Amenkisus Pamingki

Amenkisus pamingki, batikuleng ti uki
rayray-aw a pagsasao

Buniagantay iti asin ti kastoy
a kasasaad, ket kaduatayo dagiti anito,
sawentay ti rabrabak a pangalay-ay
iti babantot dagiti rabii ken oras:
amenkisus pamingki
amenkisus pamingki
batikuleng ti uki
batikuleng ti lalaki

Ta nasken met nga ipeksa
ti pungtot a naynay nga agsiuman
gapu ta ti ayat iti lukong ti palad
kankanayon a maliputan:

pammigatda piman ti demokrasia
a no agtiweng ket anting-anting
ti kaibaan, agtakaw iti pamusian

Iti di maungpot a dalan
a mapanunot amin dagitoy
iti baet ti panaas ti tian
ken panangirapin iti araraw
iti agpaspasikal nga aldaw
mangipasngayto iti namnama
iti matris ti rabii a nayaw-awan

Narigat ti agbalin a Filipino
kadagitoy a panawen:

matursi amin a matursi
kas iti tulang ti kinatao
agingga nga idiayatayo
ti prinsipio a pagraranudan
dagiti alipato iti puso
bay-an a gumayebgeb ti uram
dilpuganna amin a matiktikaw a kasamekan
mataltalimudaw a minuyongan
maar-aradas a banbantay ti panagwaywayas
agingga nga amin a ladawan ti kinatao
iti tagainep wenno iti inaldaw-aldaw
a panagar-aripapa a panangiliwliwag
kadagitoy a di met kaikarian
agbalin amin a kapanagan
mairaman ti im-imuken
dagiti ul-ulsan a kaipapan
wenno ngayed ti napintas nga aldaw

Iti adayo, agbuyatayo iti pabuya ti ili,
umanayen a panglamlamiong iti bukod a bagi.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI

Kadkadua ti daniw

Maysa a kadkadua ti daniw.
Wenno ti daniw ket kadkadua.

Iti panangkamkamat
kadagiti pangngarig
tapno makaparsua iti baro a kanibusanan
tagibiennaka dagiti makapagungar
a panagsarimadeng dagiti ladawan
nga ipinta dagiti un-uni
iti dumdumngeg a lapayag:
adda sugat iti lagip
iti utek man nga agpanaas
wenno iti isip a manglanglangit.

Kasano ta iti met adayo
nga umasideg ti panagbukar ti rikna.

Kasano ta ti rikna
ket iti adayo a naggapuan
ti inna birbiroken iti inaldaw
a panagngatangata.

Nadagsen a panunoten nga iti ili
lamutennaka met lattan ti balikas
nga awanan iti kaes-eskan.

Ti panangsuitik ti ili iti daniw,
kas pagarigan. Ti pay umanay
pagbekkel ti tali ti kasukat
ti linnangsutan ta uray
ti kararua ti bagas inda met

Ti panangibulsa ti pagilian
kadagiti paulo ti metapora
iti agnanayon a ragsak
tapno iti lemmeng yaw-awan
ti arakattot ti panangkamat
ti anges iti sabali nga anges
iti alimpatok dua a puso
nga agkammayet, tumalakias
iti takiag ti panagwaywayas
tapno agsubli iti didigra
dagiti sinisuitik a ranggas
ti sao nga agballiudong
agbalasubas, mapan iti avenida
dagiti di mamingga
a dangadang dagiti arsab.

Di ket ta agbara iti karakaranda
dagiti di matilmon a katay
gapu iti pananglamlamiongda
kadatao. Di ket ta agbirri koma
ti daga ta alun-onenna amin
a mannaniw a balangkantis
a daniwda a balangkantis.

Di ket ta uray no tadtadem iti pino
amin a palso a darepdep
a pangam-ampogda kadatao
iramanda dagiti isemda a bangbangir
wenno ti puggaakda a magatadan iti riwriw
apo a manangngaasi, ay kailian, saan nga umanay
a pangsakada iti utang
kadagiti sanaang a di mabayadan.

Ita, iti sipnget ti aglawlaw
iti dayo a nakaisadsadan,
lagipek dagiti adu pay a dangadang
a mangabalbalay iti masakbayan.

Adu pay dagiti kas kaniak
nga agtalawataw tapno iti adayo
mangsangal iti namaris a bullalayaw
nga iti ilado nga idda ket maipalpalladaw
adayo kadagiti ules, wenno iti imeng
ti arkilado a siled ti sarindaniw ti bugagaw.

Kadkadua ti daniw
ti pangkontra iti minimini
kadagitoy a desuero a panagbalbaliw.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 27/08

The Story of a Leader: Mestra Lynne

Mrs. Lynne Viloria Gutierrez


By Aurelio S. Agcaoili, Ph.D.

This is Maestra Lynne’s story—Mrs. Lynne Viloria Gutierrez—of humility, courage, and professionalism. But it is every immigrant’s story as well: the immigrant that knows whereof she speaks in terms of real and honest-to-goodness community service, one anchored not on the self-for-itself but on the self-for-others. If there is one thing Lynne is good at, it is her work with the community, sowing good seeds as many as she can, knowing fully well about trees being planted becoming useful for the next generation. Caecilius said so: serit arbores quae saeclo prosint alteri. The whole of her, from afar as well as in person when you speak with her from the heart is gravitas, that sense of dignity not only for herself but one in which she dreams of the good for others. Here is a teacher; but here is a leader as well, one who has the guts and gumption to show us the way, not from a selfish motive, but from a brew of mixed motives but always—always—the community in mind.

Mindful of her blessings—the multitude of graces she has received through the years, she never forgot to give, and giving she did, and giving she still does, always on the run for something that deals with scholarships for the poor but deserving students, for the medical care and attention of the needy, for sending aids to distressed communities, and for linking up with other organizations and communities.

We are at restaurant on Kalihi, one that has become an informal hub of civic, commercial, and cultural life of the Filipino community on Oahu. In effect, this has become a hangout as well of those trying to divine the destinies of many others through the difficult decisions that organizations and groups take up and pursue, but decisions framed and drawn on tables put together to resemble a conference venue’s amidst the clanging of utensils and the monotone of an afternoon soap opera on an overhead television no one cares to watch on a 4:30 afternoon appointment such as Lynne and I had on the day of the interview.

We partook of a special halo-halo, that mixture of beans, tapioca, ice cream, coconut, jelly, and other colorful things on a tall glass, that wonderful mixture invariably reminding us of youth spent in the Philippines, of summers when the heat would be intolerable that anything cold, that halo-halo included, would be a good way to cool the body reacting to the sweltering heat of the tropics.

I quizzed Lynne in between small sips of her halo-halo melting.

I have not been to Hawai’i long enough to understand what she has in the store house of her memory that began when she first set foot on the island straight from the Philippines in 1970. She had just gotten her teacher’s degree at the Philippine Normal College, now a University, but her immigrant visa was expiring the following day and so she had to rush to go to Hawai’i and take on a new life as an immigrant. A month before, her whole family had left for Hawai’i, but she had to stay behind so she could work on her degree, an option suggested by one of her Ilokano professors at the University, to which her father acceded. The Ilokano professor did not know that that would be the best suggestion she gave Lynne, a suggestion that Lynne took with seriousness as she went on to do her practice teaching. She landed in the United States as a newly minted teacher.

The 70’s, however, were a decade of chaos and turmoil, and before that, there was the war in Vietnam. The world was changing fast, with the black and white television beginning to rule over many people’s lives, and with news going fast around the world, the times were also interesting.

In Hawai’i, particularly in Oahu, there was an acute need for bilingual teachers, so that by 1975, a project on bilingual education funded by the Federal government was being piloted and thus was recruiting teachers who knew Ilokano and Tagalog. That was five years after Lynne first set foot in Hawai’i. When she learned of the need for bilingual teachers, the teacher in her, somehow, took on a serious mien, and she remembered with conviction that she did not pursue a college education, got her degree, and did her practice teaching—all for nothing. Since 1970, she had always done while doing other things other than teaching; she felt she needed to do something more. The bilingual program drew in 262 applicants, and the number was later on trimmed down to 50 for interview. Finally, 30 of the 50 who were interviewed were hired. That was to inaugurate her 30-year teaching career at Hawai’i’s Department of Education.

In an on-and-off way that I have been coming to Hawai’i during the last several years until I decided to stay put and take on teaching at the University of Hawai’i, Lynn had always been a presence in the many gatherings that I have had the chance to attend. In these functions, she would always be running around, and from an outsider’s point of view, always a reference point. You can miss an affair with no Lynn on it but you cannot miss Lynn when there are important affairs of the community.

You take this as a plus factor: for there is before you a solid axis of that which is good and that which is better. And you take it from there. Plus or minus several years of rest, she had always been with the alliance of organizations in Oahu, the Oahu Filipino Community, and the state-wide alliance, the United Filipino Council of Hawai’i. Her inauguration as a community leader did not start off with the goodies of leadership on a silver platter. “No,” she said. “I had to learn the ropes. And I am lucky because I have had role models, good leaders, and mentors who showed me how to do things the right way. And I am always for that which is right and fair.”

“Had there been challenges, with you being all over—sort of?” I asked her.

“Many,” she said. For a moment, she lapsed into silence, gathering her thoughts about the last 24 years or so that she has been serving the Filipino community in the State of Hawai’i. And then her quick repartee, “But we cannot indulge in the challenges. Leaders, the good ones, the effective ones, those who know what they are doing, are not fazed by these challenges. Rather, they take all these are opportunities for growth, for learning, for discovering wisdom.”

“And did you do that?” I inquired, jotting down her fresh language, her dynamic expressions, asking her at times to repeat how she parsed a statement that was memorable for me.

“I have many blessings,” she said. “I cannot ask for more. Or should I?”

“Tell me of your blessings,” I urged her, the afternoon light almost yellow outside, the rays gleaming on the cars parked in the front lots of the restaurant. We stirred our melting halo-halo.

“Two things,” she said, in a manner that bespeaks of a leader, her voice firm but mellow. “First, our coming to Hawai’i as a family when our aunt, Francisca Rol petitioned for us. We cannot thank our aunt enough for this chance, a rare one as it is. Second, my finishing my master’s in special education from Central Michigan University in 2001. All these are part of a buena suerte, that good luck that does not happen to all. I have received many blessings; I must give back.”

“How did you manage to do all these community involvements, and with you leading Magsingal Association of Hawai’i as well?” I asked. I looked at her straight in the eye and I saw a teacher and leader made wise by experience, by life’s tests, and by the graceful process of maturing.

“I was lucky to have my mother living with us. When I was in the middle of all these, my mother provided all the necessary attention my children needed when I was away teaching or doing community service,” she said of her mom who had passed away a year ago. I sensed that unspeakable sorrow in between her lines. “And then, I put together a system for my children to follow: I had to make sure that they did their homework and that they had their own books and read them.”

She spoke of her struggles with the educational system, how she fought for the rights of her siblings when they were attending public schools and were, somehow discriminated. She told the seven-member panel during her bilingual teacher interview of these travails, how she performed the task of being a surrogate teacher to them, and how she managed to teach in an informal and unconventional way in her previous work. “I never thought of quitting despite all the difficulties,” she said. “I had this adage built into my head: a quitter never wins, and a winner never quits. And so I stuck—and today I am still around doing the best that I can in basic education, and in community work.”

(Note: for publication, Fil-Am Observer, March 2008)

Ti Amarilio a Laso a Tantannawagan ti Birhen

Agbalikas ti retrato, ipeksana piman
ti maris nga amarilio ti gulib
dagiti amin a gulib, kas iti laso
iti kanta ti martir a mapasag iti init.

Dua a dekada a kinapimpiman
a ti akinggapuanan ket ti kalaingan
nga anak ti pagilian?

Kasta ti kunada. A pinatitayo met.

Isu a dimmakkel datao
a maymaysa laeng ti ammo:
ti sarita di ugma dagiti utek
nga agkapuyo.

Madagdagullit met ngamin
dagiti waragawag ti kinamaingel,
kas kadagiti medalia
a ganggandiong a balitok ken pirak,
maintar dagitoy iti barukong
ket kunada, wen, aramid daytoy
ti nasiglat a mannibrong
a no agdiskurso ket pagbalinennaka
nga agnanayon nga agmauyong.

