April 8, 2014
At the present age, Filipinos would usually seek to involve themselves in more lucrative preoccupations. It is a need. Not all of us are privileged to just travel, enjoy the scenes, watch sunsets. Not all of us are given the time to reflect around us and create. Yes, all of us are battered by unwanted stimuli everyday but not all of us can create something out of it—at least in one of the accepted art forms. Many would start at an early age but would abandon the habit altogether. Perhaps after seeing that there’s no place for it in the current sphere. They just forget and go through life as it is.
The poor would say: “You can’t eat art nor can it bring food on the table.” How can you read or write when your stomach is eating you? How can you look at art when you can’t even get inside a museum or gallery for want of proper attire?
There’s also familial pressure: “Fine Arts is a course for rich people!” or “You will gain nothing from your pen, enter maritime or nursing school instead!”
You hear this all the time. And the government, alas! The government, despite Constitutional mandate to promote culture and the arts, seems to treat it as second thought. The CHED has not mandated that national fellowships or literary prizes be commensurate to an MA or at least MA units. For some measure, writing or reading is taught by example (as National Artist Edith Tiempo used to say), and writers are voracious readers—and writers. For this reason alone, they ought to be the one teaching literature subjects. Passion for literature is a contagious malady. If you don’t have it, you can’t inoculate it.
Admit it or not, there are only two factors that serve as impetus for literary culture: 1. An inquisitive mind, and however sophomoric it may sound, 2. Peer pressure. Why is it that I did not say “an inquisitive literate mind”? This is because literary culture is primordially performance-based. For instance, poetry is drama, is theater—is performance. We all have this in us—an inquisitive mind, only that in an effort to civilize us, society trained us not to “stare” too much or “ask to many questions.” It is however inherent, if not native to us, to be curious, to observe, to read. The world is a text and is something to be read. And this culture of reading and observing is better shaped by peer pressure.
Hence it is nothing new for us to hear about the Beat Poets or the Nuyorican Poets in the US during the 40’s and 60’s, or The Ravens and the Veronicans in the Philippines during WWII or just right after. The literary flame is somewhat kept alive by these groups. They influence people to write, and they likewise encourage people to read. Ironically, their passion could even lead to a book burning incident as in the case of the Balagtasistas and the Modernistas during the 60s. The result of the Talaang Ginto being dominated by the Balagtasistas so much infuriated the younger generation of Tagalog writers that they ended up tossing to the fire not only their plaques from said contest but also books by the old vanguards or “matatandang tanod.” Not to mention that earlier, the parties almost ended up in a knife fight in some nearby beerhouse. The book burning infront of the National Library proved to be a more peaceful way of expressing literary disgust during those times.
Yet there could also be factions. We all are familiar with this story: Poet starts a writers group, but later, ideologies come in the way, forcing him to leave and start anew—with a new group. Yes, it is true that the practice of literary arts is a political act. The choice of what language to use is a political choice. Poetics in fact, much as it could get so technical, is still a political animal as culture is always politics.
But my take on the matter is this—the same is a political question and not a justiciable or scientific one. It lies on prerogative, on personal freedom of choice. And nobody can tamper with that and no one would want that theirs be tampered with. More so that of artists and creatives.
It is safe to say that these writing groups, no matter how we argue that one does not need a group to be able to write, kept literary culture alive within and without the academe. Heck, it even caused career shifts for some. It is not uncommon for a pre-med student to end up shifting to a creative writing or literature course after being “brainwashed” by a group of poets wont on doing guerilla tactics on campus—starting up poetry readings just about anywhere and anytime, and then disappearing just as fast as they assembled.
And so we have groups like UP Quill, UP Writers Club, Heights, Malate, Thomasian Writers Guild and FEU Writers Guild to name a few. Outside of the campus, we have KM64, Kamakathaan, Guniguni and so many more. And with the advent of social media, they are now manifold—poetry slam groups, Facebook poetry, haiku poets, you name them, you got them.
