Posts Tagged ‘philippine literature’

pop goes the world: words wild and wondrous

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  8 March 2012, Thursday

Words Wild and Wondrous

“Poetry is a great deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.” (Kahlil Gibran)

Poetry is story; it is experience and emotion described in words carefully chosen and combined in such a way that they exude cadence and rhythm. Set to music, poems become songs. Filipinos are a poetic people more so because we are also a musical people. We can point to a poetic tradition in the old epics such as Lam-Ang, in the works of Francisco Baltazar, Jose Rizal, and all the way to the modern-day versifiers.

One such makata was lauded in the international arena recently. Romulo “Joey” Baquiran Jr., assistant professor at the University of the Philippines College of Arts and Letters, received the 2011 Southeast Asian Writers Award (also known as the SEA Write Award) last February 16 in Bangkok.

The award has been presented annually since 1979 to poets and writers in SE Asia, though not all countries are represented every year. The award may be given for lifetime achievement or for a specific work. The award was organized by the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, with backing from other corporate sponsors, and is supported by the Thai royal family, a member of which graces the awards night each year.

Among the 32 other Filipinos who have received the award are Nick Joaquin, Greg Brillantes, Jose Maria Sison, Bienvenido Santos, Virgilio Almario, Alfred “Krip” Yuson, and Vim Nadera.

Baquiran says among the memorable moments at the SEA Write awarding ceremony was meeting fellow ASEAN writers. “One awardee, Nguyen Chi Trung,” he said, “from Vietnam, is more than 80 years old. He has been active in the people’s army most of his life. He wrote novels about the struggle of his nation. Amazing lolo.”

He also found interesting the reverence that the Thai people bestow upon the members of the royal family. “When Princess Sirivannari Nariratana entered the room, everyone bowed and deferred to her with their whole being.” Even a dog she had with her “was treated with the utmost respect.” It’s cultural observations like this that inform his writing.

“Writing is a social act,” he says. “Writers must always externalize their concerns, for it to resonate in their community. I will stick to this concern.”

Baquiran teaches creative writing and literature in Filipino to undergraduates, and literary history at the graduate level. He has published two collections of poetry with another one due for publication soon, and a collection of personal essays, among many other published works.

Various awards-giving bodies have heaped recognition upon him; he has won several prizes from the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature and two Manila Critics Circle National Book Awards (poetry and creative non-fiction).

On the present state of Philippine poetry he says, “We have a writing boom right now among the young writers, both in English and Filipino. It’s pretty exciting. And the veterans are very productive too.”

Baquiran is completing a poetry collection titled Kung Nanaisin (If It is To Be Wished) to be published by the UP Press, while a Thai publisher will soon be releasing a Thai version of his essay collection Hospital Diary.

The significance of his achievement is such that the Academy of American Poets and the United States-based Poetry Foundation have Tweeted the news to their tens of thousands of followers, with the latter even posting an article on their website.

May the day come soon when international-award-winning Filipino writers and artists will be feted by the nation with as much enthusiasm as they do the boxers and singers. Literature carries within it a nation’s history and narratives, even those of its singers and boxers, and, along with other art forms, is the repository of a people’s soul.

Let Baquiran have the last word, with the opening line from his “Gagamba” (Spider): “Heometriya ng pagnanasa ang hinabi ko sa hangin…” (I wove the geometry of desire in the wind…)

* * * * *

The UP College of Mass Communication celebrates its 47th Foundation Week from March 3 to 9 with various activities including an alumni homecoming, launch of the latest issue of its journal Plaridel, and the blessing of various new facilities.

A recognition ceremony of outstanding students, faculty, alumni, and staff will be held tomorrow morning. Congratulations to the honorees and to my alma mater on reaching another milestone! *** 

Image of Prof. Baquiran here.

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pop goes the world: culture stock

POP GOES THE WORLD, By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 7 October 2010, Thursday

Culture Stock

Where resides a nation’s heart and soul?

This was the question that several university professors, media professionals, and I discussed the other night during a PhD class at the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication. It stemmed from College of St. Benilde professor Rod Rivera’s report on theaters in Manila that screen films bordering on the pornographic.  There are those, he said, that claim that such theaters in Quiapo and Recto are a front for male prostitution.

From there, Dr. Jose Lacson segued to commercialism in television and film. Advertising executive Chitchat Diangson said that much of television content in dictated by what producers believe will sell, leading to the creation of mind-numbing programs like “Wowowee”. Professor Bea Lapa deplored the entertainment media’s unwillingness to raise the programming bar in standards and taste, while writer Nina Villena brought up the issue of media gatekeeping. Women’s development professor and staunch feminist Julienne Baldo decried the media’s reinforcement of negative stereotypes of gender and class, perpetuating cruel cycles of prejudice and bias that further retard national social development.

