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.

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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.

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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.

“Onward you move regardless of plans, you my friend are a roadworthy man.”—Wolfgang, ‘Roadworthy Man’

Now let us recapitulate some of the important events that I got involved in this year.

I helped in my father’s candidacy as a Baranggay Kagawad. Though it made me see the real score behind this political exercise, I still believe that we can still do better and improve grassroots legislation for national progress.

As writers, we are also legislators. Thus on July 1, 2007, Kabulig-Bikol ratified its Constitution and By-Laws. Though I see that there are still provisions that require some work, as it is, the current By-Laws can already help the organization function with some degree of formality. This country is run by law and not by men, and the same goes for any organization.

I served as Election Officer during Kabulig-Bikol’s selection of the new NCCA-National Committee on Literary Arts Representative. As part of the process, we interrogated the candidates with regard their plans and programs. And then we proceeded to the electoral process via secret balloting. The margin was so close, and to complicate matters, one of the members took an early leave and so we needed to contact him and know his vote. Not wanting a delay in the process, Estelito B. Jacob conceded to Carlos A. Arejola.

We processed the nomination and sent it to the then Head of the NCLA, Lito Zulueta. But later on, we had to resend the nomination because the NCCA, after revising its IRR made some changes in the nomination requirements. They now required a joint nomination (we tapped DIBA, Inc.) and a duly-accomplished application form. As Election Officer and likewise Kabulig-Bikol’s PR Officer, I provided Carlos Arejola with updates with regard the changes in the requirements. We sent the documents again, and this time, not anymore to Lito Zulueta but to the Project Management Division (as indicated) and Carlos Arejola’s application was approved.

Kabulig-Bikol also helped in raising some funds to partially shoulder Carlos’ transportation expenses for the NCLA elections held in Cebu City last December 10. And he is now officially the Representative for Southern Luzon. Though he is expected to represent Bikol writers he will cover as far as the Quezon Province in the NCLA as it tries to deliberate on and execute programs that would revitalize the literary arts scene in the region.

Meanwhile, another group that is determined to push for advocacies with regard Bicol culture and history was formed during the year. Tentatively named Bonyog-Bikolnon it has Fr. Wilmer Tria, Fr. Philip Bersabe, Estelito B. Jacob, Fabiana A. Arejola, Jose Fernando Obias, D.C. Nathan A. Sergio, Ruben P. Barrameda, Ramon Olaño Jr., Jose V. Barrameda Jr., Fr. Manny Zagaoa, Kristian Cordero and Jose Jason L. Chancoco as Incorporators. The group, during its December 9, 2007 meeting at the Madrigal Building agreed to place Jose Obias, Fabiana A. Arejola and Jose Jason L. Chancoco as Interim Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary respectively. The group is now processing its registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Now this blogger believes that for Bikol literature to prosper, Bikol writers ought to think not only of their respective careers and go down from their Ivory Tower and meet up with other people also interested in the art specially the beginners. That is why my monthly Palihan continues. And I see myself doing more of these literary discussions this coming year.

As for the publications, we still got lucky. Here’s some of my published works this year:

  • Homelife: “Isang Gabing Ganito” (October Issue) and “Elehiya” (November Issue)
  • All with Tagalog translations—“Tigsik Lubid”, “Siklo-Real” and “Siklo Solar” in Ani 33: 20th Anniversary Issue (Nature and Environment) edited by Mr. Herminio S. Beltran, Jr
  • Along with poet Santiago Villafania, I indulged in a literary discussion with master poet Cirilo F. Bautista. And the result of this fruitful discourse was published in Bautista’s Philippine Panorama August 19, 2007 article entitled “Of Writers and Readers”
  • Bikol Reporter: March 18-24, 2007 issue—“Pasakalye ki Kaye 1” and November 25-Dec 1, 2007 issue—“Opera”
  • “Sa Parasurat na Inapon sa Salog”, “Sakyada”, “Sa Berde kan Marahan” and “Pasakalye Ki Kaye 1” in Burak nguna bago bunga: Ika-apat na tipon nin mga luwas kan Burak, an Dahon Parawitdawit. Pinakaray ni G.B. Calleja
  • March 2007 Issue of The Pillars—reprint of “The Chanters of Baao”
  • “The Social Dimension of Textual Interrogation in the Classroom” in The Arabesques Print Review, a journal based in South Africa.
  • “Bakwet” in Latay sa Isipan: Mga Bagong Tulang Filipino (UST Press) edited by Dr. Cirilo F. Bautista and Allan Popa. Launched on August 30, 2007 at the World Trade Center.
  • “Nekromansa” in Sawi: Funny Essays, Stories and Poems on All Kinds of Heartbreaks (Milflores Publishing)

I am still the Bikol and Tagalog editor of Dalityapi Unpoemed’s Makata. It still receives contributions from all over the world. Still, it is a portal of Philippine if not Southeast Asian literary arts.

While I also served as judge for the 2007 Premio Tomas Arejola para sa Literaturang Bikolnon, this blogger is also happy to report the three literary distinctions I got this year:

  • Talaang Ginto: Gawad Surian sa Tula, Gantimpalang Collantes 2007 (Hon. Mention)
  • Gawad “Soc” Rodrigo 2007 (From the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino and National Commission for Culture and the Arts)
  • Home Life Magazine Poetry Contest 2007 (1st Prize, Filipino Category)

I also participated in these literary activities:

  • Served as host during the OragonRepublic Writer’s Night at Lolo’s Bar on July 19, 2007
  • Read poems during the Mundag Literary Awards at Ateneo de Naga University on February 17, 2007
  • Reactor to Dr. Cyril Conde’s lecture on February 15, 2007 at Ateneo de Naga University entitled “The Archive of Kadunong: Exploring the Oral Narrative Literature of the Bikol Region in the Philippines”. I talked about oral tradition and Bikol printed poetry.
  • Forum Member or Kinatawan during CHED and KWF’s “Konsultasyon-Balikatan sa Ortograpiyang Filipino” held at DepEd-RELC, Legaspi City on July 10, 2007
  • Along with other Bikol writers, I supported Dr. Cirilo F. Bautista’s nomination to the Order of National Artist 2009
  • Launched the Hagbayon Podcast Channel on June 2, 2007 at http://www.gcast.com/u/hagbayon. And I think it’s the first of its kind in the country.

And of course, my thanks to ABS-CBN reporter Ms. Rizza Mostar and cameraman Christopher Hermoso for featuring this writer for the ‘Bicolano: Angat Ka!’ segment of TV Patrol Bicol on December 7, 2007.

As always, this is for God, for Bicol and the people I love. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!


Layuglayug as we called them in Bikolnon. They came to announce the rain the other night. They came at the time when the heat seemed eternal and God-given. And what a welcome sight. After-all it is almost June, and with this we are reminded of drizzles and school children walking about in their raincoats. We just hope that their classrooms are ready to house their intellectual pursuits.

We hope to see the election fever washed away by the rain. After much bickering, it is time to cool down and work on the real issues and get things done. What is the use of our insitutions if their machinery will not work for the people? If not then we better not have them.

The layug-layug came and went. It was just a visit after-all.