And in the provinces, these groups also continue to thrive. Just in the Bicol Region, we have Kabulig-Bikol, ABKAT and Parasurat-Bikolnon. These groups are active within and without the academe. And just lately, we hear of campus-based group Ateneo Literary Association (ALA) doing small poetry workshops and readings here and there. Their presence could very well have caused some career shifts as mentioned earlier, but they push on.
This month of April, where summer heat is just as fiery as the creative writing workshop season, ALA is holding the very first TALA Poetry Workshop. To be held on April 11-12, the workshop will utilize the so-called “writeshop method” or “praxis method” where theory is followed by practice. Lecturers will give inputs on poetic forms, voice and tone, and metaphor, and then the writing fellows, true to their name, will write. They will write according to the lesson of the day. Later, their output will be critiqued, placed under astringent scrutiny by the panelists and the fellows themselves. The workshop will be held at the Ateneo de Naga University, at the 3rd floor of the Fr. O’Brien Library (Multipurpose Room).
With Jusan Misolas as workshop director, this writer has been invited as one of the lecturer-panelists this year, along with Frank Peñones, Jerome Hipolito and Jeff Regullano. And this year’s fellows are: Joy San Jose Agor, Anthony Diaz, Ken Brian Esperanza, John Leir Castro, Rea Robles, Elmer Guarin Ramos, Shellah Farina Chan, Stephen Prestado, Ma. Leonora Cervas-Bregala, Cherry Ann Largo, Jeffrey Almazan and Love Leir Arcelie Castro.
April 7, 2014
Pertinent to my application for a travel grant with the Harong kan Literaturang Bikolnon (Naga City-LGU) as per my Dumaguete fellowship (for poetry), I was asked to prepare a letter showing the benefits that the Nagueno would get from my travel. In this regard, I started to look into myself. What have I done for my people? Am I just a writer for myself? An ego writer who has self- aggrandizement as primordial motivation? I had to ask myself these questions and introspect.
Looking back–I do remember that 2003 was my homing year. It was the year that I started to feel like going home. I was determined to further my academic life in this locality, find work here and perhaps start a family–and of course, practice literary arts here. I wanted to start a writing group, a critique group to be exact. At that time, I was already a LIRA member and had attended the Ateneo and UST National Writers Workshops. I wanted to look back though, to dream the dreams of my youth. I thought that Bicol itself is already a rich material. I can make it here, and in Manila, and in the world literary arena as well. No need to locate myself in the Center.
But before taking any more steps, I figured if there was already an existing writing group here in Bicol. And there was. The late Rudy Alano was then the ring leader for Kabulig-Bikol. I joined them.
But Kabulig-Bikol was taking too much time. I wanted the group to have more fire.
I continued to associate with them through. Writing is a lonely vocation, and they were good beer buddies. But I persisted in attending national workshops, sending my works to publications and joining some contests. Technically, I was on my own. But I found real good company in Tomas Navarro, a fellow Atenean who was as good as a strategist as a prose writer. I also loved the company of the ABKAT people from Tabaco, Albay for they were so project oriented. They could get things done.
But deep inside, what I really wanted was to do research on Bikol poetics and write a book about it. I also wanted to share my poetics to young Bikol writers. Hence I organized the Tarusan Bloc and I gave free lectures and workshops. Thanks to my teachers Rio Alma, Cirilo Bautista, Ricardo Lee, Marjorie Evasco, and Cyril Conde, I had a firm ground when it comes to comparative literature. And so I did my thing–monthly poetry critique sessions.
But it wasn’t enough for me. Bikol poetics dictates that poetry is drama–is theater, is performance! I wanted to go out and make Naga City a city of literature by organizing poetry gigs from time to time. Said gigs would be open to the public, and for the benefit of the public. Poetry in public places–this was my battle cry and it still is.
Now I realized that I have published three articles regarding these gigs. Let me post their pictures here.
