(Ken Mrs. Perlita Tapec Sadorra, 2008 Mrs. GUMIL Hawai`i)

Agkasangay met ti reina kas kadatao
Panagrarambak a panagbilang pullo
Datayo ken adu pay a pagayamtayo
Mangsaksi’t kakastoy a panagkarayo

Di met ta agbilang kadagiti maruros
A bulong ti biag nga agruting rukbos?
Di met ta iti laksid dagiti adu a damsak
Adda sadiay ti naitalimeng a ragragsak?

Ngarud ta intay ita katinnakunaynay
Ti pagayam a reina’t pintas nagsaway
Ngarud ta intay ita kabinnulig ti aldaw
Panagtao nainsigudan a laing ken kayaw

Agkasangay ti reina a kas met kadatayo
Mabalangatan korona ti natan-ok a puso
Ket kas iti panagkurno dagiti mababaon
Kenkuana nga ited ti sipsipat ti tallaong

Ket kas iti natibong a panagraray-aw
Ti nasudi met a panagsaludar nasin-aw
Iti saklang ti pagayam nga agkasangay
Kenkuana nga ited pudno a tarumpingay

Kadagiti aldaw a sumuno, umagibas kas rumbeng
Dagitoy ti idawat iti anito saan a barengbareng
Agtalinaed iti nakem ken panunot ken barukong
Agindeg nga agnanayon iti linabag dagiti kansion.

Kasta’t ipakaasi a yar-araraw Mannakabalin-Amin
Ti paraisagut amin-amin a nayon dagiti sagudayen
Iti sumuno a tawen dagiti panagbilangto manen
Panangkablaaw iti daeg ti reina a daydayawen.

A Solver Agcaoili/Hon, HI/March 30, 2008


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

B. A. in Ilokano Scholarship

UH Ilokano Program to award Ilokano Scholarship

Honolulu, Hawai`i - In an effort to recognize students with exemplary academic performance and taking up Ilokano as their concentration in the Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, the Ilokano Language and Literature Program of this same University will award three scholarships to students working for their bachelor’s degree.

The awarding will be at Hale Koa Hotel in Honolulu during the B. A. Scholarship Banquet dubbed “Panangitan-ok ni Laing” on April 25, at 5:30 PM.

Chosen by an independent scholarship committee whose membership came from the community-at-large, Ilokano Program scholars Rachelle M. Aurellano, John Henry Acidera, and Abraham Flores Jr. will receive $500 each.

The awards committee was composed of Ms. Agnes Malate, member of the advisory council of the Domestic Violence Action Center’s Pilipina Rural Project, and director of the Health Careers Opportunity Program of UH Manoa; Mr. Brigido Daproza, president of GUMIL Hawai`i (Ilokano Writers Association of Hawai`i); and Dr. Belinda Aquino, director of the Center for Philippine Studies, University of the Hawai`i at Manoa.

The B. A. Scholarship was inaugurated several years ago when the University, after about thirty years of Ilokano language and literature instruction, approved the offering, in 2002, of the Ilokano concentration for the Bachelor of Arts in Philippine Language and Literature.

Currently, the offering of Ilokano language and literature courses from the elementary to the advanced levels that leads to a major, a minor, and a certificate is the only one in the State of Hawai`i, the United States of America, and all over the world.

There is no other university aside from the University of Hawai`i that has recognized the importance of Ilokano as the language of Filipino diaspora and exile in the United States.

The offering of the Ilokano courses up to the bachelor’s level has put the Department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures of the University of Hawai`i in the position of innovator and leader in Ilokano heritage language instruction all over the world.

Today, the courses leading to a major, a minor, and a certificate in Ilokano is unparalleled; even the leading universities and colleges of the regions where Ilokano is the lingua franca do not have a full course that leads to even up to the certificate level.

The University of the Philippines boasts of Ilokano language and literature instruction but these courses are few and far between and are part of other degree programs in Philippines Studies, Philippine Language, or Philippine Literature.

The 2008 scholars are exemplary students.

Rachelle Aurellano, a senior, is president of Timpuyog: Ilokano Student Organization, the student association of all those taking courses under the Ilokano Language and Literature Program of the University.

Aurellano is active in the community; she won 1st runner-up at the Miss Oahu Filipina Scholarship Pageant in 2007.

In 2006, she represented the Timpuyog at the First Nakem Centennial Conference and presented a testimonial conference paper on the experiences of local born Ilokanos of Hawai`i and the difficult road that they are taking in reclaiming themselves and their heritage.

This commitment to heritage reclaiming has always been the theme of her self-questioning, a commitment that she has made known to the public when she was a guest at a public television show on Channel 53 in 2007, “Talkback with Dr. Agcaoili.”

John Henry Acidera is graduating with his B. A. in Philippine Language and Literature with Ilokano concentration and has lately begun working for the State’s Department of Health.

Acidera has been working for the mentally challenged adult, a work where he makes use of his linguistic and cultural competency in Ilokano.

A musician, singer, and dramatist, he has been into many cultural productions involving the UH Ilokano Program and the community.

Acidera was guest of “Talkback” on Olelo and on a radio program, “Filipiniana Variety Show,” both shows tackling the relevance and urgency of promoting Ilokano language and culture.

Abraham Flores Jr. is completing his senior year for the B. A. in Philippine Language and Literature with concentration in Ilokano under the University’s Honors Program.

A court interpreter and translator, he has done researches on the issues involving interpretation and translation with his mentor, Dr. Josie Clausen, one of the foremost scholars on Ilokano linguistics. Dr. Clausen, together with Professor Precy Espiritu, both retired, were two of the longest instructional faculty of the Ilokano Program, with more than 60 years of service between them. Espiritu, until her retirement in 2006, coordinated the program since it began in the 70’s. Clausen and Espiritu mentored Flores, as well as the other two scholars.

Flores’ honors thesis on the journalistic narratives and reportage of Filipino executions, “Sharps, Sex, and Strangulation,” provides a textual critique and reading of the journalistic ‘demonization’ of Filipinos by two of the State’s leading newspapers prior to World War II.

The B. A. Scholarship has been supported by pledges from various individuals and organizations including the United Filipino Council of Hawai`i, the Don and Dr. Patricia Brown Scholarship Fund, the GUMIL Hawai`i, and Gerald Santos of California, United States.

The scholarship awards from the GUMIL Hawai`i and Mr. Gerald Santos are the latest in the funds pledged to support the Ilokano Language and Literature Program of the University.

Santos, one of the visionaries in seeing that the program will grow to include a possible online and a masters program, has pledged initial support for the Ilokano Language and Literature Program’s Development and Enrichment Fund.

In tandem with several cultural and civic organizations, the UH Ilokano Language and Literature Program has launched a continuing Community Language Program that has brought the Ilokano language to the community for cultural competency and for consciousness-raising efforts regarding social issues.

Those who have been helping the program have been invited to take part in the banquet; expected to give an inspirational talk is Cornelio J. Ancheta, publisher and editor of Fil-Am Observer.

Fil-Am Observer, circulated all over Hawai`i and some states of the United States mainland, is Hawai`i’s leading Filipino American newspaper.

This newspaper, through its publisher, has supported the activities of the University’s Ilokano Language and Literature Program including co-sponsoring the 2006 Nakem Centennial Conference and the 2nd Nakem International Conference in 2007 and held at the Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte, in the Philippines.

Observer boasts of an array of discourses and interests related to urgent community issues as well as commentaries, narratives, and reportage on varieties and variations of Filipino American life.

Observer has a pool of writers and opinion writers that tackle a host of issues ranging from culture, the literary and dramatic arts, politics, health, religion, and immigration.

To continue to inspire Ilokano students or students descended from Ilokano and all other scholars of the Ilokano heritage language and culture, the Ilokano Language and Literature Program of the University has continued to beef up its scholarship program through a sustained scholarship fund raising campaign throughout the year.

Members of the community who wish to take part in this noble effort to recognize the future Ilokano leaders of this State are urged to contact the University’s Ilokano Language and Literature Program at telephone number 808-956-8405. Or you may write the program at 455 A Spalding Hall, 2540 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI 96822.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI

Celebrating Cultural Pluralism

Celebrating Cultural Pluralism,
Welcoming 2008 as the International Year of Languages

By Aurelio Solver Agcaoili, Ph.D.

The continuing practice of cultural tyranny and linguistic injustice of many countries around the world has remained unabated.

Many of those nation-states that have signed the various United Nations international covenants that are aimed to protect the linguistic and cultural rights of peoples—rights that are fundamental because they are human—have only paid lip service to what the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization calls as “promotion and use of multilingualism.”

The UNESCO, cognizant of the urgency of saving human languages and their import in human civilization and human life, has declared 2008 as the International Year of Languages.

