Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Beauty of the Sea

The Beauty of the Sea

On a clear day like this,
the view of the sea
from the promontory
where you stand

is breathtaking,
its surface breaking
like a precious gem
into prisms of light.

So you scamper
to the beach below,
the sand crunching
beneath your feet

and scoop a cupful
of blue in your hands.
But already the humor
inside you changes,

since beauty betrays
always, making you sigh,
for once captured
it begins to slip through

your fingers, the way
water escapes your grip
no matter how long
or hard your try.

Friday, December 19, 2008

16th Iligan National Writers Workshop (INWW)

16th Iligan National Writers Workshop (INWW)

The National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), the Mindanao Creative Writers Group, Inc., and the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension (OVCRE) are accepting applications from writers to the 16th Iligan National Writers
Workshop (INWW) to be held on May 25-29, 2009 in Iligan City.

Sixteen (16) slots, five each from Luzon and Visayas and six from Mindanao are available for writing fellowships to the INWW. Of the slots for Mindanao, one (1) is for the Manuel T. Buenafe Writing Fellowship preferably for Muslim or Lumad applicants.

Applicants are required to submit five poems; or, one short story; or, for the novel, a summary and 2 chapters for this work-in-progress; and, a one-act play in Filipino, English or in Cebuano.

For entries in Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, Waray and Chavacano, translations in English are required. Please submit along with the application form two, 2X2 photos. The application form may be downloaded at (go to Department of Research-MMIDU). Please submit a hard copy and a CD with the manuscripts encoded in MS Word97. Unpublished works are preferred. Applicants must have attended at least one regional/local writers workshop, no exceptions.

Writing fellows will be given free board and lodging and a travel allowance. Applications must be postmarked on or before February 15, 2009. No applications or manuscripts will be accepted if sent after postmarked dates or by fax or e-mail.

Applicants are also advised to keep copies of their manuscripts since these will not be returned. Send all applications to the 16th INWW Director, Christine F. Godinez-Ortega c/o OVCRE, MSU-IIT, Iligan City. For more information contact Pat Cruz or Alice Bartolome or Cherly Adlawan, tels. (063) 3516131; or e-mail:

Thursday, December 4, 2008




BUHAY! : TANGHALAN AT BAYAN, a theater festival that showcases works by PHILSTAGE member-companies focusing on various themes and expressions of the principles of good public governance and good citizenship, continues with performances in the cities of Pasig, Manila, and Pasay. All performances are presented free to the public.

On Sunday, December 7, 2008, 10:00 A.M., the Triumphant Peoples Evangilistic Theater Society (TRUMPETS) performs “PAMILYA MALETA”, a two-part musical drama about the social displacement of Filipino families whose members are caught in the global diaspora of Overseas Filipino Workers. Written by Itchell Lacsamana, Raquel Villavicencio and Roselyn Perez with stage and musical direction by Sweet Plantado-Tiongson, the production presents the struggles of the OFW’s as they pursue a better life – abusive foreign employers, death of loved ones, financial difficulties, loneliness and depression. Featuring the TRUMPETS Actors Ensemble, “PAMILYA MALETA” it will be performed at the Word Community, Pasig City

Tanghalang Pilipino, the resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, presents “PRAGRES” on Monday, December 8, 2008, 1:00 P.M. at the Far Eastern University Auditorium, Morayta St., Manila. A musical adaptation of the short story by National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose, “PRAGRES” is set during the Martial Law and shows the travails of a provincial senior clerk of a government agency as she seeks endorsement of her service promotion. As she encounters one bureaucrat after another, she drowns in incompetence and corruption. To be performed by the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors’ Company, the play was directed by Herbert Go from the adaptation by Dulaang Sipat Lawin.

