By Bonifacio V. Ramos
Director, Research Center

Saint Mary’s University was represented by Dr. Bonifacio V. Ramos (Director, Research Center), Dr. Cristina G. Gallato (Dean, School of Business and concurrent Dean, School of Accountancy) and Mrs. Genoveva S. Ramos (Faculty, School of Arts and Sciences) in the 4th Nakem International Conference held at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA. The conference theme was DAP-AYAN: Sharing and Understanding Ethnolinguistic Worlds Towards Cultural Pluralism.

The conference proper was preceded by an Opening Reception held on November 11, 2009 (Wednesday) 5 PM at the UHM Art Auditorium, which was graced by dignitaries that included Dr. Patricia Brown (President of the Filipino American Historical Society of Hawaii), Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann (who sent a representative), Leoncio Cardenas (Philippine Consul General for Hawaii), Dr. John Mayer (Chair, Indo Pacific Languages and Literatures, UH Manoa), and Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili (Conference Chair) who gave their welcome remarks. A CULTURAL NIGHT (7:00 – 8:30) followed which featured Poetry reading by GUMIL (Gunglo Dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano) of Hawaii and Ilokano 315 class, folk dance Ilokano 401 class, video and films produced by students of the IlokanoLanguage and Literature Program, UH Manoa.

The second day (Nov. 12) commenced with the Opening Ceremony at the UHM Campus Center Ballroom that included Welcome Messages from Virginia Hinshaw (Chancellor UH Manoa), Joseph O ‘Mealy (Dean, College of Languages, Linguistics and Literatures), Dr. Barbara Watson Andaya (Center for Southeast Asian Studies), Dr. Belinda Aquino (Center for Philippine Studies), Dr. Richard Smith, (National Foreign Language Resource Center), and a keynote address by Retired Judge Artemio Baxa (Member, UH Board of Regents).

Panel presentations and discussions were held thereafter until the third day. A total of 62 conference papers were accepted for presentation in 12 panels. Dr. and Mrs. Ramos’ paper was entitled The Dynamics and Impact of the Ilokano Clan Reunion as a Mechanism of Sharing, Understanding and Preserving Ilokano Heritage while Dr. Gallato’s paper (jointly with Engr. Ireneo Gallato)was entitled Alaw: A Folk Healing Practice Among the Ilokanos of Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya. These papers were in Panel 10: Ethnic and Cultural Practices and Heritage Preservation, which was incidentally chaired by Dr. Ramos. Two other Novo Vizcayanos, Mr. Ruperto Manuel and Romeo A. Gervacio (of the Timpuyog Dagiti Mannurat iti Iluko iti Filipinas, Inc. or TMI Filipinas ) presented a paper entitled, Dung-aw (Uttered Litany of Lamentations): Its Cultural Perspective and as a Literary Genre, as a part of Panel 6: Reading and Re-Reading of Ilokano Texts.

On November 14, the conference was capped by the First Ilokano Amianan Arts Festival (at the UH Manoa Art Auditorium) featuring the semestral Timpuyog dramafest, a visual arts exhibits (photographs, prints, sketches, paintings), singing and dancing by delegates and participants of the 4th Nakem International Conference, distribution of certificates, and closing remarks by Dr. Lilia Quindoza Santiago (Nakem 2009 Program Chair).

Conceived as an avenue for the exchange and diffusion of ideas and knowledge on Ilokano and Amianan culture, languages, and literature, the Nakem Conferences (taken as a collective name) is also an advocacy group in the United States and in the Philippines dedicated to the pursuit of cultural pluralism and democracy, linguistic justice, mother language education (MLE), and heritage education. The 1st Nakem International Conference was hosted and convened by the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2006, to commemorate the centennial of the coming of the first 15 Ilokanos to Hawaii via SS Doric in December 1906. Its theme, “Imagination and Critical Consciousness in Ilokano Language, Culture and Politics”, rearticulated the contribution of the Ilokanos in the life of the Philippine nation and in the life of the diverse communities of people in the State of Hawaii. The 2nd International Conference was held at the Mariano Marcos State University (Batac, Ilocos Norte), on May 22-27, 2007. Its theme was “Panagpanaw ken Panagindeg: Exile and Settling in Ilokano and Amianan History and Culture.” The 3rd Nakem International Conference was held in Saint Mary’s University last May 28-30, 2008, with the theme “ Panagkakannayon: Kultural ken Lingguistik a Diversidad iti Masirsirmata a Nasion Dagiti Taga Amianan iti Pagilian ken iti Exilo” (Continuity: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in the Imagined Amianan Nation in the Homeland and in Exile). The 5th (2010), 6th (2011), and 7th (2012) International Conferences will be held at the University of Northern Philippines (Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Phil.), and Mariano Marcos State University (Batac Ilocos Norte, Phil.), and UHM, (Hawaii, USA), respectively. As a part of its advocacy of mother tongue-based education, the Nakem Conferences, the SMU Research Center, the IKAT Institute, and the MLE Alliance called 170+MLE Talaytayan co-sponsored a Regional Lecture-Forum on Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MLE) and Indigenized Curriculum and Instruction on August 1, 2009, at the Teacher’s Center, Saint Mary’s University, where Dr. Aurelio S. Agcaoili, President of the Nakem Conferences International was one of the keynote speakers.

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