Ilokano: Seed of the Iluko Heritage

(By Cornelio J. Ancheta, Publisher and Managing Editor, Fil-Am Observer, delivered during the 2008 B. A. Ilokano Scholarship Banquet of the UH Manoa Ilokano Language and Literature Program, Hale Koa Hotel's Luau Garden, Hon, Hi, April 25/08; free translation from the Ilokano original into English by Aurelio Solver Agcaoili)

Esteemed members of this assembly, honorable friends, ladies and gentlemen in this happy occasion:

It is my singular honor to have been invited by you in order to give an inspirational talk in your gathering.

I thank you all for this extraordinary opportunity you gave me tonight.

Hence, let me share with you my thoughts about being Ilokano, about this concept we call ‘Ilokanoness’.

My thoughts come from my own experience as an Ilokano, an experience replete with introspection and reflection.

Let me start with what the see of this occasion is all about: the recognition of the three scholars in the Ilokano Language and Literature Program of the University.

For me, this celebration sown in the wisdom of the Ilokano is a mirror.

This is a way by which we get to be united so that together we recognize the ability of the Ilokano.

It is also a way by which we demonstrate that the Ilocos, in that place in the Philippines that we left behind or the Ilocos that is in our dreams is the Ilocos that is home of our heroes and our great people.

Because of this, I give you all my warm greetings.

You invited me to give inspiration. But I feel instead that you are the one giving me inspiration.

This recognition of all our students in the Ilokano Program proves of the triumph of our action of giving importance to our Ilokanoness.

I say, therefore, with joy: You students and you who are teaching these students are exemplars of wisdom and brilliance.

To the young people here, to you I give my salutations.

To the parents of these young people, we give you are greetings.

For us parents, we keep in our chest one dream: that let it be that our children will be like your children who are being honored tonight.

Let me express one metaphor: about you being a seed.

This seed will germinate and bloom.

This seed will become the parent of other seeds, other blessings, and another future that is bright.

And in the passing of time, this same seed will possess the knots of history—a history that puts together all of time and challenges Ilokanos must hurdle in all the corners of the world where they find themselves.

In our comparing our being Ilokanos to that of the seed, there is meaning in here: strength and endurance.

Because we know: inner strength is Ilokano’s virtue even as we face history. And that inner strength is entwined with endurance.

For me, these two—strength and endurance, are the cornerstones of the other virtues possessed by the Ilokano, virtues that she or he must take good care of, virtues that each Ilokano must sow in his or her heart and soul.

Let me start with mindfulness: We Ilokanos take good care of our honor and principles. The Ilokano who is mindful takes honor as a pillar of his character. In all of time, you can depend on him. In the time of need, he is there. He is not careless and his word is one.

Second is his loving nature: yes, the Ilokano loves his neighbor. In Hawai`i, isn’t that love is that which that binds us? Love is the reason why we help each other.

Third is our sense of sacrifice: yes, sacrifice in the face of difficulties and enduring in work. The Ilokano is industrious. He figures out the hurdles he goes through. He is strong in his facing of the challenges of life. His brilliance and wit are his weapons in the pursuit of his goals.

Fourth is the purity of the person of the Ilokano; so also with the rectitude of his deed and word. He has good lessons and attitudes. He knows what is right; he avoids that which is not right. He is orderly, clean, and obedient.

Fifth is his humility: he knows his station, and he knows his place. In this way, he knows how to give proper respect; and he knows the road to humility. He is not boastful. And he knows where he comes from.

Sixth is his friendliness: he knows how to deal with others, he knows that he is not the only person on earth, and he knows that it is only through friendship that his thought, life, and experience could get to be enriched. And that is what he gifts others with.

There are many other qualities of the Ilokano—and we can talk of more/

But for our gathering tonight, these are more than sufficient so that we realize the reason why we give our congratulations and salutations not only to these three awardees but also for all of us who are gathered here.

I know this: you came here so that, like me, you will become a witness.

I testify to the growth and progress of the Ilokano Program of the University.

This is the reason why since the start of Fil-Am OBSERVER, our newspaper, I opened its pages so that the newspaper could serve as an instrument of the Ilokano Program of the University.

I did not hesitate, not a bit, when our friend Ariel asked me for my support for the Ilokano Program and until now—and up to the extent we can—the Fil-Am OBSERVER will always be on the side of the Ilokano Language and Literature Program of the University.

I am very much aware of the challenges fraught by the Ilokano Program at present.

But I am also aware that with us helping together we could achieve many things.

You probably know one good news now: that through the Ilokano Language and Literature Program of the University another Ilokano Program is going to be inaugurated at Maui Community College. I am happy to announce that I will take part in executing this program, with the Filipino Working Group in Maui as our collaborators.

To all those in this audience: I challenge all of you to support the Ilokano Program.

To all the visitors: this Ilokano Program is the proof that we cannot just leave behind our language and our culture, the dwelling place of our soul.

I know that the Ilokano Language and Literature Program needs help and I opened the pages of our newspaper.

This is my dream now: that you will be touched, that in your thoughts you will see how important this work is so that all of us Ilokanos will not hesitate to come to the aid of the Ilokano Program, a program that we are proud to have in the entire world.

It is only in this University that we have this.

We should not permit that this will be lost, be taken away from us.

To the three scholars, we hope that you will come back to the community of the Ilokanos and that you will serve our people in the coming days.

To you we give our blessings.

To all of you, long live!

Thanks you and good evening to all of you.

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