With this MLE turn, now we make the road while walking: our task at Nakem and at the UH Ilokano Program until 2015 (Continuation)

The six EFA Goals can never be vague to us as these are concerns that have not left us even when we were discriminated against, even when the tolerance for our languages and cultures was not the virtue that we saw, heard, and experienced during all these educational regimes that did not regard the difference and diversity that we offered as something of value to the development of our cultural and political citizenship.

Nakem Conferences could not be vague with what universal primary education was. We went to school sharing seats with others, even walking barefoot for hours to experience the traces of words that were not ours, to go through the rite of getting into a world we do not understand because the words in that world were not ours.

Nakem Conferences could not be vague with increasing adult literacy: we owe it to our communities and our people that our adults will be able to read and write in the Ilokano language again. With about eight Ilokanos in the country and millions more abroad, we have only a single monolingual magazine to speak of, with a weekly circulation of 50,000. This means that a fraction of one percent (or .6%) only reads—or buys. Given that people share their reading materials with others, we can extrapolate and increase the number of readers to four per week. We have these facts: the original number based on the weekly circulation reveals that: 6250 out of one million read. With the multiplier, we have: 25,000 out of one million read, or a measly 200,000 out of some 8 million. We cannot even compare the gravity of the situation when someone calmly said, “Houston, we have a problem!” in that calm NASA-speak.  We have an astronomical crisis pointing to the eventual disappearance of our language! The tell-tale signs are there:  you initiate a conversation in Ilokano with the young in Ilokandia and chances are you get a response in Tagalog or some foreign language. This problem, of course, is compounded by the fact that many of our magazines and newspapers do not live long because: (a) the number of readership has always been a problem and (b) the overall environment for adult education does not support the learning process in the Ilokano language. There are of course business issues related to the failure of these publications but this is not concern of this paper at this time.

Nakem Conferences could not be vague with the need for an education that is geared towards gender equality. While the issue of gender equality takes as a subtext the issue of patriarchal privileges, our people are not blind to the immediacy of responding to inequalities resulting from these privileges. We have not succeeded in all respects and that we need to educate ourselves further along these lines. But given the right mix of motivations and incentives such as the learning environment, we will evolve a fairer and more just society for our people. Our language, certainly, is not pure but polluted as every language is, but the fact that it accords respect for varieties of gender, for the equality of the sexes, and for the recognition of the virtue of acceptance and tolerance—this is enough data to make us proceed with our reading of this world of gender parity.

(To be continued)