In a message from Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, he says that UNESCO is “fully aware of the crucial importance of languages when seen against the many challenges that humanity will have to face over the next few decades.”

“Languages are indeed essential to the identity of groups and individuals and to their peaceful coexistence. They constitute a strategic factor of progress towards sustainable development and a harmonious relationship between the global and the local context,” he adds.

Ethnologue lists 6912 known world languages.

At the current extinction rate, about half of these would be able to survive within the next two centuries.

And of the top ten languages whose survival and thriving is certainly assured, all these are languages of countries whose economy is far different from the rest of the countries of the world and whose political supremacy remains entrenched in their histories of colonization and or dominance of other languages and cultures are a given.

Chinese Mandarin tops the list of the ten countries with most number of speakers, with more than one billion, says the Summer Institute of Linguistics, the Encarta Encyclopedia, and Language Today.

But while it is true that the number of speakers determine the life and the future of any language, it is also true that the spread and diffusion of any language over other cultures and climes—over a more widespread geography—may be factored in as another condition for survival and thriving.

With English spread and used in 115 countries many of which consider it as their official languages, English has an edge over Chinese Mandarin as it is boxed in some sort of way in only a few countries, except in academia outside these countries where the language is treated as an academic interest.

Spanish comes in second in number of speakers, and its spread is far better than Chinese Mandarin, but it does not have the same widespread presence as that of English.

Among the citizens of the net—the ‘netizens’—English has the most number of users, with almost 400 million, with Chinese Mandarin coming in second at about 185 million while Spanish is a low third at 113 million, says the Internet World Stats.

Compared to English, the rest of the world’s languages using the Internet are at 206 million, almost twice less than the Internet users using English, and only roughly that of Chinese Mandarin.

But while we are dazzled by these numbers, there are difficult realities out there that the rest of the thinking members of humanity need to consider, critique, and contemplate: there is that ugly underside to all these.

There ugly realities are these: That while some languages prosper, some die; that while develop, some go the road to extinction.

By 2050, according to estimates, Chinese Mandarin shall have overtaken other Chinese languages and shall have virtually marginalized two other Chinese languages widely spoken in China because of the ‘officialization’ of Chinese Mandarin in the name of the Chinese ‘nation’ and in the name of Chinese ‘nationalism’ as well.

The route to legitimizing a language by legislating it as either ‘national language’ or ‘official language’ has been one route to nation building used in the 18th and 19th century Europe, which is the same idea that afflicted the framers of constitutions of many countries.

The affliction is by force of imitation, and it is like a plague that hit many multilingual countries, hitting them in the soul, making them forget that nation building need not be a program of one-track mindedness but one where respect for the fundamental rights of citizens—the right to life and language and culture included—is of paramount import.

Contemporary world history is replete with fissures of many nations because of this disrespect for language and culture right of peoples.

Following the Napoleonic idealization of French as a national language for France by that conqueror of the same name who had to forgo his being Corsican, and thus, Italian, in order to assume a new identity, that of being French, and following the template for nation building put together by three other countries, to wit, Spain, Germany, and Great Britain, with one and only one language at the center of the national political discourse, then President of the Philippine Commonwealth Manuel Quezon dreamed of the same thing.

We do not forget that the United States, while not nationalizing English, is, by force of practice, causing English, obliquely at least, as the de facto language of this nation.

It is the same habit of the mind and habit of politics that we inherited from the West and which the Philippines continues to keep.

In that Quezonian dream, he—we learned to dream in black and white in the way he did, with white the ‘national language’ and with black, those other Philippine languages that had to be eradicated—forgot that the Philippines was a mixed brew of colorful and culture-rich languages, with 175 languages according to Ethnologue, four of which are already extinct, and six more, according to Lawrence Reid, about to become extinct.

The road to nation building was that of the four countries of Europe, and we followed suit.

The project to build the nation began, and the project to erase the memory of a people, the project to eradicate their life, and the project to diminish their sense of self and identity also began.

We are not far-off from our European masters until today.

The Philippines is one nation-state that has remained unclear as to its path to celebrating multilingualism and making it as a template for affirming basic human rights.

We are far away from the UNESCO ideal.

Today, the Philippines has remained schizophrenic in its approach to the languages of other Filipinos—other because ‘othered’ peoples of the Philippines, with a road it has taken that is ‘easier’ and ‘more practical,’ with the declaration of the language of the center of power, Tagalog, as the basis of the dreamed-of and imagined, ‘national language.’

We know the political reasons.

But we know the back stories as well, the back stories informing the choices of those in power to tinker with rules and procedures in order to make their purposes fit into the bigger scheme of things.

We can no longer be triumphal in our approach to valuing human languages everywhere whether we think of the Philippines or other nation-states that are veritably ‘nations among nations.’

For the only way out to affirming the virtues of social justice is to affirm as well what gives life to peoples, communities, nations, and the body politic.

What gives life to them are food for their bodies as well as food for their souls—and this requisite is non-negotiable.

You cannot say that a country is fixing its economy in order to give jobs and food to its citizens and at the same time depriving him of his right to his language and culture.

The same holds for all the peoples of the Philippines and in the diaspora.

We cannot be triumphal here: that declaration of a ‘national language’ as having become global but has not served the ends of social justice in the ‘nation’ in that ‘national’ has no place in the discourse of human rights, in the justice of retribution, and in cultural and linguistic democracy—ideals all demanding translation into action.

So much entitlement and privilege given to a language at the expense of other languages makes a nation-state sick.

The road to nursing a nation-state back to linguistic and cultural health is to demand the execution of cultural pluralism as a premise for sustaining a ‘nation among nations.’

There is another name for this: diversity.

In the State of Hawai’i where about 23 percent of the population is Filipinos, we cannot simply lump all our people as Filipino-speaking; that is a wanton lie that we must all unmask.

Historically, the Ilokano people—truly a ‘nation’ in the loose sense—have more than 100 years of presence in Hawai’i.

Soon, the Bisayans will celebrate their 100 years of coming to Hawai’i.

These two ethnic groups—the Ilokanos and the Bisayans—form the backbone of Philippine historical presence in this State.

To make the Ilokanos and the Bisayans forget their language and culture by way of importing the national language of the Philippines and force it upon them even in their exile and diaspora, is, at the very least, not in accord with what UNESCO declares as a commitment to multilingualism, a commitment based on the demands of human rights.

Human rights is the same everywhere; cultural and linguistic right is same everywhere as well.

This 2008, the International Year of Languages, reminds us of one thing: that we cannot give citizenship to any human language because the human spirit, the human soul, and humanity—the abode of language—is beyond body politic, is borderless, is universal.

(For publication, Fil-Am Observer, Hawai’i, April 2008)

Hon, HI
March 23/08

Ti Panagbabawi Ket Republika Dagiti Balikas

MANILA, Philippines—It was a call for a halt to the political hostilities. President Macapagal-Arroyo Sunday called on the faithful to pray, reflect, repent and love one another at the start of Holy Week, Inquirer, 3/17/08

Ti panagbabawi ket republika dagiti balikas
dagiti marigrigat, kontra kadakuada
iti daytoy a Domingo dagiti ramos.
(Dagiti ramos, naminsayud laeng nga inummong
manipud kadagiti arubayan, dagitoy laeng
ti piman ti adda a pangkablaaw
iti umay a profeta
ti umisu a mangted iti namnama a pagsadagan.
Dagiti sabali pay ket nangliput kadatayo.)

Ti republika dagiti balikas ket panagbabawi met
nupay ti presidente ket ibagana
nga agkararagtayo ket saysayaaten ti panagkararag a maminsan pay
nga agpanunottayo ket saysayaatentay ti agpanunot a maminsan pay
nga agbabawitayo ket saysayaatentayo ti agbabawi a maminsan pay.

Kapada ti henerasiontayo ken ti henerasion dagiti natataengan
ngem kadatayo, naimatangantayon amin
a rumbeng a maimatangan,

ket ditayon kayat makaimatang pay
iti maysa a banag a mangdarup iti panagimatangtayo
ditayo palugodan daytoy republika dagiti balikas
a mangperdi kadatayo: Ketdi masapul
a dagiti rumbeng nga agbabawi
ket agbabawi a kas iti rebbengna
dumawat iti pammakawan kas rebbengna
agpakleb iti suelo ti altar ket ipukkawda
ibagada ti alfabeto dagiti nagbabakanda
a kas penitensia.

Daytoy a panagbaklay iti krus iti Semana
daytoy a panagibaklay iti dagensen iti ili
a nabantot unay iti nakakurkurapayen a kararua--
daytoy ket maysa a banag a koman ket nairingpasen
iti naundayen a panawen
iti panangpugsat iti tanikala
iti panagpuor kadagiti amin a dokumento ti pannakaibalud
kadagiti duapulo a tawen ti Batas Militar ken ti bungana
kadagiti tawen ti panagsobsobra ti rehimen ni Erap
ket ti sinena iti palso a kinatured
ken ti rehimen dagiti karkararag a madagdagullit
kas litania kadagiti di mayannatup a patron santo.

