Welcome, BA Ilokano Banquet

Gagayyem ken kakabsat:

Lumaemkayo iti daytoy a tallaong ken iti daytoy a panagkakammayet ita a rabii.

Manen, saksiantayo ti panangpadayawtayo kadagiti agad-adal iti Ilokano iti Universidadtayo.

Ket iti daytoy a panangpadayawtayo kadakuada, paggaammotayo nga isublidanto daytoy a rikna kadagiti sabali tapno iti siklo ti panangpadayaw iti maysa ken maysa ket dita a tumarubo ti rikna a panangilala iti bukod a kultura ken pagsasao.

Daytoy a pasken ti pakadagupan amin a sakrifisio dagiti agad-adal iti programatayo. Ditoy nga iparangarang dagiti estudiante ti nagsabalin a paniriganda iti kultura a naggapuan dagiti dadakkelna, ti namungayan ti panunot a tinawidda, ken ti linaon dagiti tagainepda.

Iti daytoy nga Scholarship Banquet, rag-o ti mariknatyo, rag-o ti balligi, ken rag-o met laeng iti panangimutektek nga adu pay dagiti nasken nga aramiden tapno iti kasta ket iti agnanayon ket mataginayon ni Ilokano ti lengguahe ken kulturana.

Friends and guests:

We welcome you to come into this gathering and into this solidarity for each other that we have tonight.

We come here again to witness the ceremony that honors our students of the Ilokano Program.

And in our act of honoring them, we are certain that they will give back this affection to others in this cycle of honoring each other, and we know that from there comes that clear feeling that our students will come to honor and preserve their ancestors’ language and culture.

Tonight’s event sums up the sacrifices of our students. For here, tonight, they will demonstrate to us the changes in their perspective on how to honor the culture and language of their parents, the root of the thought they inherited, and the content of their dreams.

In this banquet, we can only feel but joy, the joy of our heart, the joy of triumph, and the joy in recognizing that we all have a lot do to perpetuate and permit to thrive and thrive forever the fundamental marker of our identity, our being Ilokanos, our being Ilokanos who are committed to the pursuit of diversity, human freedom, and pluralism.

We thank you for joining us tonight. Agyamankami iti idadar-ayyo. Dios ti agngina kadakayo amin. Naimbag a rabiiyo—good evening to all of you.

Hale Koa Hotel, Honolulu, HI, April 30, 2010


Immigration and the Sense of Déjà vu

The sense of déjà vu in the current immigration issue flooding the country, with the Arizona law opening the floodgates, is something that is not only palpable but also disturbing.

Somewhere in this long narrative of immigrant life in this country, some people have not read enough of the travails of those who have decided to come and take part in that pursuit of a grand metaphor—a phrase of an extravagant dream as it appears now in these days of recession—the American Dream.

The narrative evokes a past whose truths, simple and yet difficult, are not easy for the comprehending.

This past suggests to us of Ellis Island, of the quarantine practices for the newcomers, the impoverishments and deprivations of those who could hardly make both ends meet as they began their new life in the new ‘homeland’, the raids of suspected illegal immigrants, and the wrenching social drama involved in deportation proceedings that, sometimes, breaks families apart.

With the crackdown anew, as is the case of what is required in Arizona, and with the method of the crackdown based on mere ‘suspicion’ of being an illegal immigrant, we do not know where all these things will lead us.

We have forgotten one thing: That the United States of America has always been, since time of our founding as a product of a political imaginary, a nation of ‘nations’, and a nation of immigrants.

That sums up our being America, our being the United States, in so many ways.

We have forgotten that we were once visitors, and now that we have become ‘natives’ ourselves by virtue of the long process of ‘nativization’, we are now going to use the iron hand and declare to all and sundry that this America is only for the one who has a legitimate reason to be around here.

No, we are not for the wanton disrespect for the immigration law.

No, we are not here to take side with those who violate the immigration law willfully.

We are here to defend the right of everyone in this country to be safe here and not to be afraid.

We are here to defend the right of everyone to be spared of the fear that is rooted in the idea that when someone suspects you of being an illegal person, you can be questioned ad random, asked for your identification, asked for a proof that you have the right to stay in this country of ‘the brave’ and ‘the free’.

We must remind ourselves that the greatness of America is its practice of democracy, its fundamental respect for human beings, its recognition of diversity.

We must remind ourselves that the greatness of America is that it welcomes our ‘many-ness’, our ‘difference’, our ‘plurality’.

The text of the seal of America sums it all: E pluribus unum: Out of the many, one.