This appears in the August 1, 2012 issue of The Daily Tribune. And it is about the Writers Gig and VerSosimo projects. Now I was not able to take a photo of my article “Not Your Usual Writers Trip” which was also published in the same newspaper on January 3, 2013. But as you all know, I took a picture and posted my article ” Come as You Are: Naga City’s Poetry Reading Culture” which appeared in the April 7, 2014 issue of the Philippines Graphic.
Well, man. If you want to be a writer for others. Organize occasional poetry gigs in your locality. Do it for the people. They deserve more than what popular culture offers them.
April 7, 2014
I was invited by the Ateneo Literary Association for their first Tala Poetry Workshop, a campus based workshop. It will be held at Ateneo de Naga University on Friday. The workshop approach is the so-called “writeshop,” and the methodology is: 1. Lecture, 2. Writing activity, and 3. Critiquing. My topic is poetic form, actually, one of the toughest. I will make it as simple as possible. I also plan to assign a simple poetic form during the writing activity. There will also be poetry readings and other intermission numbers. The group even invited my band The Super Poet Genome Project. We will figure.
The deadline for fellowship application is today, April 7. If you are an Atenista, a Bicolano Atenista who is somehow connected or was connected to AdNU, and you are serious in pursuing a career in creative writing, give this a try. It is wise to attend regional workshops first before applying for national ones. And read my book too, “Pagsasatubuanan: Poetikang Bikolnon” (NCCA, 2008). Copies are running out!
April 3, 2014
A few weeks ago, we had a Cirilo Bautista tribute as part of the Naga City Public Poetry Project. Only a few was able to attend as readers. There were only five of us there. But still, we pushed through. Afterwards, we had a meeting. You see, we are planning to apply for grants. I made a video of the event and started sending the YouTube link to FB friends. I wanted to involve as many people as possible, even those who failed to attend. The result was amazing. People did show interest and watched the video. Joel Pablo Salud, the editor-in-chief of Philippines Graphic even wanted me to write an article on the poetry gigs that I have been organizing in Naga City. So I did. And now the article is out, printed in Page 36-37 of the April 7, 2014 issue of said magazine. Please do buy (and grab) a copy at your nearest news stands, National Bookstore and 711 outlets. Here’s the picture of the pages. Nice lay-out!
The next session is going to happen on April 25, 2014, again at the Raul Roco Public Library. I hope we could replicate the WG/VerSosimo/Bikol Slam projects as per attendance. Summer, summer, poems of summer. More updates coming!
January 16, 2014
Carl Jung’s Theory on Collective Unconsciousness and formation of archetypes, ‘natural attitudes’ (in phenomenology) or in layman’s term, ‘notion’ of things concrete or abstract, living or non-living, presents itself as a ‘nativist’ theory. He says Collective Unconsciousness is a theoretical pool of memories or reservoir of experiences that we are born with as species but we are not directly conscious of it.
However, I think by mention of ‘experiences’ his theory then leans on its ‘cognitivist’ side. Because even if we are born with what I will call (in Chomsky’s mold) as AAD or ‘archetype acquisition device’ there is still a need for meaningful human experiences for one’s consciousness to flow into the sphere of Collective Unconsciousness.
Cross-cultural analysis of myths, epics and legends will reveal evidences of these archetypes. But I think the great Carl Jung should have read an unusual archetype in Oryol, a cunning and deceptive nymph from the Ibalong epic fragment. She knew how to project naïveté only to lure unsuspecting macho guys like Handyong. And the latter would end up in a compromise partnership with her in fighting unattractive and devilish monsters (and crocodiles) in Bicolandia.
It appears that these common notions articulate themselves not only in ancient oral traditions but also in other artistic pursuits and preoccupations. They are so much into our lives that they even influence our judgment and some of our decisions. However, I should say that Jung’s theory is also structuralist in orientation. It tends to linearize human notions oblivious of cultural boundaries. But this is not to say that his attempt is failing, but rather perhaps it needs some culturally determined extensions. For example in Bicol, we have the archetype and embodiment of machismo in the persona of Kulakog, a mythical creature with a huge penis. Archetypal formation then is really a culturally bounded phenomenon.