Isu't gapuna nga itanamitim ita ti araraw
a mangiringpas kadagitoy
a mangdawat iti panangsubbot, mangidemanda
iti hustisia para iti hustisia
mangirekisito iti pannnubbot para iti pannubbot
ket amin dagitoy ket para kadatayo amin itan.

Dagiti exhibit ti kolektibo a leddaangtayo ket mangipalagip:

maysa a plakard nga agprotprotesta
ket nawaya nga agkayabkayab iti pilkopilko a barut
iti kalsaga nga agturong iti palasio ket ti torre ti simbaan
tantannawaganna ti babai nga agkarkararag a nabengbeng ti rupana

maysa a belo a seda ti adda iti nainreinaan nga ulo, panait a balitok
ti naibinggas iti igid, nangisit iti kinapudnona
iti masmasnaayan a masa,
nangisit iti basol ken maris, lengdanna ti rupa, kas kadagiti mata

a nalseb, dagiti pingping a lusiaw
idinto a ti esposo ket agragrag-o
agum-uma iti kansion a rock-a-bye
agum-uma iti nabartek a nalabaga nga arak para iti puso
agum-uma iti mangipatpateg a mangted iti derrep

ket ti nasayaat a sao maipapan iti kinabaknangna,
ti nagadu a kuartana kas mucho dinero
a tinawidna iti pakasaritaan dagiti birkog

kasano, kasano koma, kunana, kasano koma nga agsuitik
no dina met ammo
ti ania man a balikas a mainaig iti daytoy
kadaytoy makapasiudota sao
a dina ammo ti pagbirokan iti diksionario
dagiti suitik?

Kasano koma nga agtakaw, kunana, kasano koma,
no kasta a ti ima ket saan met a kapardas dagiti ima dagiti mannipdut
ti imana ket ti Castila dagiti kolonisador iti nabayag a panawen
ti urat dagiti braso ket kalimpioan ket kalamuyotan
ket awanan daytoy iti uray la nga a pagilasinan
a nangibulsa iti kusing
manipud iti lata ti agpalpalama (ti agpalpalama ket adda
kadagiti agdan a bato iti simbaan, kas paggaammo)
wenno nangrabsut iti awan balorna a pisos kadagiti ina
a mapan makibaratilio iti galunggong
ngem ketdi, pisos a maawatna, nadayaw a maawatna,
kadagiti paspasurot, a kas kadagiti guardia
ti prinsipe iti palasio, ket dida ipakita
ti sairo iti kuarta ken panagungar-manen.

Siempre, dumteng ti panawen ti panangaskasaba.
Kas iti daytoy a Domingo dagiti ramos
dagiti ramos a kabaelan dagiti kailian
nga itugot iti templo dagiti mananglilipat a dios.

Kunaentayo: amen, amen,
agingga iti yuumay ti pagarian.
Dagiti bendision a tagtagiurayen,
dagiti grasia a tagtagiurayen--
ket ti kanibusanan amin dagitoy.

Ti panagbabawi ket republika
dagiti balikas dagiti marigrigat
idinto a dagiti aglablabunan
ket kukuada dagiti agul-ulbod a sao
a kontra kadatayo.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
March 16/08

Repentance is a Republic of Words

MANILA, Philippines—It was a call for a halt to the political hostilities. President Macapagal-Arroyo Sunday called on the faithful to pray, reflect, repent and love one another at the start of Holy Week, Inquirer, 3/17/08

Repentance is a republic of words
of the poor, against them
this Sunday of the fronds.
(The fronds, quickly gathered from some yards
are all what we have got to welcome the prophet,
the true one who gives us some hope to depend on.
Other hopes given to us have betrayed us.)

A republic of words is repentance too
even as a president tells us
to pray and pray harder, one more time
to reflect and reflect harder, one more time
to repent and repent harder, one more time.

Like our generation and those of our elders,
we who have seen
all what is to be seen,

and wanting not to see any longer
that which assaults our seeing,
we resist this republic of words
against us: Let those who ought to repent
repent and repent harder
ask forgiveness and ask harder
lie flat on altar floors and cry out
spell out the alphabets of their penance.

This carrying of the Lenten cross
this carrying of the burden of a land
too heavy for our impoverished soul--
this is something we ought to be done with
a long time ago when we ripped the chains
when we torched all the records of our imprisonment
for twenty years of Martial Law and more
for the years of Erap excess and his films of false valor
and this regime of prayers said over and over again
like a litany to the wrong patron saints.

And so we must say the prayer to end all these
that exacts vengeance, demands justice for justice
requiring redemption for redemption
and all those are for us now.

The exhibits to our collective sadness, remind us:

a protesting placard flies freely on a barbed wire
on that road leading to the palace and a church belfry
looks out and the praying woman has guts

a silk veil on her royal head, gold thread on the edges
black in its truth of what the mourning of the masses
is in sin and in color, hides her face, her eyes

sunken, her cheeks sallow
while her husband enjoys
the best of rock-a-bye music there is
the best of drunken red wine for the heart there is
the best of lover that gives you lust forever there is

and the platitude of his wealth, his mucho dinero
he inherited from a history of thieves

how can he, he says, how can he lie
when he does not know
any word that comes close to it
this abominable word he does not where
where to look for in the dictionary of cheats?

How can he steal, he says, how can he,
when he does not have the swift hand of robbers,
his Castila hands those of the colonizers a long time ago,
the lines of his arms squeaky clean and their texture smooth
with no trace of having secretly pocketed a penny
from a beggar's can (the beggar is from church steps, by the way)
or snatching inflating pesos like our egos from mothers
going for the bargain of a poor man's fish
but pesos he gets, with full honor,
from some bagmen who, like the palace prince's guards,
shield him from all the evils of the money and resurrection.

Then, of course, comes preaching time.
Like this Sunday of the fronds
our people can afford to bring
to the temple of their forgetful gods.

We say amen, amen, amen
until kingdom come. The blessings we await,
the grace we await. And the end to all these.

Repentance is a republic of words of the poor
while those who have so much
have the lying words they keep against us.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
March 16/08

An Open Letter to Merlie Alunan, Waray and Sebuano Poet

Merlie, aloha,

Your voice is a voice of reason and the more we have academics and poets like you who do not think only in accord with that narrow political imaginary afforded by Tagalogism and Englishism, the better for us all.

You are right: Florante at Laura is not the "Philippine Literature" what with its atrocious view of place. Its elegant language? Elegant in terms of what? Compared to Waray?

(This is an aside:

I could not understand why you hailed F and L in one commentary you wrote and forgetting Jalandoni and company in the process, the commentary appearing like a way to validate Tagalog dominance. But I could be mistaken. We writers 'from' languages from the regions continue to fight the good fight. But we can only do so much. Writers from the regions--I abhor that phrase 'regional language' because of its false assumptions--are expected to translate their work into Tagalog or English because we have to go 'mainstream', as if our very own people are not part of the mainstream. Whose mainstream,

The critical mass?

We have this mass. But this same mass is not in the league of Jose Javier Reyes who should know better with his aesthetics, if at all. Or that Gloria Diaz who can sleep soundly after mouthing that abominable line against Bisayans.

Of course, this mass has been effectively 'othered' by those false ideologies in the name of the Jurassic view of 'nation' with its requirement of one and only one language: Tagalog=P/Filipino!

What a waste, this idea of absolutely wrong form of isomorphism!

And to think that we have been paying tax money to develop the language that has been killing our soul, our very soul--that very 'national language' that has made us linguistic parrots and intellectual paupers, this, to me, is a mortal collective and social sin we all should not be forgiven unless we make drastic amends, and now.

Imagine if all these tax monies were used to develop as well our own mother and indigenous languages?

The view thus that says that other Philippine languages are not THAT developed does not hold water. We have been hoodwinked!

We need responsible accounting here.

And advocates of Tagalogism--not necessarily Tagalogs but essentially Tagalog-lobotomized many of whom come from the UP System, another of those institutions through which we have supported--propped up--this social injustice in language with our tax money.

The Catholic Universities are not better off, also a bastion of neocolonialist thought that valorizes the political imaginary of the center as well as the aesthetics of Manila and its suburbs.

Many of the literary big shots that made a career out of this prevailing cultural and linguistic injustice (they are interconnected to me, and are linked up with social injustice) need to be reminded that they are a party to this prevailing POV of what makes a Philippine nation.

Many of them lent their names and art to perpetuate this fossilized view of ourselves, a view, that when you scratch the surface, does not even include us who come from the 'margins' and the boundaries.

