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 2, 2014
In 2012, something great happened in the literary landscape of Naga City, the Bikol Poetry Slam. Watch the complete video here.
December 26, 2012
This is another year-ender essay. So, WTF happened this year anyway?
Well for sure, I am still in this country. I am still in Bicol even if there are more reasons to consider leaving. I need not enumerate them for it will surely spoil our New Year’s celebration. But this coming year, I am getting closer and closer to a Bachelor of Laws diploma. Never thought I would get this far, to think that I tend to be on the creative rather than the legalistic side. I have to admit that studying the law made me more humble and mature. It helped me to think straight and precise, using objectivity rather than ego and niceties. It inculcated in me an almost monastic reading lifestyle. Thanks to my “killjoy” law professors.
My legal internship with SALIGAN-Bikol had its peak last summer during the immersion program. We had to go and live with our clientele, the marginalized and the oppressed—particularly the peasant-folk. I got exposed to their plight and problems, and the state of the land reform program in the country. Even wrote an article about the experience which I printed in this blog and the Bicol Mail (The Social Function Doctrine, June 8, 2012). I still drop by the Banasi farm to visit my host family from time to time. I might continue to do so if work does not bring me farther away.
I revived the T-Bloc Workshop late this year, and named it Tarusan Bloc Poetry Class. We have had two sessions so far. It’s a way for me to share with like-minded Bicol-based young writers what I know about poetics. Things I learned along the way: From oral prose and poetic traditions and from writers’ workshops. We are using my book “Pagsasatubuanan: Poetikang Bikolnon” as main source. Our vantage point therefore in learning various aesthetics is Bikol poetics. The workshop is for free and is held every month usually in my apartment. It’s a chance for me to interact with young writers, know their problems and issues, to be a friend to them. I also learn a lot from during the exchanges.
I also noticed that there are various writing groups here in Bicol. There’s the Kabulig-Bikol which is currently doing some revival efforts after being silent for quite some time. The Tabaco-based ABKAT is still so active, holding the Albay Writing Workshop every summer plus other arts event. There is the campus-based Ateneo Literary Association (ALA), and of course the Tilad group. I just hope that said groups would continue to thrive and be more project-oriented. It would also be wise for them to adopt an attitude of non-exclusiveness. New talents must be nurtured and welcomed. Failure to do this would spell doomsday for any group. But of course different groups and factions are very much normal, and even healthy for any literary arts culture. It’s always fun to have different groups who are adverse to each other, each following a literary school of thought. It ensures competition and quality production.
And of course, the publications. Let me again list my printed works this year, just so we have it on record:
1. After “100” (Poetry, Philippines Graphic, May 7, 2012)
2. And Home is Not What I Find Each Christmas (Poetry, FEU English and Literature Journal, Volume 5)
3. Ang Hula (Tula, Paper Monster Press, Asuang Issue, August 2012)
4. Fiat Lux (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, April 8, 2012)
5. Fiat Lux (Poetry, FEU English and Lit Journal, Volume 5)
6. Getting Paid (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, April 8, 2012)
7. Hagbayon (Tula, Talaang Ginto Anthology, Winning Works 2007-2010)
8. I Love You But We Have No Divorce Law Here (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, March 11, 2012)
9. Not Your Usual Writer’s Trip (Essay, Bicol Mail, December 20, 2012)
10. Opera (Rawitdawit, Ani 37, November 29, 2012)
11. Opera (Tula, Ani 37, November 29, 2012)
12. Pagsilung (Rawitdawit, Ani 37, November 29, 2012)
13. Panonood (Tula, Ani 37, November 29, 2012)
14. Passing by Baao (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, March 11, 2012)
15. Passing by Baao (Poetry, FEU English and Lit Journal, Volume 5)
16. Some Beer and Planet Niburu (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, April 8, 2012)
17. Supermaids (Tula, Talaang Ginto Anthology, Winning Works 2007-2010)
18. The Price of (Dis)Trust (Poetry, Philippine Panorama, March 25, 2012)
19. The Reunion (Poetry, FEU English and Lit Journal, Volume 5)
20. The Social Function Doctrine (Essay, Bicol Mail, June 8, 2012)
21. The Walk (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, April 8, 2012)
22. The Walk (Poetry, FEU English and Lit Journal, Volume 5)
23. This is a Dream (Poetry, The Sunday Times Magazine, October 28, 2012)
24. Uniberso (Tula, Talaang Ginto Anthology, Winning Works 1999-2006)
25. Versosimo: Where the Word Binds Them All (Essay, Bicol Mail, April 26, 2012)
26. Versosimo: Where the Word Binds Them All (Essay, The Daily Tribune, August 1, 2012)
27. Wanting to Write a Poem (Poetry, Philippines Graphic, May 7, 2012)
I also discovered just this year that the poems “Opera” and “Pagtatanghal” were printed in the Philippines Graphic on March 12, 2007. And that my essay “The Bikol Berso and Balagtasismo” appeared in the Volume 1 Number 1 2008 issue of the Mabini Review, the philosophical journal of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. I hope to get complimentary copies soon.