FAO, May 2010

Our Work to Tally the Losses

Our sad work is to tally the losses
After each storm and flood we go through
In this republic of our grief that refuses
To leave us, in our homeland
And in each episode of our grand
Narrative of having been vanquished
For all time and in time that we
Have now seen this as our gods’ wishes.
We die a thousand times each time
We go through this but we cannot be alive
For too long to remember that this
Has been going on since we started
To believe in the alien and fair god of the those
Who came to announce his almighty power
In the heavens and among us small
Mortals of men from these islands
Of our aloneness before Time overtook
Our romance with dates and years.
Our act is plural, a noun too, after
A verb, that tells us of fear we need
To fight against, and the daring
We have to have to lead on and on
In this dizzying morass of our sense
Of selves, colonized and corrupting
As ever even if tragedies leave us
Wanting for more and more about
How lives, our stories woven in them,
Are to be lived out without the blood
And the ceremony of having it poured
On parched lands we till so the planting
Of food and the sowing of goodness can go on.
Overcast are the sacred skies even above
The old churches where the ancestors
Prayed for guidance and grace
And the slow, clean rain they gathered
In cupped hands, supplicating and
Supplicating some more for the other side
Of imprisonments we have come to believe
It is our gift from the penitent priests
Of our altar grounds we have turned into tombs
Where there we die but come to life again.

Hon, HI

Your coming to voice in your name


For Rev. Emily Joye McGaughy

You have come to voice in our name
Even as you have sought yours, seeking
Salving sentences and taming thoughts
Where language is absent and our grief,
Present as present can be in our search
For the fullness we shall be, takes flight
And flee to the permanent places of our pains.
In the seeking for meaning is all what we have.
It is solitude, this. It is aloneness of the self
We construct for others, believing in the faith
We have to come to grace to accept the truth
Of our bodies, their topography the distances
In the journeys we need to traverse in between
Commitment for difference, with our loss palpable
This sense of what we can do to make sense
With our wounded words, human and going divine
In the manner we can make a vow to live for,
To die for, everyday in one thousand lifetimes
And one thousand death-times in this ceaseless
Cycle of hoping what is yet to come, cool, collected
And clear, as the logic of alien loves beyond premises
Because peaking in all the warmth of smiles we have
From the cold trajectories of our dreams, young
And younger, always aiming holier and higher than
What the heavens can tell, these dreams of color
And the fullness of voice, fear hidden somewhere
Away from the syllables of music that make us one,
The courage in the verses you tell for us to bring
Home, sanctified lines, paragraphs, chapters
Of stories we write, in clear scripts and vision
To redeem ourselves from this sad longing
We cannot know, we will never know, but here
In this presence we have for each other, here
Is where our petitions will go: our prayers for you
Even as we ask you to raise your hand for us
In the name of the Spirit that will forever keep us.

A S Agcaoili for Nakem Youth
Honolulu, Hawaii, March 27, 2010


(Invocation recited during the retirement party of Prof. LIndy Aquino, Ala Moana Hotel, Honolulu, HI April 17, 2010)

O most wonderful spirit of human life, the source of all that we are and will be, come and bless this gathering.

You who, in time and place constantly reveal yourself to us in myriad stories of joy and celebration, come and bless us as we celebrate the retirement of Professor Belinda Aquino, as we celebrate her years of selfless service to our various communities, and as we testify to the truth of her work for and in our name.

Creator and maker of all that will be, make haste to sanctify this gathering of friends in Professor Aquino’s name so that in our sharing with each other of the blessings of friendship, we will be able to understand more and more the meaning of community and solidarity.

In our laughter, make us remember, Oh Great Spirit, the grief of others.

In our abundance, Oh Spirit of the Universe, make us recall the needs of others.

In our celebration, Oh Endless Inspirer of our lives, make us remember our duty to others and to the world.

And in our attempt to make memories we can hold onto forever, make us understand the Eternity of Time, and in that understanding, we will remain faithful to our commitment to do what is just and fair.

Bless us even as we bless you, sanctify us even as we sanctify you, and in the goodness that we share with each other, lead us to the light.

Bless those who prepared our food; bless those who partake of this food.

All will say, Amen.



Ken Prof. Lindy Aquino, iti panagretirona

Masangal dagiti tagainep ti puli: addaka.
Kadagitoy a dana a waknitan ti agsapa,
Sika, buyog ken kibinmi kadagiti duadua,
Sika ti daton nga iti ridaw ti aldaw ket ita.

Agsaksikami kadagiti amin nga aramid
Nga iti entablado ti pakasaritaan a limed
Sikat’ silaw a nalawag nga iti panagkedked
Ket iti tanap ti buteng sika ti sarikedked.

Dimo itulok dagitoy a tulag iti karsel.
Siaammokami a kadagiti rabii ti pagel
Ket ti sirmatam nga iti rungsot ti dawel:
Ti mangruk-at a damag dagiti makabael.

Sika dayta, ken dagiti sabsabali pay
Nga iti likkaong dagiti dalan ni ay-ay
Ket ti daton nga iti bannawag narayray:
Kinalinteg addat’ beggang ni tarigagay.

Regget kas essem kas nasungdo nga ayat
Sika dayta a dadaulo nga iti panagiwayat
Sipnget kas iti adalem ti rabii ti pinnaksiat
Addaka kadagiti aramid a salakan linnib-at.

Dagitoy amin ti ibati iti inka panangigibus
Panagserbi kadakam awanan parparaipus
Ket iti baet pangngaduami iti gasat ti kadus
Daytayto lagip ti karitmo di itulok a maibus.