Daydi buteng kadagiti rabii
a maguyod dagiti agtutubo
tapno inda agsapata,
sakbay ti bannawag,

agkari iti nainlangitan a baro a gimong,
ayna, inkankanta met dagiti mannaniw dagitoy:

ti barrio dagiti artista itan ti ili,
kuna ti paspasurot a timmallikud
kontra kadagiti kadre ti pangngarig
ti sirmata ket maysa a darepdep
a maysa met laeng a babantot.

Dimo mabilang iti ramay dagiti kakastoy:
dagiti nairanud, kas kadagiti mannurat
iti Amianan a nakipagpiangpiang
iti lamisaan dagiti pakairanudan
sa ita ket kayatda a kantaantayo ida
iti panagdaydayaw, balangatan iti sabong
ti kappakappa, yawatan iti palma a bainbain.

Umagibas amin kaniak dagitoy
iti adayo a lugar a nakaipalladawan.

Ket agluksawak. Ngem siasinno
kadagiti pul-oy ket angin ken tudo
ket baningrot ken estranghero
ditoy ti mayat a dumngeg iti pakasaritaan
ti kinadangkok dagiti sapata a balikas?

Kadagiti eskinita ken puon ti bullalayaw,
ditoyak a mangsirsirig kadagiti paulo
ti damag iti inaldaw-aldaw.

Ti panagkomunion, kas pakagarigan,
dagiti di agmirmiraut a dadaulo iti binigat,
panagipasagidda maipapan iti Namarsua
a no agkibaltang ket testamento dagiti kasabada
kasta met dagiti kontra partido a bul-og
a kadagiti bolsada ket ob-obispo a butiog.

Iti pahina uno ti diario ita nga agsapa
ket ti retrato ti panagtantannawag:
ti nangisit a birhen ni Virginia Navarro
ket iti imatangna ket ti laso nga amarilio.

Naiputipot ti agkayabkayab a laso
iti siitan a barut a pangpugsatanto
iti korona dagiti bannuar ti ilitayo:
isuda nga agmartsa tapno mangisao
kadagiti amin a basol ti palasio kadatayo.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 24/08

Panangisuro iti Demokrasia

MANILA, Philippines -- In 1986, CBS Anchorman Bob Simon uttered these famous words while reporting about People Power at Edsa: “We Americans like to think we taught the Filipinos democracy; well, tonight they are teaching the world.” K. A. Alcantara, Inquirer, 2/24/08

Maisuro met ti demokrasia
kas iti panagallintok
sa iti pannagna. Namak pay
no iti kada askaw ket adda latta
ti kapetan, sarukod, wenno braso
a pamsaakan? Isu nga ita nga aldaw,
iti panagikkis dagiti kalsada
iti bale ti wayawaya, dumngeg
dagiti kanal nga ayusan ti dara
dagiti adu unayen a naidasay
gapu iti ar-araraw iti maminpinsan
a rapa, panagidiaya iti atang
iti sarukang iti EDSA dagiti nalabes
a pawayway. Mabangles met
dagiti maidiaya a taraon
kas iti pannakabannog ti karabukob
nga agtilmon iti katay
wenno pannakapaksuy
ti sangi nga aggalgal
no angin met amin ti maipauneg
wenno sangakiraos a panaas.
Kunada nga agulser met ti utek
iti kastoy a panaglanglangan
iti punsion dagiti agkamata
a bulbullagaw iti ili
di makakita iti rugit nga adda iti sao
ti itta iti maidasar a niniugan
a pangpatiray-ok kadagiti kaibaan.

Kadakami nga adda iti dayo,
mabatikami nga usisero
kadagiti pasamak ti kinatakneng
dagiti nabati iti ili.
Anansata maipalagip kadatao
ti panagbalikas dagiti ramay
kas iti signos ti laban
ti tamudo ken tangan
nga iti naglabas ket minimini
iti nasudi a pagbabakalan
dagiti amarilio a salakan?

Mabainkami koma nga agkomentario
gapu iti panaglangan kadagiti rali
ken demonstrasion nga am-ammo met
nga itan ket maysa laeng a buya
iti oras a panagpalpallailang
iti kapanagan ti iliw ken ila.
Ngem ania ngarud ta anakkami
met dagiti adu a dangadang
isu nga ibulosmi dagiti karit
iti karayan dagiti sansanaang.
Ilulualomi ti regget:
a makagteng daytoy iti aldaw
a maungpot ti kanibusanan
dagiti agimarmaro iti kaikarian.

Maisuro met ti demokrasia
uray kadagiti dadaulo
a kakunengan, iti napalabas
wenno ita a pakapilawan.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 23/08

Men's Voices Against Violence

(Note: This is an article published in the Honolulu Advertiser on February 20, 2008, and to my knowledge, was written by Mike Gordon, also of Advertiser, but for some reasons, had the byline as simply Advertiser Staff. There is a labor explanation to this issue which I do not wish to share in this blog.

I wish to thank Zenaida Serrano, who together with Mike, worked hard to put together this beautiful piece about the story of a poem, "Another Wife Dies and Goes Home to the Homeland," a piece that I wrote about midnight of that same night that I received an e-mail from Charlene Cuaresma about Erlinda Adviento's stabbing, allegedly, by her husband. The poem eventually declared its own independence from me and I had to let go, believing that one's work is not one's own in the end, with always the universal audience taking a piece of that work.

I had gone on to recite this piece in a number of occasions, this last one during the "Men's Voices" cultural show at Tenny Theatre, February 22, 2008. Even as I recite, whether in English or its Ilokano version, I get the same feeling of profound loss, so deep I can only have awe for the enchantment of word and its capability to transport us to new realities we previously do not know and countries of the sad soul we have not visited. For indeed, word, with its magic, is always a new country--or will always invite us to a new county, if only we tried harder to open up our sorrowing souls to its magic, its vast possibilities, its deliverance.

There is also a video excerpt of this poem. For details, go to: &

Word of the murder arrived as author and poet Aurelio Agcaoili tapped on his computer keyboard, pouring out his soul until a small ping told him he had an e-mail. It was nearly midnight, the still time when he often greets his muse.

Another Filipina was dead, a victim of domestic violence in her Kalihi home. Erlinda Adviento had been stabbed to death, allegedly by her Filipino husband.

Agcaoili felt his insides curl.

This was last October, a tipping point for the University of Hawai'i assistant professor in the department of IndoPacific Languages and Literatures.

He didn't know Adviento, but he was familiar with the belief among some Filipino men that they had a right to beat the women in their lives. He'd spent much of the year coaching Filipino writers to tap into that topic.

"The issue to me was so concrete, it had blood on it," he said.

For weeks afterward, Agcaoili wrote about domestic violence in three different languages — English, Tagalog and Ilokano. He went to Adviento's wake where he read a poem about her death. He marched in silence around the Capitol to protest domestic violence.

On Friday he will join his group of Filipino writers to present their work at "Voices of Men," a free community event to bring men together to end violence against women.


A one-man play by Mainland comic and activist Ben Atherton-Zeman headlines "Voices of Men," and Agcaoili's group will take the stage with an appeal for peace, delivered in Ilokano, to Hawai'i's Filipino men.

"It's not going to be a walk in the park," Agcaoili said. "What we have here is one aspect of a culture which is so ingrained in a patriarchal setup that has not been questioned or interrogated or cross-examined."

Violent spouse abuse in the Filipino community has long concerned the Domestic Violence Action Center, which until last October was known as the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse and Legal Hotline.

In 2000, the organization found that four of the seven domestic violence-related homicides were committed by Filipino men against their wives. The number of homicides is not a statistic the organization tracks, but as a response, it created the Pilipina Rural Project to educate Filipino women about their rights and options.

The hope was to educate community leaders about the problem so they could help create solutions among Filipinos, said Helena Manzano, program manager for the project.

"The way the culture sees this is it is a family matter," she said. "A lot of the people who end up in the court system are surprised that it is a crime."

One of the leaders helping to educate Filipinos was Agcaoili, who wanted to include domestic violence awareness in a series of workshops with the Ilokano Writers Association of Hawaii. About 20 aspiring writers took part in educational and creative writing sessions between February and October last year.

Creative writing became a way to define the problem and share the experience.

"It's a nonthreatening way," Manzano said. "You can present it in a way that is creative or philosophical or you can present it in a performance and the audience can find something they can identify with."


The realities of domestic violence nearly overwhelmed the writers, most of whom did not understand the scope of the problem, but the work they produced was a surprisingly intimate look.

A few of them had firsthand experiences to share, which surprised Agcaoili. His workshop exercises were not intended to prompt personal experiences, he said.

"That would be intrusive and invasive, a confessional," he said. "I was not ready to be their father confessor. But it was so sacred and beautiful."

Workshop participant Lydia Abajo, a legal advocate for abused Filipino women, said the workshops were powerful. Some participants simply stood up and shared their stories, crying afterward.

"It actually opened the minds of the whole group as to what domestic violence is all about," Abajo said. "They saw some hope for those who are still in this type of relationship. Do not keep it to yourself. Seek out help. It is not the end of the world."


As a writer, Agcaoili knew the role art could play in creating social change. But he wasn't prepared for his own reaction to Adviento's murder.

An immigrant with Ilokano roots, Adviento was a 44-year-old mother of three who worked as a nurse in a convalescent center in Honolulu. She was originally from the same province in the Philippines where Agcaoili's ancestors farmed.

Shortly before her death on Oct. 28, she told her husband she wanted a divorce, according to court records. Adviento was on the telephone talking to a friend when she was stabbed in her heart and lungs.

Agcaoili still can't explain what moved him to write a poem about Adviento, or why he hasn't stopped writing about domestic violence three months later.

"When I got the e-mail, there was some kind of volcano in my chest," he said. "I thought I needed to get it out."

He thought about his own two daughters and felt a father's fear as he pondered "the evil in this."

It made him write. It makes him write.

"The issue of domestic violence is not a done deal; it isn't over for me," he said. "It is something that we need to be bold about and brave about and committed about. So I am not resting content. I am restless."

Our Words, A Dramatic Monologue

Our Words, Our Worlds/
Sasaomi, Lublubongmi

(Version arranged, and with continuity script by A S Agcaoili for the “Men’s Voices”, Tenny Theatre, Honolulu, HI, Feb. 23, 2008. Texts from the 3K Initiative Creative Workshop on Domestic Violence conducted by A S Agcaoili, with the participation of GUMIL Hawai’i, and several women from Local 5 Labor Union and other independent participants; the initiative was sponsored by the UH Ilokano Language and Literature (under its Community Language Program), and the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse and Legal Hotline, now Domestic Violence Action Center; premier recital at the 2007 International Conference on Ilokano and Amianan Languages and Cultures, Philippine Consulate General, Oct. 27, 2007)

This is only our voice.
This is only our voice.

In the silences, only in the silences
There we are left to cry in sadness

Let this come to an end, I say
Let this come to an end, I say
The colorful past has faded
The suffering you inflicted on me
They would never come a healing.

Our voices sold/our voices sold
Our lives not our own/our lives not our own
Or so we are told/or so we are told
Nothing do we own/nothing do we own.

Nothing, nada, nothing, nothing at all.
Like the beautiful song or spanking, my!!

Came so lost and spent
The woes, the frustrations, the regrets
But…listen, you did

Slowly, my confidence rebuilt
I began to sing, I began to sing

Songs of love, songs of freedom
Sing still we do, sing with the winds
Sing with the birds, sing with the waves

Endlessly, I sing, sing my heart out

Even when you’re
Near and yet so far

He came into my life/She came into my life.
He came into my life/She came into my life.

Like the full moon.
Like the glimmer of light.

Like the storm
Aieee!, please don’t!

Our hearts were entwined
And we declared our union

And our love for each other bore fruit

And days gone by, oh my!
What a pity you do not understand!

You are a man who would not understand!
You are the hardship no one can bear!
You are the heaviness on my chest
You are the mistake, the good for nothing!

Why, o why, o my beloved why!
Those words are hard for the hearing!

What, to your face, excuse me
You look like the dishes!

‘What is it, Pinang, keep still!
Your poise, your manners, keep!

We are the women today and yesterday
We are the women violated by Adam!

When he says, come on, that good looking man
I say, come on, come to say I do not like him right away!
And then of course, he comes to flatter me
And when he smiles, heavens, I reach the glory!

Goodness gracious, her glistening teeth
On my chest comes the thumping of my heart.

What is this violence
What is this pain I bear
I make a minute mistake
And then I overly suffer?