Fair is fair, and we never had a fair chance.

Now, we should ask for that chance. Our asking ought to be non-negotiable.

And so, let us roll our sleeves and work. Good luck to you and to your vision and mission of bringing back Sebuano and Waray and the other Philippine languages to the living waters of our own remembrance.

I am thinking of the creative uses of rage here. It is high time we brought this back again into our othered soul.

We need to live, and in fullness. And with our language articulating that full life. Nothing more, nothing less.

Your idea of Bisaya Day?

Forget it: this is an illusion mimicking the Linggo ng Wika ad populum strategy of whoever invented this sophomoric week that allowed us non-Tagalogs to speak Tagalog=P/Filipino without being fined for doing so.

This 'linggo ng wika' touted by the language lords and masters of KWF when it was not yet manned by minds with some idea of what culture and language pluralism is all about is a sham, one of the many that we have had to endure since 1935, the beginning of our country's neocolonial regime. We gave--and we still give--our blessing, remember?

No, our languages do not need a day. We are breathing it and it is part of our everyday. What we need is social justice that includes, with no conditions, respect for our languages and cultures.

A Agcaoili

Versiculo Uno

This poem comes straight from the times
you abduct from watching Dekada 70

for the nth time. You hide your citizen's tears
as you watch, dabbing your estranged eyes

with the hanky of memory we could have lost
of the years that deprived us of young love.

It was Martial Law and we know full well
the fear the warm evenings give birth to

or the suspicion from fascist poets who dream
of careers in verse to pronounce hail to the king and queen.

That poet, in the beginning a card bearer, and his warriors
are his protectors now, his art of the nation, with that language

we can never call our own: its words are not us, will never be us
its syllables roil our souls: the everyday television is key

to this idiocy and so are the noontime shows that insult us,
we who are poor, and now impoverished of living poems

by the show about us: our inability to speak a language
the way the Manila people do, or those farther south

they who have said that we cannot be Filipinos like them
without knowing how to spell our ignorance in the curlicue

of what Manila and its environs got: greed in fresh flesh
and blood, in the freedom that hums as well as in the lullaby

we sing our hearts to comfort us from all these alien desires
to save us from ourselves, including our forgetting

that we have never really become us the last 80 years.
Quezon betrayed us, his lieutenant Recto equally so

and their nationalism is one bland idea Constantino
got it all wrong as well, with his English and his nation the center

as all the others like us who did not see the homeland as our own
through the eyes of our othered fathers and mothers and children.

It is a sacred ritual with students
taking a course on our filmic lives

back home and over here:
La Visa Loca, Goodbye America,

Savage Acts. And now this, this:
Dekada 70. It is late afternoon,

in the sweet silence and muted weeping
of the screen, in the Saunder classroom

darkness, you jotted the first long line
of your pretending poem: you weep with Amanda,

you cry with Julian Bartolome, and you sob
with all the people who died giving up their lives

in the streets and mountains and those who refuse death:
the clenched fists are all that matters, and the refusal

as well, to roil the fire, its red ember getting
into the concrete pavements of the palace,

the plastered walls crying of our pains as well,
and the iron gates remain unmoved, locked

before a new day comes alive, and locked still
before another day is born to give us the light

to go back, cardboard placards, ourselves, and our anger,
and the calculating courage that does not well up easily:

the paid protectors of our people have become
their murderers, and this is how it is, as it was.

The road to Malakaniang has eyes, and it has seen
what cruelty a truncheon can inflict upon our lips

upon our name and honor, upon our famished flesh
upon other flesh, young and filled with dreams of dying

of faithful loving and lusting for the only land we know
the only land of our people we know is not loving us back.

You go with Jules Bartolome, join him in faith abiding
in his trek of his temple hills and hungry country and together

belt out a chorus with his people, living, remembering, and dead.
Like the woman, old and bent, who cared for him

made him the son of the revolution, gave him food, and clothed him
with the boldness and blessing to go on fighting for what dreams are

made of even if those who had them a long time ago
are now poets of the nation and they sell our pride and poems

to those who are willing to listen to their self-flattery.
And platitude. You go with Mara too, a sing of the cross for her,

and the parent in her always touches you so: would she leave her
rebel's child behind, let him walk the road of the sun coming

into the world and in between silences of steps on trails we follow
for the first time, accompany them to the peak of mountains

with their sacraments of refuge, of their journey even as they weave
of more stories for our people to listen to, and own up in the end?

You sit there, your back to the door, and you touch
your drunken soul in strange lands where you eke

out a life of your own description. You touch commitment
somewhere in your pulse, and the pen you write your name

with refuse to write the letters in red. You see the word
'impostor' on the wall and you hear Julian cry, you hear

your man in your loin cry. The walls with the barbed wire
are thorns for your head, and your imagination is complete.

You suffer as you watch more of our people telling you
of the words they cannot own, the words they cannot keep.

You look at the screen, and the image
jumps into your heart, seeing the twisted

limb of a real prophet in red, his miserable life on the run,
and those who who carried wooden and iron crosses

unto the golden altar of madmen and mad women
give the offertory of blood, how many gallons

you would not know, blood you need to wash away
the unhappiness of homelands we leave behind.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Mar 13/08

Babantot iti Abagatayo

PEOPLE’S BURDEN. A member of a leftist urban poor group bears a symbolic bamboo cross on his shoulder on which hangs a sign demanding the resignation of the President as he and other activists rally in front of the LTA building in Makati, owned by the family of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, as part of their ‘Bwisita Ahensya’ (Pestilential Agencies), a play on the Lenten tradition of visiting churches. R. Zamora, Inquirer, March 12/08

The babantot ti dingnguen iti abagatayo
ket maysa a rakrak a kararag:
isu met la nga isu tapno
ti narba a paripirip ket koma
agbalin a rugi nga awanan grasia:
maysa a nakakaasi a panungpalan daytoy,
henesis ti rapukrapok iti kalsada
a dagiti pader ket siiimatang
iti amin a masaksian
kas iti baro nga agsapa para iti amin,
ti nalawag a bigat nga addaan iti kari
ti lawag a sumarsari iti kasamekan
kadagiti nalidem a bambantay
nga iti pusotayo ditoytay nga idulin,
nga iti kararuatay iti pangilemmengan
ta awanen ti sabali pay.

Saanto a tulangtulangan dagiti abagatayo
kasta met a saanto a natangsit dagiti isip
no di siaayat a mangsirmata no ania
ti naimbag a biag.

Nalakanto a maawatan no
ania ti makaparagsak kadatayo:
dagiti nakaridridam a nasapa nga or-oras
a kaduada ti daton ti linnaaw
iti ngudo dagiti bulong ti ti,
berde tapno maawis ti suerte
ti fung shui iti daytoy a tawen ti bao
ken dagiti bulok, nalabaga
tapno mapadisi ti dakes
kadagiti mangpabpabisin kadatao
iti taraon a naimbag
a maited koma ti kararua ti ili:
ti regta a mangipukkaw iti
"Iringpas dagiti merkader
iti masakbayan a ditay ammo!"

Manen miraentayo ti kinain-inaka ti linnaaw
ken ti diamante a rebolusion a tagtagibienna
iti saklot: ti sirkulona iti awan ressat a sirkulo
ket amin a namnamatayo adda kadagitoy
iti daytoy nakain-inaka a sirkulo
a ditoy agsalatayo
iti unos dagiti agpupungtot nga aldaw ken rabii
dagiti garaw ti makidangdangadang a bagitayo,
kadua dagiti universo dagiti agrebrebelde a pusotayo
datayo a komunidad dagiti agar-arapaap
datayo a komunidad dagiti mannaniw
iti nagan dagiti manangngaasi nga ima
a mangsuksukog iti lutulot
ti anges ti ili, ti lasag dagiti pammateg,
ti paragpag dagiti biagtayo--
amin dagitoy a mamagtugaw kadatayo
tapno intay maimatangan
no ania ti kiddaw ti sellag,
nalabaga ken umap-apuy,
manipud iti lasanglasang a biagtayo--
iti nagan dagiti amin a makasapul iti innapuy
iti nagan dagiti amin a makasapul iti hustisia a kadua ti innapuy
iti nagan dagiti amin a makasapul iti kinapadapada a kadua ti innapuy
iti nagan dagiti agkanta iti himno
ti wayawayatyao a ti lirikona ket napukaw
kadagiti pagbabakalan

Itultuloytayo, itultuloytayo
ti tungtongan kadagiti pugante a balikas
ti ili a nakayanakan: dagiti balikas
a ditoy ket birokentayo ti pudno
manipud iti saka dagiti bato a kaing-ingas ti danum
wenno iti barukong ti danum a kaing-ingas dagiti bato.
Adu dagiti ironia ditoy
ket aminda agtalinaedda: makitagtagiuray
iti tiempo, kas kankanayon, agingga a makikumplotda
iti mamagwaywaya a sasaotayo,
nga iti damo ket dagiti napudno nga ar-arasaastayo
iti amian a makikinnadua kadagiti mangisalsalakan
nga init kadagiti mata.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Mar 12/08

This Burden on our Shoulders

PEOPLE’S BURDEN. A member of a leftist urban poor group bears a symbolic bamboo cross on his shoulder on which hangs a sign demanding the resignation of the President as he and other activists rally in front of the LTA building in Makati, owned by the family of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, as part of their ‘Bwisita Ahensya’ (Pestilential Agencies), a play on the Lenten tradition of visiting churches. R. Zamora, Inquirer, March 12/08

This beast's burden on our shoulders
is a flawed prayer for more of the same
so a ruined revelation could be
a genesis without the grace:
a pitiful end this, the beginning
of a revolt in the streets,
the walls seeing all that which
is to be witnessed
like a new morning for us all,
the bright morning with its promise
of light streaking through the forest
of our dark mountains, those
we keep in our soul because
there is nowhere else to keep.

