What is a Vintarinian?
The question of what it means to be a Vintarinian never crossed his mind in his whole life. He never thought when leaving Vintar, his home, his place of birth that this question would become preeminent in his mind during his attendance at the 2017 Vintarinian International Reunion in Honolulu. What brought this up was a question his son asked him when he was about to board his plane for the trip.
“Dad, what is a Vintarinian? Why is it Vintarinian and not Vintareño, like they say Laoageño or Bacarreño?”
It made him paused a bit, and thought of why that is. “I really don’t know,” he said in a whimsy.
But, the question weighed down heavily on his mind during his flight. He knew it’s probably a matter of semantics and nothing more. He even thought that the words are foreign derivatives and not really Ilocano. Both, of course, designate of who you are and place of origin. The word for that in Ilocano is “Taga Vintar,” “Taga Laoag.” Or “Taga Bacarra.”
When in Spain a few years back, he had noticed that people from Madrid were called Madrileños, people from Seville were Sevilleños and people from Barcelona were Barceloñés.
On the other hand, when visiting her sister in London, he recalls that people from Barcelona are Barcelonian, Seville, Sevillians, and Madrid, Madridians, etc. Hence, he thought that the terms Vintarinian and Vintareño are one and the same, but it all depends on the language being used as a demonym.
The Philippines being under the Spaniards, then the Americans, he came to realize that the Ilocano language, or for the other native languages for that matter has been heavily influenced by both colonizers. The term “Vintarinian” won out over “Vintareño”, mainly because the Americans laid out a vastly superior educational system that actively suppressed the use of Spanish and encouraged the use of English in Filipino public life.
He decided to put it to rest, and get some sleep so he would have enough strength to last him for the day. But, the question of, “What is a Vintarinian?” keeps popping in and out of his mind. To him, the answer should be obvious. Like, what is an American? Or, what is a Filipino? A native or inhabitant of Vintar. One who is born in Vintar. Parents or grandparents are from Vintar. One who is married to someone from Vintar, would that make him/her a Vintarinian? Or by choice, like a naturalized American, would it make him a Vintarinian? There’s a slew of reasons why one is a Vintarinian, he tells himself. He decided it is a moot question and finally dozed off.
He arrived in Honolulu late afternoon. It was the week after Easter, so it was not crowded. He has been here before with his son a few times to surf the North Shore. But, this time it is different. There’s no surfboard to carry around. Only his hand carry travel bag where he carefully and neatly folded his Barong.
He seldom wears this Filipino formal national shirt. Not even in official gatherings in Los Angeles. He never looks good in a Barong. He thinks only of the politicians and of those in the upper social strata who can wear it with style. He has no choice but to wear it though because it is the mandatory attire for the dinner dance at the reunion.
Reunion guests were arriving when he got into the hotel lobby. Although Honolulu hotels have always housed the classic resort lounge, the Malia hotel lounge reflects an ambiance of a household living room that he has been accustomed to in his visits to Hawaii. It was designed for a quick check in and out, but it appeared no one was paying attention to the desk clerk as the crowd gathered in the lobby.
These are the Vintarinians, he was telling himself that his son was wondering about. If he is only here now and sees the camaraderie, the spirit of familiarity and trust that is happening, he would now explicitly understand what a Vintarinian is all about. And that would spare him the obligation as a parent to widen or broaden his son’s perspective.
As he carefully observes the arrival of the guests, he realized there is something more to becoming a Vintarinian. Sure, most were born in Vintar. Parents were born in Vintar. He mingled with the crowd exchanging hellos and pleasantries. The atmosphere is highly spirited, unrestrained and full of laughter, and yet he felt like there is something else missing. It looked familiar and yet elusive. Does it have to do with him being eager to please or too earnest, too put-together, and too unreserved? Or, is it his insecurities? For some reason, he cannot put a finger on it. Would his son be able to uncover it, if he is here? He wondered.