Hello, he says, hello, dear, he says
Hello, I say, and my hello is forever

Do you know what a parched land looks like?
Do you know how is it to beg for alms?
In the beginning, love is a beggar, and I was
And I remember our village of the wretched like I was.

And then Pedring, who made good, came from Hawai’i
He asked for my hand, and I have him all of my garden.

I do not know what I am talking about, I do not know the story
I begin from the violence that begins in the home
The father of all joys and all of sobbing and sorrow
Siring all those promises that are twin to forgetting

Stupid, stupid, woman
This woman is stupid!

Stupid, he says.
Graceless, he says.
And on my face would fall
All of his desires
His brutality, atrocity
Muffled sobbing, cries
All those wild power
In him that look like murder

You follow what I say,
I wear the pants.

No, no, I say, no I say
Do not hurt me, my love, I say
But the hand does not know control
And on my lips fall his big hands fall

The lips crack, the lips spill blood

And I spit my own blood
And I take in all the violence
And I take in all the doubts
And I take in all the wounds

And the blood mixes with the wind
And then with dust, and the waves

O, this is the curse, this violence
The curse of pride and anger
You end up with no one to go with you
Until you have anger itself has left you!

Come, come to ask forgiveness from my wound.
Come to beg for the purity of your love.
And I say yes, and he says, yes.
I am the fountain of forgiveness.

And we dance in the young evenings.
And we dance on our bed.
And our linens and pillows become witnesses
And themselves becoming witnesses
To another end: the bed sounds off
With another story of violence.

I remember the days
And fear grips me.

We have not been reared by violence
Nor anger nor just whimpering!

I kill you when you leave me.
That I vow and I promise
That I vow and I promise
That is what you say
And I see the death of stars
The moon, sobbing, day

L/B, ALTERNATE, choral
We put an end to the violence of men/
We put an end to violence to another
We cannot keep violence
The way to this is freedom

I am awakened by your loving caress
The way the breeze wakes up the dawn
And when you wake up
We build up our romantic morning

No more, I say. No more forgiving.
We put an end to the pain
To the violence
To the misery
To the suffering
All the cries with no name!

No more, I say. No more!

I help myself. I help myself.

I help myself, I help myself.

We say we are here.
We are here.
We have come to set us free.
We have come to say we are free.

We say no to domestic violence.
We say no to this circle of violence.

We are here.



We have many of them,
these phantasm of people
in palaces our sweat and blood

and death built. They are minions
of our sad nation's presidents, men or women
or ghosts, land-grabbers and thieves.

It is like a multiple choice,
and the answer is predictably all:
husbands of presidents

wives of presidents and congressmen
senators of senators and their henchmen
and thieves among thieves and their collectors

their code of honor the quick twinkling of their eyes
in the praying of rosaries, in the mouthing of phrases
a gift from Rome and the prayer and river palaces

the diamond beads that for twenty years
was the first lady's guidance to ruin the scaffold
of our people's dreams, their children's too

and the twenty years multipled a hundredfold
when she, prayerful and devoted, and many others like her
gave all of us empty words, the ejaculation in their litanies

eclipsing the magnificence of her holy rosary that glitters
in our country's tropical sun, its light and power and heat
caught in between a multitude of thieving fingers

the sun eventually residing forever in the multitude
of thieving minds. The rosary, hers, glistens
in the moonlight with her other saints, fair and black

the rainbow colors in extremes do not matter much
for as long as her own miracles do still happen
at the prodding of her conventual, powerful

fingers schooled in the art of praying the novena
for a show, like a bishop's repeatable first act,
this spectacle loved by eunuchs of clerics

and drunk archangels waiting from the wings
the archangels also her minions in her congress
of deceit as she bribes them with the millions

of our sweat as it was with friars and their gospels
of racapacity and greed, their raucous laughter at our expense
and this social sin that today takes on new forms:

a ghostwritten speech that talks about the love
we have for social justice and the sacred alms
to bury the poor child who died of hunger

and of the loneliness of living and quitting from life
in want and abuse with million others like him
in the squalor of our regrets, our belated regrets.

No, to be a minion is not in the sex.
No, to be a minion is not in gender either.
Yes, to be a minion is to say 'yes' to her.

And to all like her, like him, like all the others:
those who robbed us of our desire to love our lovers
those who denied us of the joyous plot of our honeyed dreams

for this land we have loved but has not loved us
for this land we have always loved but has not always loved us
for this land we will always love but has opened herself to other loves.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 23/08

Magno Rubio Review

Four-Foot Filipino Boy and His Big Heart—
Or How to Reread Lovesickness as a Political Metaphor

Aurelio S. Agcaoili
Ilokano Program, IPLL, University of Hawai’i

Ilokano literature, and in extensu, Philippine literature, has appropriated Carlos Bulosan as its own even in reality, his works are veritably part of the exilic literatures of the United States as well. This realization that a good work—such as this inspired interpretation by Lonnie Carter of Bulosan’s “The Romance of Magno Rubio”—knows no country even if it is set in a certain country and in an equally certain clime. The specificities set the terrain for us in our revisiting of the myriad things about exile and diaspora that include the history of the people of the Philippines eking out a life wherever they can, away from the home country. That act of revisiting may eventually lead to something close to redemption if we allow the texts of the past—Magno Rubio’s included—to present themselves to us so that we get to see the presences that we need to understand, presences that oblige us to resist forgetting.

Here, in the Bulosan story as in the Carter piece, is the story of a letter, an epistle, with all its suggestions. Letters are to be read, and what we read are words pointing to a world or worlds created and produced by them—word itself becoming world, and world, to be understood, mediated by word.

This is the paradox of the Bulosan-Carter story that awaits unraveling, demanding reading and rereading as closely as we can.

In one part of the play, Magno complains: “Yes, and he wrote long letters that I couldn’t understand. And he used big words. How would I know he wasn’t writing for himself?” And then we find out that the letter writer Claro was charging Magno one cent per word when the latter was earning just a little more than two dollars per day. And Magno had to write her ‘beloved’ Clarabelle everyday through the letter writer.

This story of someone writing a letter for you in the plantation days when the people of the Philippines were more valued as farmhands—valued more for their hands than their heart and person—is set in a complicated brew of opportunism, oppression, and capitalist greed, with the farmhands more valuable when they cannot cry a whimper, cannot write, and cannot read. The complexity of this difficult situation is rendered worse when a new level of opportunism sets in, with your own kind taking advantage of you. This is the tragedy of the Magno Rubio story, one he would learn to take it in stride when he says, towards the end when Clarabelle’s ruse comes to light: “They are happy, Nick. Clarabelle is smiling her beautiful smile. And laughing. I’ll guess we’ll start picking the tomatoes next week, Nick.”

From the archives of Hawai’i’s and California’s memory of the plantation days painted with clarity and pain in this play come two books that teach the people of the Philippines the rudiments of writing love letters to their girlfriends in the Philippines—‘back home’ is the oft-repeated phrase—are Averne’s 1930 “Manual for Progressive Laborers” and Valdez’ “Combined Love Letters” (ca. 1946). Here we see templates of the same desires we see in the Magno Rubio that many plantation workers carry in their soul: the Magno Rubio paining for the beloved, the Magno Rubio paining for some iota of justice and fairness even in that most delicate of feelings we call love, the Magno Rubio paining for a love that is not a phantasm but a reality.

But are we to interpret the Magno Rubio story as a mere story of a four-foot Filipino boy with a big, big heart for Clarabelle, the ‘fair-skinned’ lady from Arkansas?


There is another way to interrogate this story and negotiate the vast possibilities of its meaning by accounting the clues that remind us that Bulosan, as interpreted as well by Carter, did not write this Magno Rubio account of an ‘unrequited’ love as a way to tell us of how naïve the Filipino lovers were. No, love here is a political dynamo. It is meant to be read in another level of meaning because it forces us to account the kind of love that the world can offer.

And this love is unusual.

It is love in the time of oppression. It is love in the time of capitalist expansionism. It is love in the time of imperialism taking hold of the hearts of good men and women in other places, from other places. It is love in the time of colonialism defining and redefining the contours of noble dreams of the deprived peoples of the world.

Magno Rubio thus is a metaphor—or a clue to a metaphor: the worker of the oppressed world looking for his Clarabelle in all places. And because Clarabelle—the clear lady—is somewhere else but knows how to prey and play upon the lonely heart of a man, the tragedy becomes complete.

It is the same tragedy we have still: this search for oppression and opportunism and greed masked off as love. And because it is masked off as love, there is sweetness here, there is delight, there is pleasure.

Here we begin the journey to seeing that Magno Rubio’s story is the same story we see still see each day, in Hawai’i and elsewhere. And unless and until there is justice and fairness in the world of labor—and among countries and nations—there will always be Magno Rubios, as the preying becomes perpetual, its masking so as well.


[Note: This is a short review of the upcoming play, "The Romance of Magno Rubio," by Lonnie Carter, adopted from Carlos Bulosan's short story, "The Romance of Magno Rubio." The play was first staged by Ma-Yi Theatre in New York and won eight Obie Awards. It will be shown in Honolulu in March 2008 by the Kamu Kahua Theatre. This review is part of the viewer's guide to be printed by Kamu Kahua.]

Ti Sagrado a Balikas ket Maysa a Kadre

(Sungbat iti daniw ni Ka Loren a "Maestro ti Dangadang," Feb 20/08, iti blogna a

Maysa a kadre ti sagrado a balikas,
Ka Loren dagiti amin a rebolusiontayo,
iti man puso wenno iti gatilio.

Nakaadayon dagiti lagip,
immagibasda a pilit
kadagiti avenida

ti karkararag iti kumbento
dagiti kinatakrottayo
iti bunggaria dagiti nabaked

a pader dagiti seminario
dagiti pulkoktayo, datayo
nga agbibiag iti hostia ken gulib.

Ngem asidegtayo kadagiti sulisog
ti balikas kas iti ulbod:
ta kasano a paaduem ti tinapay

no dagiti binukel ti mais
ket kadagiti restoranda
nga agsalakan, kadagiti bibig

dagiti babaknang a subo a subo
a di agngalngalngal
ngem di met maltutan.

Adda ngamin rapas a bibig
rapas a boksit ti butit
rapas a panagimutektek:

ingkipasan iti amin
iti kuntimpas domino
dagiti minimini ti awanan bain:

dagiti bukatot, kas paggaamo,
a no agnganga kasla sudo
wenno daytay buttaw a sako

dagiti agpuerong a hasiendero
dagiti sementado a pagmulaantayo
kadagiti maapit a sasainnek

ti anak a mabisin kas iti ina a mabuteng
ti panaglagaw ti ama iti panangkamkamat
iti kasungani ti panagngilin dagiti pariok

wenno panangpiangpiang dagiti bandehado
a makikinnawiwit iti paspasablog
dagiti maar-arakattot a panagbubussog.

Naktidiables la ketdin a biag
ta uray ti karkarna a panaguttog
pawilan pay dagiti naarog

a no gumarut ket aglastog:
kas iti panagbuya kadagiti suitik
iti parang ti nengneng a telebision

Lozada kontra kadagiti batalion
dagiti mannibrong a di agdiosporsanto
Lozada kontra iti sekretario dagiti di aghesus

iti pammateg iti ili a di met mairusok.
Ngarud, pasublientayo a babawien
ti sagrado a balikas ti masa a din muttaleng,

datayo a nakamurmuray, panawenen.
Ditoy ti salakan: kadre ti sagrado a balikas
a mangisuro iti kakaisuna a panungpalan.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb. 21/08

Padapadatayo a Siraragsak, Ilocos Norte Birthday Song

(Note: This is a lovely song I heard when I was young but for a long time, in our chaotically urbanized life in Manila, and then in exile, the tune that was so familiar to our healing lost its place. When I moved to Hawai'i two years ago, I found this song again--or this song found me, and here it is, in its glory and grace.)

