SEPT. 2, 2017

GUMIL HAWAII:  A Welcoming Group of Ilokano Writers

by Amado I. YORO

46 years ago today, August 29, Gumil Hawaii welcomed me the first time I attended its monthly board meeting.

My father, Tosong, arrived in Hawaii on February 19, 1971. He landed his first job in a watercress field as a utility worker and immediately wrote in his first letter to me: “Kaasi ni Apo Dios, naipilakon ti petisionko kadakayo a dua ken ni Adim Elias iti tulong ti Avecilla Travel”

JULY 30, 1971, I arrived from the Philippines as an immigrant, a grandson of a 1926 sakada Apo Ikko, an oiler helper at the sugar plantation.

The realization of my dream and wishes to go abroad came true. New world. New beginning.

It must have been a blessing in disguise that one afternoon, August 3, 1971, at my auntie’s house where I lived at the time, the telephone rang and my uncle at the other end said: “Adda ni Mrs. Saludes ditoy balay, kayatnaka a kasarita.  Kasaom ”.

“Welcome to Hawaii, Amado,” said Mrs. Saludes on the telephone.

“Thank you Mrs. Saludes. Naggasatakon  ta makapagsaritata, congratulations, nabasak iti Bannawag; nabangonyon ti Gumil Hawaii ! How can I join.

“Thank God, we did it with all the support of our co-organizers. I know you are a writer. We are counting on you, the door is open”

As a farm boy from a very young age, my first love of writing was fiction (poetry, short story, sarindaniw, bukanegan]. Eventually, I began to love non-fiction writing as well.   Simple and humble beginning, I came from a Gumil group from my barrio Tapao, Sinait, Ilocos Sur with the Sta Cruz Writers Guild 1963; Sinait Writer Association, Gumil Sinait, Gumil Ilocos Sur,  in the 60s and Gumil Filipinas.  I attended the 3rd Gumil Filipinas National Conference held at the Dona Gregoria Syquia Rivera Library and Museum on May 26-27, 1967, Vigan, Ilocos Sur representing Gumil Sinait, and also a member of the Gumil IIocos Sur. 

Gumil Hawaii was the first writers’ organization in Hawaii that I knew of. Mrs. Pacita Saludes is a founder. Not new in organizing GUMIL- Gunglo Dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano, as a national and international association of Ilokano writers, she was Business manager of Gumil Filipinas and founder of the Gumil Abra. 

September 11, 1971   Mrs. Saludes invited me to attend the coronation of Miss Charity Lina Saludes at the Our Lady of the Mount Hall in Kalihi for the Filipino Catholic Club and  rendered a daniw to the queen.

I remember vividly my first involvement with Gumil Hawaii [GH] on Labor Day September 3-4, 1971. It was a literary workshop and I was one of the resource speakers. My topic was “How and Why I Write Poetry, iti Bukodko a padas.”  The workshop was held at the Miguel residence at Ahuula St., Kalihi.

I came to know many respected community leaders like Felipe Madarang, Rev. Matias Miguel, Rev. Juan Dahilig, Melchor Agag, Jr., Antone Cacatian, Graciano Soriano, Clemente Duclayan, Atty. Peter Aduja, Emilio Alcon, Roland Bueno,  Mario Orbito, to name a few.

Gumil Hawaii’s goals and objectives are very noble:  to preserve, promote, propagate and enrich, literary, arts and cultural heritage through publication, media and printed books.

I was elected as sergeant-at-arms and served as chairperson in various committees: Drama, Book, Miss GH Search, Seminar/Workshop.

My association with the members made me feel like “home” and part of the history making.

With my writing background in college, and other publications, Gumil Hawaii has been one way for me to share with others my writings and to prove to myself my skill as “an Ilokano writer.” Also, to dispel what Kulapu [fellow student at DWCL] said about me: “Amado is not a writer, he cannot go that far as far as writing is concern.” I was a contributing writer to the Williamites and the Review, a college   organ for DWCL and NWC, respectively.

In a contrary, Bannawag Literary Editor Juan S.P. Hidalgo, Jr. said in his Bannawag column PUGON: Amado ti poet laureate in Hawaii residence-No adda rumbeng a makoronaan, isu ti pakaipaayanna” Hulio 1977 issue. Those comments inspired me and motivated me most to keep on writing.

I was able to write a hundreds of poems, stories, novelettes, novels published and unpublished: Sabong Met No Maminsan Ti Biag, Ti Ramut ken Sagibo Dagiti Baniaga-novel; Special Assignment: Project Relocation-novel Ti Orkidia Ni Michelle ken Ti Arbis Iti Agmatuon-novel, Adda Pitpiting a Napan Idiay Hawaii-novelette, Agsinatan-novelette, Dagiti Palimed Ti Ared-ed a Saem ken lagip iti Barukong Dagiti Nabati.

Miss Gumil Hawaii coronation----In May-June 1982, as a co-chair for Miss Gumil Hawaii Search Committee with Felipe Abinsay, Jr. and at the same time president of the Oahu Filipino Council, I was fortunate to go to the Philippines with the Miss Gumil Hawaii 1982 Maria Lina Pascua, Mrs. Saludes and the group.