Prof. Julienne Baldo analyzes the poster of  ”Serbis” at a theater in Quiapo.

Which brings us back to our question and its possible answer. It is in art where commercialism does not hold absolute sway and the discourse on social issues may be expanded without the taint of capitalism and the imperative of profit. There are those of us who write, paint, make music, and sculpt not for money, but because we need to express the meanings and concepts that burn within us and cry to be expressed and physically manifested in forms that may be shared with others.

These forms – books, songs, paintings, theater plays – often do not translate into income for their creators, but that was not the point of their creation anyway. It is in a nation’s art that current social events and issues are poked, cut up into bits, and licked to find out what they taste like. What’s important to people? That is what floats up in the content being made nowadays, and is disseminated over channels such as the Internet.

Dulaang UP scored one such intellectually-shaking triumph with their recent hit production “Shock Value”, written by Floy Quintos and directed by Alexander Cortez. It’s been given a positive review by MST opinion editor Adelle Chua, who focused her piece on the play’s theme of the commercialization of television, and how producers of celebrity shows of mass attraction artificially manufacture the scandals and intrigues that make up its content.

“Shock Value” cast members sashay across the stage. (Dulaang UP photo)

Among its stars in its cast are John Lapus, Mylene Dizon, Andoy Ranay, Christian Alvarado, and the awesomely talented Sabina Santiago. As “Little Tweety Girl”, Santiago’s hilarious on-stage simulation of an orgasm, eyes rolling back in her head, demotes Meg Ryan’s performance in “When Harry Met Sally” to amateur status.

Dulaang UP’s next offering is “Isang Panaginip na Fili”, “an edgy, dreamlike interpretation” of the Jose Rizal novel El Filibusterismo by writer/director Quintos, which will run from November 24 to December 12 at UP Diliman’s Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater. Call (02)926-1349 or (02)433-7840 for tickets.

“Isang Panaginip na Fili” publicity still, courtesy of Dulaang UP.

A fresh take on heartbreak, loss, and recovery comes from writer Carljoe Javier by way of his non-fiction book The Kobayashi Maru of Love, with artwork and design by Adam David of the Youth and Beauty Brigade. It’s available at avalon.ph.

Says Carljoe: “I wrote The Kobayashi Maru of Love because, first, I was trying to understand (a recent) breakup, and I was trying to work through my feelings about it. Like any breakup, there are nasty emotions that follow, and I was going through all that. But I thought that if I was forced to apply aesthetic distance, if I was forced to try and be funny about it, that I would be able to cope better. And as I got back into the dating game, well, things were just funny and had to be written about.”

The book is indeed funny, but beyond that, it dwells on themes that nearly everyone who reads it can relate to. “I think that I’m talking about something universal,” says Carljoe, “and that’s loss. Pretty much everyone has gone through a heartbreak or a heartache. I guess that I was just trying to connect to that, to make the book not just about my own personal heartbreak, but to make it for everyone who’s ever been through it. Our individual experiences are different, but the hurt is the same. So I wanted to write a book that talked about that.”

Carljoe’s next book, Geek Tragedies, will be published by UP Press next year. “I have a number of projects in the works,” he says, “among them a book I hope to write about the Filipino diaspora and the effect that having parents abroad have on kids; a book about me, a fat man trying to get healthy; and a novel.” A freelance writer and editor of the Philippine Online Chronicles, he is also taking his MA Creative Writing at UP’s College of Arts and Letters.

Art in this country is alive and well and a thriving part of our culture, a part that is not a slave to commercialism but is free to speak out on social matters, the human condition, and what lives inside the Filipino heart and soul. ***

Photo above, L-R: (front) writer Bambi Harper, UP professor emeritus Dr. Cristina Hidalgo. (back) writers Waldo Petralba, Jeena Marquez, and Carljoe Javier.

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butch dalisay launches latest novel

Anvil Publishing and Jose Y. Dalisay Jr., PhD, successfully launched Soledad’s Sister yesterday at the Claro M. Recto Hall of the Faculty Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman.

Dr. Dalisay’s second novel, after Killing Time in a Warm Place (1992), Soledad’s Sister has been widely acclaimed by both local and foreign critics and was shortlisted for the 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize.

The launching ceremony featured a short lecture delivered by Dr. Dalisay on “Writing the Filipino Novel”, followed by reactions from fellow academics.  A short question-and-answer forum ensued, then a short speech by Anvil Publishing owner Karina Bolasco. Dr. Dalisay then read a brief excerpt of his novel. A book signing was the final activity, with Dr. Dalisay wielding either a Faber-Castell or a Pelikan M800 Souveran fountain pen.

Dr. Dalisay’s soundbites from the Q&A:

On how many more novels he plans to write: “Before I croak, I expect to write five novels…this is the second…after that, I’ll clean my fountain pens. That’s all I really want to do.”