Padapadatay a siraragsak
A kumablaaw, mangipaduyakyak
Ta nagtengan ti aldaw a pannakayanak
(ni_______) [or] panagtao
A napnuan gasat

Balangat a naurnos dagiti sabsabong
Ti umaymi kenka isaad ita ulom
Kasta met a yawatmi kenka
Ti naindayawan unay a palma
Tapno isu ti mangipakita
Ti ragragsakmi amin a sangapada

Sapay iti Dios ta ilayonna koma
Ta salun-atmo, pia ken regta
Ken ta singpetmo a nagpaiduma
Nga ap-apalan dagiti kas kenka

Blogged for posterity today, Feb. 19/ 2008
Honolulu, HI

Scavenging for Something to Die Of

MANILA, Philippiness -- A Hong Kong-based migrant workers’ group appealed to the government on Tuesday to do something about 50 Filipino workers reduced to scavenging garbage in Kuwait after being duped by their employer. The overseas Filipino workers, according to the Asia Pacific Migrants Mission, have resorted to eating expired foodstuff and scavenging sellable items from waste bins just to survive. J. Aning, Inquirer, 2/19/08

The image is picture perfect,
an icon to what have we become.
Fifty overseas Filipino workers
are in Kuwait awaiting
for the verdict of death
to, yes, for them to gon on living
like birds and beasts, minus
some adage from the gospels.
No, you cannot say about
the lilies in their sparkling light,
light upon light on their blades,
their petals the dew of grace
not this deceit that comes
to them as well as to us
everyday, a lie like this turns
up on our plates, and we eat
it all to appease what needs
to be appeased: the eyes
for not having known what
a good meal looks like
the taste buds for the onset
of amnesia on what savor
and delight are
the nose for going the way
of the ignorant men in the land
who do not know the difference
between rottenness and sincerity
to what justice is. And so in Hongkong,
we deploy all that strength we need
to fight back the hunger.
The trash bins come aplenty
in this land of a failed promise.
There are no expiration dates
for the energy needing replenishment
or is there a crime
in eating what other people
had thrown away to feed
their regrets?
In the homeland, we have always
been scavenging for truth
in the wastes of thieves.
There is nothing new here
except to remind ourselves
of the honor among the countrys
hypocrites: presidents who do not
know the meaning of greed but avarice
of vice presidents who mouth platitudes
for the electorates
of senators who look for the longevity
of their uselessness
of representatives who go running
after their pork barrels
and cabinet met who take lying
as the first virtue among the potentates.

Fifty of them, and more.
This is not news, we know.
It has come upon us for so long,
this dishonor we have heaped upon
our people who know what hunger means
without being told.

A Solver Agcaoiili
Hon, HI
Feb 19/08

Rumor of an Assassination

0. The leader says...

When the people are enraged,
You give them the rumor
Of an assassination.

1. The masses say...

Like sacred words
sanctified and then murdered
for reasons beyond life sentences
such as what we have got.

We are a people of profuse tears
and lost courage and aborted loves
because there is much to forget
such as our memories of injustice,
an idea without flesh on plates
with our martyrs' head, their blood
in our hands as well as those of their
paid assassins and their masters.

We do not know if, we cannot say
we gave them the eulogy for a good death
but ours is the blessing so we can go on
coaxing the sorrowing streets
and dark days to keep watch over us
join us once more in this struggle
that has not given us rest.

The martyrs take in all the bullets
and presidents lie about their deaths.
The lying is the poetry
of a heart with no knowledge
of what mercy can give to the masses
like a meal to celebrate
the return of graces.

3. The leader says...

Like the false messenger,
the rumor of an assassination
is part prophecy and its opposite.

4. The masses say...

We have heard of words
like this, and we began to believe
until we gave them forgiveness
so they all can begin again
with their diabolical deed.

Some of them, many of them,
and now, now, these thousand deaths.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 18/08

Ti Kinalinteg Ti Killo

I shall argue that justice cannot consist of any kind of harmony or consensus either in the soul or in the city, because there never will be such a harmony, either in the soul or in the city. S. Hampshire, philosopher

0. Ti Kuna ni Lozada

Saanda nga ammo ti dung-aw ti ili.
Sileng ti pirak ti kaibatogan ti panagsulpeng.
Adda bileg dagiti gatad a sumarot
Iti abut ti lapayag manipud iti piditpidit
Sumuknor iti rusok sa iti mabagbagi.
Sadiay a marikna dagiti sili, budubudo
Wenno keddel dagiti nagasang a balikas
Dagiti makipagili nga aglaklako iti nagan
Dayaw, biag, tagainep, ken maisakmol.
Kasano ngamin ta dagiti natakneng
Ket agpabuyada iti milagro dagiti kararag
Kas iti milagro dagiti diskurso a nalaokan
Iti diro, tagapulot, ken katkatawa.
Kadagiti rabii ken palasio a mapartuat
Ti masakbayan, iti ima dagiti mannanakaw
Iti saklot dagiti mannibrong, ditoy
Nga agpunsion dagiti arsab a ngiwat
Karabukob, gemgem, dial, ken tian.
Saanko a maalimon daytoy a panangliput:
Iti bassit a purok a naggapuan
Ket ti kinalinteg dagiti kaibaan
Ti kinamanangngaasi dagiti angin
Ti bendision dagiti engkantado a sardam
Isu a dimi kayat ti agsuitik
Uray no magatangko amin nga ayat.

2. Sungbat dagiti Traidor

Lungat laeng ti di agserbi
Kas iti bangkay nga awananen kaikarian.
Apay a sangnguen dagiti peggad
Iti rungsot dagiti mamirmiraut
No iti maysa laeng a kimat
Ket dagiti diamante iti porselana
A pinggan, kas iti balitok a kutsara
Ti pirak a tinidor, ti serbilieta
A pinamaga ti lulua dagiti manglanglangan?
Sarangten ketdi ti pakasaritaan
Ket iti panidna ti kinatakneng dagiti gapuanan:
Ti sangalibro a kari tapno mapunas ti killo
Nga iti laeng biblioteka nga agbanag.
Saan a nasken ti pannakapunas
Dagiti iskuater a tagainep:
Pinturaan laeng dagiti pader
Ket ideklara sadiay ti rebolusion
Iti wayawaya, ti rebelasion dagiti anghel
Nga agtagainep iti bangungot
Iti pus-ong kas iti pagilian.

3. Apokalipsis ni Lozada

Ibuksilak ti rugi ti paggibusan.
Ti linteg ket adda kadagiti ima
Puso ken panunot, kas iti tured
A mangisawang iti burburtia
TI mangyaw-awan. Alaek ti engkanto
TI balikas ket sadiay a birokek
Ti naisangsangayan a salakan.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 18/08

Abrakadabra para iti Pagilian

MANILA, Philippines -- Amid mounting calls for President Macapagal-Arroyo to resign, religious leader Bro. Eddie Villanueva has appealed to the country’s five highest officials to sit down and draw up a plan to resolve the worsening political crisis. B. Natividad, Inquirer, 2/17/08

Iramantayo dagiti anito, amin a mangmangkik
Di katatawan, dagiti napanen iti sabali a biag

Iti daytoy a waragawag. Agpasken manen
Dagiti semento iti likod a naap-apan iti diario.

Ta kastoy ti kapay-an ti ili dagiti dagdagullit
A kasasaad: iti tuktok ti kawayan nga isab-it

Ti kadkadua ti anniniwan nga iti naglabas
Nga aldaw ket nangtagikua iti am-amangaw

Dagiti dapo, dandanag iti dardarepdep,
Rangkap amin dagitoy dagiti palimed

Ti kakaisuna a pagilian, il-ilalaen koma
Kas iti tinawid a balitok, gumilgilap a perlas

Ramen dagiti il-iliwen a mapasamak,
Kas iti maudi a salakan iti kaaduan:

Ti panagikkis manen dagiti dalan
Ti panagpuyat dagiti oras iti rabii

A manguray iti nalabaga a bannawag.
Iti karabukob ti maipasngay nga aldaw

Ti baro a lengguahe ti pannakaidasay,
Ti mapadso a rugi dagiti amin a rugi

Iti apokalipsis ti rebolusion a mamamsaak
Kas idi, kas ita, kas iti agnanayon nga awan labas.

Agturong dagiti agpukpukkaw a plakard
Iti nangisit a birhen, isuna a para tannawag

Iti inaldaw-aldaw a pakapilawan, ti saan
A panangikalintegan nga ebanghelio

Ti tured iti panagmartsa. Kasano a maibabawi
Ti sagsaggamaysa a panagagal? Aawan danum

A pagbautisar dagiti dadaulo a buong ti ulo
Pangugas kadagiti imada, dila, mata, agong

Karaman ti rugit a dimket iti muging
Signos dagiti bulas a nakapukawen iti bain.

Agprusision dagiti naridam nga arapaap
Dagiti salakan nga awan iti parintumeng

Ti panagsubli dagiti banderitas nga agiriag
Ti inhustisia a mangkablaaw kenka iti binigat

Maidasar kas pangep-ep iti saraaw
Ken ti kastoy a nakain-inaka a buya

Lagipen ti maiyayab a pagraranudan:
Ti dara, kas pagarigan dagiti marigrigat

Ti pannakettat dagiti tanikala iti isip
Dagiti makipagili iti republika dagiti malas.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 16/08

Katorse ti Kinomersio nga Ayat

Namak pay no mamatitayo
iti ulbod ti rosas, nalabaga
wenno amarilio wenno nalaylay.
Iti ti aldaw ti kinomersio nga ayat:
sangagabsuon a chokolate
a saup ti panaglangan iti agpatnag.
Ania ngarud ket kasta met ti kapay-an
dagiti kupido a mabigatan
nga awan man laeng kasukat ti sansanaang.
Mabalit laeng nga agmalmalanga
datao kadagiti sulsuli ti kalsada
parke, salonan, wenno panganan.

Dayyeng ti Ubing iti Aldaw ti Puso

(For Leah Francine, b/c you make our world go round and round...)

Ibigay mo ng todo,
Ibigay mo kay Cristo
Ang pag-sayaw at pag-awit...
From her video shoot, Feb. 14, 2008, in the Philippines and I watched it online, Feb. 13. 2008, in Honolulu

Another of her dream:
Big sister, you have mercy to God:
You pray, pray, pray, pray...

Maysa Manen nga Asawa ti Naidasay ket Agsublin iti Pagilian

(Ken Erlinda Adviento, maysa nga asawa a naidasay gapu iti kinaranggas iti taeng, Oktubre 28, 2007. Immuna a naibasa ti version daytoy a daniw iti Ingles iti mansayag/massayag ni Erlinda iti St John Baptist Church iti Kalihi, Honolulu, HI; naibasa manen iti Silent March kontra iti domestic violence a naangay iti State Capitol ti Honolulu; naibasa iti program ti radio a Filipiniana Variety Show; naibasa para iti online video version ti Honolulu Advertiser (babaen iti panangimaton da Zenaida Serrano ken Mike Gordon); ken maibasa iti Men's March, Febrero 23, 2008 iti Tenny Theatre iti Honolulu, HI)

Dimon mabasa daytoy a daniw.
Wenno mangngegan ti pannakayebkasna
Nga addaan gurigor wenno apuy
Kas iti pamsaakak no ti pungtot
Ket bumalay iti puso dagiti balikasko.
Dagiti frase a birbirokek birokendak met:
Maisayangkat daytoy a panagbinbinnirok:
Naidasaykan ket addakami amin ditoy
A sisasaranta ken mangim-imatang
Iti banag a nakarigrigat a maimatangan.

Ania a pungtot, ania ti naganna, ti adda
Iti tadem nga inaramatna a panggudas
Iti biag iti panagpakpakaasim,
Ribo dagitoy kas matimudko ita,
Umal-alingawngaw ken nakalawlawag
Uray no kadagiti dissotayo lemmesen
Dagiti allon ti panagriawmo
Ibagada ti maysa a malem a romansa
A mabalin a malagipmo?
Ket kas iti naynay a pasamak,
Nangngegam dagiti kari:
A saanen a madagullit,
Daytoy lasag iti lasag nga iti udina
Ket ti nakanganga a sugatmo.
Wenno daytay buteng iti tadem
Dagiti sentensia a kabulig dagiti buteng
Nga isu met laeng ti nagaramid.
Nakitam koma ti panagtarkok
Kadagiti mata ken ti panagmakaammo-ditanan,
Isuna ken sika, ken ti mangiwaragawag a signos
Ti panangretokar iti nabuong kas iti nakain-inaka
Nga itsura ti plato a seramiko, kas pagarigan,
Wenno ti nakadulin a talugadingna. A kas met kenka,
Kas mabalbalin nga insawangna iti baet
Ti panagay-ayatna kenka no ti lubong
Ket nalimpio, alerto, ken kabaelannaka nga isalakan.

