Scholars say that historically, Ilokano is the language of the Filipino diaspora in the State of Hawai`i and in the United States. Roughly 85% of the Filipinos in Hawai`i are Ilokanos or descended from the Ilokanos.

Today, however, that history is about to be lost if nothing is going to be done proactively by the community of Ilokanos in this State.

Aside from a handful of civic and cultural organizations that have remained faithful to their vision of promoting, perpetuating, and protecting Ilokano language and culture, all the rest are merely paying lip service to what it means to be an Ilokano or what it means to keep for always the language and culture of the Ilokanos.

Many Ilokanos have even lost the audacity to claim their Ilokanoness, preferring other identities that they are not, even denying that they know Ilokano. Some even have the temerity to say that they have forgotten how their language sounds.

We can be patient, even tolerant to those who have been born here in Hawai`i, knowing that the sounds that they hear are a mix brew of the rich sounds of the diverse languages spoken here.

The ‘local born’ have not had the same exposure as those who were born in the Ilocos, with the Ilokano community providing the linguistic support for acquaintance and re-acquaintance with the sounds of Ilokano that run the gamut of the lyrical to the guttural and then back to the sounds that sing of the sea and the sun and the sand in the Ilocos as in Hawai`i.

And then this: the ‘local born’ who have taken on the task of making it certain that the Ilokano language will not go the way to extinction as the four other Philippine languages have gone, and the six others that are candidates to final erasure, and thus resulting in the irretrievable loss of knowledge systems mediated by these languages.

The Fil-Am Observer thus salutes those Ilokanos, local born or those born in the Philippines but have made Hawai`i and the United States their home and yet resisting that culturally counter-productive temptation to forget their heritage.

These Ilokanos know better: to be an American does not contradict our affirming our being Ilokanos at the same time.

During this International Year of Languages as declared by UNESCO, let the languages of the world find their indwelling in the souls of their speakers.

Editorial, Fil-Am Observer
April 2008

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