Nakem is an indigenous Ilokano word that has a myriad of meanings depending
on how one uses it. Loosely, it can be translated as habit, manners, or feelings.
However, in the context of this study and pedagogical project I define it as soul-
consciousness. I do not intend to enter into a religious, philosophical or metaphysical
discourse on the nature and substance of the soul, rather I will use, in part, the definition.the “depth dimension of human
experience” a call for the use of ones stories as rooted through the body, routed through
genealogical ancestry and always tied to the Land that one was born in and/or currently
call as home. The soul in the indigenous Ilokano sense is the knowledge that consciously
and unconsciously animates and mitigates our understanding of our selves and the
Nakem Pedagogy believes in the notion that the primary textbook that ought to
be used in class is our soul. When we can conceive of the maxim: “everything we need
to know we already know but we just do not know it yet” as true then all the (written)
text in the traditional textbooks become equal to the text (story) embedded in our souls.
It is not to say that the written word (books, articles, and scholarly materials) is valued
less, rather the written words becomes deeper when it is situated in the lived experiences
and immediate context of the world of the student/learner—only when there is a
dialogical relationship between the written text and the text of the soul can a liberative
and emancipatory education happen.
Nakem Pedagogy seeks to bring out, through our stories, the textuality of our
soul—allowing us to engage the pages of our life and read the story that we carry in our
soul. A pedagogy of soul consciousness makes center the reading of the story embedded
in our bodies. The stories that reside in the soul, intersected and interwoven, become the
foundation of a literacy/understanding of the soul.
When we can begin to learn through telling our own story and hearing the stories
of others past and present experiences we can re-signify those stories that have shaped
and molded us into who we did not want to be and to transform these stories in such a
way that affirms who we want to become. Or rather, we re-write and flip the script of the
stories that have forced our souls to recite and inherit the story of the oppressors—in
other words, we do not allow our stories to be a source of oppression—rather, our stories
become a source of emancipation.