Ngem ti estoria ti panagdangran ket kaskasdi,
Kas iti naliday a dayyeng, dadduma ket dagiti panaganug-og
A narigat man a mangngegan
Numan pay iti ulimek ket mangngegmi
Ti pannakasapul iti kaasi,
Riwriw dagitoy, kas iti ipalnaad dagiti lemma
Nga inka pay masagrap. Imbagam: kabaelak nga ibaklay
Dagiti dumteng a pasamak
Ket pinatidaka aginggana ita
Nga ita ket naidasaykan, wenno natayen,
Wenno di imbibbibiang.

Kasano koma nga agpakadakami kenka, sika
A kabsat dagiti sekreto a panagib-ibturmi?
Lallakikami met, ket makitami ti adda
Iti panaglaing wenno iti ritualna.
Koma ta ti lualo a pangdawat iti indulhensia
Ket mangted kadakami iti regta
Iti panangbuybuyami ti ipapapanaw
Panagsubli iti naggapuan kas rebbengna
Iti lugar ti kadkaduam tapno maawagam
Dagiti tattao ti puli, dawatem ti maudi nga akto
Ni ayat para kadagiti amin nga assawa a kas kenka
Para kadagiti amin nga assawa a kas kaniak.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 13/08
Translated. 2-13-08

Our Words, Our Worlds/Sasaomi, Lublubongmi

Our Words, Our Worlds/Sasaomi, Lublubongmi

(Version arranged, and with continuity script by A S Agcaoili for the “Men’s Voices”, Tenny Theatre, Honolulu, HI, Feb. 23, 2008. Some texts from the 3K Initiative Creative Workshop on Domestic Violence conducted by A S Agcaoili, with the participation of GUMIL Hawai’i, and several women from Local 5 Labor Union and other independent participants; the initiative was sponsored by the UH Ilokano Language and Literature (under its Community Language Program), and the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse and Legal Hotline, now Domestic Violence Action Center; premier recital at the 2007 International Conference on Ilokano and Amianan Languages and Cultures, a joint program of the Timpuyog Dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano Global-Amerika, TMI Gobal, and the Ilokano Language and Literature Program of the University of Hawai'i, Philippine Consulate General, Honolulu, HI, Oct. 27, 2007)

Daytoy laeng ti bosesmi.
Daytoy laeng ti timekmi.

Kadagiti ulimek, kadagiti laeng ulimek
Idiaykami a mabati nga agsasainnek.

Agpatinggan, kunak, agpatinggan
Nagkusnawen nabursi a kalman
Sinagabak impaaymo a sanaang
Pulos a din maagasan ni kaano man

Our voices sold/our voices sold
Our lives not our own/our lives not our own
Or so we are told/or so we are told
Nothing do we own/nothing do we own.

Nothing, nada, awan, awan uray ania.
Kas iti samiweng wenno tulpak, ania!

Came so lost and spent
The woes, the frustrations, the regrets
But…..listen, you did

Slowly, my confidence rebuilt
I began to sing, I began to sing

Songs of love, songs of freedom
Sing still we do, sing with the winds
Sing with the birds, sing with the waves

Endlessly, I sing, sing my heart out

Even when you’re
Near and yet so far

B, all one at a time/Lallaki, change he to she [fast, furious, in staccato]
He came into my life.
He came into my life.

Kas iti darudar.
Kas iti anaraar.

Kas iti bagiw
Ay, agkissiw!

Ta lasbangmo idi damoka a makita
Makaallukoy iti rikna

Naglantip dagiti pusota
Ket iti altar dimmatagta

Nabunga daytoy nga ayan-ayatta

Ngem naglabas dagiti aldaw, anian!
Anian nga ulpit ta dinak maawatan!

Sika a lalaki ti di makaawat!
Sika ti rigat a di maallawat!
Sika ti dagensen iti barukong
Sika ti riro, langgong dagiti langgong!

Anian, o ayat ni ayatko, anian!
Nakas-ang man a mangngegan!

Anian ta rupam, pakpakawan
Kalanglangam dagiti pinggan!

‘Nia ketdin! Agtalnakaman, Pinang!
Agtalnaka man dika gumarampang!

Dakami dagiti babbai iita ken idi kalman
Dakami dagiti rangranggasan ni Adan!

No pue kunana, daydiay lalaki a nataraki
Pue kunak met kas panagindidi idi, idi!
Pinataray-okannak ti barbangisit
A no umisem matuknok ti langit!

Ay, dagiti ngipenna a kas marfil
Ay, iti barukongko, adda agkunail.

Anian a kinranggas
Sagabaek a kinadamsak
Bassit laeng a pakabasolak
Adu a dusa ti kalak-amak

Hello, kunana, hello kinunana
Hello kunak met, ay, hello latta

Ammom kadi ti langa ti rekkang a daga?
Ammom kadi ti langa ti agpalpalama?
Iti ayat iti rugina, agpalpalama ken ayat.
Malagipko ti barriomi a barrio ti marigrigat.

Ket immay ni Pedring, iti Hawai`i a nagbalin
Inggayangna ti gayangna iti kakaisuna a hardin.

Diak ammo ti sarsaritaek, diak ammo ti pakasaritaan.
Irugik iti rugi ti ranggas iti ima mismo ti kaamaan.
Ama dagiti ragsak ken saning-i ken aminen a liday
Nangputot met kadagiti kari a kasingin ti pannakalibay.

Langgong, a babai
Babai a langgong!

Langgong, kunana.
Garampingat, kunana.
Ket iti rupa nga agdisso
Amin-amin a rugso
Ranggas, ulpit
Saning-it, ibit
Aminen a dakiwas
Kaarngi ti pananggudas.

Siak ti masurot, siak ti nagpantalon.

Saan, saan, kunak, saan, kunak
Dinak ranggasan, ayatko, kunak
Ngem di mamingga dagiti ima a rapas
Ket iti bibig manen a manalpaak ranggas.

Mabtak ti bibig, agdara ti bibig

Ket itupakrak ti dara
Alimonek ti ranggas
Alimonek ti pangngadua
Alimonek ti sugat.

Maigamer iti dara iti angin
Sa iti tapok, sa iti dalluyon

A daytoy ti lunod, kinadangkok
Daydi kinatangig ken kinadursok
Nagbanagam, awanen magnsupusop
Nagawan daydi kinarungsot!

Umayka ta agpakawanka kadagiti sugat.
Umayaka ta ipakaasim ti sudi ni ayat.
Ket wen, kuna, wen kunak.
Bubonnak ti pammakawan.

Ket agsalata kadagiti rabii a sardam.
Ket agsalata kadagiti idda.
Ket agsaksi dagiti ules ken pungan
Nga agsaksi met laeng iti sabali manen
A kanibusanan: manalpaak ti idda
Iti sabali manen a ranggas.

Lagipek dagiti aldaw
Ket agbutengak.

Saantay a minuli iti kabil
Wenno ranggas ken anil-il!

Patayenka no panawannak.
Ikarik ken isapatak
Ikarik ken isapatak.
Dayta ti kunam.
Ket makitak dagiti matay a bituen
Bulan, saning-i, aldaw.

L/B, ALTERNATE, choral
Gibusan ti ranggas ti lalaki/
Gibusan ti ranggas iti sabali
Saan a paturtoren ti ranggas
Wayawaya a nasudi iti waga

Riingennak ti nabiag nga aprosmo
Kas iti panangriing ti pul-oy iti bannawag
Iti apagkanito nga agmurmurayka
Sangalenta ti nalailo a bigatta

Saan, kunak. Diakon mamakawan.
Gibusantan dagiti saning-i
Amin a ranggas
Amin nga ulpit
Amin a panagibtur
Amin nga ibit nga awanan nagan!

Saanen, kunak. Saanen.

Tulongak ti bagik, 2x.

Tulongak ti bagik, 2x.

We say we are here.
We are here.
We have come to set us free.
We have come to say we are free.

We say no to domestic violence.
We say no to this circle of violence.

We are here.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 13/08


Our Streets Cry Out

MANILA, Philippines -- Religious groups and leftwing militants on Monday held a rally for the third day running in support of whistle-blower Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada Jr., as other groups warned of a bigger protest on Friday to demand the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Inquirer, Feb. 12/08

It is an old covenant story.

It was the prophet's threat
to the ruler who beads the rosary,
beg all to the archangels, even
worships the wooden idols
by touching their feet, light
and loving. Is there a pre-
meditation in all this,
the gesture of Fridays,
whether first or last?
There is excess in the promise
and she breaks, he breaks,
they break every word.
In the end, the utterance
of power becomes liquid
spills onto the ground,
past the sentries
past the secure gates
of palaces by the reeking river
the palaces of clerics
friars, robbers, some honorable men
some cheats, men and women
who go beyond what goodness is.
The dark liquid gets into the street
touches our rage, heat upon heat
and we explode, volcano like
and the dark days become years
and in an instant, the crying out
comes to a lifetime of mercy
grief, relief. Stone upon stone,
as in street upon street,
we demand in its fullness
the glory of our gifts.
We are a people too,
and this is what we seek.

The banners will fly
as the posters, and our legs
walk to trample upon
the beginnings of barbed wires.
We had done it.
And today we will do it.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 11/08

as the

At the hour of the nation's death

MANILA, Philippines -- With the country gripped by another scandal, a Church-based group on Monday called on the Christian faithful to pray for the truth to be known and to say their prayers at the Divine Mercy hour -- every day at 3 p.m., the hour of Christ’s death. Inquirer, Feb. 12/08

It is the mystique in the hour, at the third
of his merciless death, this savior of a land
oppressed. They tell us once more,
and again and again: to keep the prayer,
keep the preying. Gripped we all are
and the show begins.

Or we repeat the same story
told a long time ago
when popes ruled over our pauper's soul
and we were drowned alive with tears
of our sorrow for having stood by
for having watched enraptured
by it all: the procession of thieves
whose sacred and golden cloaks
we gave, give, keep giving.
Include their posture
include their pretensions
to thrones we never offered
for them to sit on
and decree deaths upon us all.

So now we kneel once more
to the god gone cold. We did not do
enough to warm him, this god
in our song, and our throats croak
with the lies we feed ourselves with
believing that salvation is in self-deception.

We do it one more time, and in the future
we will do it again until we are numbed
until we are too weak to protest
utter something to resist
not even to deploy
what forgiveness can offer.

At three o'clock, when the son of god
is declared dead, the nation bleeds.
It is the same hour
of our dear nation's mortal death.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 11/08

A Date with the Honolulu Advertiser--or the Story of a Poem

I am blogging this to document many of the blessings I have received from life these last few days. Today, two things: one, Zenaide--or Z--or Honolulu Advertiser came to interview me and have a shoot of my reciting the poem, "Another Wife Dies and Goes Home to the Homeland," that poem that I wrote on the spot after receiving an e-mail from Charlene Cuaresma that another Filipina has died from stabbed wounds by her husband. Charlene is president of Filipino Coalition Solidarity.

Two, Ariel Tabag, one of Ilokano literature's rare gifts and talents and promise, wrote to tell me that he was commissioned to do a Tagalog translation of some of my winning pieces in that collection called "Epistolario ti Exilo." The translation, except for some minor alterations and revisions, is a perfect work of art that approximated, justly and fairly, the intent and revelations in the Ilokano original, that, even if I am the author of the original, and even if I do translation myself, I would readily give Ariel a credit for having successfully gone past the challenge of residing into the world of the poems and come out of that world, perhaps touched, but nonetheless not bruised. He said he had that wonderful experience and I believe him. And to him, I give my heartfelt salutations. Given the kind of quality work he is producing, I am certain Ariel will go a long way in becoming an advocate and warrior for the Ilokano cause: the preservation, promotion, and production of Ilokano language and culture.

Three, I have had the good fortune of having been interviewed by Mike Gordon, also of the Honolulu Advertiser, for my work on Domestic Violence and for the same poem on Erlinda Adviento, "Another Wife Dies and Goes Home to the Homeland." The Gordon interview, a number of times on the phone for a couple of days, was most productive, most critical, most aesthetically rewarding for me. It challenged me to look at my work, my life work in particular.

All these began with that innocent, or almost, innocent, involvement with the issue of DV, rampart as it is in this State that is being touted as Paradise. With two cases of domestic violence resulting in the deaths of two women in the hands of their supposedly intimate partners, there is cause for alarm, and the Silent March, as is the case of Erlinda, would have to be staged again so that people would sit up and take notice, and take that resolve to help put an end to DV.