I think that a writer must publish or perish. Hence my propensity for continually sending works to various publications. Still there is dearth of literary outlets in this country. The Sunday Inquirer Magazine still has not revived its poetry section. Good thing that we still have The Sunday Times Magazine as edited by Elmer Ordoňez. The literary section of Philippines Graphic is still there as edited by Alma Anonas-Carpio. And for writers in Filipino and Tagalog, we still have Liwayway.
Winning awards is the least of my priorities of course. I see it as mere icing on the cake, a mere stroke of luck or accident. But it is a duty of every writer to join contests if he has the proper material. And this year, I still got lucky and got an ego-boost by winning prizes. My poem in Tagalog/Filipino “Sa Naninibago” managed to win Karangalang-Banggit (Honorable Mention) in the prestigious Talaang Ginto contest sponsored by the Philippine government via Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF), a Constitutionally mandated institution. Two of my entries also managed to squeeze themselves in the recent Dionatext Kontra Depresyon contest, winning Honorable Mention (as usual). Let me print them again here:
Ng uod, kaibigan.
Unos ma’y rumagasa
At bumaha ng luha,
Palad ko’y iyong bangka.
The theme for the contest revolved on depression and how to combat and triumph against it. And the recent knock-out loss of Manny Pacquiao in the hands of his Mexican rival, Juan Manuel Marquez sure placed the entire country in manic depressive mode. So here’s something for Manny:
Dahil lang napabagsak.
Pacquiao, bilog ang bukas,
Di ring na parisukat.
By the way, I am still wondering why the organizers for the 2011 1st Annual Bicol Bloggy Awards were not able to send me my citation for the “Best Literature Blog” award. They must realize that I am entitled to it as a matter of right and they are legally obligated to send the same to me. I have demanded for it so many times, and they have in fact incurred legal delay.
This year, I still found time to attend some literary events. On January 31, 2012, my band The Super Poet Genome Project performed during the Su’pay at Aquinas University. I noticed that poetry readings must really adopt a proper program more so when it comes to the open-mic. The same must be on a first to come-first to read basis. During said event, some writers were not able to perform when the AdNU contingent arrived much later than our group but was allowed to read first. The host merely wanted the leader of the group to introduce his companions but he proceeded in hosting the ‘Ateneo Segment’ and made them read. And after said ‘segment’ they hurriedly left, leaving us there with my band in mid-performance. So much that it looked like a walk-out. After we listened to them, they did not listen to us. They left as a group so the venue was almost empty and the main host did not bother to call the other writer-readers anymore and proceeded in ending the program. In the WG, we strictly observe a first to come-first to read serve rule except for the featured writer. So that error by the organizers was so obvious for us.
I heard that they were in a hurry to go back to Naga because of some permit constraints. We understand that but the funny thing is we arrived in Naga first. They could have waited for the program to finish because it was about to end anyway. If they were planning to leave early, then they should have arrived early, and not barge in the middle of the program, perform, and leave like some wannabe rockstars. My companions were really hurt by that.
