December 26, 2011
This is my year-ender and not my previous post. Last year, I don’t think I posted something like this. Perhaps there was not much to talk about. But this year is a peculiar year. Everything seemed to have happened all at the same time. Right now our government institutions are banging each other and the start of 2012 will see an impeachment court with the Chief Justice on trial. I hope this will not erode the integrity of the Court. We must bear in mind that this is an issue on personalities, and the Court as an institution is never part of this.
It has been prophesized that 2012 will start a New World Order. Could the conflict between the branches of government, particularly between the Executive and the Judiciary be nothing but the sign of its coming? Technology is advancing faster and faster. The way we see the world has changed. Must our system of governance advance along with it? As I always assert, the State is nothing but a mere political theory put into practice. Even the legal system is a political or literary theory. For instance, if we live under the auspices of anarchism, we would only have five laws and not tomes of substantial and remedial rules.
Good thing about technology is it more or less brings power to our hands. Social networking and blogging are the new media. People now are more informed. They can make better political decisions. We only need to make the kids, who are said to be techno-natives, a more useful lot in the cyberspace and not mere gamers and sex-video uploaders.
Literary practice has changed also. More and more writers use social networking and blogging to promote their art and the culture of reading. And many have started to become multi-media artists. Even poetry is now multi-media. Poetry is now cinema, is now music, is now performance, and not only a thing for pagination.
This year, aside from further studying Philippine laws and jurisprudence, I persisted in literary practice. I also chose to be a paralegal in an NGO that I think would better appraise me as to how to practice law more effectively in a third-world setting. Alternative lawyering is the key. Lawyers are also citizens and educators. They must not be confined to the law office and the court sala. Lawyers must also use other means to reach the people and educate them about the law. They must use technology, lobbying, social involvement, arts and culture even.
In the literary arts scene here in Bicol, I lament that seemingly, the Kabulig-Bikol has died. There are no meetings and no projects. Our current NCCA representative is almost invisible and seems to be hated by many. Good thing that there are other active literary orgs around. ABKAT is a remarkable group. They invited me to sit as panelist for the Albay Writers Workshop 2011 held at Bicol University-Tabaco on May 20-22. And to my delight, I learned that there are so many young female writers there. Don’t get me wrong. I was not delighted for any other prurient reason. I was delighted because we have very few female writers here in Bicol (poetess Jo Bisuna died November this year). The ABKAT group only needs to take care of these young writers: Keep a directory of their names and addresses, continually invite them to workshops, poetry shows and lectures, publish them, etc. Not to be outdone, the young writers here in Camarines Sur are also active in joining other writers groups here and in attending poetry gigs.
As I said, writing became a regular activity for me once again. Being able to write in four languages helped me in avoiding writer’s fatigue. This time, my focus is English poetry. I have published enough in Bikol and Tagalog. It’s time to come back to where it all started: English poetry. It’s also time to come back to my old self—happy just to be able to come up with a poem. Not thinking of personalities who serve as nuisance to literary practice—writers who cannot think straight and who mess everything up because of their immaturity, eccentricity and petty politics. These writers give the literary arts sector a bad name and further alienate it from the people.
And so I sent poems to publications again. Let me list my printed poems for 2011:
1. Biyahe (Sunday Inquirer Magazine, January 23, 2011)
2. Firefly (Sunday Inquirer Magazine, June 5, 2011)
3. And Home is Not What I find Each Christmas (Philippine Panorama, December 25, 2011
4. Magsaysay Soiree (Sunday Times Magazine, June 26, 2011)
5. After the Magsaysay Soiree (Sunday Times Magazine, June 26, 2011)
6. Collision Lesson (Sunday Times Magazine, July 31, 2011)
7. The Night Before the Lunar Eclipse (Sunday Times Magazine, July 31, 2011)
8. The Wake Up Call (Philippines Free Press, April 23, 2011)
9. Sa Bookstore: Dasal ng Salesboy (Liwayway Magasin, May 30, 2011)
10. Barbershop Brainstorming (Under the Storm: An Anthology of Contemporary Philippine Poetry, September 2011)
11. Basang Papel Itong Tamong (Sagurong: 100 na Kontemporanyong Rawitdawit sa Manlain-lain na Tataramon Bikol, September 2011)
12. Opera (Sagurong: 100 na Kontemporanyong Rawitdawit sa Manlain-lain na Tataramon Bikol, September 2011)
13. Astral Travel (Paper Monster Press—Dream Pop Issue, August 2011)
There could be more and my radar may have missed them. Hence please inform this blogger if there are other poems not mentioned here, dear blog reader.