I have been asked sharp questions by both Mike and Zenaida.

Always, I answered from the guts, feelings and all.

The questions ranged from the aesthetic to the political. This would be good for the next blog.

In the meantime, I take my hats off to MIke, Zenaida, and Ariel.

Mahalo nui loa.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 2/08

Apostol a Di Apostol

MANILA, Philippines -- Messages of protest poured in from Manila to Mindanao against Malacañang lawyer Sergio Apostol’s racist remark about NBN-ZTE star witness Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. Inquirer, Feb. 10/08

Sika ti bibig ti pudno, apostolado
ti bileg manipud iti balikas.
Panagsaksi ti adda kenka
kas iti panangatiwmo iti kimat,
kemmegem ketdi iti dakulap
samo gemgeman. Kettelem
ti rangaw ti apuy kas iti kuriteb
nga utong a pangdengdeng.
Idulin ti apuy iti bautek ti lagip
ta sadiay a sublian
a pangsinit iti sinal-it a saltek.
Dagitoy tektek a tektek
iti naktidiables a gasat ti ili,
kas iti agsasamusam itatta
a damag. Dagiti kurimaong
iti inda panagkurimes.
Dagiti mannanakaw
iti pagpaggaakda
kadagiti lanlansangan.
Dagiti birkog iti bitlada a:
Nayonantay pay, nayonantay pay.
Awan la ket ti bubussogan
dagiti sarangusong. Uray ti nabanglo
nga angot ti naburibodan nga innapuy,
ina, ama, dida pakawanen.
Ket ti ibit dagiti maladaga, mabisin
iti am wenno kilabban a dinanuman,
umanay la ketdi a pangimameg.
Di met ta awan makimbagi ti ili
no di ti masakbayan? Saan a dagiti kas kenka
nga iti ngiwatmo a salawasaw sumngaw
ti madi a kalak-aman. Kas iti panaguttot
dagiti durbab. Ti panagsuyot dagiti abuyot.
Ti pannakauring dagiti imam: amin
nga agiggem iti uring-uring a sinublan
ket iti ittip makaimatang. Di kadi
ta awan iti dara, iti maris ti kudil
iti sukog ti mata ken ngiwngiw
ti bugas ti kinalinteg? Awan iti gabrang
dagiti sao a maigako ti pagilian
wenno mailemmeng pamsaakan.

Lumtuad ti pudno kas iti rayray
ti dios nga init iti bigat, dioskanto
pay laeng wenno maysa a piman.

Ita, dagiti umili, Intsik man wenno saan,
aminkami ket manglanglangan.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 10/08

A Solver Agcaoili

Cocido Para Cena

MANILA, Philippines -- We’ve heard that President Macapagal-Arroyo and her family like to feast on cocido on Sundays. They like to think of their family as one of the last bastions of Castilian heritage, exponents of old-world urbanidad. Inquirer, Feb. 10/08

It is imagination in its ruthless
form, image and the actor
like the sinner and his sin.
The sin is multiple, collective
even. You wash your hand
with holy water, holy oil
and holy goddamn shit
to hide what history has not shown.
So far. Down the road, Sundays
oblige us to sit down, partake
of the meal that means one thing:
the sorrow of our people,
their backs breaking
their souls breaking
their hearts in peril
as is their last song wild with the wind
and then the thunder comes along
as you swallow that last morsel
of that ultima cena you have put
together to celebrate centuries
of oppression against all of us
we who do not know what sin is
because, simply, you have taken
our hearts, there, there, on your table
to partake with the cocido of your liking
the one you deal with for effect
as landlords had done for decades
years until your kingdom come.
On Sundays of obligation,
we offer our back
we offer our soul
we offer our dream.
We wash away our tear
with the purity of regret
for not having waged a war
against your kind long ago.
We believed in the heaven
that is yet to come, and our prayers
led us astray, to all places except
to the table with food
to our family with our happiness
to our children with our gifts.
Instead, we gave poison
to ourselves, took all we can take
taking suffering for its own sake
and here you are, dining well
on each Sunday that we go famished
with our Sunday faith.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 10/08

Alimpatok, 2

Bimmarinduyog ta rupam
Sika nga anghel agkalamri a sikigan,
Agbarabara a paragpag
Kettang agtutubo a baet-sellang.

Ania, ania aya ti nagan
Kasingin ti kadkaduam?

Ti pusom a daplag, narabuy
Laonenna amin a naimmus
Nga ayat, kas iti kimmampuso
A rupam, mangil-ilala iti nakisang
A ragragsak iti sardam nga awanak.

Ayna, ta agayeng-eng aleng-aleng
Ti busel nga ita laeng nga agkabannuag
Sagawisiwanna dagiti alimbubuyog
Tapno mapasamak ti sayangguseng
Ti diro iti iddam, iti sam-it iti ikamen
Iti barukong dagiti siglo a gumawgawawa
Nga awanka ditoy mabibbibi a dennak!

Agindayon dagiti mawaw a bagita
Iti ritmo’t dalluyon iti idda nga agrabrabak.

Aganangsabta, ket tagikukuaennak.
Aganangsabak, ket ikutam ti biag.

Kasano, kasano a sang-aten
Dagiti turod iti barukong
No ti al-alko ket al-almo met,
Daytoy santipikado a rugso
Regget, derrep, amin dagitoy
Amin a paulo dagiti tagainep
Iti man taaw a pakalmesan
Iti man arpadmo a pakatayan?

Ay, ayat a dungngo, dungngo
Nga ayat, sika, sika awan sabali
Ti pagpasagak. Kadagiti angesmo
Ti pammadso dagiti mapuruto
A palludip, wenno agek,
Agragut ta agragut
Ket agwaywayas iti pul-oy
Umagibas ti lamiis iti teltel
Iti beggang ti pus-ong
Santo agtalinaed iti pispis!

Ipapilit ti busel amin a pammadto
Ket ti daan a panagpangngadua
Dagiti di managanan nga alimpatok
Maungawda iti rikna nga agburayok.

Kas iti aldaw nga addaka
Kadagiti manglanglangan
Nga oras, iti arakup, iti imnas
Nagpaiduma a kallaysa dagiti arasaas
Kammaysa ti kararua
Ti sabong kas iti alimbubuyog
Iti rabii a duata a maar-arakattot.

A Solver Agcaoili
Feb 8/08
Hon, HI

Alimpatok, 1

Bimmarinduyog ta rupam
Sika nga anghel iti sikigan
Iti paragpag, iti kettang
Dagiti baet-sellang,
Ania, ania aya ti nagan
Ti kasingin ti kadkaduam?
Ti pusom a daplag
Laonenna amin a naimmus
Nga ayat, kas iti rupa
Ti mangil-ilala iti nakisang
A ragsak. Agayeng-eng
Kadi dagiti busel
Agsagawisiw kadagiti dagiti alimbubuyog
Tapno mapasamak ti sayangguseng
Ti diro iti iddam, iti ikamen
Iti barukong dagiti siglo
Nga awanka ditoy dennak?
Kasano, kasano a sang-aten
Dagiti turod iti barukong no ti al-al,
Daytoy santipikado a rugso
Regget, derrep, amin dagitoy
Ket paulo dagiti tagainep
Iti man taaw a pakalmesan
Iti man arpadmo a pakatayan?
Ay, ayat a dungngo, dungngo
Nga ayat, sika, sika awan sabali
Ti pagpasagak. Kadagiti angesmo
Ti pammadso dagiti mapuruto
A palludip, agragut ta agragut
Ket agwaywayas iti pul-oy
Umagibas iti teltel, pus-ong
Santo agtalinaed iti pispis.
Ipapilit ti busel dagiti amin a pammadto
Ket ti daan a panangpangngadua
Dagiti di managanan nga alimpatok
Agawanda kadagiti rikna nga agburayok?
Kas iti aldaw nga addaka
Kadagiti manglanglangan
Nga oras, iti panaguray
Kadagiti kammaysa ti kararua
Ti sabong kas iti alimbubuyog
Kadagiti rabii a duata a maar-arakattot.

A Solver Agcaoili
Feb 8/08
Hon, HI

Loveless on Valentine’s

(For all OFW's on Valentine's)

This is a corny joke.
You are loveless on Valentine’s
And all you see are flowers in bloom,
Red and bloody in their secret scents
Taking hold of our waking hearts.
How can we ever dream of reversals
When all what we have got are quick
Trips to memories of a future gone past?
Like that tryst of skin on skin
Hers the promise of moons and stars
Yours the vow of relevance?
It is this language of touch, like lips locked
Intertwined so we cannot go away
From all the loving and the feelings
We need to remind ourselves
That after tonight, in some other nights,
There, in the dark of early hours,
We can get teary-eyed from it all,
This loveless lover seeking
One other loveless love.
It is the rhythm of the universe,
The dance of the spirit,
The energy of suns striking hard
On the awaiting land, earth, see
Sand, and surf—these singeing suns in us,
Their rays breaking through in our
Already broken heart. And then we
See the birthing of laughter as we open up
To the music of our mind meeting
A kindred mind. Did we say that
Two could be one in an embrace
Of selves originally far apart?
Now, on this Valentine’s
We commence this ceremony
Of loves declared, declaimed, desired.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 8/08

Noel Lozada, Witness

MANILA, Philippines -- When their father was thrust in the eye of a political storm, one of his five children remarked: “Hero kasi niya si Rizal, gusto yata niyang magpabaril sa Luneta at ipagtayo ng rebulto (Because Rizal is his hero, it seems he wants to be shot at the Luneta and be given a monument).” INQUIRER, FEB. 8/08, on Noel Lozada.

Things are not what they seem to be.
One can be alive and kicking now
but tomorrow, like the rain pouring
in other places, and the storms tearing
our days beginnings, the end could come
and what is left is your courage.
Or the memory of what was it:
you dare speak of illness,
this one fat chance we do not have
and we envy you, thrust in history
and its power to give witness,
you are that, Noel of our coming
into immanence. For that
is what you are now, your word
against their own, or their claim
to silence even if they are hurting.
But does it matter when our children
are willing to die for all the children
yet to be born? The martyr is witness too,
and is also the reverse: he dies
for what comes out of his lips,
testifying as it should be
to the fullness of language.
There you can never lie, this site
of silence where soul talks to another
and the spirit knows evil as it should.
Trouble here is that we have so few left
like you. Either they are dead or deadened.
Or on dead-ends, like good men
in government sending their fears
away, to exile unknown, to places
we cannot track down because there,
there are no roads, no trails,
no sound we could follow, not even
the faint wailing of widows and orphans
whose dreams we have murdered:
husbands meeting their death
in the hand of soldiers their paid protectors
children incarcerated in the prison
of our hopelessness. The future
is not in lonely prison cells.
The future is in the streets crying,
their fury blasting the ear
so could no longer listen
to what promise is.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 8/08


MANILA, Philippines -- The Makati Business Club (MBC) on Thursday said the revelations of Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. about the controversial national broadband network (NBN) contract “may mark the beginning of the end for the regime” of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Inquirer, 2-07/07

This is bad poetry, this unlyrical sense
of what is yet to come in the birthland
of our woes. We count the years and centuries
and the distinction in them is that
they are all the same: presidents dying
on us without asking forgiveness
presidents pardoned by their own kind
presidents cheating us of our mind
making us believe that all is well
in the homefront of women vending sex
in Tokyo, of teachers becoming filipina
of Brits and Singaporean and the handywomen
of Hongkong. Put in the nurse of America,
my America that declared democracy
in Baghdad as in my country
and here we all are, spectators
of charades and more so that comes
around to torture us. It won't matter now,
it seems, even as the dollar of our redemption
tumbles down and would make our leaving
a joke. For here, even the very sweat
we sell are for the kings and queens
and their princesses and princes,
children of loam and clay
children that grew out of deceit
of thieving parents and kins
because (a) their mother is president
(b) their father is husband to a president
(c) their uncle is a lawmaker
(d) their neighbors are congressmen
(e) their distant relatives are mayor
(f) their godchildren are their puppets
(g) their godmothers and godfathers
are long dead. But here they are:
the lord of all the flies of the land
the mistress of all the roaches of cupboards
flies and mistress being the same
and roaches and lords no different.

