(My introduction of Mr. Cornelio Ancheta, the inspiration speaker at the 2008 B. A. Ilokano Scholarship Banquet held at the Luau Garden of Hale Koa Hotel, Honolulu, HI, April 25/08)
Ladies and gentlemen, good evening:
It is my singular honor to introduce to you an advocate of the struggle for space in the name of Ilokano language and culture in the State of Hawai`i.
They say that you see a warrior when he is before you—and the seeing comes complete when he joins you in the task to wage a struggle for a cause grander than yourself because he understands, and understands fully.
That is how I met our inspirational speaker, less than three years ago, our meeting first in name as I was running a newspaper in Los Angeles while he was starting his own in Hawai`i.
Warriors, indeed, are seeking each other.
One common friend, Professor Precy Espiritu, made it sure that we meet and one day, when I took the helm in running the Ilokano Program two years ago, I finally met the man.
I look at him straight in the eye and there I saw the Ilokano warrior in him.
This is him, I told myself. He is our advocate, I assured myself.
To him we lay bare the soul of the Ilokano Program, I told myself, and which I did.
Until today, this advocate has not left us unaided.
A writer through and through, he had to find a way to vent his inspiration in ways that are of service to the Filipino community in Hawai`i and the United States in general, and to the Ilokano community in particular.
Like our extraordinarily gifted and culturally sensitive students of the Ilokano Language and Literature Program who are here, our speaker takes all the gifts of knowledge to heart, collapsing the boundaries of human knowledge, and looking to all the sources.
Trained in agricultural engineering for his bachelors and his masters under a government scholarship, we have an engineer with us, a scientific mind that is able to see through the chaos and the randomness in our midst, and perhaps spelling out the possibilities for a plausible critical path to alternative ways of looking at our Ilokanoness.
He is not only a scientist but a man of letters: an editor of a technical newsletter, a writer for an agricultural magazine, and a contributing writer for a Manila daily, editor of Ka Leo o Maui, and editor of a chamber of commerce newsletter.
When he moved to Hawai`i, he began writing for a Filipino newspaper until he put up his own, the Fil-Am Observer where he serves as publisher and managing editor.
When I first met him, I told him I needed his help. We were then starting the Nakem Conferences, and lo and behold, our speaker lent us his hand, and has not stopped doing that.
There were evenings we would talk on the phone, talking about possibilities for the Ilokanos, and always with the encouraging tone, he would always remind me that he will always be there for the Ilokano Program.
It is with this gratitude, therefore, that I am proud to say that we have found in our speaker an audacious hope, this hope reminding us that we can do something for the Ilokano people in Hawai`i.
Tonight, his son and wife are with him. Ladies and gentlemen, may I be honored to introduce to you Mr. Cornelio Joaquin Ancheta.