Ngarud, ita ket kenka inkam amin sumuknal,
Sika a maestra ti puli, ejemplot’ adu nga adal,
Dagitoy a balikas ita kenka inkam agsangal
Pammigbig nga awan ressat pantok ti pangal.

Aglabeskam nga agpullo maubon a datonmo
Iti inal-allangon a puli, panangaklon ‘ti pudno
Nga itan ket masakbayan ti ili sarsaritanakanto:
Iti tagainep nga iti udi tagikuaennakat’ tiempo.

AS Agcaoili, Abril 17, 2010, Ala Moana Hotel, Honolulu, HI

Kansion iti Kellep

Daytoy ti murdong dagiti amin a sarita
ni ayat. Ti bulan iti saklot ti aldaw.

Ti init iti saklot ti rabii iti saragisag
nga abungot ti sipnget
nga iti panaginnala ti angin
ken ti pantok ti turod
ket ti mainaw a tagainep.

Sika daytoy, iti adayo a linabag
a kadagiti apros ket ti leddaang
a manasanak.

Ket siak, mabatiak kadagiti kari
ti kalman nga iti kalsara dagiti ariangga
ti agproprotesta nga ili ket ti duayya
dagiti manglanglangan.

Agtakkub ti langit ket daga:
agalimpatok ti rikna plato ken ti ganggang
ket iti lukong dagitoy ket ti mabalabala
a pakasaritaan. Maabel ti sinulid
dagiti saning-i nga iti paniolito
ti mangrangranggas ket ti bandera
ti marangranggasan nga ili.

Nakem Youth

Nakem Youth:
In Pursuit of Social Equity and Cultural Pluralism

By Aurelio Solver Agcaoili

Let it be on record now: that the idea of Nakem Youth began in 2006 at the 1st Nakem International Conference, the seed of that idea sown in the succeeding years that the Nakem grew roots in the Philippines through the 2nd and 3rd Nakem Conferences, the seed blooming into a young plant at the 4th Nakem Conference, and then nurtured to grow at the first-ever Nakem Youth organizational meeting held at the University of Hawaii at Manoa on December 5, 2009, from 6:00 PM-9:00PM.

We record the event with the meeting of several young people, with Jeffrey and Rachelle facilitating.

We record the place: Spalding Hall 257, at the UH Manoa campus by Maile Way.

With them were Calvin Rilveria, James Funtanilla, Donnie Dadiz, and Clifford Badua. Two young students joined them: Isaiah Pascua and Jacky Gallinato. I was there to serve as a witness, with Jeff and Rachelle, program directors. I am to serve as executive director per Jeff and Rachelle’s wishes.

On December 4, Jeffrey, Rachelle, and I met to discuss about the concept of Nakem Youth as an organization, as the youth arm of Nakem Conferences, and as the youth organization that will make a difference in the pursuit of the same Nakem vision of diversity, cultural pluralism, social equity, linguistic justice, education to democracy, and heritage rights.

We said it allowed in that meeting: that while Nakem Youth will journey with Nakem Conferences on that same road that leads to freedom, this youth organization will explore avenues that lead to the recognition of the abilities and competencies of the young in effecting the much needed social change for the many communities long deprived of their basic right to their ideas, the right to their sense of what is just and fair, the right to their languages and cultures, the right to their social spaces that make them realize that community is meant people, traditions, heritage, dreams, visions, purposes, and the collective quest for that which is true and good.

We have so many dreams for Nakem Youth.

We dream of this youth organization as the first-ever to recognize that the right to citizenship is intertwined with the right to one’s own language and culture even as we recognize our obligation to come into a communion with the larger culture where we find ourselves.
For Nakem Youth, these realities are not incompatible but come as complementary to each other, completing what is to be completed, building up from what is in there, and forging a future from the promises and possibilities of the present.

At Nakem Youth, we dream, and in that dream, we hand in to the young the key to a new world that reveals to us the vastness of a tomorrow that has yet to unfurl before us.

At Nakem Youth, we dream of a Youth Community Language Program that will put together a long-term program for heritage language education.

At Nakem Youth, we dream of a Nakem Youth People’s Theatre that will showcase both the terpsichorean and dramatic abilities of our youth even as they use these abilities to education our communities of the many issues affective everyone. At the Nakem Youth People’s Theatre, theatre is for the community, for education, for social transformation.

At Nakem Youth, we dream of a youth publishing collective, the Nakem Youth Press, that will transform our writings into books and other more permanent printing forms. We will utilize the writings of the youth for educational intervention purposes as well as for our literacy programs.

At Nakem Youth, we dream of a political arm, the Nakem Youth Solidarity Program, that will raise the level of social consciousness of the youth pertaining to social issues, global and local, issues that affect our communities, and issues affecting the meaning of our faith.

At Nakem Youth, we dream of an educational arm, the Nakem Youth Education Forum, that will put in place capacity building measures for our young with respect to having access to both formal and informal education that will prepare them for responsibilities in both the government and the private section.

Today, the core group of the Nakem Youth has been formed.

The next step is how this makes this group ready to face up to the challenges of sustaining the dream, of making this dream a reality.