Ballet Manila presents a special performance of “MGA KUWENTO NI LOLA BASYANG” on Saturday, December 13, 2008, 10:00 A.M., at the Aliw Theatre, CCP Complex, Pasay City. Based on the stories by Severino Reyes, the Ballet Manila production comprises three parts: Ang Prinsipe ng Mga Ibon (Choreographed by Osias Barroso, Music by National Artists as arranged by Mon Faustino), Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Maria (Choreographed by Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, Music by Joey Ayala), and Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin (Choreographed by Tony Fabella, Music by Ryan Cayabyab)

As part of the Festival, the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) staged “BATANG RIZAL” at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City on November 23, 2008.

On Saturday, December 13, a focused group conference-workshop will be conducted where selected students, teachers and public sector viewers of each production will be invited together with theater practitioners, public officials, and social critics for critical interaction and ventilation of informed opinions and ideas on various issues tackled in the productions. The proceedings of the conference-workshop will be published and disseminated among theater practitioners, opinion and policy makers.

For inquiries, please call or send SMS to 0916-591-8815 or 0929-4447888.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Beside you, my perception
of space transforms:
it contracts like a womb,
the whole world excluded
as other faces recede
in the background until
only your visage remains
in my range of vision.

Or it expands like a balloon,
barriers between you
and me broken, the walls
separating us from mankind
collapsing like a house
of cards, as we embrace
the universe in the sphere
of our inclusive affection.

-Ralph Semino Galan

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Collation of Postcolonial Poems

A collation of postcolonial poems

By A.R.D.S. Bordado

AS "GUESTS" in that faraway home called the English language, Filipino poets have the great burden of having to write in a language where they may feel unwelcome. But At Home in Unhomeliness: An Anthology of Philippine Postcolonial Poetry in English (UST Publishing House, 2007) shows that Filipino writers have not only mastered English, but also built their own home there.

Featuring 82 poems from some of the countries most promising young poets in English, At Home in Unhomeliness has been released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of PEN (Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists). Founded by Thomasian man of letters and National Artist F. Sionil Jose, Philippine PEN is the local branch of the International PEN, a worldwide association of writers that upholds freedom of expression and the coming together of various cultures through literature.

At Home is edited by J. Neil C. Garcia, a magna cum laude graduate of UST AB Journalism in 1990. He is a prolific poet and critic.

In his introduction, Garcia notes the desire of postcolonial writers to recover their lost precolonial identities. "Needless to say, language is a crucial issue in postcolonial literature and in the identity politics that underwrites it," he writes. "It simply can't be sidestepped, I suppose: colonized peoples who speak (and write) in the language of colonization necessarily confront the problem of consciousness, and therefore, of identity."

Different themes make up the anthology—personal takes on reality, spirituality and even a pinch of politics. Wanderlust poems such as Jose Wendell Capili's "The Great Australian Landscape" and "Gorilla Bay" show the Filipino sensibility imbibing foreign geography.

The latter poem describes the beauty of the bay: "Gastropods on a drift/ conceive enclosures of/ bubbles shimmering forth,/ polished and white among/ rocks, splashing as spring/ time turns supremely aqua/ marine, even less torrential." Dinah Roma-Sianturi's "Borobudur" infuses vision to Indonesia's famed Buddhist monument: "Up there, you said, is a vision/ not of stupas but of bodies/ circling the void to wake the divine."

Paolo Manalo's "At the Chocolate Kiss" tells of the experiences of young people out on their first date: "You can tell them by the stars in their eyes/ And that uneven spread of baby powder/ On their faces./(…)/She tries to look prettier/ Than she already is. He tries to look. . ./ No, not at her breasts." Jennifer Patricia Cariño's "Residence" tackles mature love: "This residence/ We may lose, but you are where I truly live./ There is a space for you in this body yet."

For poet and UST Professor Ralph Semino Galán, misery is a wellspring for poetry. "Magician" shows the painful art of letting go: "Star-clad, I offer my wounds/ to the universe, faith transforming/ pain into poetry, suffering into song."

The collection reminds readers that language remains a problem in Filipino poetry in English. Whether or not our postcolonial poets have established identity in their works is still a blank page to be filled. According to Garcia, because the upshot of colonization is still unfolding, the search for postcolonial identity has yet to be concluded.