So, the musical chair begins.
You stay here, the largesse is here.
Forgot the priest who does Onan
to cleanse himself of his sins
or lighten the load off his confessional self.
He cannot take, not anymore,
these giving away of many pater nosters
the equally many hail marys
and the endless glory bes. These are
there to keep us away from harm,
from this evil that has befallen us
when we began to believe in the prayers
of presidents. When is it that we stopped
praying, we cannot tell. We have not stopped
even when our prayer preys upon us.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI Feb 7/08

A Republic of Grief

MANILA, Philippines -- An overseas workers welfare group Tuesday appealed to the government to work for the immediate repatriation of at least 111 Filipino workers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, many of them camped in tents under a city flyover because they were duped by illegal recruiters. Inquirer, Feb. 25/08

The numbers are testaments in stone,
desert stone, desolation, desire.
They could be marble slabs
from the cold nights we counted
out of the screeching of cars.
The slabs cover our tombs
while we are alive under
this monster of a walkway
where people can go
where they should
while here we are in this tent
city of our exile. We have
no destiny nor destination
and count the ungodly hours
as soon as morning comes alive
and the fierce light of day bathes
us with some warmth, fanciful and tentative,
in this cold bed, sand on our back
dust on our nostrils, and we breathe
with the rhythm of rain remembered
back home, the fields pregnant
with rice plants, their stalks heavy
with the gold of grains gleaming
and gleaming so, with the promise
of the gaming granary in abundance,
the pile of sacks dreaming of meals
for children shrieking with delight.
Here, two children in these tents
live off the weariness in our hearts.
Could they ask for milk
when we are not from these places
and our passports do not tell us
where life is in its earnest
in riyals or some other currencies
we can collect from some people's mercies
to bail us out from this grief that kills us?
There are one hundred eleven of us
and our number is increasing,
o republic of our sorrowful lives.

He sweet talked us into taking
the trip. She had grace and bearing
and the two, their necks heavy
with Jeddah gold ang gaiety
and all the city of oil can offer.
Or so they say, these recruiters
as they duped the only wisdom
we have got, the one fear
in our hearts telling us, Do not go,
Do go, Do not go, Do go.
Coup d'grace, they told us:
we are veterans of wards
of this selling of our skins
and noses and pride.
We are veterans of labor for sale
to the highest bidder, and here,
here, look at us. This diamond
in the index finger, this diamond
in the thumb, this diamond
in the ring finger, this diamond
in the index finger, this one
in the opening of the nose
so we can always see
what we have become.
Our starving fields do not know
the dance of our fingers when touch
granite on our flloors, our house
concrete as concrete is, withstanding
the punishment of wind and storm
and our children's spirits are fatherless
motherless. Even then, choices
have to be made, and here we are,
awaiting tresspass and forgiveness,
or the deportation of our grief
so we no longer can fear anything
except the memory of grief itself.
Diamonds and the dream!
Who can say no?
Who can say no
to filfilling that promise
of decency? For a long time,
I have looked around,
asked the heavens,
and I never found one.
So we are all stuck up here,
one hundred eleven of us.
We could have been praying
in our homeland's mossy shrines.
In the meantime, we try
to repatriate the remains
of our dizzying hopes.
We assume, of course,
that our republic is never broke
so it can pay for the cheap coffin
for these dreams in diaspora
the candle for their ashes
to get to heaven, this one on earth,
this one, mud and soil,
and this sadness.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 5/08


MANILA, Philippines -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband was the supposed “villain” who orchestrated the ouster of Jose de Venecia Jr. as Speaker while the former’s friend, businessman Enrique Razon, distributed money to members of the House of Representatives who ousted him, the former Speaker’s son said Tuesday. Inquirer, Feb. 6/08

Kastoy ti pakasaritaan ti ili,
ti salamangka ti balasador
a babai, ti balasador
a lalaki, isuda amin
ti obispo a namikki
ti presidente a no aglualo agsaning-i
tapno amin a basol mapunas
ti ruangan ti lua agkeppet
di alimbasagen ti darepdep

Innibus ketdi a sinnungguan
iti baraha dagiti pimpiman.

Kas iti daytoy kabaruanan
a drama: panagpadisi
iti nabayagen a kubrador
dagiti bilangbilangen a parabur.

Agsapatada man
iti biblia ti balikas nga addaan diro
kas iti kari iti panagpurpuro
nadangkok ti matellay
a killiing ti tong a nagabay
agarimpait ti kape
a masawsawan iti babawi
iti maregreg nga ostia
iti lukong ti ima, mata, dila.

Makabannog ketdi
ti agbuya iti innipis
dagiti mangiblakblakjak
kadagiti gasat iti konggreso
dagiti rigattayo, aminen
kas iti panagsambuambo
ti barukong iti daytoy maudi
a parang dagiti agsarimbuaya
nga ayat iti ili, umili, ken asawa
anak, presidente, ispiker, senador
komisioner, amin dagitoy
a naengkanto a bulbilitor
a no agsisinnakmal
ket namak pay nga awan mabati
iti bulsatayo sangkamurkat
man laeng a kaasi.

Anansata inkari ti babai
ti panangabaruanan ti ili:
ayat, kunana, kas iti rosas
a no lumabbasit iti hardin ti palasio
ket ti bendision dagiti amin a padi!

Anian ta agparimtumeng a kanayon
kadagiti adu a birken nga immakulada,
kadagiti milagroso nga ina ti pammakawan
iti basol a tawid ti balasador iti baraha
dagiti abuyot, gatad iti gatad
nagan iti isu met laeng a nagan
dua nga anak, kas pagarigan nga itan
ket kabilbileg burat a barahan.

Saan nga agtatakaw dagiti babaknang,
kuna ti lalaki, idi kas ita, ken iti agnanayon.
Di kadi ta ti birtud dagiti gammat nga ima
wenno dagiti rapas kadagiti basbas
ket iti laeng mamirmuraut iti kassaba?
Ngem kitaem ti ngiwngiw nga agdiwig
danganen ti bibig nga agsuitsuitik.

Naynay ti panagurnos
kadagiti kaalyado: ti ari iti reina
ti reina iti asawa a black jack
wenno agjoker no di masiputan
sa dagiti amin a naorasionan a numero
narugit a bulong man wenno nalabaga a puso
wenno diamante a paay-ayo
wenno daytay kasla pala a pal-id
a mangakuy iti lualo a babassit.

Matdatayo nga agsipsiput:
di met masalbar ti unget
ti panagkaribuso iti sumipnget.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 4/08

Imnas nga Indaddaduma, ILOKANO OPERA

Imnas nga Indaddaduma

Libretto ni

A Solver Agcaoili
Universidad ti Hawai’i

EXCERPT TI SIBUBUKEL A LIBRETTO A NAADAW ITI DRAMA ITI RADYO NGA ‘IMNAS NGA INDADDADUMA’ A MAIPATPATAYAB ITI KORL 1180 AM, ITI LAENG FILIPINIANA VARIETY SHOW, 2007-2008 SEASON. Sinurat ni A Solver Agcaoili ti serye ti "Imnas" a nangrugi idi arinunos ti 2007 ken agdama a maidramdrama, live, iti KORL.

Ti World Premiere ti "Imnas nga Indaddaduma" ket naipabuya iti 2008 GUMIL Hawai'i Cultural Festival ken Coronation Night, February 2, 2008, Pacific Beach Hotel Grand Ballroom, Waikiki, HI, a nagakman da Angela Duque a kas Angela de los Santos, John Henry Acidera as kas David, ken Nora Cabico a kas Nanang)

Kitaem, kitaem, ti ayat a naalsem
Buyaem, buyaem ayat naukasen!
Kitaem, kitaem, ti ayat a naalsem
Buyaem, buyaem ayat naukasen!

Imnas nga innak Indaddaduma kuna toy pusok

Babai, dika agkasta, dimo kuna
Dimo itulok agayat kenkuana

Isuna ti ayatko
Isuna ti aminko

Saan, saan, saan dimon kuna
Saan a mabalin, saan Angela
Ti Hawai’i agur-uray
Ti gasat agpaypayapay

Nasudi daytoy ayatko
Kas iti nadalus a tudo
Kenka, kenka Angela
Kenka nga idatonko!

David a kasimpungalan
David a pakabuklan!

Dangnga a pinaspasuso
Kayatna ti maikulbo
Angela, ditoyka
Iti sibay umayka

Anian, anian nga ayat!
Sadinno, sadinno ni ayat!

David, dinak baybay-an
Sidongmo ti salakan!

Angela, iti Hawai’i agawidtan
Dinak koma ikkan pakapilawan
No ti ayat ti inka birbirokem
Saan a ti tibok ti puso ti nasken!

Ti biag ti Hawai’i ket narigat
Dikan agbirok pay pagsakitak!

Sadinno koma ti pagbanagan
Ti ayat nga ibagbagam
No daytoy a lalaki met laeng
Agbalin amin a barengbareng!

Barengbareng ni ayat
Barengbareng ni ayat
Ngem kasano a sumantak
No di met aya ipalgak!

Mapanpanunotko amin-amin
Angela a silpo daytoy nakem
Kasano, kasanoak nga agbiag
No awanka iti ilado nga iddak?

Kasano ayatko, kasano a baliksen
Kasano nga ibuksilan ti kananakem
No ti ayat ket awanan talimengmeng
Agbanag kadi lattan a kaliwaweng?

Kasano, kasano, Angela
Kasano, David a baroda
Kasano aya ti agayat
Nga awanan iti kettat?

Ipakitayo ti pamuspusan
Ti panagayat a nasimbeng
Tapno maamuan ti kaaduan
Ti rugi’t umno a talingenngen

Maperdi ti ulom, Angela

Maperdi’t ulok!
Saan, saan, saan
Saan, diak itulok!

Maperdi’t ulok
Saan, saan, saan
Saan diak itulok!

Perdi ti uloyo
Perdi, perdi, perdi
Perdi ti uloyo
Ta agay-ayatkayo!

Angela, sika ti aminko!
Iti nasipnget a lubongko
Sika ti silawko
Sika ti ararawko
Sika ti ragsakko!

David, David nga innak indaddaduma
Kasano aya nga agsabat ti lubongta?

Angela, maysaka a pinggan
Angela, maysaka a plato
Ni David ket maysa a ganggang
Di makaartap iti pino!

Kasano koma pagtakkubem
Ti plato ken ti ganggang!

Saan a kasta ti pagrukodan
Ti kinatao ti nanakman
Ni David ti pagkalikaguman
Ti pusok a nadidignraan

Angela nga ay-ayatek
Sika ti ibaga’t saltek
Sika amin adda’t tagainep
Sika ta sika ti kuna’t ulep

Sika ti ibaga ti langit
Uray no maysaak a daga
Sika ti sandi ti sangsangit
Uray no siak ket nababa!

Dimo kunaen ti kasta
David, sika ta sika latta
Ti adda iti pusok inggana
Sika, ayatko’t ibagbagana

Mabutengak iti buteng
Ayatko di barengbareng

Mabutengak ken ayat
Awan inna kasukat!

Mabutengda ken buteng
Kasano koma a padasen?
Kasano ti panagayat
No dida met ipasaksak?

Saan, saan kunak ta saan
Diyo koma pilpilawen
No saan ta kunak ta saan
Didak koma laglagidawen

Itagbatko iti bato
Itagbatko iti bato
Siak, siak nga ina
Siak ti mangibaga!

Narigat a kabusor
Ti ina a kabusor
Narigat a kasungani
Ti ina a sungani!

Narigat a kabusor
Ti ina a kabusor
Narigat a kasungani
Ti ina a sungani!

Dimo kadi kaasian toy puso
Sika nga inak a nangin-indayon
Dimo kadi marikna’t limdo
Sika nga ina a makaammo?

Kasano nga agbiagak
No awan ayat iti riknak?
Kasano nga agimulaak
Iti bukel nga agsantak?

Siak ti agitukel ita pusom
Siak, Angela, a karayom
Ta sika, ngamin, ayat
Sika, sika laeng ti kayat!

Inta ngarud biroken iti dawel
Dagiti kappia iti basingkawel
Data a dua met laeng ti mangibaga
No ania a lubong pagpatinggaanta

Duata laeng, biagko, duata laeng
Ti mangiwaksi kadagiti aleng-aleng
Ta inta ngarud itan buklen
Ti ungto dagiti panawen.

