Local languages in the regions are also official languages as per the 1987 Constitution. For the purposes of instruction and communication, the official languages of the country are Filipino, and until otherwise provided by law, English. And for the same purposes, local languages shall serve as auxiliary medium (Art. 14 Sec. 6-7 of the 1987 Constitution).

Yes, auxiliary medium, but only for the purposes of instruction and communication, particularly in the academe and government subdivisions. However, as literary medium our local languages may also be construed as occupying the privileged space of being official. Likewise, literary culture is part of custom which is deemed to be not contrary to morals, law and public policy, hence countenanced by the Courts when proven as fact (Arts. 11-12 RA 386). Our country also has a prevailing policy in support of ethnicity for the framework of national unity (Art. 2 Sec. 21 of the 1987 Constitution).

Perhaps the above provisions are only in recognition of the country’s being multi-cultural and multi-lingual. Literary pursuits in the regions involving ethnicity as in the search for local aesthetics is very much lawful. In fact, when in contact with foreign states our policy shall always be for the right to self-determination (Art. 2 Sec. 7 of the 1987 Constitution). What more when we deal with fellow Filipinos under the context of nationhood?

Tomorrow, we shall be awarding prizes to some Bikolnon writers during the Bikolinismo and Premio Tomas Arejola. The more exciting part of the event is not really the awards night itself, but the opportunity of Bikol writers to gather right after the awards rites and exchange thoughts about the state of Bikol literature and its direction. And this writer is lucky enough to be part of the awards night as the book “Pagsasatubuanan: Poetikang Bikolnon” will be conferred this year’s Premio Bibiano Sabino para sa Librong Bikolnon.

The people must know that our pursuits are official in nature, and not mere auxiliary or hobby. Publishing our works and giving them prizes are just some of the ways to assert this fact. This is a happy realization for this blogger as I dig out the writer’s place under the province of our fundamental law and statutes. Literary culture is a sound custom and countenanced by law. Culture is law, as the latter is supposed to be shaped, if not influenced by the former.

Our poets are legislators too. Younger poets invoke the elder ones. Poetics is law, and if in the proper context, poems can articulate culture and native wisdom which in turn are very much suited to be a rich source of legislation and law.



September 24, 2009

Earlier, I blogged about the need for the National Book Awards to open itself up for books published in Philippine languages other than Tagalog/Filipino. Of late, more and more books are coming out from the provinces written in their respective local languages. As I said, I am not so keen on awards, but then with the NBA existing, I think these titles ought to have a place in the roster.

Here in Bicol, there is a new category in the Premio Tomas para sa Literaturang Bikolnon seeking to recognize Bikol books that contributed much to Bikolnon letters. It is open for book authors, editors and illustrators for titles distributed from September 2007 to September 2009. It is the Premio Bibiano Sabino para sa Librong Bikolnon.

Being part and parcel of the PTPLB, the Premio Sabino awarding will be alongside the regular categories. This year, it will also coincide with the Bikolinismo Awards. The winner will be conferred a citation plus a modest cash prize. I only pray that this Bikol book award will continue from this year onward to be Bicol’s counterpart for the National Book Award.

Needless to say, this September is Bikol Literature Month. Some of the Bikolinismo awardees are giving lectures on their craft just so they could make the most of their visit in the City of Naga. Dr. Zeus Salazar, on the 30th, 9am at the Museo de Caceres, will talk about an archeological find, a jar cover/lid that could explicate the historicity of the Ibalong. Foremost screen writer Ricardo Lee, on the 29th, 8am at the UNC-IMC, will give a lecture on the screenplay. He will likewise launch his latest novel, Para Kay B.

With all this writers around, I think Kabulig-Bikol should take advantage of their presence and arrange even an informal meeting or gathering right after the awarding ceremonies on Tuesday.

Two stories for children, three essays, four short stories, one 1-act play and eleven collections of poetry are in contention for top honors in the 6th Premio Tomas Arejola para sa Literaturang Bikolnon.

This was announced by Carlos Arejola, chairman of the Bicol-wide literary competition widely regarded in the literary circle as the region’s premiere literary prize.

Cited in the stories for children are: “Kun Tanu Maharang an Lada” by Owen del Castillo of Pilar, Sorsogon and “A-HU-HO, A-HE-HE (o an Kolor kan Buhay ni Koroy Sa Apat na Osipon) by Estelito Jacob of Camaligan, Camarines Sur.

The finalists for the essay category are: “Pagiromdum” by Eden Enano-Estopace of P. Ocampo St., Manila, “Buhay Riles” by Eilyn L. Nidea Parocha of Ragay, Camarines Sur and “Seminarista” by Owen del Castillo.