Our shoulders will not be lean,
our minds not mean but loving
to imagine what good life is.

There is ease in understanding
what makes us happy:
the wee hours of the morning
with their gift of dew on the blades
of ti leaves, green for the fung shui
luck of this year's of the rat
and the rotten, red to drive away
the evil in those who keep us
hungry for what good food
for the nation's soul could give:
the strength to shout out loud
and say "Down with those who
sell us to the future we do not know!"

We look back at the fragility of the dew
and the diamond revolutlion in its bosom
it grows: its circle running in circles
and our hopes are all in there,
in this fragile bubble
where there we dance
all throughout our raging days and nights
the movements of warring bodies, ours,
with the universes of our rebelling hearts,
we, the community of dreamers,
we, the community of poets
in the name of the merciful hands
that shape the clay of our country's
breath, the flesh of our cares,
the skeleton of our lives--
from all these that make us sit up
and see for ourselves
what the full moon, red and fiery, wants
from our brokenness--in the name
of all those who need rice
those who need justice with that rice
those who need democracy with that rice
those who need equality with that rice
in the name of all those who sing the anthem
to our freedom whose lyrics we have lost
in the battlefields

We can carry on, we carry on
with the conversation with the fugitive words
of our homeland: those through which we seek truth
from the feet of stones looking like water
or the breast of water looking like stones.
There is much irony here,
and they come to stay: biding their time,
as always, until they shall connive with our freeing words,
initially our honest whispers to the north wind
consorting with the saving suns of our eyes.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Mar 12/08

Kontra Agraraman

nouveau riche |ˈnoōvō ˈrē sh |
noun: [treated as pl. ] (usu. the nouveau riche)
people who have recently acquired wealth, typically those perceived as ostentatious or lacking in good taste.
adjective: of, relating to, or characteristic of such people : nouveau-riche social climbers.
ORIGIN French, literally ‘new rich.’

(Ken Ka Loren, gapu iti siudotna kontra kadagiti agum iti uray salamangka...)

Daytoy ti definision
ti isu amin a panguartaan:
isaldam ti anges dagiti kailiam.
Uray ti panagragut
ti palabra nga addaan honor
wenno maysa laeng
a panagpiangpiang
dagiti aggagatel a dila
wenno ngalangala
a maltutan. Anian ta maisubli
iti panangsaranget iti karit
ti aldaw ti kinaubing:
sumangpet ti gatas
a parabur dagiti puraw
ket iti trianggulo a papel
nga agbanag ti panagtakal.
Buttawan ti kimmot ti papel
tapno masultop ti parabur
ngem maigangal iti ngipen
ti utangen a doliar.
Mano ti napan iti ima ti pangulo
mano ti nayallawat iti bulsa ti babai
mano ti nagpuligos a napan iti apo padi
mano ti naipalimos iti kakaasi?
Ket ita, kas iti agnanayon:
anusam a bagi, anusam a bagi:
dikanto met ngamin nagpadi
dikanto met ngamin nagpresidente
dikanto met ngamin nagbalin a bibig
ti naktidiables a mannibrong
a no agnobena ket dagiti amin a rebulto
santa ken santo a babassit
matnagda iti patibong!
Ket ita, namak pay ta agririka:
iriagam koma dagiti kupal nga agraraman
nga assawa dagiti babaian
nga esposo dagiti lalakian
ukelda adda iti nabungsot a wangawangan
ti immimburnal a ngiwat a kabuyokan
dagiti madaydayaw a mangiramraman
iti basol a din masarkedan
dagiti baro a babaknang a garamugam
a kunam, sika a pasalsali
iti tagainepda a maisakibot uray
iti panagragut iti sellang iti rabii
isuda nga iti maysa pitik
wenno sangawarsi a nabangles a katay
ket kasukat sangasudo a ling-et
a no kalduen ket agas ti sagubanit.
Ngem ta: kasano met a digosem iti kaudian
amin dagitoy nga agraraman, isuda
nga agkudaap iti altar ti katedral
dagiti amin a kita ti panangiyaw-awan
la ketdi mabaloran ti am-amangaw
a kasingin ti sao a parparawpaw
isuda nga agsublisubli
kas iti bakbaka a di maipatlipatli?
Ala, anusam a bagi,
dikanto met ngamin nagpadi
anusam a bagi
ta kasta ti kasupadi
dagiti agraraman iti panagari.
Diak met kunaen nga urayen ti batang,
narigat met a traidoren ti sansanaang
narigat a ballikogen ti ledleddang
di met maliputan ti pangnamnamaan.
Agkararagka, kunak koma,
ngem uray iti bukod a pus-ong
dagiti dios naynayda a manglanglangan.
La ket ta: anusam a bagi
dikanto met ngamin nagpadi.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Mar 11/08

Sakramento ti Domingo

(Ken Nasudi, 6, iti panagturposna. Mabasananto koma daytoy iti maysa nga aldaw. Wenno tagtagailiwek daytoy.)

Agsarsarimadengka a kaduam dagiti lagipmo
iti taeng, ket ti tagainep iti panagkikita manen
a napnuan estoria ket immunan a nakaawid.
Domingo itatta iti ayanmo, ket iti adayo
ket dagiti aldaw a mangbambantay
kadagiti tawen a panaglangan.

Ket agbilbilangka kadagitoy.

Maysa nga anak a babai, ti darundon,
ti agturpos kadagiti alfabetona
kannayon dagiti laso iti ubing a barukong
ket iti baet ti katawa ken panaglaglagip,
aramidenna amin a kabaelan nga agingles
iti wagas ti nasursuro iti pagbasaan:
'By the way, father,' kunana, tapno maburak
dagiti ulimek, 'by the way,' ket ti marakansion
a timek iti kinaubing agsadsad iti agpampanaas
a puso. Tempus fugit, kunam, iti Latinmo
nga aglatlatin iti ulom, ket ti Inglesna
agkayabkab iti angin iti Marikina. Ar-ararawem
a ti Ilokanona ket asidegto a kaarngi ti inadal a bengngat
ken dagiti pagsasao iti nagtaudan:
Mandarin ken Cantonese iti lilong a tumeng
iti parte ti inana, Pangasinan ken Espaniol
iti lilang a tumeng iti parte ti amana,
ken ti agnanayon nga ayat dagiti dadakkel
manipud iti manong nga agipasarabo iti Dunkin Donuts
manipud iti manang a manipud iti retaso
ket agdait iti bado ti Barbiena a silalabus
kadagiti umuna nga aldaw ti kalgaw.

Agpagunggan iti panagkatawana,
ti paggaakna ket umipos iti pul-oy
nga isarua dagiti derraas iti bantay.
'Umayka iti panagturposko?' saludsodna,
ket ti exilo iti pusom agriaw ti pannakadunggiar.
Ammona kadi ti distansia iti baet ti iliw
ken liday ken ti kinaawan bileg
a mangrangtay kadagitoy? Nalipatamon
ti mangyebkas iti sao a 'saan' gapu iti adu
a panaglangan kadagiti seremonia a kakastoy.

Ti pagilian, sul-ot a kadarrato,
dinanto kaano man maammuan
dagiti babassit a leddaang ti kinaexilom.
Kadagiti kanito a kakastoy, agdependerka
laengen kadagiti sakramento iti Domingo:
babaen kadagiti malmalday a ramaymo
a mangpampanunot kadagiti makaagas
a laing iti panangsagid kadagiti panaglangan,
rosarioem dagiti kararagmo
ta sapay ta dumteng dagiti nararagsak
nga aldaw iti masanguanan.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Marso 10/08

Sunday Sacraments

(For Nasudi, 6, on her graduation day. One day, she will read this. Or so I hope.)

