Aurelio Solver Agcaoili, PhD, poet and essayist
and the pride of the GUMIL Hawai’i
By Pacita Cabulera Saludes, Founding President, GUMIL Hawai’i
One of the additions of GUMIL Hawai’i, the 37-year old Ilokano Writers Association of Hawai’i which I founded in 1971 and which, for those number of years, continued to nurture Ilokano writing in these islands, is Aurelio Solver Agcaoili.
A poet and playwright, he has directed plays and recited his poems in various occasions, including a recital of his work on domestic violence, among others.
He came to us from Los Angeles where he taught and managed, as editor-in-chief, of The Weekly Inquirer when in 2006 he took a job as assistant professor of Ilokano, Philippine drama, interpretation and translation, Philippine popular culture, and literature.
A multi-awarded poet writing in three languages in Ilokano, English, and Tagalog, he won for this year the second prize in the Tagalog essay, the Collantes Prize, for his essay that revisits the problems of cultural homogenization in the Philippines by way of the imposition of a Tagalog-based national language. His essay, “And man is language, and language is man,” rejects the project to marginalize other Philippine languages and instead offers cultural pluralism as a template for what he calls linguistic justice and cultural democracy. The Republic of the Philippines’ Commission on the Filipino Language gave the award last August.
On the other hand, Agcaoili also won third prize at the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature for his short story on the allegory of exilic experience, “Allegory One.” The prize was entered for the Ilokano short story category.
Among others, Agcaoili has written several books on various topics, including a prize-winning historical novel, Dangadang. That novel won an award at the Centennial Literary Prize, an award given by the Republic of the Philippines in celebration of the centennial of the Philippine Revolution against Spain.
At present, Agcaoili serves as president of the Hawai’i Association of Language Teaching or HALT, a statewide association of language teachers and president of Nakem Conferences (International), a culture advocacy body that has a country chapter in the Philippines.
A practicing journalist, he first joined the Fil-Am Observer as a columnist and occasional editorial writer and now currently serves as associate editor and editorial writer.