In the poem “Not My Best Side (Uccello: S. George and the Dragon, the National Gallery)” by English poetess U. A. Fanthorpe, we see the seeping in of three main archetypes; the Monster or Dragon, the Maiden and the Hero or the Knight, into an artistic pursuit other than literature, in this case, the visual arts. However the archetypal articulation by Italian painter Paolo Uccelo in his St. George and the Dragon is interrogated by Fanthorpe’s poetic discourse resulting to a deconstruction.
The poem is divided into three parts according to voice. The first part has the monster or the Dragon talking to the reader. The second part has the Maiden talking to the reader. And the last part has the hero or the Knight talking to the Dragon.
The approach of the poet is neither narration, imagism nor lyricism but rather expository, or in Filipino, ‘tulang patanghal’. In this case, the line-cascade and poetic utterance is pre-determined according to the persona and are conveniently subdivided into three parts. The main merits of the poem are in its consistency in voice, tone, language and form in effecting a deconstruction. Throughout the text the voice, tone and language of the poem will interrogate the archetypal articulation of the painting by being the poetic discourse themselves unaided by imagistic/metaphorical manipulations and acrobatics but supported by phenomenological methodology.
What if we remove all our ‘natural attitudes’ on archetypal figures and re-examine the roots of this notion in order to come back to the essence of things. After much introspection, how can we apply them to current human preoccupations?
As a product of the interrogative pattern of the poetic discourse we come to know a monster that has the attitude of an image model. It says: “The artist didn’t give me a chance to pose well properly.” It is also concerned, like a movie-star or politician, with bad publicity. It says: “But afterwards, I was sorry for the bad publicity.” It also comments and interrogates the human archetype of a prim and proper, well-groomed hero when it says: “Why, I said to myself, should my conqueror/ Be so ostentatiously beardless..?” It also reacts on the artist’s perspective: “Why should my victim be so/ Unattractive as to be inedible”. Here the monster ceases to be the manifestation of human primal fear, but the poet fills it up with very human actuations and impressions.
In the second part, we are confronted with a highly hormonal and calculating maiden concerned both with pleasure and financial security. She is very much a delineation from our notion of a damsel in distress. She says of the Dragon: “He was/ So nicely physical, with his claws/ And lovely green skin, and that sexy tail, / And the way he looked at me, / He made me feel he was all ready to/ Eat me.”
In deconstruction, previously established definitions take on a different meaning, and ‘To eat me’ has come to articulate female prerogative. It also humanizes the maiden, expressing her repressed preferences (personal unconsciousness): form follows function, effect and performance is superior to propriety. And of course the future has to be secured first and indulgence in provisional pleasure should be momentary: “what could I do? / The dragon got himself beaten by the boy, / And a girl’s got to think of her future.” Yet she comments on the insecurity of those who live by the books, follow the rules and hide behind the armor of the system. She says of the Knight: “So when this boy turned up, wearing machinery, / On a really dangerous horse, to be honest/ I didn’t much fancy him. I mean, / What was he like underneath the hardware? / He might have acne, blackheads or even/ Bad breath for all I could tell, but the dragon–/ Well, you could see all his equipment/ At a
In the third part, we hear the Knight (St. George) and we gather some things about knighthood and the hero job: “I have diplomas in Dragon/ Management and Virgin Reclamation.” Being a knight was partly legalese and determined by familial and financial origins. It was part of the political system and therefore a machinery of political discourse or repressive state apparatus. And of course it was often used in warfare and political subjugation: “My spear is custom-built,/ And my prototype armour/ Still on the secret list. You can’t/ Do better than me at the moment. / I’m qualified and equipped to the/ Eyebrow. So why be difficult?”
More importantly, it was also a trade: “Don’t you realize that, by being choosy, / You are endangering job prospects/ In the spear- and horse-building industries?” The Knight is the coercive structural force and the Dragon, the liberal rogue. The former is the brute and the latter, the lover. Together they form the thesis and anti-thesis, and in war there is no synthesis but profit.
