I counted those who came to the State Capitol at today's 'State of the State of Hawai'i' address of the Governor, Linda Lingle, and my count got to the entrances and exits, with people standing up and applauding endlessly.

Soon the session hall of the Legislature was filled up with peoples of various persuasions and perceptions, from various groups and interests.

But I realized that it was an invitational affair, with the invitation card serving as some kind of an entrance ticket, your name on the list checked for a variety of reasons, security included.

You realized that there were security people around, many disguised in formal wear but with phones in their ears, and their strides brisk and energized. For there, at that hour, was the highest elected public official of the State, and to protect here is a main concern.

I tried to find a seat in the middle portion of the hall, up there in balcony where you can see all, the social drama filled with acts big and small.

I realized I was blessed in so many ways. How many Filipinos have had the chance to be invited to the State of the State Address of the Governor of Hawai'i? I do not know but I felt so alone at this time. There was no other Filipino in sight except for a sprinkling of the big shots in government.

The Governor's speech came in cadence, lyrical and euphonious.

At first, I began to count the applause, but I soon got tired of the senseless act that I concentrated on absorbing the good words coming out from the lips of the highest official of the State.

Some good souls from one of her offices sent me the parking ticket to give me the right to park in those metered lots that can only give you two hours max so that if you forgot to feed the hungry machines with quarters after the second hour, the parking people would have a way to pinpoint where your car is and lo and behold, on your windshield is that traffic ticket that can cost you your day's wage.

I came early for the occasion, having arrived the parking lot fronting the Capitol hours before the nine o'clock opening of the 24th Legislature.

I did not want to miss this event, my first ever, although initially, I had doubts if I really wanted to go.

To beat the traffic jam from Waipahu, on a 25 mile stretch that on Likelike would send you genuflecting to all angels and archangels and saints, is an impossible feat if one were to leave his place at six in the morning.

Many of those who have jobs in downtown would have to calculate the energies expended for losing their cool in the early morning hours against those energies that they invest driving at four o'clock in the morning as if were were being shipped straight from heaven, with the lanes all looking like zip lanes. It is time that makes the difference here, but time as well that spells doom or delight.

I left the State Capitol soon after the governor's speech. I had to catch the hour back to the University some miles away for that noontime class on the structure of the Ilokano language.

On my way out was a bag lady, but her bags were hanging loosely on the shopping cart of some foodchain, the bags accumulating dirt and the demented mind of their owner. It poverty and misery and depravity in their most gruesome visuals. Juxtaposed against the huge buildings around me and against the riches of the downtown, and the rich history of struggle for justice in these islands, I could only cry in silence, tortured as I was by the contradictions that I saw around.

Inside the august chamber, I looked around for some signs of Filipinohood.

Except for the members of the Filipino Caucus, I did not recognize any Filipinos in this mix of peoples representing the diversity that is Hawai'i.

Where are we? I asked myself.

As soon as the Governor's address was over, I rushed out, ran to one State Capitol big shot I know to say my aloha and mahalo and moved to the parking lot on the Department of Health to go back to the University to teach my students the rudiments of lingustic right and cultural democracy.

A Solver Agcaoili
State Capitol, Hon, HI
Jan 22/08

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