Monday, November 17, 2008

PHILSTAGE Third Quarter Citations

PHLSTAGE Jury Announces Third Quarter GAWAD BUHAY! Citations

Productions by Tanghalang Pilipino (TP), Ballet Philippines and the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) dominated the third quarterly citations of Gawad BUHAY!, the performing arts awards program organized by the Philippine Legitimate Stage Artists Group (PHILSTAGE).

Tanghalang Pilipino’s Golden Child romped off with a total of twelve citations while Ballet Philippines La Revolucion Filipina and PETA’s Batang Rizal tied with seven citations each.

Winner of the Tony and Obbie Awards in the United States, Golden Child tells the story “of a traditional Chinese family on the cusp of jarring change”. It merited jury citations for outstanding play, stage direction (Loy Arcenas), ensemble performance for its cast, female lead performance in a play (Liesl Batucan, Tina Chilip, Irma Adlawan Maasigan), male lead performance (Arthur Acuǹa), translation (Dennis Marasigan), lighting design (Barbara Tan-tiongco) , sound design (J. Victr Villareal), set design (Loy Arcenas) and costume design (Gino Gonzales).

Ballet Philippines’ La Revolucion Filipina earned seven citations for outstanding dance production, choreography (Agnes Locsin), ensemble performance, male lead performance (Biag Gaongen), lighting design (Katsch SJ Catoy), set design (Mio Infante) and costume design (Victor Ursabia). It tied with PETA’s Batang Rizal which received citations for outstanding play, stage direction (Dudz Terana), ensemble performance, featured performance (Willy Casero), original script (Christine Bellen), libretto and musical direction (Vince De Jesus).

Major citations were garnered by Tanghalang Pilipino’s The Virgn Labfest entries Ellas Inocentes, Ang Bayot, ang Meranao, at ang Habal-Habal sa Isang Nakababagot na Paghihintay sa Kanto ng Lanao del Norte, Ang Kalungkutan ng Reyna, Three Sisters and Pamantasang Hirang. PETA’s Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang and Tosca also figured prominently in the citations list.

Gawad BUHAY!, otherwise known as the PHILSTAGE Awards for the Performing Arts, honors outstanding accomplishments in theater, dance and music among PHILSTAGE member-companies. Quarterly citations, nominations, and winners are juried by an independent panel of performing arts practitioners, critics, academicians and enthusiasts invited or selected by the PHILSTAGE Board of Directors.

“The jury members are required to watch all productions of Philstage members to ensure a fair selection process,” stressed PHILSTAGE President Fernando Josef. The jury meets quarterly for the citations from which will be culled the nominees qualified to vie for the annual award to be announced and honored in fitting ceremonies during the National Arts Month in February 2009.

PHILSTAGE groups together the country's leading and established performing arts companies which include Actors Actors, Inc. (AAI), Ballet Manila (BM), Ballet Philippines (BP), Gantimpala Theater Foundation (GTF), Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), Repertory Philippines (REP), Tanghalang Pilipino and the Triumphant Peoples' Evangelical Theater Society (TRUMPETS). It can be reached via email philstage@tri-

Following is the complete list of Gawad Buhay! citations for the third quarter of 2008:

OUTSTANDING PLAYS: Tanghalang Pilipino's Ang Bayot, ang Meranao, at ang
Habal- Habal sa Isang Nakababagot na Paghihintay sa Kanto ng Lanao del Norte, Ang Kalungkutan ng Reyna, Ellas Inocentes, Golden Child, and Three Sisters; and PETA's Batang Rizal


OUTSTANDING DANCE PRODUCTION : Ballet Philippines' La Revolucion Filipina

OUTSANDING STAGE DIRECTION : Loy Arcenas (Golden Child), Jose Estrella (Three Sisters), Floy Quintos (Ang Kalungkutan ng Reyna), Tuqxs Rutaquio (Ellas Inocentes), and Dudz Terana (Batang Rizal)