(This article also appears at Global Press.Org)
December 17, 2013
I noticed that Christmas is becoming less and less interesting. I sort of no longer look forward to it unlike when I was younger. Perhaps it is true that Christmas is only for children. I remember that when I was a kid, I would be very happy if I would get presents for Christmas. I did not care if the gifts were cheap, so long as I got them because it was Christmas.
My writer-friend Santiago Villafania said that there is such as thing as “December Mood.” It’s kinda ironic really. The feeling of emptiness and loneliness while everybody around seems to be happy or at least trying to be happy. Christmas songs being carried by the cold winds would instead chill the soul instead of thrill it. When I was in grade school, my classmate Estelito Abonalla told me about this Christmas phenomenon experienced by kids–waking up at dawn to the sound of Christmas song coming from a passing vehicle, say, a tricycle. I could relate because I experienced it too. My heart would leap in excitement for the coming new day. A day that would eventually lead to Christmas day.
Anyway, one memorable Christmas season for me was in the year 2000. I was then staying in Imus, Cavite and writing for The Daily Tribune. I was also trying to finish ROTC. I was “BS RO” so to speak. I would go to the Tribune office to get my money. They were so generous. I would even get my bonus! I was then reading “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Hemingway. The coldness of the war scenario in the novel would creep up on me. I was after-all just like the characters in the story. I was alone in that flat, and the place felt like a bunker.
Last night, I reread “Kirot ng Kataga,” a book of poems in Tagalog by Cirilo Bautista. You see, I bought the book in December 2000. It’s just a short book, more of a chapbook really. But man, it’s a classic! And the book calls to mind as I rewrite my poems in Tagalog. Let me post some excerpts here of my new poems. This one is from “City of Springs.”
Mga isda, ianod
n’yo ng huklubang ilog
ang huli kong pagdulog:
Ay! Aking sinusumpa,
kung lahat nang makata
ay bayad pag tumula—
Hindi s’ya matataga!
Hindi s’ya matataga!
I also wrote something about the death penalty. Of course, right now we have no capital punishment but just the same, I wrote about it. You see, it would really depend upon Congress if it would revive the same. The 1987 Constitution gives them such allowance. Here’s the last stanzas of “Bisperas (Awit ng Lalaki sa Bitayan)”:
Subalit ay sino itong paparating?
Huling pag-idlip ko ay gagambalain.
Nagmamadali pa’t nakabarong man din—
bagong abogadong sadyang matulungin!
Remedyo raw sana sa aking problema’y
automatic review ng Korte Suprema.
Ang aming kapatas na kasabwat pala,
lahat nang salarin ay kanyang kinanta.
Ang utak ng krimen ay ang aming meyor
na kulang ang pondo para sa eleks’yon.
Kunwari pa’y banal at suki sa Pasyon,
‘yun pala, tit’yempo saka mandarambong.
At dagling umalis itong si attorney.
Tatawagan n’ya raw pati Presidente.
Dapat daw ang husga ng aking ponente’y
swak sa absuwelto at hindi garote!
Ngayong hinahanda ng aking berdugo
ang kanyang ineks’yon at lasong likido.
Sa may isang sulok ay may telepono:
akala mo’y diyos na nakadek’watro.
I also worked on a poem about the poetic process itself. It even delves into the writer’s life and plight. Here’s the beginning stanzas of the poem “Pasada,” also included in my upcoming book:
Sinasabing kadalasan ay malalim na gabi
at ilang ang ruta ng makata.
Mga daliring tumitipa ay susi
sa makina ng makinilya at netbook
at makinaryang umaangil
ang daigdig sa loob ng bungo’t dibdib.
There you go folks. You can expect that I will labor some more for the next poems. I am actually working on a very long poem on my experience as an organizer of poetry gigs here in my locality. Things I do. I don’t expect to be rich by doing said things, but still, I do it. But does it mean that I will no longer do other things that could make me filthy rich? Legal and moral things? Nope. Not at all.
