For the first time in my adult life in the United States, I took part in a Men's March, the 14th in the State of Hawai'i. The march was held at the State Capitol at noontime, today, October 9, the month designated celebrate the end of Domestic Violence, or sometimes called DV.
I do not know much about marches like this one, and except for some hodge-podge marches I joined during the Filipino fiesta and other fiestas where my Cordillera dancing skills would be needed--my G-string proudly on my Ilokano-Cordillera body and nothing more--I confess my ignorance and I want absolution and forgiveness.
The street dancing we did recently on Waikiki, with me acting as the secretary of Aguinaldo--who is that guy again who looked like me, according to my friend who was one of the organizers?--was one of those that gave me chicken skin early this year. Chicken skin is what they call the goose pimples over here, when you are touched and you promise yourself you will never forget the second and the minute and the hour of the event that touched you so. But by the following day, you could have forgotten everything especially when those who came to invade your privacy by taking your handsome pictures do not even have the courtesy of telling you, Hey, hey, this is your free copy of the picture I took of you when you were showing your butt!
But no. This march had nothing to with those things.
I remembered that I was asked to take part of the silent march in honor of Erlinda Adviento early this year--and in that march, I had for company Senator Clarence Nishihara. And a TV station was there, and I was interviewed, and I was asked to recite a poem for Erlinda for the public to hear. No, the poem--that poem--inaugurated my public support to end DV. I wrote that poem for Erlinda as soon as I heard via email the news of her death. I sent the poem to a friend who sent me the email, and the friend sent it to many others until it reached the press, first by the Honolulu Advertiser, and then that TV station.
In that silent march, we faced Beretania from the steps of the State Capitol. Some car drivers would honk at us in solidarity, and I would feel a tearing mechanism somewhere in my tear duck. I had my eye glasses for company. With the eyeglasses, I am certain I could not be caught tearing even if in my soul my tears were welling up.
I marked that date right after Joe Bloom, director of Caritas Hawai'i, asked me in an email if I could lend my hand in the Men's March, and if I could speak from the perspective of the Filipino community. Months before, I took part in the Men's Voices, and there, I trained the GUMIL Hawai'i writers how to declaim a DV piece I put together from the hodge-podge of our work in the writing workshop I conducted for many Saturdays at the Philippine Consulate. There was where Joe Bloom saw me, and he remembered that perhaps, perhaps, here is a Filipino that could talk--and could talk a mouthful.
And so I said yes to the invite, right away, right away. I did not know anything about this bigger Men's March, so I googled and there, on cyberspace, I was deluged with all those events of Men's Marches everywhere.
That did not deterred me from taking part. Backing out is not a phrase in my list of favorites. More importantly, this is an issue I believe in as I am enraged by all issues that involve social and individual injustice. I have seen so much social and individual injustice that now, I do not think I can ever tolerate it.
I went ahead, more than an hour before the march. Parking space is an eternal problem in these parts, and if you would like to get a better parking, go to your appointment hours before. Never mind that the parking fee--with all those hungry metered parking posts giving all the flashes that are connected to a central parking center tucked somewhere in the city, the meters always asking for quarters every 15 minutes, or one cent per minute, and if you don't feed the meter, some traffic guy would come and insert in your windshield your parking citation. You do not put in the quarters, you get a parking ticket of about $30.
The night before, I had not had the talk. No, nothing. I simply was playing footsie with my thoughts. I tried figuring out my mode of attack but I was not writing. Not a dot.
For one thing, I did not even have an inkling of what I was to say. My three years of residency in Honolulu could have been enough, what with my weekly ration of banquets in hotels that bilked me of precious dollars that could have otherwise been used to help the poor like myself.
But there are social obligations that you cannot do without--and these are one of them, especially when those people who are inviting are the same people who are helping you run your own Ilokano heritage program at the University. Which is not that many--the people who are in the know, the people who care to know. Some of those who help even have the temerity to tell on radio that they needed to be thanked all the time. Ha! And the help they gave was given long before I came in to run the program. So have them, these kinds over here, the social climbers and those who are in serious need of attention.
So these thoughts came rushing as I tried to think what would I say.
I keep on, I keep on thinking, and other things caught my attention, like the ten books I borrowed but have been recalled and these had to be returned, right now, on that night before the strike of 12 midnight otherwise, you will have to be bilked with one dollar a day per book.
No thoughts. I looked out the window. No thoughts. I opened my blog and there I wrote about seminary lives, the brutal and brutish seminary lives that I know.
I looked out the window again, and I remembered the poem I wrote for Erlinda Adviento.
It was late, and the slopes of the Manoa mountains were dark. A tower glimmered somewhere in the north. I let the whirr of the aircon take hold of my thoughts.
I stood up. I lighted an incense stick, an opium.
I remembered my seminary days.
Ha, I told myself. I will talk from the deepest recesses of my heart. Which I did, today.