Awatem toy

Awatem toy ayat

Diak kayat, diak kayat nga adda agayat
Diak kayat, diak kayat ti kastoy nga ayat!
Apo a manangngaasik, siak kaasiannak
Ikkannak kadi ala ti pakaliwliwaak!

Awatem toy ayat, awatem toy ayat
Ket intan agragsak, intan agragsak!

Sarangtenta ti ayat a napudno
Amin a pagel, dawel ken bagyo
Ta ti ayat iti barukong ta, biagko
Isu met laeng ti rugi’t salakanko.


2008 GUMIL Hawaii Cultural Festival and Coronation Night

I am blessed, I am blessed. I had been given a direct hand in putting together the program of the 2008 GUMIL Hawaii Cultural Festival and Coronation Night. Very few people know, of course, that I am tinkering, and critically doing do, with Ilokano popular culture. O, I am a witness, and to put in critical collaboration while giving witness, is something we call privilege. Thank you, GUMIL Hawaii, the enduring GUMIL organization, and the most productive, more productive than the mother organization--truly so!--in terms of production. Hey, GUMIL Filipinas, wake up from your slumber!

So here is the program we put together, including the spiels I wrote for the emcees. Decipher, decipher...Years from now, scholars will be interested in the cultural fossils we will be leaving behind.

So future scholars of our people, here is your clue to the mysteries of Ilokanoness.

Pacific Beach Hotel Grand Ballroom, Honolulu, HI
Saturday, February 2, 2008, 5:30 PM-12:00 MN


Naimbag a rabiiyo amin, apo. Naisangsangayan daytoy a rabii gapu ta ita ket masaksiantayo ti ngayed a nagpaiduma. Siak ni Julius Soria, maysa kadagiti mangiturong iti daytoy a pabuya itatta.

S: Good evening to all of you. I am Shery-Lyn Baclig Angala, your co-host for this evening’s affair.

Julius, wow, this is a grand evening.

J: Certainly, it is. We hope you will have fun.

S: Let us all rise for the anthems. Please join the Gumil Hawaii and the Annak ti Kailokuan Choir in the Singing of Himno Nacional of the Philippines in the Ilokano Translation, the national anthem of the United States, and the anthem of Hawai’i.

I. NATIONAL ANTHEMS: The Philippines, the United States, and the State of Hawaii
GUMIL Hawai’i and
Annak ti Kailokuan iti America Choir

J: Thank you Gumil and Annak ti Kailokuan Choir. This is one rare moment that I have had the chance to hear the national anthem of the Philippines in Ilokano.

S: Please remain standing for the invocation to be officiated by Rev. Gerry Saludes. Rev. Saludes is the spiritual adviser of GUMIL Hawai’i and to be recited by Mrs. Cleo Bala Casino, chair of the 2008 GUMIL Hawaii cultural festival.

J: After the invocation, please remain standing for the doxology to be led by….

II. INVOCATION Rev. Gerry Saludes, Adviser, GUMIL Hawai’i
Mrs. Cleo Bala Casino, Chair, 2008 GUMIL Hawai’i
Cultural Festival and Mrs. GUMIL Hawai’i Coronation

III. DOXOLOGY “Itag-aynak,” Ilokano translation
Angeline Limon Duque, Nora Cabico,
John Henry Acidera, and A. Solver Agcaoili

J: Thank you so much. That is the Ilokano translation of ‘You raise me up’ by Josh Groban. Translation was done by Dr Aurelio Agcaoili, coordinator of the Ilokano Language and Literature Program of the University of Hawai’i and teaches our Ilokano translation courses.

S: There is so much Ilokanoness here. I wonder if I can really fit it. It is so good, this feeling of being with your family. To welcome us and to inspire us some more, may we ask Mrs. Cleo Bala Casino, chair of the Steering Committee of tonight’s festival and vice president of GUMIL Hawai’i; Mrs Pacita Saludes, founding president of GUMIL Hawai’i; and Mr. Brigido Daproza, current president of GUMIL Hawai’i.

Mrs. Cleo Bala Casino
Chair, Steering Committee

INSPIRATIONAL TALK Pacita Cabulera Saludes
Founding President, GUMIL Hawai’i

Brigido Daproza
President, GUMIL Hawai’i

S: Thank you Mrs. Casino, Mrs. Saludes, and Mr. Daproza. So there, we can now say: welcome, welcome, welcome. The theme of tonight’s affair, as your souvenir program tells you is “Negotiating Cultural, Literary, and Linguistic Spaces.” Julius, tell me, what does this mean in Ilokano. Or, what does it mean in English, in the first place?

J: Let us see…why don’t we as the scholars and poets and writers in this ballroom? For real, Sheril-Lyn, this room is filled with language and culture advocates rooting for cultural and literary and linguistic spaces. There you go, I do not know what it means either? Are there Ilokano poets here? The real ones, I mean? Can you tell me what this is?

S: Let me see… to negotiate a space is to struggle for it, to take it as your own because, firstly, you do not have it. Now, there you go. In the State of Hawaii, you need to fight it out so that the Ilokano language, culture, and the arts will not be lost in oblivion.

J: Kasta. Ti kayatna a sawen ket ti panangirupir iti kultural a karbengan, iti karbenganmo iti pagsasaom, iti karbenganmo iti literaturam. Isu a daytoy ti paglaingan ti GUMIL Hawai’i.

S: Ania ti ranta daytoy a pasken ita a rabii, Julius?

J: Maragsakankami a mangipakaammo a ti GUMIL Hawaii ket naynay ti pannakigingginamulona iti Ilokano Language and Literature Program iti University of Hawai’i iti Manoa. Daytoy a panagsinnugpon dagiti programami—programami, kunakon, ta maysatayo met a mangisursuro iti Universidad—ket agbambanag a nasayaat ken nabunga a pannakitinnunos.

Kayattayo man nga iwaragawag a segun kadagiti pakaammo maipapan iti daytoy a pasken a parte ti mapagket ket mapan iti program ti GUMIL Hawaii nga agilibro kadagiti sinurat dagiti kamengna. Kasta met nga inkarin ti GUMIL ti panangirugina iti maysa nga scholarship program tapno diretsa a matulongan dagiti agad-adal iti Ilokano iti Universidad. Maragsakankami a mangibaga a sumagmamano kadakuada ti adda ita ditoy a tallaong.

Patakderenmi koma ida: ni John Henry Acidera, maysa kadagiti iskolar. Ni Jeremy Sagubo, ti adda iti video camera; ken ni Debralyn Andres, adda met laeng iti videocamera.

(Julius…Make a listing of the guests, and announce their names…quickly)

S: To do the welcome rites are:


Welcome Song, solo, Nora Cabico
Song, GUMIL Hawai’i & AKA
Dance, M. Aguilar, R. Domingo, J. Orozco, J. Dulig,
L. Supnet, V. Smith, M. Venegas, and Sarah Aguilar
Dance, GUMIL Hawai’i & AKA Dancers
Dance, Thelma Ortal and Dancers
Dance, Salome, Teru Morton, Phoebe Chrisman, Li
Eulalia Agas-Strong

S: We now come to a premier of an excerpt of an Ilokano opera you will here for the first time. This opera, Imnas nga Indaddaduma, is a stage version of an ongoing radio play, also of the same name. The play and the opera, revolves on the love story between Angela de los Santos and David Agpakawan, both Ilokano lovers whose love is tested by life’s circumnstances.

J: No kayatyo a denggen ti radio version ti Imnas nga Indaddaduma, dumngegkayo iti kada Dominggo iti KORL 1180 AM, alas dos agingga iti alas kuatro. Sinurat para iti entablado ken para iti radio ni Dr Aurelio Agcaoili, premiado a mannurat iti Ilokano ken mangisursuro iti Ilokano iti University of Hawaii iti Manoa.

J: Iti daytoy nga opera, agakem da Angeline Duque as kas Angela de los Santos, John Henry Acidera a kas David Agpakawan, ken Nora Cabico a kas Nanang.

Angeline Duque, John Henry Acidera, &
Nora Cabico

S: Wow, Julius, did you hear that?

J: I cannot believe it! Sheryl, can you try the high notes: (SINGS) Imnas nga innak Indaddaduma!

S: (SINGS) Imnas nga innak Indaddaduma…

J: With all these singing and dancing and merriment, I cannot ask for more.
Nagpintasen ti Hawaii, apo! Ken nagpintasen ken nagngayeden, ken nagragsaken daytoy a rabii. Adu pay, apo. Ditakayo latta ta agbuyakayo.

S: We now come to the introduction of our guest of honor and the crowning guest in this evening’s cultural festival and coronation. May we now call on Mrs. Cleo Bala Casino to come upstage and introduce our guest speaker.

Mrs. Cleo Bala-Casino, VP, Gumil Hawai’i


Hon. Ariel Abadilla
Consul General, Philippine Consulate General of Honolulu
Honolulu, Hawai’i

S: Thank you….
J: Thank you. We now have the banquet…(TO DO: Make people dance; ELECTRIC SLIDE…ETC. )


J: We now come to the second part of the program…our coronation night.
S: Those to be crowned are: Mrs Evangeline Somera, Mrs. Press
J: Mrs. Rita Sagucio, Mrs.Freedom
S: Mrs. Remy Baclig, Mrs. Wisdom, and our queen,
J: Mrs. Perlita Tapec Sadorra, Mrs. GUMIL Hawaii 2008!

S: Julius, what is panagtapat?
J: Diak nagtaptapat sika. How should I know?
S: Is that the way Ilokanos woe their women? The love of their life?
J: I think it is.
S: So, let us see.
J: Buyaentayo, apo ti panagtapag kadagiti reina. Ipanguluan ti panagtapag ti GUMIL Men’s Choir, ni Joseph Gabor, ken ni Epifanio Baclig iti gitara.

Gumil Hawai’i Men’s Choir
Joseph Gabor; Eppie Baclig on the guitar

J: Itan ti panagpakada ti 2007 Mrs. GUMIL Hawaii, ni Mrs. Rose Daproza. Magna ni Mrs. Daproza ket agbitla iti panagyamanna.

S: Ladies and gentlemen—amin a gagayyem iti tallaong, ti Mrs GUMIL Hawaii 2007, Mrs. Rose Daprosa! Kaduaen isuna ti Ms. GUMIL Hawaii 2007, ni Mrs. Andrea Mendoza.


II. BITLA A PAMMAKADA, Mrs. Rose Daproza, 2007 Mrs. GUMIL Hawai’i
accompanied by Ms. Andrea Mendoza, 2007 Ms. GUMIL Hawai’i

J: Ita, buyaentayo ti panagsala dagiti uppat a reina iti 2008 GUMIL Hawaii Coronation Night!

S: Ladies and gentlemen, the four queens of 2008 Mrs. GUMIL Hawaii: Mrs Perlita Sadorra, Mrs. Remy Baclig, Mrs Rita Sagucio, ken Mrs Evangeline Somera.

Mrs. Perlita T. Sadorra, Mrs. GUMIL Hawai’i 2008
Mrs. Remy Baclig, Mrs. Wisdom 2008
Mrs. Rita Sagucio, Mrs. Freedom 2008
Mrs. Evangeline Somera, Mrs. Press 2008

S: Thank you, love ladies. Thank you to the four queens!
J: Salome, a dance teacher, and a good friend of Mrs Perlita Sadorra, will dance for
the four queens.

S: No malpas nga agsala ni Salome, agsala met dagiti grupo ni Mrs. Thelma Zales.


V. SPECIAL NUMBER, Thelma Zales and Dancers

J: We now come to the coronation rites.
S: Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to present to you, the four queens of 2008 Mrs. GUMIL Hawai’i (ANNOUNCE NAMES AND ESCORTS)

VI. CORONATION RITES, with escorts A. Solver Agcaoili, Epifanio Baclig,
Joseph Gabor, and Benjamin Somera

J: Maysa kadagiti tradision ti panangorona ket ti pannakaidaniw iti Daniw ti Panangorona.

S: Let us now call on Mr Bernard Collo for the coronation poem in honor of our four queens.


J: The community is now ready for celebration. We call now Mrs. Lucia Geronimo and Dr. Aurelio Agcaoili to lead the Arikenken and Kurriti. May we also call on John Henry Acidera and Angie Duque to do the same.

S: All the rest of the audience, you may join the Arikenken and kurriti.

To be led by Mrs. Lucia Geronimo




Julius Soria & Sheri-Lyn Baclig Angala
Masters of Ceremonies