Until next time.
December 2, 2013
As said earlier, it’s always fun to be with like-minded writers from time to time. One must be happy simply by knowing that people are listening. You don’t need a full-packed bar. You only need a group of five or six, so long as everybody is interested. So with the help of Santiago Villafania and Raul Funilas, I organized Multiverse/Multitongue: Poetry, Music, Art. It was held last November 6, 2013 at Tata Raul’s gallery in Antipolo here in the Philippines.
Also in attendance were Gregorio Bituin, Glen Sales, Danilo Diaz, Sergio Aragones and Lt. Gegoria Reyes. We had a grand time just reading our poems to each other after we looked at Raul Funilas’ sculptures on display. We also had food and beverage. Potluck!
Too bad Yolanda happened right after. Our poems could not have stopped such bitch of a storm, but at least, we had a grand time before it. At the end of the day, it’s all about having meaningful time. We are only here today. So here’s some video clips of the event. I hope that you will enjoy it.
Until next time my friends.
December 1, 2013
Been watching great movies, mostly about poems and poets. Have to catch up. My real purpose is to know how writers used to live during the earlier days. I figured that most of them simply focused on their families and their art. They would gather with a few like-minded writers, but as I said, with only a few. This is understandable. Real writing life is solitary. Even the data-gathering part is in essence solitary. Writers would investigate life as a spectator. Sometimes he would participate, but still, he works as a spectator. He maintains a distance. Lest he be overly absorbed and lose his objectivity.
It’s inspiring to watch these movies. I hope to write about them soon. So far, I am busy working on my poems. I have been busy doing other things these past months. It’s time to catch up.
By the way, it’s December 1. Merry Christmas!
Now let me post here a picture of one of my favorite poems that got printed in Sunday Times Magazine. It’s entitled “Cram Session.”
January 6, 2013
Yesterday, I got an SMS from writer-friend Bebang Siy, the famed author of It’s a Mens World. She told me that she will be sending me an E-mail. She didn’t really tell me what the E-mail was all about. And when she did send it, she even left the subject line blank. Surprise, surprise! It turned out to be a “chain letter for writers” where the recipient has to answer ten questions about his or her latest or upcoming book. It’s really a way for the writers to promote their book projects.
1. What is the title of your latest/upcoming book?
My latest book is “Pagsasatubuanan: Poetikang Bikolnon,” a work of literary criticism on Bikol poetics. The working title of my next book project is “The Jason Case”. It will be a collection of my poems in English, Filipino, Bikol-Naga and Iriganon.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I studied Tagalog poetics under Rio Alma. And when I attended the Iyas and Iligan National Writer’s Workshops, the elder writers in Visayas and Mindanao were also thinking of writing about their poetics. I figured that at the time there was yet no work of literary criticism covering the poetics of a regional language. So I thought that I better do research on Bikol poetics. It took me four years to finish “Pagsasatubuanan”.
The idea for “The Jason Case” came from a poem of the same title. I thought it could capture my case: A writer who writes in English, Filipino, Bikol-Naga and Iriganon.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
“Pagsasatubuanan” is under literary criticism. “The Jason Case” is poetry, tula and rawitdawit.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
People in a typical Bikolnon community. “Pagsasatubanan” posits that the rawitdawit has a dramatic element, specially the tigsik.
The Fire n Ice Dancers could play-dance “Hagbayon,” one of my poems in Filipino. In fact we already have such performance. Baron Geisler could play the poem “The Jason Case”. It would suit him just fine.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your upcoming book?
“The Jason Case” captures multimedia poetry from the vantage point of a Bikol writer–orag, dexterity and all.
6) Who published your latest book? Who will publish the next one?
“Pagsasatubuanan” is published by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). “The Jason Case” will be published by Ateneo de Naga University Press perhaps? DLSU Press? UST Press? We don’t know yet.
7) How long will it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Around one month. It won’t take that much time. I have already gathered most of my poems.
8) What other books would you compare this story (project) to within your genre?
