BACKYARD POETS AND RATSADA
February 24, 2007
Writers cannot produce without an audience, much less without peers. They need gatherings, drinking sessions with other like-minded pen-pushers where they can share their insights, latest works and activities.
And so yesterday, we had a palihan right here at the backyard of my Bagong Lipunan aparment. I started by talking about basic stuffs with regard to the writing life: writer’s groups, creative writing workshops, publications, awards and contests, and public readings and lectures. We hope to have another lecturer next time.
Present were some young Bicol-based writers and artists: Anching Manrique, Tom Navarro, Elmer Ramos, Jan Rev Davilla, Raymond Del Rosario, Djoanna B. Tanji, Jonjie San Vicente, Duke Thomas Dolorical and Lance Gulim.
We put our works under careful scrutiny and found them bordering on love—wholesom to ‘obscene’. We also saw the need to read more and more, that is why I lent two of the writers some of my books. Poetry is like music, the more you listen to it, the more you get attuned to its various creative dimensions. Also, we figured that the voice, tone, and specific reality of the poem have to cohere in order to impart fresh poetic message and effect maximum impact.
Later during the drinking binge, we had poetry readings and songs. I brought out my electric guitar, amps and effects. And in jest, we later called ourselves the Backyard Poets Group—yes, it sounds like the Backstreet Boys. I did share one of my published poems in Tagalog ‘Pananatili’ which came out in October 2002 when Sunday Inquirer Magazine still had much space to spare for poetry. Djoanna seemed to have been inspired and so made visual art out of it.
We hope to make this a bi-monthly activity, wishing that there would be more female writers.
Last February 21, I attended a lecture by Dr. Cyril Conde entitled ‘Asog Culture in the Ibalong’. In the main it was a deconstruction of Worlding, careful of language as colonial discourse. It asserted that the Ibalong still articulates Bicol culture, particularly the Asog and Baliana culture.
It talked of male flexibility toward the female form as the Asog would act and dress like a woman in order to partake of spirituality, a sphere where women of old took the lead. Such that the only way to enter spiritual world was to imitate women. In the legend of the Hablon Dawani, dead gallant warriors were said to pass by Hablon Dawani’s gate in order to enter heaven. In Ibalong, Handyong was flexible enough to recognize Oriol’s power and together, they fought the crocodiles and monsters in Bicolandia. Indeed, Conde’s lecture opened up a new perspective on gender relations.
One thing that could have been discussed also is the authenticity of the ‘epic’. There are critics denying that the Ibalong is a real Bicol folklore, and thus a fakelore. But then the baliana and asog as terms were picked out of the Vocabulario dela Lengua Bicol by Lisboa. The critic seemed to have been looking only at its articulation in the Ibalong, irregardless of the epic’s authenticity.
On February 28, Wednesday, 3pm, there will be a poetry reading in University of Nueva Caceres-IMC. Dubbed as ‘Ratsada ‘07’, it is organized by Estelito Jacob and features readings of some classic poems written in the foreign language translated in Bikolnon. Some of the Bikol writers will also do readings of their own works. An open-mike poetry session will follow.