Another literary event I went into was a blogging seminar at the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture-Calabanga College of Education on Oct. 5, 2012. I was asked to discuss the use of the internet in literary practice. I made it a point to share my research on the history of publishing in the Bicol region. I also shared the use of e-mail, e-groups, message boards, web sites, blogs and social-networking in my writing activities.
Most of the WG was held at Sosimo Bar so we dubbed it as VerSosimo. We had a gig on February 21, March 4 (Anniversary Gig), March 25, and we supported the April-May Bikol Slam as organized by my writer-friend Ronel Amata. We also had a WG in June, but after it we have not scheduled a new gig as of late due to the decline in attendance.The usual reason is that they are busy. I think that a real writer is never too busy. But if busyness is the business, then so be it.
But busy or not, I was excited to attend the ANI 37 launch on November 29, 2012. Just wrote an article about it. Just read it here. We sure loved the experience and the adventure.
Happy new year everyone! Please don’t fire guns.
October 29, 2012
Alanganin. This is how some people would describe the October 29-30 office and class days, since starting 31st it will be a long long weekend until Monday. Here I am taking advantage of the free time I have to unwind a little. I already sent the paperworks where it should be.
It’s nice to see more and more young people frequenting the Filipiniana section of our bookstores. True, most of them seem to be looking for Bob Ong, saying: “This book Paboritong Aklat ni Hudas must be very scary!”
That’s good enough for me. At least they are interested.
There’s some update on the Ani 37 launch. CCP has released a poster of sorts for the programme. And it turns out that my name is first in the billing–along with my band The Super Poet Genome Project. Earlier, when CCP LitDiv asked me if which portion of the program we prefer, the opening or the ending. I said we prefer the opening since we still have to do set-up and sound check. It’s true. From experience, bands tend to disrupt the flow of the performance since indeed, they have to do some twanging and twinging before they start.
Now we are gathering funds for our transportation expenses and we welcome YOUR support, yes. For the sake of literature, right? Yes.
Also, I heard there was a poetry reading last Saturday here in Naga. But due to my busyness or shall we say business of being busy, I missed it. I heard the theme was Bikol erotica. Naks! When I think of erotica, I imagine young and sexy women reading sensual poems. Like say, Mercedes Cabral. That would be a treat!
September 22, 2012
It’s been raining here in Naga. Mike Padua was on radio earlier, telling the public of a weather disturbance of Southeast Asian origin. Law professor said the heavy rains should wait for the night where it would be more conducive. Conducive for cuddling or perhaps more.
My adjournment sine die will have to wait for tomorrow. Folks aren’t coming. Perhaps due to the rain. So a KNN VCD would do the trick for tonight, just so I could have reprieve from stress.
As for the WG on the 29th, will keep you posted. Sheila Basbas will be arranging with the new venue, the Almaree’s Bar along Barlin Street. We are thinking of having a slam session, just to continue what we started last summer when Ronel Amata was still here in the country. Will work on the prizes and will give updates soon. To those writers near the vicinity, you are free to attend. Bring some poems for you to read.
And of course my band will still play. I hope we could have time for rehearsals this weekend.
April 18, 2012
There is just this periodic itch to come out and read aloud. Perhaps it is due to the solitary nature of writing. One day you will find yourself ready to explode with poems and with the desire to do it in a crowded place. And so it was one night in March 2011 when I found myself a little bit bored with pragmatic existence and wanted a poetic breather.
Wharf Galley Rock Café was just then some walking distance away from my Naga City apartment. Managed by Virgie Sorita and James Estrada, it was then the only venue which catered to the rock n roll lifestyle of Bicol. The region is one of the first that responded to the rock band revolution of the ‘90s started by the Eraserheads, The Youth, The Wuds, The Teeth, Philippine Violators, Yano, Tropical Depression, Wolfang, Siakol, The Weed etc. And perhaps it is not a coincidence that Ely Buendia is actually from Naga. With only a few chairs and tables, intimate enough to capture creative convergence from people coming from the same era, Wharf Galley was in that psyche. And I was thinking of the Bikol “Sompongan” during the 1940’s and the Dredd Poet’s Society led by Karen Kunawicz during the 90’s. My mind also traveled to Malate and re-joined the Spoken Word group at Survival Café headed by Triccia David. And of course, Al Purdy’s “At the Quinte Hotel” also came to mind.