Beside my involvement in book publication-an anthologies of GH, editor, co-editor and Editorial Consultant of the following GH books: Bin-I, Dawa Agtangkayagen Ti Init, Gumil Hawaii: Sangapulo a Tawen. Some of my Short Story entries that won include: Naggasatkan, Johnny, 3rd prize, 1976, Dagiti Sabong Iti Ngalay ti Dalan, 6th prize, 1976, Baket Soledad, 3rd prize, 1977, Naimbag a Paskuam, Salidumay, 4th prize, 1978, Ni Lakay Saulo, ti Abong-abong ken ti Sangasudo nga Arbis. 1st prize, 1980, Ti Torre, ti Apuy ken ti Ima Ti Dios, 1st prize, 1981, Rissik Ti Nabalitokan a Pangngeddeng, 3rd prize drama 1979, Dagiti Saning-I Iti Sakaanan Ti Altar a Daga, 2nd prize, drama 1982. Other literary writing contest such as the Governor Roque Ablan for Iluko Literature, Ulopan Award, Economy Tours and Travel Inc,  

GH organized the Aloha Saluyot with Mario Albalos, Amado Yoro,  Francisco Ponce, Rudy Castro, Elias Yoro, Jun Abinsay, Carlo Laforga. We held weekly meetings and called it “Innuram. Yuboyuban. Ikkam Latta, Kabsat.” We talked about writing and all except Elias and Rudy did not write but were good drama actors.               

Gumil Hawaii afforded me as an Outstanding Writer of the Year; Best Drama Actor; Best Drama Director; and Outstanding Member.

Aside from Bannawag outlet, I was also a contributing writer to Fil-Am Courier, Pacific Courier, Pacific Journal, Hawaii Filipino News, Hawaii Filipino Chronicle, Baggak, Philippine News, Leeward Sun Press, Hawaii Correspondent for Timpuyog Journal, Ilocos Times, and others.

Other GH Products

Besides Drama and cultural presentations, GH also sponsors literary writing contests, poetry, drama, short story and feature story. Those winning entries are published in Anthology Books

Almost every Labor Day, GH holds an Annual literary seminar with speakers in their individual and professional expertise. Some of the former guest speakers include: Jose Bragado- Bannawag, Dr. Crispina Bragado, Peter La Julian, Dr. Belinda Aquino, Ricardo Labez, Dr. Lilia Santiago, Mario Albalos, Francisco Ponce, Emmie Anderson, Ric Agnes, Norberto Bumanglag, Cesar Bonilla

I still find myself among our fellow writers as Gumil Hawaii holds its annual seminar workshop. Last September 2016, my topic is How to Write Poetry, Feature Story, short story and other genre.

Gumil Hawaii formed its publication Ilokandia Magasin [Ilokandia Publishing] comprising Amado Yoro, Pacita Saludes, Graciano Soriano, Anastacio de Castro, Leodegario Blanco, Elias Yoro and Mario Orbito. Editorial Staffs: Amado Yoro, Pacita Saludes, Leodegario Blanco, Mario Albalos, Francisco Ponce.

I received awards and recognition: Gumil Filipinas Pedro Bucaneg 2002; Man Writer for Poetry 2007; OFCC Volunteer of the Year 2001-2003

Community involvement 

I am wholeheartedly grateful and appreciative to Gumil Hawaii, as my first ever organization that opened its door during my transition and adjustment period in Hawaii as my second home across a thousand miles away from home. It brought me to the wider world to search my soul. To find myself in this new land as I began to love this place called the Aloha State--the Land of Opportunity, the Crossroad of the Pacific; the Melting Pot; the East and West, whom Captain James Cook navigated and discovered; and whom Mark Twain [Samuel Clement] called the “land of joy and happiness with many races as the color of the rainbow…“

I was an ordinary utility field worker in the sugar plantation, worked hard work and earned a $2.10 per hour wage under the hot sun and rain. After work I found myself involved with the Lions Club International as a Community Betterment and Program Chairman. We searched for missing person like Diane Suzuki, Lisa Au, Deborah Lopez and helped to construct Bus shelters along Farrington Highway, Waipahu, and North King St, Kalihi;  Tree Planting as a project of Make America Beautiful; Graffiti Buster Paint out project and Weed and Seed with the HPD Narcotic Division; worked with the Lions Leo Youth Group; Lion Club Citizenship Committee, Committee on Elders,  and others.

I received awards and recognition: Thomas Jefferson Award; and Minority Achiever Award

In 1978-1982, Gumil Hawaii took a leadership role for OFCC.  Most of the GH officers were elected to OFCC leadership from president to auditor: Mario Albalos, president; Amado Yoro, vice president; Pacita Saludes, secretary; Felipe Abinsay, Jr. treasurer; Ludivico Tugade, auditor. OFCC leadership Matilda Molina, Ric Labez; UFCH Pete Ramos, Bert Ugalino, Jake Manegdeg, Dave Paco, Carmen Cantorna projects and got involved in various volunteer works in the community.           

Writing world Ben Domingo, Juan Dionisio, Pepi Nieva, Corky Trinidad, Leon Dagdagan, Mel Europa, Raymond Bartolome, Mila Medallon and others.

A well deserving salute goes to Mrs. Pacita Saludes as an accomplished organizer, writer, leader of Gumil Hawaii. She is a super active woman and is involved in various organizations like the Ilocos Surian, Ilocos Norte Assn of Hawaii, Annak Ti Kailokuan, Abrenian of Hawaii, Luzonian Aid, and many others. “Aginggana a makakutiak, Amado, addaakto latta a dumangdanggay aginggana ti kabaelak”.

Saludes was the first Filipina Writer awarded a Leona Florentino Award by the Gumil Filipinas.   UFCH Progress Awardee 2001; Top 3 president Cultural Category by OFCC 2001. Last July, she was awarded the “Ambassador Juan C. Dionisio “  Lifetime Achievement Award” by the United Filipino Council Annual Progress Award.

Gumil Hawaii and Pacita Saludes is without a doubt someone who planted a legacy in the history of Hawaii’s Filipino Community.

To a man [woman] with a vision, goal and clear determination, in passionate and love, the greatest reward is his [her] contribution that remains alive. As in Proverb 10:6 Blessings are upon the head of the just. Proverb 10:7 The memory of the righteous is a blessing.”

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