It has always been good custom for writers to send poems and stories to magazines and anthologies. But sadly, the year saw some of these outlets abandoning poetry or worse, closing its pages. First is the Sunday Inquirer Magazine. After I got printed, it’s no longer a weekly but a monthly magazine, and so far, there’s no poetry section. Second is the Philippine Panorama. Its poetry editor and columnist, Dr. Cirilo F. Bautista has ceased to be a part of the magazine. Good thing that is still publishes occasional poetry, albeit with bad lay-out. They sure could use a competent poetry editor. Third is Sunday Times Magazine. Their circulation is so very limited, they don’t even send copies here in Bicol on Sundays. Fourth is the Philippines Free Press. They don’t have print copies anymore. I was informed by their staff that their lawyers failed to spot that their incorporation needed renewal notwithstanding that said attorneys receive retainer’s fee. Hence it could be a clear case of negligence. But then, if a corporation continues to operate even after 50 years, incorporation is impliedly renewed. Good thing that the FP still prints poems in its website.
Surely, what we have here is lack of outlets. And lack of support. Most Filipinos don’t care about literary arts. Many would rather focus on politics and money-making. But then again, should we care? We write therefore we are, and they have to share this dying planet with us. When there are no other avenues for our art, we can blog, we can network.
This year, this blog was awarded Best Literature Blog during the 1st Bicol Bloggy Awards (but I have not received my citation yet, so someone from the organizers would please send it to me). Yes, blogging exists. Facebook is there only as jumping board for the bloggers, myself included. Nothing beats blogs and websites in content development. There is more focus. Social networking sites are fast-paced. People don’t really stop to read and absorb. That is why I maintained this blog. Hagbayon is a portal of mine. This is me.
Also this year, the UP Harong once again proved its devotion to local literary arts when it sponsored the 9th Sural Essay Writing Contest. It was held at Naga College Foundation on October 27. As one of the judges, I noted that young Bicolanos have a lot of things to say. We only need to fine tune their writing skills to be able to develop the writers in them. If we are to train more writers, we must start with the younglings.
As a said, poetry has become multi-media. Last year, I started making short poetic films. In March, I also organized Writer’s Gig at Wharf Galley, a monthly poetry show in Naga City featuring music, poetic short-films, poetry readings, theater and dance. We also have literary discussions over rounds of beer after the gig. The idea is to bring language art to public places just to introduce poetic discourse. So far, we have had seven gigs. And since our beloved Wharf Galley is closing, reluctantly, we have to look for a new venue. I am sure there are others out there willing to house a poetry show at least once a month. One feature of our gig is my band The Super Poet Genome Project. Video clips of our performances could be accessed via my YouTube Channel.
Memorable literary events in 2011 were the Su’pay at Aquinas University and the Bikol Poetry Galore both in February. I also attended the .MOV Festival for the “Under the Storm” launch.
At this juncture, I should like to comment that musicians here in Bicol should have fought tooth and nail just to help Wharf Galley survive. After-all, the bar caters to the local rock scene. I think some rockers here need to deepen their advocacy for their art. Not that I am impressed by most of them. They act like rockstars but many of them suck big time. The least they could do is to place their heart in the right place.
Bikol literary criticism and language studies are getting within the folds of Bicol academe. Teachers of literature and language are now networking with practicing writers. I was invited as paper presenter for the 1st Bicol Regional Conference on Language and Literature: Engaging New Frontiers in Research and Pedagogy, held at Ateneo de Naga University on April 30, 2011. Dr. Priscelina Legasto and Dr. Doods Santos were the main speakers. It was exciting finally meet Dr. Legasto. I found her to be a witty conversationalist able to adjust to her audience. From her, I learned the term “alpha-male” to which I am happily a member of. Dr. Legasto appraised us on postcolonial theory. Dr. Doods Santos introduced to us ecocriticism. This blog for one is determined to include climate-change mitigation in its advocacies. Surely, to look at literature in particular, and the world in general using ecocriticism as critical lens will aid me in this intention.
How about my book? Pagsasatubuanan: Poetikang Bikolnon is a library book. I wrote it not to sell thousands of copies (not that NCCA printed thousands of copies). I wrote it for the very few elite poets who are really into the art of Bikol poetry. Lately, I learned that there are copies at Yale University Library and the National Library. I can’t ask for more.
How about love life? (Ehem). I am a lover by nature, an amador. The life of somebody like me is always full of romance. But I shall leave that to my would-be biographer to discuss. Maybe it’s too early for a valentines post. But guys remember this: Women deserve to be loved no matter if your exes ended up as queen bitches. So there. Happy New Year!
–Jose Jason L. Chancoco