It turned out that the “Backyard Poets” of Sta. Cruz was never really forgotten by Wharf’s rock technician Jonjie San Vicente. True enough, he once visited my apartment where together with Ateneo de Naga based writers, we used to hold poetry sessions at my backyard, complete with guitars, beer, peanuts, mosquitoes and katol. It took only one cigarette break’s worth of mind-picking, and the WG (Writers’ Gig) was conceived. It was to be a monthly event, just an hour of open-mic poetry. The emphasis was and still is the open-mic. Poetic short films would be projected, and then poems would be read or recited from memory, or from the smoke-thick ether.
Then one beery night with guitar master Don Alanis and writer Kevin de Quiroz led us to the former’s unassuming but compleat music studio at Jacob Extension. There we traded riffs and beats until poetry just had to come out through the microphone. Rock music and poetry—our band was born. But it was not until the very first gig on March 5, 2011, when we were having a hang-over breakfast at my place, when the name The Super Poet Genome Project was coined by Bikol Komikero Yatoy Carretas. I was then talking about some literary mentors who would train young writers to become their suicide bombers, their intricately crafted poems as magic spells and bombs, when Yatoy innocently and elegantly blurted: “The Super Poet Genome Project!” And the word was made flesh, and in our minds Jason Faktor, the comics character who could save the world with his poems, was born.
Jason Faktor could win a poetry contest without even joining. He would whisper a haiku to a butterfly and it will come back with a tsunami. He wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. They actually plagiarized the Holy Bible because he actually wrote it. The entire Philippine Constitution was inspired by a comma in one of Jason Faktor’s bad poems. The list goes on.
The Super Poet Genome Project ended up as a performance poetry rock band taking its cue from the likes of Radioactive Sago Project, Axel Pinpin Propaganda Machine and Tony Pigott. The band would open up the show right after the film viewing. Earlier gigs saw screenings of locally and internationally produced short poetic films. Without formally starting the show, said films would be projected on-screen just to prepare the minds of the audience to a more poetic mood.
The SPGP then had Don Alanis and Don Sarte as sessionists for the bass guitar and Kevin de Quiroz on drums until classical guitarist Peter Orata bought a Washburn bass guitar and joined the band. I, for one, as the band’s guitarist and voice also use a Washburn, and occasionally, an Ibanez to effect our breed of metal and shred with some touch of acid rock and blues. And so far our repertoire includes my poem “Bakwet,” our bluesy rendition of “Alak” by Mike Coroza, the heavy metal “Uniberso” and our version of Rivermaya’s “Ipoipo” with my poem “Dumaraan” integrated with the song. We also play guitar-driven instrumental songs such as the “Top Gun” theme and the bass-driven “Peter’s Groove,” an original.
The gig is primordially an open-mic event where walk-ins are welcome to participate. However, we earlier featured as main writers the likes of Ricardo Lee, Frank Penones and Vic Nierva. We also did a fund raising campaign for cancer patient Jo Bisuna, and when she finally succumbed to said illness, we organized a tribute gig. Our gigs for her were the most attended, leaving the venue swarming with writers, poets, artists, musicians, dancers, intellectuals and activists.
