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Filipinos, Philippine rep. office embrace Ilocano culture in Taiwan's Hsinchu

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Gilberto F. Lauengco (center) is pictured at a community gathering of Ilocano people, an ethnolinguistic group of the Philippines, in H...

Gilberto F. Lauengco (center) is pictured at a community gathering of Ilocano people, an ethnolinguistic group of the Philippines, in H... (CNA photo)

Hundreds of Filipinos of Ilocano lineage gathered in Hsinchu on Sunday to celebrate their heritage with presentations of dance, music, food and inspirational talks by a leading official from the Philippine representative office and other Filipino community leaders.

The Ilocanos are one of the largest ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines and trace their origins to the provinces along the northwestern seaboard of Luzon.

Some 500 Filipinos gathered at Hukou Township's He Shing CitizensActivity Center to celebrate the 13th anniversary of the Taiwanchapter of the Confederation of Ilocano Association, Inc.,Samahang Ilokano (CIASI).

The celebrations kicked off with speeches from Filipino officials and leaders, including Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Deputy Resident Representative Gilberto F. Lauengco.

"We are all one family. No matter the differences between MECO and our communities, we like to stay together. Only by staying together, along with our friends here in Taiwan, can we survive," said Lauengco, who also has Ilocano heritage.

He noted that many Filipino migrant workers start to miss home after their first six months of working in Taiwan, which is an important issue because mental health is very important, Lauengco said.

"We should maintain our culture here; even though we also assimilate, we are proud to remember who we are, while at the same time embracing where we are," Lauengco said. "We are brothers, the Taiwanese and the Filipinos."

Lauengco also commended the shared cultures of Taiwan and the northern Philippines because of an Austronesian theory of early migration through Taiwan to Southeast Asia and onto the Polynesian islands.

Furthermore, the indigenous tribes of Orchid Island in Taiwan and the Batanes, in the northern part of the Philippines, have an 85 percent match in their languages, Lauengco said.

"Once upon a time, these tribes were all interconnected and with Filipinos and Taiwanese intermarrying, it is not inconceivable that we have the same blood mingling in both of our countries," Lauengco told CNA.

In Taiwan, CIASI has 13 sub-chapters and a sorority chapter with approximately 850 members, said Rheden Delumen, national chairman of the Taiwan chapter.

Since the association was established in 1975, its membership around the world has grown to over 1 million in more than 420 chapters.