On whether one can make money from writing novels: “Ang nobela dito (Philippines), unless it’s picked up in school, doesn’t go to second printing…often, the first doesn’t sell out.”

On whether Filipinos are a good market for books: “Filipinos buy books. They just don’t buy us (Filipino writers in English).”

On creating popular works with literary value that sell well: “I”m really serious about this…it’s an aesthetic challenge, to bridge that gap, to write something that’s popular and at the same time really well done.”

On the inspiration for latest novel: “The story of our OFWs (Overseas Foreign Workers) is the definitive Filipino story of our time…it’s the most outstanding feature of our economic landscape. We have become so dependent on them for our sustenance – their being there and coming home here changed our political landscape… They come back knowing that some things work, and that the government shold be accountable to you…that will create political changes… Masasaya, malulungkot ang kuwento nila.”

Dr. Dalisay reads an excerpt from “Soledad’s Sister”

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Signing books with a Pelikan M800 Souveran, B nib, blue ink

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Fellow fountain pen collector George Mamonluk snapping photos of the event

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jose dalisay jr.: soledad’s sister

From the MacAir and bountiful imagination of novelist Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. come Soledad’s Sister, exploring the hardships that may be encountered by Filipino OCWs (overseas contract workers) and their relatives in the Philippines.

Shortlisted for the 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize, the novel, Dalisay’s second after Killing Time in a Warm Place, tells of the homecoming of “Aurora V. Cabahug” from Saudi Arabia – in a casket. It is the story of Soledad, who used her sister Aurora’s name to skirt legal issues and leave the Philippines to work as domestic helper. It is the story of her sister Aurora, who tries to solve the mystery of her sister’s death, while managing to lose the corpse along the way.

Written with sincere warmth and sensitivity, it is also a story that could have been a reality for any of the millions of OCW families who have sent fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers into the Filipino exodus to slave for foreigners to be able to keep their loved ones alive.

It reflects a facet of our society, that squandered its chance to be an Asian Tiger and is now relegated to being the world’s labor pool.

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On a personal level, as the sister of an OFW in Dubai, I see this story as my worst nightmare. My sister Aileen has worked for 16 years as a secretary in a land where no plants grow except by force, where they have no soil but sand, where water is more precious than petroleum. I fear for her safety every day. I pray for her health and happiness as she lives a life far away from her family. I wish that things would get better so that she can come home, and spend her days with us.

But as long as reality is manifest and dreams remain figments of desire, Aileen will work in Dubai until she can no longer, and I, and others who read stories such as Soledad’s Sister, can only reflect on the choices people make and the outcomes that may attend these choices.

Soledad’s Sister will be formally launched on 31 July 2008, Thursday, 4pm, at the Faculty Center of the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Dr. Dalisay will deliver a short lecture, followed by book-signing.

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bucoy, sto domingo, siy: tres amores

Another of Fox Books’ pioneer offerings, Tres Amores is a 3-in1 book of romance in the city, written from three different feminine points-of-view – that of a high school student, a college student, and a working girl.

Accurately reflecting the angst and emotion of young love in a Filipino setting, the stories will touch a chord of recognition in all those who have ridden the roller-coaster of heartbreak and happiness.

With interesting illustrations by Kristian Teves, “isang ordinaryong college student ng Far Eastern University…isang tunay na loverboy”, this book is a must-add to your collection of contemporary Filipino stories.

About the authors:

Si Layeta Bucoy ay nagtapos ng AB Communication Arts sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas sa Los Baños noong 1996 at ang kanyang MFA in Creative Writing sa De La Salle University noong 2003. Nagkamit siya ng gantimpala mula sa Palanca noong 1998 at 2007. Ang kanyang mga dula ay naitanghal na ng PETA, ng Cultural Center of the Philippines, at ng Saison Theater Program sa Tokyo, Japan. Kasalukuyan siyang nagtuturo ng Humanidades sa UP Los Baños.

Si Ardee Sto Domingo ay nagtapos ng BS Electronics and Communications Engineering sa Technological University of the Philippines noong 2003. Mahilig magbasa at magsulat, kasalukuyan siyang head writer ng sikat na soap opera na mapapanood sa GMA.

Si Beverly Siy ay nagtapos ng BA Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Filipino (cum laude) sa UP Diliman. Naging fellow na si Bebang sa UP at UST National Writers’ Workshops at naging aktibong bahagi ng pamunuan ng UP Writers’ Club at LIRA…noong Hulyo 2006, inilabas ang kanyang maikling kuwento bilang bahagi ng Hilakbot I, Loyola High, at City Lights, mga aklat na pang-adolescent. Sa Setyembre, lalabas na ang kanyang nobelang Mingaw.

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