The WG regular poets and readers are Kevin de Quiroz, Jerome Hipolito, Jusan Misolas, Ronel Astor, Ronel Amata, Buboy Aguay, Issa Redburn, Jay Salvosa, Elbert Baeta, Johner Caneba, John Pazcoguin, Fer Basbas, and Irvin Sto. Tomas. Poems in English, Filipino and in any of the Bikol languages are read. Bikol poetic forms such as the tigsik are also highlighted, along with rawitdawit and the emerging tuyaw. The tigsik is an indigenous poetic form done during drinking sprees. Oftentimes with rhyme and meter, its participants would tigsik or “drink to” a particular topic, each paratigsik taking turns answering each other just before gulping a drink thereby creating a flow of alcohol-induced sharp and exciting poetic discourse. The rawitdawit now stands for the word poetry, and the tuyaw is a poetic theater act where the poet would go onstage and start a conversation with a person in the audience. At times, they would discuss matters not previously rehearsed making the performance spontaneous and interesting. Truly, spontaneity is what makes the WG, and this is carried off until the after-party when we indulge in more beer and literary discussions.
Aside from film and performance poetry also features other art forms such as music and dance. Books by Bikol writers are also sold. The Fire n Ice Dancers are regular performers during the monthly gigs. Singer Julie General once rendered her version of the Les Miserables piece “On My Own”. Events organizer Sheila Basbas rendered the sexiest song number ever for her hubby, Fer. Poet and musician Jaime Jesus Borlagdan once dropped by to sing some of his original Bikol songs.
Since Wharf Galley’s goodbye kiss last February, the event has been dubbed as VerSosimo: Writers’ Gig at Sosimo Bar after moving to Sosimo Resto Bar at Magsaysay Avenue. Sponsored by the Atty. Francis Papica Foundation, we had our anniversary gig last March 4, 2012. Video clips can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/user/hagbayon
The creative writer has always been quite an odd entity in the Philippine setting. More so if he writes in one of the ‘strange’ regional languages. There must be a way for the local writers to be visible—and in a relaxed atmosphere. A way for them to show especially to the younglings that poetry rocks and writers are cool—and that reading is hip. Multimedia is the way to go. Poetry is now cinema, is now music, is now performance, and not only a thing for pagination. Hence the WG.
April 6, 2012
With this gig, we finally capped the WG-year which started March 5, 2011. We now have had twelve (12) gigs.This happened here in the Philippines, province of Camarines Sur, Naga City at Sosimo Bar. Please check the video. Enjoy!
This next video is from our Anniversary Gig. Still have to upload the rest of the video. Thanks to Pen for this.
This video is from our emergency gig when screenwriter and novelist Ricardo Lee came to visit Naga City.
I also was invited to read a poem during the Fire n Ice Dance Concert. Here’s the video.
And this one is from Su’Pay 2012 at Aquinas University.
January 11, 2012
The 8th Verses: Writers’ Gig at Wharf Galley (Naga City) last January 8, 2012 started the year right. True, there were spoilers. In fact I got sick twice during the holidays and I caught the so-called 24-hour bug. Truly, health is wealth and sickness can compromise our mission. Cirilo Bautista is correct in saying that hospitals can reduce humans to scrap. It is ironic that we send so many nurses abroad, yet our healthcare system here in the Philippines is almost crap. Even our doctors study nursing just so they could go abroad. But then hey, WG8 saved the smiley in me.
That night, I finally got to rock and use my other guitar, the Ibanez. I got to shred and sing my soul out with my band, The Super Poet Genome Project. I brought my wakizashi with me to be used as props for my poetry performance. The Fire n Ice Dance group was just great, rendering two dance numbers. One filled me up with nostalgia for they performed dances from the 80’s to 90’s, a patikim for their up-coming dance concert on February 15-16. Icing to our metaphorical cake was our guest slam poet from Canada, Mr. Ronel Amata.
The readers for the night were Noel Cervantez, Ronel Astor, Jusan Misolas, Jerome Hipolito, Kevin de Quiroz, Tristan Velarde, Johner Caneba, Tess Francisco, Ronel Amata, and of course, this blogger. Writers Jay Salvosa and Rizaldy Manrique were also in attendance.
