DE JA VU IN UNC-IMC
February 28, 2007
We were supposed to read one of our poems during the 2nd part of ‘Ratsada 2007’ held at the IMC of University of Nueva Caceres, 3 p.m., Feb. 28. Previously some students and members of the UNC faculty rendered Bikol translations of classic poems by foreign writers like William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Basho, John Milton, Ben Johnson, etc. Noted translators were Gode Calleja, Luis Cabalquinto, Rita Lladoc, JR Sanchez and others.
It was such a bonus when the girl who was to do the interpretative dance for one of the poems happened to be my neighbor, occupying the apartment unit next to mine. So now I know I have a dancer for a blockmate. Now listening to the translated poems, I found some to be very much different from the original. As they say, poetry is lost in translation—but then it depends upon the skill of the translator. With this we mean, he/she must have a full grasp and mastery of both English and Bikol language.
When it was my turn I grabbed an old poem, an elegy written for a beauty queen who died in mid-2005. My companion Tomas Navarro also showed his wares (a Bikol poem at that, silencing the veterans) during the open-mic. Right after the event, we met up with writers Elmo Ramos and Djai Tanji (who was with her friend Tanya) and had some chat in my apartment. Now, Djai knew the object of my elegy personally, as they used to be barkadas in campus. She told us some things about how the girl died, how tragic it was. That is why Tomas and I chorused that we hate motorbikers who devilride. To hell with them.
Now I first met this girl in the very spot where we had ‘Ratsada 2007’. It was the awarding ceremony of a campus-based literary contest. She was the emcee and I found her to be stunningly pretty and articulate. It turned out that she was also one of the awardees for English poetry. Too bad, she died too early. We could have invited her to our little poetry group. Anyway, let me reprint the poem here:
Birtud sa puso
Sa batag su gayon mo,
Di ko nasalo.
Kin kagranan a asbu
Na kaaguw ko.
Ika nagin santelmo,
Mala ta ading raga,
Nagpalupad sa aruk,
(Bikol Reporter, Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2005)