April 29, 2007


An essay of mine appeared in an international journal called Arabesques Print Review for their Studies and Analysis issue. My work explicated the importance of poetry in L2/L3 learning, particularly in the Philippine context. In our case, we cannot really consider in so sweeping a manner the English language as L2. This is because we have so many languages and dialects across our fragmented archipelago. For example, the order of precedence of my linguistic faculties starts with Iriganon, then Bikol-Naga, then Tagalog, and then English. And this may not be true for everybody.

But then we have an educational system that favors English and Tagalog/Filipino as language of instruction. And for the sake of uniformity, it’s just Filipino as L1 and English as L2. It’s a good thing that we still have writers who come up with works written in the other Philippine languages. This is to at least even things up.

The Arabesques Print Review comes up with thematic issues accepting manuscripts from all over the globe. We should all keep track of this journal.



April 19, 2007

Sonny Villafania, Cecile Guidote-
and the Blogger

Another important event during the Araw ni Balagtas 2007 was the launching of Ani ng Wika, an anthology of the winning works in the poetry contests sponsored by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino. Now this competition is not only for poems in Tagalog/Filipino but also for those written in the various Philippine languages. Now it is a good thing that the Komisyon is extending its projects in support of regional literature. This is no surprise because the National Language although based from Tagalog is supposed to accept regional and even foreign infusions.

The anthology was laid-out and edited by distinguished Pangasinense poet Santiago Villafania (Watch out for his poems in Philippine Graphic’s May 7 issue). He is also the contest director for the Pangasinense category. And come August, they will call for entries for this year’s contests, only this time they will begin to accept entries written in Bikol. This is a welcome addition to the region’s growing award system. Currently, we have the Premio Tomas Arejola para sa Literaturang Bikolnon. Mundag Literary Awards and other awards sponsored by LGUs and academic institutions such as the MTV Awards by the Naga College Foundation.

Although not a perfect measure of literary merit and artistic greatness, awards can help boost a writer’s morale. In a country where literature is not being given much importance, a small medal or trophy (plus a meager amount) will come as pat in the back for the literary artist, affirming the greatest of his/her efforts to forward the power of the written word in effecting change and progress in the society.


April 17, 2007

The Igorots have always impressed me with their ability to withstand extreme cold even without much clothes to cover their bodies. Back there in Tam-Awan village, I was able to inspect what seemed to be a fireplace right inside their abode. Also, it served as a place where they could cook their food.

It was Michael Buffer who first inserted ‘congressional candidate’ when he declared Manny Pacquiao as the victor via KO in yesterday’s eight-round bout. Then during the interview, he was also asked to say something to his future constituents in the 1st Congressional District district of South Cotabato.

But sure enough, it was still a tough fight for Pacman even as he outscored by doubles and triples his Mexican foe. I don’t agree that he was really ‘toying around’ with the spear-like reach of his opponent. I think he was simply having a hard time getting in. Thanks to his formidable punching power, even Solis’ long jabs did not work for long.

I was in fact a bit worried by that cut too. And perhaps Manny Pacquiao’s thoughts came back to that time when he suffered the same injury during his first bout with an intelligent and tactical Erik Morales who kept on dancing towards Pacman’s blind side (He was all too bloodied on the side of the cut). That is why he decided to ignore Solis’ jabs and went directly on target trusting that his handspeed and explosive combinations will send his opponent to the floor in no time. And it did.

So to all the future congressmen out there, don’t leave the Pacman with no choice.


April 11, 2007

As I said it really came as a surprise because I went there for the Talaang Ginto. But then, I heard my name being called again and so I had to go and find out about it. It was for my poem “Supermaids”, something I wrote late last year and had the chance to read during one of Kaboronyogan’s cultural night here in Bicol (It was in Bob Marlin right there in Magsaysay Ave., Naga City).

The awarding was facilitated by NCCA chief executive Cecile Guidote-Alvarez with the help of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino and the family of the late Senator Fancisco “Soc” Rodrigo. And no, the people you see in the picture are not fellow awardees except Camilo Villanueva, Jr to my left. Eros Atalia was also conferred the distinction. This makes us the first batch–I think there will be another one next year.