You linger on and on with your thoughts
of home, and your dream of a reunion
filled with stories goes home. It is Sunday
where you are, and far away are days
keeping tract of your absence in years.

And you are counting.

A daughter, the youngest, is about
to graduate from her alphabets
with ribbons on her child's chest
and in between laughter and remembering,
she tries her best to speak classroom English:
'By the way, father,' she says, to break the silence
'by the way,' and her child's singsong
voice gets into your aching heart.
Tempus fugit, you say, with your Latin
rusting in your head, her English billowing
in the Marikina wind. You can only hope
that her Ilokano will come close to her studied accent
and the other languages of her ancestors:
Mandarin and Cantonese from her great grandfather's
from her mother's side, Pangasinan and Spanish
from her great grandmother's from her father's side,
and the endless love of parents
from her brother who brings her Dunkin Donuts
from her sister who sews rag clothes
for her Barbie dolls gone naked
in the early summer heat.

She shrieks with joy,
her laughter trailing so in the breeze
the ridges of mountains spill out.
'Will you come for my graduation?'
she asks, and the exile in your heart
cries out in pain. Does she ever know
the distance between longing
and sadness and the inability
to bridge them? You have forgotten
how to say the word 'no' with your absence
in ceremonies such as this.

The homeland, unhearing as it is,
will never come to know your exile's small griefs.
In moments like these, you can only
depend on Sunday sacraments:
with your lonely fingers thinking
of the healing power of touching
absences, you bead your prayers
for the best days ahead.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
March 9/08

Fridays and Redemption in the Land of Exile

The day reeks of everything Judeo-Christian if you have grown up knowing the cross, whatever this suggests. The day speaks of the divine death that serves as a prelude to life eternal, or the resurrection in the paschal mystery for those who know The Narrative, that grand one that promises resurrection on the third day.

In the land of exile, Friday the 7th carried with it some mysticism drawn from a Hebrew overload of reading some of the Cabalistic texts and the carryover, say a relic and a remnant, of the 'Marcosistic' penchant for the same number. On March 7 this year, this Friday was one that was one of my longest of days so far in my almost two years of stay in Hawai'i. The day commenced with a rather hopeful action of putting together the last pages of a course, Ilokano Plus, that I was proposing to be taught at Maui Community College, one of the University of Hawai'i's community colleges on the island of Maui, less than an hour of plane ride from the island of Oahu where the flagship campus of the University system is.

That proposal--sent in on that day with that prayerful wish that it will be approved--was a result of the concerted effort of a group that included the activist Cornelia Sembrano and the memory-keeper of Ilokanoness, Cornelio Ancheta. Native speakers of Ilokano, plus other Philippine languages, Cornelia and CJ felt the need to do what is right to the Ilokanos (here, we do not lump the Ilokanos with 'Filipinos' as we know for certain the injustice of the parsing in this term, with Tagalog=P/Filipino shanghaiing all of us into that erroneous notion of the nation in its 19th and 20th century reliquary form, the concept sanctified by the popes of 'Tagalog nationalism' that include writers who can talk about Florante at Laura but are ignorant of the stories of the other because 'othered' peoples of the country. The beatification, of course, was performed by Manuel Quezon, the number one Commonwealth man, who declared his preference for the Philippines to be run like hell by Filipinos to being run like heaven by foreigners.

This wistful thinking is funny, as we can see from hindsight. 'Funny', of course, is an Americanism, which runs the gamut of the incredible to the outlandishly foolish. We know now that with decades and decades of corruption, he got what he wanted, this president who did not like the idea that an interpreter would be needed when he spoke to the Ilokanos, as is the case when he went to the Ilocos during his dubious reign as a Commonwealth president.

The beginning of that Friday was a sacrament.

This move to claim and reclaim ourselves--this move to bring back the glory of that Ilokano language that had been suppressed for almost eighty years with the imposition of Tagalog as the national language--this, to me, is a sacrament.

Yes, that is the proper term: imposition.

Tagalog being imposed upon us and in the process making our young people forget who they are, making them too embarassed to admit that they are other people other than Tagalog, and making them see that their own language and culture has no place in that oxymoron we call 'Philippine nationalism."

Let us end that day: an attendance of community celebration of one Ilokano politicians of the city down in Kalihi, that bastion of everything Ilokano, aside from another place, Waipahu.

Imagine the in-betweens: a rehearsal with a student who will read 'Maris ti Bullalayaw/Color of the Rainbow' at the Diversity Matters Week, television taping for two shows, with guests that had to be picked, in heavy traffic, in Ewa Beach, about 35 miles away from Honolulu.

And another: the preparation for the 2008 Hawai'i Association of Language Teaching where I was co-chair of the conference.

It is Sunday and two days had gone by.

I made it--and as I keep thinking about how I made it, I realize enough that there could be some energy somewhere where people get their strength, perserverence, and understanding.

I can only thank that invisible source.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
March 9/08

Joy is the color of the rainbow in Hawai'i

(First recited at the Diversity Matters Week, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, March 8, 2008. James Ramos, an Ilokano student of the Ilokano Language and Literature Program, helped me dramatically recite this including an excerpt of my play, "Red Earth, Brown Earth."

Joy is the color of the rainbow
In the valleys in the bare bosom
Of the clear sky
Where here resides, remains
The laughter of the mountains,
Tied together in looking out
To the flock of birds
Flying towards the contented universe
Declaring a duel and all of us,
All of us who have left
The sad seas and our sorrows
Turned our backs
To the void of justice
Whether on the grace of meal we count
Whether on the grace of the heavens we count
So that here, in the embrace
Of a day that smiles
Her we count the thread of the seasons,
We recall the delicate experience
So there is no encore to grief.

Joy is the color of the rainbow
And so is the color of justice.

Justice with all the hues
For all those who are rendered wretched:
The blue sand, for instance,
There the early dark mornings go to die
Their death bought by those who lie
Those who do not know anything except to lie on their backs,
Saunter and go scot free in the place where equality takes on vacation
Because here, the callused hands have to remain patient
And so are the strained backs
Like the mind that goes strained as well by this black hardship
By the beading of the red rosary of our being oppressed.
What gives, say the white wisdom,
What gives in whichever we reach
Even when good pink luck backs off
Or goes springing forth
Beyond the events that are foolish.
Like the carelessness of the breeze
Its permitting the cheat to imprison
Rest and well-being
So that on their beds, there they possess
The color of the rainbow the color of our pains?

But the color of the rainbow
Comes back to our vision: we are the prophesy
Of the same joy with all its colors.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Mar 6/08

Ti Maris ti Bullalayaw iti Hawai’i

(Naidaniw iti Diversity Matters Week, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Marso 10, 2008. Kasta met a naidaniw ti versionna iti Ingles. Kadua a nangidaniw ni James Ramos, estudiante iti Ilokano iti nasao met laeng nga Universidad.)

Ragsak ti maris ti bullalayaw
Kadagiti tanap iti lukat a barukong
Ti nagwaknit a langit
A ditoy nga agindeg, agtalinaed
Ti katkatawa dagiti naliday a bantay,
Agsisilpoda a tumannawag
Kadagiti pangen ti tumatayab
Nga iti panaglayagda iti kumarkarit a kontento a law-ang
Ket datayo met amin, datayo a pimmanaw
Kadagiti naliday a baybay ken ladingit
Timmalikud kadagiti amin a kinaawan kinalinteg
Iti man bilangbilangen a grasia ti makan
Iti man bilangbilangen a grasia ti langit
Tapno ditoy, iti barukong ti umis-isem
Nga aldaw, ditoy a bilangen ti nginabras
Ti panawen, sublian dagiti nakain-inaka
A padas tapno dinton dagulliten.

Ragsak ti maris ti bullalayaw
Ket kasta met a dekolor a kinalinteg.

Marismarisan a hustisia
Kadagiti amin a maidadanes:
Dagiti asul a kadaratan, kas pagarigan
A pagpasagan dagiti bigat a nariwet
A gatangen dagiti balitungeg a kusit,
Isuda nga agilad-ilad lattan, agpalpallailang
Iti lugar a pagbakasiunan ti di panagpapada
Ta ditoy, naynay nga agan-anus dagiti kaliado
Nga ima, dagiti bukot a narinat
Kas iti isip a rinaten met ti nangisit a rigat
Ken ti panagbidingbiding iti nalabaga a rosario
Ti kinadaksanggasat. Ta ania ngarud,
Kuna dagiti puraw a laing, ta ania ngarud
Ket kaikarian dagiti amin a magteng,
Agsanud man ti naimbag a gasat a derosas
Wenno agarakattot a lumarga
Iti labes dagiti pasamak a balasubas.
Kas iti panagbaybay-a iti pul-oy
Ti panangipalugod nga ikarsel
Dagiti mannipdot iti turog ken nam-ay
Tapno iti pagiladanda, idiayda a tagikukuaen
Ti maris ti bullalayaw a kakolor ti dagensen?