As always, we welcomed Ronel Amata via our traditional “jijutzu” finger-lifting levitation trick. After which, we ushered ourselves to a literary discussion over rounds of beer. We asked ourselves: “When did we start writing?” We figured that we have been writing as early as early, we just did not know it. Living is writing as proven by the love-angles and melodramatics by some of the sharers. But then this overflow of ideas was cut short, unfortunately, when it was my turn to share. Two motorcycles collided in front of Avenue Square, complete with flying bodies in classic quasi-delict frenzy. The gig started with a bang, and yet we had to end by taking our cue from a motorcycle crash in this motorcycle country. We had to proceed to Gotobest plaza just to appease our hunger and clear our throats of shock with goto-kinalas-tokwa with egg plus sili, and cold water.
Till next month my friends, till next month.
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
December 22, 2011
And so the year ends not with a blast but with a deluge. Hitherto typhoon-proof Mindanao became a detour of a climate-change sponsored storm rerouting. It used to be a Leyte-Samar-Bicol-Pacific route for these cyclones. In fact, we Bicolanos have gotten used to our share of periodic storms that we look forward more to typhoons rather than Christmas or birthdays. It has become part of our psyche and culture. But it seems that nature’s natural windy clean-up drive will no longer be just spicing up our pinangat or kinalas. It will also be blending with durian, and swaying with malongs from now on.
The recent tsunami, drought, flash floods and super-typhoons (plus a near-hit comet!) made this blog renew its vow to include climate change mitigation in its advocacy. After-all, every advocacy whether it be legal or cultural, leads to nature.
It must start with us. We must look at the lifestyles we live and the products we buy. Everything we do, everything we buy is a political choice. A vote between saying yes or no to climate-change mitigation.
We must also maintain a watchful eye if earth-friendly laws are being legislated and executed, or if those who violate them are being prosecuted in the court of justice. We must be reminded that the Supreme Court once ruled in the case of Oposa v. Factoran (July 30, 1993) that we are all proper parties to this legal cause. In fact we can even sue in behalf of generations yet unborn.
In said case, the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. plus a group of minors, represented by their parents, filed a class suit against the then Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Hon. Fulgencio S. Factoran to cancel timber license agreements (TLA). The Plaintiffs asserted that we are losing our rainforests so fast, and hence they were suing in behalf of future generations. Factoran argued that the Plaintiffs had no cause of action and the suit was not justiciable because it is a political issue. The trial court ruled in favor of Factoran and dismissed the case. Determined to pursue their cause, the Plaintiffs filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court invoking Arts. 19-21 of the Civil Code of the Philippines (Human Relations), Sec. 4 of Executive Order 192 (DENR Charter) and Presidential Decree 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy. They also invoked Sec. 16, Art. 2 of the 1987 Constitution on the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology. They also cried generational homicide and reiterated the natural law on the right to self-preservation.
The High Court through ponente Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. ruled that the Petitioners had cause of action because the suit was based on a fundamental legal right which is a justiciable issue. And also, Sec. 16, Art. 2 of the 1987 Constitution need not be unwritten because it is assumed to exist at the inception of humankind. The Court also invoked Title 14, Book 4 of the Administrative Code of 1987 which mandates the DENR to control utilization of natural resources, and Sec. 20 of the Forestry Reform Code (PD 705) which allows the President, for national interest, to amend, modify, replace and rescind any contract (including TLAs) as a police power measure. The Court further mused: “Petitioners minors assert that they represent their generation as well as generation yet unborn. We find no difficulty in ruling that they can, for themselves, for others of their generation, and for succeeding generations, to file a class suit. Their personality to sue on behalf of succeeding generation can only be based on the personality concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned.”
Remember the case of Oposa v. Factoran. Remember the code: Oppose the Factory.
Truly, this concern is intersectoral. We cannot go on and pretend that we are not involved. As writers we must do more aside from writing. We must act. This is not to say that the writing process per se is not an act but rather, it is to say that writing is the first of many acts. After-all, poetry is actual life merely transmogrified into words on paper.
The WG group is thinking of an activity for the summer of 2012—a poetry hike and tree-planting here in Bicol. Writers and non-writers are welcome to walk the trek with us. Then we will be reading poetry to the seedlings after they are planted. We will be reading poetry to the trees. For surely you will agree, as one well-meaning poet once said: “I think I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree.”
Wait for more updates Bard-Brothers.