The eleven collections of poetry cited this year are: “Parokyano kan Tinampo” by Jerome M. Hipolito of Calabanga, Camarines Sur;  “Insomya” by Owen del Castillo of Pilar, Sorsogon;  “Sa Lugar na Dinakulaan” by Alex Michael S. Boribor of Pioduran, Albay; “Muklat” by Rodel Delera Añosa of Aroroy, Masbate; “Pisaran asin Iba pang mga Rawitdawit” by Leopoldo C. Brizuela, Jr. of Ligao City; “An mga Para-lagaylay asin pang mga Rawitdawit” by Irvin Parco Sto Tomas of Canaman, Camarines Sur; “Sa hubasan, nagprobar akong magsurat” by Eduardo Endraca Uy, Jr. of Gubat, Sorsogon; “Naglakaw ako” by Welbert Cipria of Tabaco City; “Apat na Tigsik sa Tabaco Buda Iba Pang mga Rawitdawit” by Richard Madrilejos of Tabaco City; “Paglabto sa Pagtubod” by Honesto M. Pesimo, Jr. of Naga City; and “Hamot kan Narumdon” by Jaime Jesus U. Borlagdan of Tabaco City.

Cited in the short story category are: “Ligñon Hill” by Rodel Delera Añosa of Aroroy, Masbate; “Kaldero-Kawali, Buhay an Nahale” by Alex Michael S. Boribor of Pioduran, Albay; “Dolores” by Owen del Castillo of Pilar, Sorsogon; and “Pagsarado” by Jaime Jesus U. Borlagdan of Tabaco City.

Only one 1-act play, “Sa Minundagan Sana: Pasirip sa Que Lugar Este kan Dayo ni Jimple” by Richard Madrilejos of Tabaco City, is cited by the Premio Arejola this year.

The said literary works will be honored on September 29, this year at the Conference Hall of the Avenue Square in Naga City at an awards rite which shall also honor the first recipients of the Bikolinismo Outstanding Bikolano Artists search.

The best entries, to be named in the said event, will receive P5,000 and the PTALB medallion. The grand prize shall then be chosen from among the category winners and shall be conferred the title Writer of the Year, and receive P10,000 and the Naga City Jaycees Parasurat kan Taon trophy. The cash prize and trophy is courtesy of the Naga City currently headed by Mark Enrile.

Also to be honored are the finalists of the Rawitdawit para ki Ina, a special poetry category for elementary and high school students, namely: “Pagkamoot kan Sarong Ina” by Sean Marben P. Guinoo and “Pagtubod. Pagkamoot. Pag-omaw” by Grechil Angela L. Ayen, both of St. Louise de Marillac School of Pili; “Bulos kan Pagtubod” by Ailyn B. Caringal and “Pag-omaw ki Ina” by Flerida Ann G. Deniega, both of Ragay National Agricultural & Fisheries School; “Peñafrancia Fiesta” by Kimberly Anne F. Tolop, “An Ika-Tersentenaryong Milagro kan Inang  Peñafrancia” by Khim Joseph R. Naval, and “Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia an Pangaran Niya” by John Paul A. Bacsain, all of Pili National High School.

First handed out last year, the winner of the Rawitdawit para ki Ina category receives cash and prizes worth 3,000 and a medallion designed by Marianne Olaño of Baycrafts, a Naga-based outfit and trademark.

The two other major prizes to be handed out are the Premio Bibiano Sabino para sa Librong Bikolnon and the PTALB Lifetime Achievement Award.

I have launched my first book on Bikol poetics published through a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts-National Committee on Literary Arts (NCCA-NCLA). I think this book is important because it is the first ouvre on Bikol poetic aesthetics written in the Bikol language. So that non-Bikols could understand its gist and purpose, I saw it fit to write the foreword in English.

As they say:

“Chancoco’s book enlightens us on important aspects of Bikol poetics. It is a great contribution to Philippine literary scholarship.”
–Dr. Cirilo F. Bautista, Philippine Panorama

“We could not fault Chancoco’s craftmanship”
–Dr. Leoncio P. Deriada, Homelife Magazine

“Jose Jason L. Chancoco’s pioneering and scholarly work, Pagsasatubuanan: Poetikang Bikolnon, is a koh-i-noor in the canon of Bikol poetics and literary criticism. A rare achievement!
–Santiago Villafania, Dalityapi Unpoemed

“An “Pagsasatubuanan” ni Chancoco sarong pagtukar kan Bikolnon na poetika sa paaging strukturalista-pormalista, sa paaging ini, an libro minakapot kan tropeo bilang enot na pagrurip sa pagrarawitdawit sa Bikol.”
–Victor Dennis Nierva, Vox Bikol

“Creating his own devices to articulate terminologies in Bicol translation, Chancoco uses Bicol in its formal form, proving that studies and researches can be articulated in the native language.”
–Juan Escandor, Jr., Philippine Daily Inquirer

Copies of the book are available (PhP250 only) at Museo de Caceres (inside the Holy Rosary Minor seminary), Kulturang Bikolnon (first level of the CBD Hotel Building) and Basilica Souvenir Shop (Basilica Compound) in Naga City. Orders may also be placed by sending an E-mail to tarusan22(at)yahoo(dot)com or via SMS to 09199470406 and copies will be sent by courier.