Ngem ta agsubli ti maris ti bullalayaw
Kadagiti sirmata: datayo dagiti padto
Ti isu met laeng a namaris a ray-aw.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Mar 6/08

Mannalon nga Awan Talonna

Manila, Filipinas--Awan pay laeng dagada kalpasan ti nasurok a 100 nga aldaw manipud panangrugida nga agmartsa a mapan iti Manila idi Oktubre idi napan a tawen, dagiti mannalon iti Sumilao ket agmartsadanto manen tapno idramatisada ti panangtuntonda iti karbenganda iti daga. Iti daytoy a panagmartsada manen, likawendanto ti Malakaniang kas simbolo ti panangtuladda iti biblikal a panangpalawlaw dagiti Israelita iti Jericho. Inquirer, 3/4/08

Agbanag kadi daytoy a hiperbole
nga ebanghelio ti dumteng kadatayo
datayo a tattao iti talon
ket ti talon a mangdungdungrit
kadagiti imatayo ket naynay
a lumsot iti gemgemtayo?
Dayyengantayo dagiti duayyatayo
iti lubong, riingentayo ti biagna
babaen iti ling-et, bagyo, ken init.
Ni kaano man ditayto makatagikua
iti ania man, paggaammotayo dayta.
Ti laing dagiti an-anito a napasagen
kas iti laing ni Macliing: maysa a kinakusit.
Myasa a leksion manipud iti sakripisiona
kadagiti bala, isuna a nangirakurak, nangisawang:
"Ditay matagikua ti ania man a talon.
Ti talon ti mangtagtagikua kadatyo."
Ammotayo, siempre.
Kinaagpaysuanna, ammotayo no kasano.
Kasta met ngamin ti panagbiagtayo:
ti talon a mangit-ited kadagiti amin a kasapulan
ania man a masapultayo aginggana itatta
no dagiti inuritna ket dinatayon dardarepdepen
nupay nakadulin kadatayo ti tagainep ti ani
ken pusi ti mais, grano ti pagay
espiritu dagitoy ti narakrak, din matarimaan a biagtayo.
Agmartsakami kadagiti kalkalsada a siwayawaya,
kakibintayo dagiti ladingittayo a publiko
kas iti panagmartsatayo kadagiti bengbengkag,
dagiti nasaranta a takder ti mula nga agsoldado a proteksiontayo
dagiti anito nga awanan mata kas guardiatayo kontra iti didigra
ket dagiti rabii ket nalamiis, agbasabasa, naunday
iti nagkampuantayo tapno ipalgaktayo kadagit tao
a nagpasarantayon daytoy nga impierno
a pananglipattayo iti amin kas iti karbengantayo
a mangnagan iti potente a bukel nga imula
dagiti agkatkatawa a paramut nga itugkeltayo iti daga
tapno ray-awen ken pangilukatan iti kararua ti nabartek a pul-oy
tapno iti kasta ket adda dagiti napudno a sabsabong,
natimbukel a bunga, ken nabendisionan a pabor
nga isublitayo iti agsalsala a waig a ditoy ket nabiag iti lames,
adu ken dadakkel, kasta met iti pammati a rugi
dagiti ad-adu pay a pammati, ken ti pannakikammayet
ti kapunuan dagiti ayat, narnekan ken napnek
iti Sumilao ken iti uray sadinno man.
Agguardia dagiti bambantay
iti aramidentayo a sumaruno.
Mabalintay a pakawanen dagiti bagbagitayo,
ket kas iti santuario
ay-ayuen ti pusona
ket palugodantay ti di panangitulok
nga isuro kadatayo ti unget.

Tagikukuatayo, ti daga, ken ti di panangitulok.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Marso 5/08

Land Worker and Landless

MANILA, Philippines -- Still landless after more than 100 days since they first set out for Manila in October last year, the Sumilao farmers will again march to dramatize their land claim. This time around, however, they will be marching in the area around Malacañang, in a symbolic reenactment of the Biblical siege of Jericho by the Israelites. Inquirer, 3/4/08

Would this hyperbole be a gospel
for what is yet to come to us
we people of the land
and the land we soil our hands with
always beyond us? We sing our song to the earth,
awaken its life with our sweat and cunning
and care, rain or shine, storm and sun.
We know we cannot own anything.
The wisdom of the ancestors who are dead
like Macliing's is one of deceit.
It is a lesson from his sacrifice with bullets,
he who declared, declaimed: "We cannot own
any land. The land owns us."
Sure, we know. Certainly, we know how.
We live our lives that way,
the land giving us back what we need
what we want until today
when its furrows no longer dream of us
even if we keep the dream of harvests
and kernels of corn and grains of rice
the spirit of our broken, irreparable lives.
We marched the streets akimbo, hand-in-hand
with our own public sorrows
the way we marched the fields,
the stalks the soldiers for our protection
the anitos without eyes guarding us from harm
and the nights were cold, damp, long
where we camped out to tell our people
we have gone through this hell
of giving up everything like our right
to name the potent seed we sow
the joyful saplings we stick to the earth
for the drunken breeze to billow and bare its soul
so there would be faithful flowers,
round fruits, and graced favor
we give back to the river running wild
the dancing streams coming up alive with fish,
bountiful and huge, and faith the beginnings
of more faith, and the fait accompli of the plenitude
of loves, fulfilled and full
here in Sumilao and everywhere else.
The mountains stand guard
of what we do at last. Like a sanctuary,
we might forgive ourselves, appease its heart,
and give in to the resistance rage teaches us.

They are ours, the land, and the resistance.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Mar 4/08

The Clowns Are Clowning in Iraq

It comes straight from the song
you sung a long time ago
when the people's revolution
of your own homeland
had yet to rev up to full speed
and its engine from the anger
we had known so well spoke
of wars we had to go through.

The same holds for Baghdad now,
this synecdoche of of our common lies
now getting on a foothold to a truth
we can never do without.

It is like the caffein
on the sugared soda: it gets into your blood
and you go look for the addiction
the gushes out of other people's lives
and then the soda, like bullets, and wars,
and this terrible scene that reminds you
of resurrection gone past
becomes your eternal god,
terrible in its invisibility
like the sleight of hand
of showman and politicians
of commerce men and clerics
of generals and presidents.

In Iraq now, they send in the clowns.

And they murder them too
like in Kabul.

The children have to be amused somehow,
diverted from the everydayness of bombs
the terrors of the dogs of war
the helpless deaths that come in multiples
each day that these children wake up
each night they go to sleep
the images of dying and wounded hearts
spilling out on the streets in their minds.

What gunpowder will not cajole
them into believing that war
is the lot of men and women in these times
when we have known how to kill quickly
the penalty at an instant?

Which is why the clowns come clowning
the yellow and red of their tricks
the exaggeration of their magic
the studied movement of their hands
all colluding to create for us as for the children
an illusion in sweetness and delight.

There is no war, or soon it will end.

That is the magic the whole ruse gives,
and soon the disjointed account
of our common miseries takes on the victor's
word, his language blasting all others',
and the glory will come to the table
so all will partake of the savagery of this deed.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Mar 3/08

Seed Syllable, 2

(This is a continuation of our solidarity with the hotel workers of Hawai'i. No, the sugarcane plantation workers are not yet gone but are very much around, disguised by unbridled capital in new clothing; nor have the plantations been replaced; they are still here, in high rise hotels for the rich. The structure of oppression has remained, with the moneyed lording it over, taking in all the sun and surf and sand while the workers have yet to break loose and lose their chains. And many of these are Ilokanos who literally ran away from the hardships of the Ilocosland only to end up the same way over here, in the land of milk and some honey. This poem is for one father, in particular, who worked in a hotel for many years, joined the union, and then sacked for fighting for his economic rights.)

We keep repeating the same story
its title and plot are in perpetuity.

They do not change, ageless as they are
as with these shining seas surrounding our dreams
in clear water, fluid and green and aquamarine,
their virgin blue that of the skies with their canopy
of clouds and dense blessings
or the turquoise of calm currents
passing through rooms and windows
that look out to the vastness your weary
mind cannot reach.

You open the drape, heavy with sleep,
look at the scene from here, in the emptiness
of beds needing your hands, the creases of linens
demanding release from the evenings
of their mischiefs, some scents of love lingering
and then running through the streets below.

