Our life in Hawaii is not a bit better than the life of Ilokanos in the Philippines.
The struggle is the same--and it is centered on the very issue of diversity, this sense and reality of variety and variousness that should be celebrated but during the last three generations, have been seen as the anathema to public life, to nation building, and to state craft.
Three generations of the hegemonic calculations of hegemonic interests perpetrated by hegemons have given rise to generations of people who believe that to build a nation, one must forget that a multinational country is never--and will never be--feasible.
The examples are the same, and these examples are no better than the myopic premises and conclusions of the Commonwealth leaders led by Quezon.
These are the leaders who did not have the competence to understand other people of the Philippines other than their own, and they blamed their incompetence on the diversity of Philippine languages.
The remedy: to build a nation is to foster only a single language through which the 'soul' of that nation would have to be built.
These hegemonic nation builders, however, forgot that before there ever was this dreamed-of nation they were imagining could be 'run like hell by Filipinos' for as long as it was being run by Filipinos who came from hell, there were already these pre-Philippine nations that had existed prior to someone else's wild imaginings.
And even if they knew that--these leaders--they preferred to dismiss that, because France was dismissing its other languages in the name of the French language courtesy of the French revolution whose center was in Paris.
Name the others, and the back story of that preference was the same: England, Germany, Spain.
And then came Italy, with its gift of fascism.
These are the inspirations of our Commonwealth leaders, and today, many Filipinos do not even know about these realities.
They have become so comfortable with empty slogans: 'isang bansa, isang diwa' and all its other permutations.
They have become so comfortable misquoting Rizal that they now think that Rizal was so precocious he could write about the nature of language at age eight and even bringing in the metaphor of the rotten fish to augment his aesthetic argument.
Which is, of course, false.
We have grown so accustomed to the hegemonic, and we have come to believe of its falsities as verities.
So few now see these things otherwise, and if you make noise, you are branded as a reactionary, as regionalistic.
Such are the forces of our lives today, the very same forces that make us realize that we need to struggle more and more.
At a recent conference of academics and staff members of our university, we talked about this same struggle, and we had to name the forces that keep on depleting our resolve to win at last.
One was the constancy of conspirators of blocking initiatives to offer finally the Ilokano language in one of the colleges.
That was a sad lesson. And it continues to be sad a lesson when our resolve to fight it out will be dampened for reasons that will never be clear to us.
Thirty or so years of waiting for a change to happen?
Only in Hawaii too!