THE 2007 Nakem International Conference drew to a close May 25 at the Teatro Ilocandia with the passing of separate resolutions requesting both Houses of Congress and the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino to support the Nakem Conference initiative to declare Ilokano and other minor Philippine languages as national and official languages.
In a one-page resolution, the 182 participants and delegates of the said international gathering declared their recognition of the importance of the lingua franca and other indigenous languages in the production of critical knowledge about themselves, communities, social relations, and the country and of the role of Ilokano and other Amianan languages in the production of such knowledge.
They, likewise, declared their recognition of the spirit of the 1987 Constitution which provides that the Filipino language is a product of all existing languages of this country, thus the indispensable role of Ilokano and other Amianan and Philippine languages is to materialize this provision of the said constitution.
Conference participants also passed a resolution establishing Nakem Conferences Philippines, Incorporated in their recognition of the importance of a concerted and national effort to produce critical and productive knowledge about the Ilocos, the Amianan, and the Philippines. Fifteen members were elected as members of the board of directors, namely: Andres T. Malinnag Jr.–UNP; Bonifacio V. Ramos – Saint Mary’s University; Anabelle C. Felipe – MMSU; Mary Rose Rabang – UNP; Alicia T. Pingol – Ateneo de Manila University; Noemi U. Rosal – UP; Norma B. Fernando – DepEd; Carmen P. Centeno – DepEd; Zacarias A. Baluscang – Apayao State College; Josephine R. Domingo – MMSU; Edil H. Duran – DepEd; Alegria T. Visaya – MMSU; Nancy B. Balantac – MMSU; Jaime G. Raras – UNP; and Elena Toquero – ISU. The members of the board of directors were nominated by the participants themselves who came from different higher education institutions, from the Department of Education, and other agencies and institutions from Regions I, II, III, CAR, and NCR.
Another resolution was passed where the participants committed to bind themselves for the formulation of various consortium programs to pursue the aims of the Nakem Conferences.
Lastly, the participants passed yet another resolution commending MMSU for hosting this year’s conference stating that with the generous act and visionary spirit of the university, they had the opportunity to come together and come up with a concerted effort to organize the Nakem Conference Philippines.
In the same closing ceremonies, Juan S.P. Hidalgo shared – in Ilokano – his stories and struggles to continuously promote, preserve, and produce works of merit that reflect the realities and dreams of the peoples of Amianan. Hidalgo is a painter, a master poet, essayist, critic, novelist, short story writer, and translator. For a time, he played bit roles in Philippine films and served as associate editor of Bannawag.
Welcome program and dinner
Earlier on May 22 at the Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel where a welcome program and dinner sponsored by the provincial government of Ilocos Norte was held, Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili, University of Hawai’i-Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Program (UH-IPDFP) coordinator and Nakem conference co-convener, spoke on how the conference started with the idea of a gift or “daton”. He related the time when he and Prof. Precy L. Espiritu, former IPDFP coordinator and 2006 Nakem Conference steering committee chair, were brainstorming on what they could do to bring together scholars, academic leaders, policy makers, creative writers, researchers, and language and culture educators.
“For there is no better way of conceptualizing what we can offer to our people except to look at this offering as an oblation for the past, a sacred remembering of the present, and a sanctification of the future that we ought to know,” he said.
He added that the idea of “exporting” the Nakem conference to the place “where it is supposed to” could not have happened without the enthusiasm and welcoming spirit of MMSU President Miriam E. Pascua which they capitalized on to strategize the holding of the said gathering in the Philippines. He also mentioned Dr. Alegria T. Visaya, MMSU professor and conference co-convener, as a “workhorse” whom he “burned wires with many times to check on the developments of the conference preparation”. He further thanked Dr. Lilia Q. Santiago, University of the Philippines Diliman professor and conference co-convener, for her belief in the people of Amianan; and Dr. Ricardo Ma. Duran Nolasco, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino chairman and University of the Philippines Diliman professor of linguistics, for his “openness of heart and soul and for his belief in the sacredness of diversity, multiculturalism, and multilingualism.
Agcaoili stressed that the story of Nakem is “a lesson in humility and in boldness”. He said that his group could not have pulled through with the conference without the sacred sacrifices of the many personnel of MMSU and UH. He said that Nakem is an idea “whose time has come” and that as “people imbued with the mission, vision, and goal of Nakem, our moral duty now is to become a signatory to the rectification of all forms of social, cultural, and linguistic injustices that have been inflicted upon us. He stressed that Nakem is here “to correct the mistakes, to help us reclaim who we are, to remind us that our language and our culture, and our stories are all we have got and we must, at least, make good with them”.