Hmmm… There was this book once with a CD accompanying it.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The people around me. Daily experiences. But the project as it is–it’s inspired by the WG, our regular poetry gig here in Bicol.
10) What else about the book that might pique the reader’s interest?
It will be sulit. Will use all of my “powers” here as a writer, performer and musician.
So there you go. Thanks to Ms. Bebang Siy for including me in the chain. You could check her work here.
Also, by next week or earlier, you could check the answers to the same questions by the following writers:
December 14, 2012
Getting there. This is always an issue for provincial writers who must attend a Manila literary event. Aside from schedule, budget is always a problem, and all the more made complicated by the fact that I wouldl not be attending by myself. I would be bringing a rock band with me. And we would be playing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines for the Ani 37 launch.
It was the first week of September when I received word from Ani editor Herminio Beltran that my poems were accepted for the CCP literary yearbook. Though it was not my first time, my last appearance on its pages was in Ani 34 (Spirituality and Healing) back in 2008. For said issue, I printed the poems “Elehiya” (Bikol, with Tagalog translation), “Uniberso” and “Siklo ng Laman.” I was even asked to read one of the poems during the launch which was held at the CCP Ramp. Now for this year, my Bikol poems “Opera” and “Pagsilung,” along with their Tagalog translations were chosen for Ani 37, the silver-anniversary edition, with the theme “Cleansing and Renewal.” The launching of the anthology will also mark Ani’s 25th anniversary.
All in all, Ani 37 consists of 122 selections by 66 authors of prose and poetry written in English, Filipino, Aklanon, Bikol, Chabacano, Ilokano, Iluko, Kankanaey and Pangasinan. Noted authors include: Mark Angeles, Alma Anonas-Carpio, Ronald Baytan, Herminio S. Beltran, Kristoffer Berse, April Mae M. Berza, Luis Gatmaitan, Genaro Gojo Cruz, Nestor C. Lucena, Elynia S. Mabanglo, Francis C. Macansantos, Wilhelmina S. Orozco, Christopher S. Rosales, Louie Jon A. Sanchez, E. San Juan, Ariel S. Tabag, and Santiago B. Villafania, among others.
When I informed my bandmates about the event, our then bassist muttered something like “solicitation”. We figured that a good way to provide for the transportation expenses is by solicitation. So I sent letters to government officials, academicians, and like-minded artists. Naga City Mayor John Bongat, Vice-Mayor Gabriel Bordado and Councilor Nathan Sergio responded ora mismo. Visual artist/writer/Calaguas resort manager Giovhanni Buen also obliged. Editor Hermie Beltran also requested from the CCP budget for our transpo. My bandmates were also allowed to solicit to ensure that everybody’s funds would be filled-out. But still, our bassist had to back-out the night before the trip.
Launch date was on November 29, 2012 to be held at CCP Promenade. I wanted to make the most of the trip so I gathered like-minded Bikol writers who would support the nomination of Cirilo F. Bautista for National Artist. Ateneo Literary Association (ALA), a group of young writers based in Ateneo de Naga University, went around among its ranks to gather signatures and had the nomination ready just before our night trip.
We were to stay in Cavite so we took a Bacoor-bound Philtranco bus. And since our bassist had to back-out the last minute, The Super Poet Genome Project was only me (voice and guitar) and Kevin de Quiroz (drums/beatbox). But we were making arrangements for a Manila-bassist to session for us.
Perhaps there was some road project going on at Maharlika highway so our bus took the Camarines Norte route. We noticed that we were going too fast. We were swerving left-and right like some drunk and missing trucks and other buses by inches. The driver’s daredevil antics, made us suspect that he was actually an under-employed accounting graduate who did not pass the CPA exam (He looked corporate enough. Clean cut and prim and proper). But maybe, just maybe, he was just trying to beat the long detour of that Daet route. Needless to say, we got to Imus in one piece at dawn and immediately turned to classical radio station DZFE and dozed off.