What agony you keep, what shame,
in your years of doing the same thing:
this pampering that has to go on
this ministering to someone else's needs
and never your own or your holy hours
this bowing down to the caprice of paying guests
whose thankfulness and memory
will never yours in the first place
but their demands yours
for the sweet labor that you give
to keep them come and again too soon
so the coffers would give that ring
of fullness, so the profits will fill this earth
with more of the same, today and onwards,
so the title of your story will remain
its plot forever be the same, for always?

You cannot count the days
with your fingers. Or your complaints.
You have none of those capacities
neither grieving nor grief except your fears.

You count them on, the days and your fears,
on bathroom floors your wipe clean
the virus of their weight infecting you so
until each evening when sleep takes hold
of your reminiscing of what suffering brings.

The bones will trick you as with the muscles
unable to distinguish work from prayer
or stillness and chaos of hands shooing
away the images of rooms to be redeemed
by your father's hands
and you will not feel all of the pain
that goes with serving and serving
to your heart's content
and for years and years on end.

You have children to feed,
their future to be fed as well.

I heard you: you said you are a father
of three daughters, all of school age:
one asks you, when you are going
back to work again, father? When do we
have the time to sit down on a park
and run after the leaves that fly
with the wind on Blaisdel, go catch the ripples
of the pool water on Ala Moana
or the reflection of stars on the sea
in Parker Ranch?

You cannot be honest, hotel man.

You cannot. You are from the Ilocos, man,
and your duty is to love and no less.

Not today, not this revelation,
not now, not when you fought for your right
they make you stumble and fall
they make you crawl like snake in your daughter's zoo
they make you beg for work, beg for mercy
not now when the singing tells
of Christmasses you will miss
or the carols you will forget
or the gifts that you will never be able to buy
for the daughters that give you something to hope for

You cannot say, pray tell, you cannot:
that you have the pink slip, its color
the hue of fate gone berserk
or faith losing sight of the meek
the humble, the seeker of justice,
the pink slip on your hand
and you have been shown the door
never to come back after these years
of scrubbing them white these walls
of removing the dirt of lovers gone wild
on sinks as in staircases
on window sills looking out
to the evening universe of glow and quiet

You worked from the early hours
to the dark hours, and you smiled
the smile of tired and worried archangels

You gave your heart to this job
you only know how, gave your hand
have your laughter counted
have your crying tagged with brooms
and cleaners, their whirring your cantata
or oracion, their dizzying sounds their quick matins

Your weary worker's smiles they counted
as your honor carried a price tag.

You cannot be honest and say,
today, daughter, we have to begin
to laugh, laugh out loud for not knowing
that the capitalist is all brick and brusqueness
is all dollars in dirty tricks and might
and his power is in divining our future
forever, one assured and certain for the rich,
one past for the poor and wretched
their ransom for their salvation that of a thief's.

A S Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Mar 3/08

Seed Syllable, 1

(For all hotel workers, majority of them are Ilokanos, who continue to receive unfair treatment by the hotels they are working for. Today, there is a call for a boycott of one hotel in Waikiki. This poem is in sympathy with the workers who have yet to receive economic justice they deserve)

It is catching the poem of protest on the street
in between thought and sadness
this seed syllable of our struggle
we commenced since a hundred years

The freeways in Honolulu on Monday mornings
are generous of these gifts seeing
what injustice is when you go
for a sunshine slowdown
rev up to a slow motion, inch up
when time flies and you go nowhere
when you fly and time goes everywhere

Such is our hurried lives over here:
we are migrants all between times
migrants between places and revolutions
we keep to ourselves, just to ourselves
between a Honolulu sunrise and a Waikiki sunset
the tourists come to pay for

But who knows about our people
browned by dreams of getting on ahead
but they have tourist rooms to keep
tidy up and put away the smell of strange loves
while the contended laughter in hotel lobbies
make them sadder each day, our own,
they who cannot afford to stop
working with their tired hands
thinking with their worried minds
they who cannot afford to call it quits?

Sixteen rooms a day and you
have to put in an immigrant's dignity as well
the heart callused by capital in dollar terms
at its earnest, your human labor by the hour
brown man, brown woman with your accent
thick as the mountains you came from
parched as the earth you left behind
your life a dailiness you cannot run away from

You can rehearse before an old, shrouded mirror
say how to roll the R for a thousand times
make it softer, the long a's coming
the t's in between grief and another
even as you soften those gnarled hands
put on some Ilokano ointment to the joints
or clear your throat of a lump that does not go away
but richochets to your bed when you make a syllable
hear the one voice you have always wanted to echo

You are everywhere, migrants, colored and docile
or immigrants, new Americans you are
or whatever you are called or call yourself now
and poised to strike, your own people, your own kind
take on your strength, keep the ballroom banquet
filled out on Saturdays and Sundays till kingdom come

and they do laugh out loud, talk of token charity
back home, tuition money for the poor they exhibit
coffins for the dead, churches for the living

and there you are, bringing in the joy
the trays heavy with food and care
the coffee pot brewing with Kona
and that rare delight of aloha no longer sweet
you put on tables, hide it in red napkins
until the curtains fall and you clean up

one by one you pick up the pieces
of work you need to do to send the dollar
home, send kin and kith some balikbayan boxes
of goodies, goodness, and remembrance
so they can figure out what Hawai'i is
and the dear America of the brave and the free

I sense the seed syllable in your word
you utter in total silence once in while to keep the calm
in your raging soul, its heat the cold of moonlit nights
on deserted beachsands in Kapolei and the west winds
there you go, in ceremony, to secretly throw away
what can be abandoned to the wild waves
like a worker's tear that does not well up

I keep this sacred war within,
this sanctified resistance out

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Mar 2/08

Padaya & Punsion

(Daniw a maibasa koma iti pasken ti Badoc Association of Hawai'i idi Marso 1, 2008 ngem diakon nileppas ti pasken; ammok ti kasasaad dagiti trabahador sadiay isu a nagdesisionak a pumanaw kalpasan ti sangkabassit a pannakilangenlangen kadagiti papagayam a taga-GUMIL Hawai'i ken dadduma pay.)

Kastoykami amin ditoy Hawai’i:
Kadagiti rabiikami nga agguumong
Kas panangpasangbay kigaw a parbangon

Ita saan a kas karina ti agisem.
Narigat ti agngiit a bangbangir
Ti duri a nabannog agsukir

Ngem pabus-oyanmi dagiti katawa
Kas paggaak a tumukno a kararag
Kas pangpasubli mapitutan a salukag

Dakami dagiti nagtalawataw iti ili.
Dakami a ditoy a daga a naisadsad
Iti daytoy paraiso ti naliday nga arpad

Nupay kasta, sangalenmi iti adayo
Kadagitoy nga isla, kadagitoy a baybay
Balabalaenmi ti sukog ti tarumpingay

Iti man pantok dagiti agmalmalanga a bantay
Iti man sulinek dagiti rabii a panagur-uray
Iti man ubing a bannawag a maipasngay

Ta saan a kas karina ti mangul-ullo
Iti panungpalan dagiti kapuyo iti ima
Iti pamsaakan ti bagi a maum-uma

Naynay a lagipen ti kaadda iti ili
A naggapuan, pinanawan a din sublian
Ngem naynay a kayattayo a pagawidan

Ngem ania ngarud, sabali ti pul-oy ditoy
Adda waneswes dagiti angin iti tuktok
Ti asul nga ulep a danumna't agburayok

Sarangtenna ti init, ket riknaentay ti darang
Iti kudil a mapan piman agpaisalakan iti lawag
Sumuknor daytoy iti barukong santo mapasag

Ti lawag iti barukong: kasta't kapay-antay amin
Datayo nga immadayo tapno manglanglangit
Iti parabur, agbalintayo koma uray bassit-usit

A S Agcaoili /
Hon Hi

Panagsisimparat dagiti rikna

Agsisimparat dagiti riknatayo ita:
agatras nga agbanteda iti eskinita
dagiti puspusotayo sadanto met
laeng agtalakias nga agapon
iti karabukob ti agpaparaw nga ili.

Idi Viernes a panangipeksa iti rungsot,
nagtudo dagiti kalsada iti avenida ti Ayala
kadagiti niebe a landok
kadagiti ikkis a lansa a simmalpot
iti kampo dagiti ilablabantayo
a panagugaog.
Anian ta nasken nga ipataming
ti palayag iti dadaulo dagiti sulpeng
anian ta nasken nga ipakita
ti ulo iti dadaulo dagiti birkog!

Agbilang dagiti adu pay a Viernes
iti ramay dagiti aldaw: bigat ti panagtabugga
ta mapaksiat dagiti awanan bain
agmatuon ti panagwarsi
ta agbuteng dagiti di katatawan
iti Malakaniang dagiti antukab
iti agsipnget nga agamenhesus

itan a bugiawen ti mangrabrabii.

A Soilver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Mar 1/08