First on the specificities: that this form of writing is done by Ilokanos, and that these Ilokanos who are writers are writing from a location, the Americas, a 'here' if Ilokano writing is viewed from exile and diaspora. But the 'here' is on shifting ground since diaspora writing by Ilokanos is antedated by Ilokano writing by Ilokanos in the homeland, particularly in the Ilocos and other Ilokonanized areas, or areas where there is a sizeable number of Ilokanos who are conscious of their Ilokano literary and writing heritage.
Herein begins the complexities: that Ilokanos writing in the Americas is a conceptually-charged phrase, with lots of assumptions and presumptions that need to be unraveled. These assumptions and presumptions include as well two forms of cultural struggle that Ilokano writing has to be good at: the struggle to resist and the struggle to insist.
I exposed this idea of resistance and insistence as a cultural, literary, linguistic tactic in a conference on Ilokano and Amianan languages and cultures in 2007 held at the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu, Hawai'i. By then, I have become wary of the evils of the continuing Tagalogization of Filipino minds, the Tagalogization becoming, to me, a form of a cultural and linguistic swindle that is also perpetrated by academics, particularly those from the University of the Philippines System, and particularly so when its president, Jose Abueva, became instrumental in the wide-spread 'Filipinization' campaign in that university that declared, in no uncertain terms, that from hereon right after the euphoria of the People Power Revolution I, the medium of instruction in that University was to be Filipino.
Abueva, an authority on governmental affairs and public administration, was willing to try to make everyone at the university speak the kind of Tagalog they called Filipino being spoken in urban Manila.
When I entered graduate school at the university's department of philosophy, speaking and writing in Filipino was the buzzword, a kind of an academic license that divided graduate students into those who love the country because they know enough Tagalog/Pilipino/Filipino to get by or those who are burgis pretenders to elite education courtesy of sectarian and or Catholic education that is not catholic at all but partisan for a perspective that only the language and culture from the center of the nation and the international community have value.
I have by then stayed in Manila for a long time, and like every Ilokano who have had exposure to the Manila blessing and blight, I could carry a conversation, I could write, and I could talk like a Batangueno. With the aid of the komiks, I thought I could pass off as someone who is a native of Cainta or Antipolo, with my faux Tagalog accent learned from years of riding on jeepneys with their drivers that begin their sentence with 'tangina' and end the same way.
I grew up in the Ilocos and we did not have that word--we had something else.
And when I tried to pronounce that redeeming word--redeeming because it made me feel beyond the the powers of language police when I said it--I remember I had to practice it before a mirror in the Sampaloc bathroom of a house that I boarded. Once I had the feel of the word, 'tangina, I felt I could go out in that Sampaloc neighborhood and say with confidence, 'tangina mo rin!
Forget the women of the Church, particularly those with the brown scapulars of medieval saints smirking to every word the kanto boys could utter to the delight of those desiring for linguistic freedom in that Sampaloc neighborhood where I started my life as a young instructor in a royal and pontifical university with those mossy saints watching every passerby from the university main building's mossy roofs. I learned the hard way, even with the knowledge of linguistic justice and what it never meant.
Such is one complexity of the Ilokano writer writing in and from Ilokano, and writing from a a place outside the Ilocos or the Ilokanized areas.
(To be continued)