April 10, 2007

It is the summer creative writing workshop season once again. The last time I applied and qualified for fellowship was in 2005 for the lone spot for Filipino poetry in the 12th Iligan National Writers Workshop. Last year, I served as director for the 3rd Juliana Arejola-Fajardo Workshop for Bikol Writing. In 2004, I was in Bacolod for the IYAS and in 2002, I was in Baguio for UST.

Aside from national workshops sponsored by the NCCA and the academe, I also joined critiquing sessions in Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika at Anyo (LIRA) and Writers Studio (Batch 14). Eventually, I became a member of these writers groups and participated in their activities. I think serious writers ought to join these workshops and groups for growth and direction. And if you ever hear a writer say that he was born with quill and ink, and needed no outside force or influence so that he could write, don’t believe him.

Other than workshops and groups, it also pays to attend lectures and public readings. I got a message from Ms. Paning Borja that Dr. Doods Santos will be giving a lecture entitled ‘The Rebel in Bikol Literature’. It will be held on April 12, 2006, 4: 30 pm at the Instructional Media Center of the Ateneo de Naga University. We should all check this out.

Meanwhile, we know that with technology almost everything is possible, even poetry readings via the internet. So I made up some poetry podcasts, and so far all of them are home-made. Visit them using myFriendster profile.

Just one of the items we brought home from Baguio City was the Gangeh Di Montanyosa (Mountain Sound) by the Mofamco Cultural Guild. We bought it from the Tam-Awan Village where there are galleries of artworks by local artists and installations of different kinds of Cordillera ethnic dwellings. It is a place maintained by local cultural workers with the help of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). In this regard, we cannot help but wonder if the same effort can be done by giving our Agta brothers in Mount Asog the chance to also showcase their art in exchange of livelihood derived from tourism. But then Baguio has that edge, because it is already a favorite destination by Filipinos and foreigners alike. Besides, it is apparent that cultural workers in the area are more united like the Baguio Writers Group.

There must be something about cool temperature and level-headed creativity. It is a known fact that many of our writers love to visit the place not to have a vacation but to write and finish some important manuscript. Jun Cruz Reyes goes there to write. Cirilo Bautista owns a house and lot there. And every summer, writers and mentors troop there for the annual national writers workshops. Writing will keep you warm in a cold place (ala Butch Dalisay). Even critics will be more polite.

At the Tam-Awan village (sounds like the Iriganon term Tan-Awan, really), we tasted hybridity via the unique concoction of Benguet-Batangas coffee. Not as aromatic as Davao coffee but just as reinvigorating. We were planning to look for it at the public market but sort of forgot, succumbing to our appetite for the local version of the longganisa and our penchant for Bul-ol and other wooden figures.

Ironically, we seemed not so fed up with the SM outlets in Metro-Manila. We went to check their branch there and found it to be better than the others in terms of architecture. Of course, there was no centralized aircon, but cool winds coming from the mountains freely circulated in and out of the building. This was made possible by its terrace and canopy-like structure.

Our vacation was worth our while albeit cut short by the Araw ni Balagtas held at the Mabini Social Hall, Malacañang Palace last Monday (April 2). We were there to attend the awarding ceremony for the Talaang Ginto: Gawad Surian sa Tula, Gantimpalang Collantes (for my poem Hagbayon). It was also the occasion for the Gawad “Soc” Rodrigo Award, Gantimpalang Carlo J. Caparas sa Komiks and the launching of the Ani ng Wika 2006. Present were the Teatro Marikeño, Brenda Jean M. Postero, Dr. Fe Aldave-Yap, Eduardo Ermita, Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, Jessli Lapus, Carlito Puno, Isabel Martin, Carmelita C. Abduraliman, Ricardo Ma. D. Nolasco, Santiago Villafania, Dr. Sheilee B. Vega, Atty. Dalisay Ople-San Jose, Cerge Remonde, students and academicians, and the winners for this year’s awards.

It was a surprise that we were also given KWF and NCCA’s Gawad Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo, making me bring home two distinctions that day. We know the late senator as a lawyer and an ace-debater and orator. But he was also known for his Tagalog poems, particularly his tanaga that dealt with the social and political issues of his day. Truly, in poetry content is form and form is content, as exemplified by Sen. “Soc” Rodrigo.