Manila siege and Ani 37 launch
First stop was Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center at De La Salle University. We met and had coffee with Director Shirley O. Lua and handed to her the duly-accomplished nomination form for Cirilo F. Bautista. Second stop was The Daily Tribune office where we got complimentary copies of the August 1, 2012 issue where the VersoSimo article got printed. We also met with Tribune’s gorgeous lifestyle section editor Dinah Ventura, who is from Albay. Third stop was Intramuros for our Manila Bulletin and Manila Times visit. Fourth stop was University of Santo Tomas. And our fifth stop was Far Eastern University where we met with writer Ariel Valeza, who is from Catanduanes.
The next day was November 29, launch-date for Ani 37. Call time for rehearsals and set up was at 1PM and program proper was at 5PM. We came in early for the soundcheck, but the technicians had to dismantle our audio set-up so we had to do it again just before the gig barring unwanted amp feedbacks and guitar gadget signal interference (which happened during our set, to our dismay). To while away our time, we checked the exhibits at the various CCP galleries. We also dropped by Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theatre) to check out the CCP World Cinema Series. On-screen was Angel Exterminador (1962) by Luis Buňuel. We went back to the Promenade at 5PM just in time for the launch.
Our band, The Super Poet Genome Project was first to go onstage. We played “Di Kami Papayag na Walang Makata sa Lipunan” and tweaked the lyrics a little just to say: “Wala nang makata sa ating lipunan/Ngunit merong tula sa Ani 37!” Believe it or yes, we were asked to play “Lupang Hinirang.” We made our rendition using the electric guitar and the beatbox, wary at all times of the NHCP (National Historical Commission of the Philippines) rules, lest we get sued for rockin’ up the National Anthem beyond recognition. After our short set came the writers. And since I am one of them, I proceeded with a reading of my Bikol poem “Pagsilung” followed by the Tagalog translation “Panonood” in the form of a poetic short film which I produced, directed and appeared in. Had my hands full that night, and as if my over-exposure was not enough, actor Michael Ian Lomongo even rendered a performance of my poem “Opera”.
The writer-performers during the launch were: Wilhelmina Orozco, Junley Lazaga, Scott Saboy, Nonon Carandang, Io Mones Jularbal, Melchor F. Cichon, Santiago B. Villafania, Mark Angeles with Jenny Logico-Cruz and Sining Tanghalan, April Mae Berza, John Enrico Torralba, Francisco A. Montesena, Vicente R. Raras, Conviron Altatis, Francis Macansantos, and Genaro Gojo Cruz with Sining Tanghalan.
Film showing of a 7-minute video documentary by Denize Manalo followed suit. It featured previous Ani editors Reuel Aguila and Malou Jacob, and current editor Herminio Beltran, talking about the inception of Ani as CCP’s literary journal. It was after-all the Silver Anniversary of Ani and an opportune time to retrace the 37 tomes that came out.
And of course the food. After getting our complimentary copies and writer/performer’s checks, we assaulted the cocktails, specially the savory chicken rice meal they prepared for the performers. The beer had to come later as writer-friends Santiago Villafania and Mimi Lacambra decided to join us to our Imus hide-out for an after-party. Literary talks about regional literature and Pangasinense wife abductions courtesy of ancient oragons came to no end until we conked out at around 4AM. And as soon as we recovered, we invaded music stores and bookstores at that super colossal, public domain defying continental mall at Roxas Blvd. which could very well be a doomsday ark.
True, we are all busy with pragmatic existence. But why divert from monobloc schedules and attend a literary arts event? Answer: Poetry is now multimedia. And how often do you get a frustrated accountant for a bus driver, National Artist nomination expedition, a gorgeous Bikolana lifestyle section editor, fetish-oriented Spanish film with no subtitles, National Anthem escapade at CCP, poetry readings with music, dance, theater and poetic short films, ancient Bikolano wife-kidnappers, complimentary copies of journals and anthologies, writers’ check, and an Ibanez Joe Satriani Signature electric guitar sold for PhP222,000.00 at discounted price in one trip? Not often enough.