WHAT MORE WE NEED TO DO
(Talk at the UH Maui College Drama Festival, April 26, 2013, Maui, HI)
I come here in solidarity with you and your action of staging the best of what you can offer to our various communities of Maui.
I come here in solidarity with you even as you prove to us that learning a language and the culture that goes with that language is worth your time.
I come here in solidarity with you even as you will show to us that the language and culture of the Ilokano people in the island of Maui, in the University of Hawaii Maui College, and in the state of Hawaii is worth all our time, and that to remember what we are about to lose, and which we ought not to lose, is an ethical obligation, and thus, non-negotiable.
For a language is always this: it is the home of the human soul, and in the belief system of the Ilokano people, this human soul is four and not one.
Language of any kind is never a tool.
It should not be regarded as a tool.
It is for this reason that I come to you today to become a witness to this kind of work that you are doing to make it sure that the Ilokano language will never go away, will never be swept under the rug, so to say.
Our Hawaii demographics tells you one empirical fact: that about one-fourth of the total state population now is Filipino, and of this number, about 90 percent are Ilokanos and Ilokano-descended.
We are a huge number, indeed.
But we have not been able to plumb the power of that number.
We have not been able to understand that that number could become a political force, or an energy that could be utilized to empower our people, and to equip our communities with capacity-building skills.
We have not been able to realize full well that numbers speak volumes, and those volumes could be turned into something better for our people especially needing our attention and care, our assistance and help. These are our people who are falling in the cracks, our people who are being left behind.
Even as we praise our abilities to increase our population, we do not yet fully know that this increase in population could be something more than fertility, but fertility of the human imagination, of our creative potential.
This is what we want to achieve in the offering of alternative but mainstream course of your academic life such as these Ilokano courses you are taking up at this time.
For when you get out of this University, you will realize soon that you will need all these linguistic and cultural competency skills in your work places.
Our people are in these workplaces.
Our people are in laboring it out in the world of work, and our presence will affirm them.
We need to recognize what power we can share with each other when we recognize each other.
Through this drama festival, we are able to demonstrate that we mean business with our duty to do it right, to do what is right, for our people, and for our communities.
Good evening to all of you.