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE : Casts of Ang Bayot, ang Meranao, at ang
Habal-Habal sa Isang Nakababagot Paghihintay sa Kanto ng Lanao del Norte, Batang Rizal, Ellas Inocentes, Golden Child, La Revolucion Filipina, and Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang,

OUTSTANDING FEMALE LEAD PERFORMANCE (PLAY) : Shamaine Centenera Buencamino (Ang Kalungkutan ng Reyna); Lovely Balili and Jenessa Roque (Ellas Inocentes); and Liesl Batucan, Tina Chilip, and Irma Adlawan Marasigan (Golden Child)

OUTSTANDING MALE LEAD PERFORMANCE (PLAY) : Arthur Acuna (Golden Chil), Joey Paras and Arnold Reyes (Ang Bayot, ang Meranao, at ang Habal-Habalsa Isang Nakababagot na Paghihintay sa Kanto ng Lanao del Norte); and Jonathan Tadioan (Pamantsang Hirang)

OUTSTANDING FEATURED PERFORMANCE (PLAY) : Willy Casero, (Batang Rizal), and Nor Domingo and Raffy Tejada (tosca)







OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SCRIPT : Christine Bellen’s Batang Rizal, Rogelio Braga’s Ang Bayot, ang Meranao, at ang Habal-Habal sa Isang Nakababagot na Paghihintay sa Kanto ng Lanao del Norte, Layeta Bucoy’s Ellas Inocentes, and Floy Quintos’ Ang Kalungkutan ng Reytna

OUTSTANDING LIBRETO : Vincent De Jesus (Batang Rizal)



OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY: Agnes Locsin (La Revolucion Filipina)

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN : Katsch SJ Catoy (La Revolucion Filipina) and Barbara Tan-tiongco (Golden Child)

OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN : J. Victor Villareal (Golden Child) and Shima Takeshi (Tosca)

OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN : Loy Arcenas (Golden Child), Mel Bernardo (Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang), and Mio Infante (La Revolucion Filipina),

OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN : Ron Alfonos (Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang).
Gino Gonzales (Golden Child) and Victor Ursabia (La Revolucion Filipina)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


When I am with you
time moves differently
it accelerates
like a bullet train
a speed boat
a jet plane
the surroundings blurring
into a haze of faces
a labyrinth of landmarks
a whirlwind of words
as I focus my attention
on you and you alone.

Or it decelerates
into triple slow motion,
so that a second stretches
and lasts a lifetime,
a gesture takes forever
to accomplish, an utterance
becomes comprehensible
only several centuries after,
and I end up remembering
the timbre of your voice,
the texture of your arms,
the tint of your eyes.

- Ralph Semino Galán

Sunday, October 19, 2008

IPAG Performances: 2nd Half Sked

Ranaw” on extended run

[see Ranaw video trailer]

Cheering audiences have filled to watch IPAG’s latest theatre favorite, “Ranaw: Isang Alamat” (Ranaw: A Legend). The first 17-run series of this dance-musical opened Sept. 13 and closed Sept. 25.

A second 10-run series has been set Nov.10 - 14, at the MSU-IIT Mini Theatre, to accommodate demand from more audiences to watch the play. Drawing from its “matinee” appeal with its “general patronage” content, “Ranaw” attracted the audiences for its compelling music, dance, story, and visuals. The play won in the 1985 Playwriting Contest of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and has received a number of acclamations since its first major tour in the 1980’s.

A Davao City road show is set starting in January 21, 2009.

The dance-music play presents our pre-colonial tribes in turmoil that prophesy our fragmented state today. Dug from the research of the late Dionisio Orellana, the play chronicles the journey of a lesser known Mindanao epic hero Bato Lakungan who traverses triumphs and painful reversals of fortunes in his attempts to unite the North-Central Mindanao tribes. “Ranaw” was produced under an NCCA subsidy. It is set to go on tour in Davao City in the third week of January, 2009.

Poetry to Performance

[watch "Origami" video excerpt]
IPAG offers Tula Tugma sa Dula for the Philippine Arts Festival in 2009. Poems written by some of the leading poets based in the South will be transformed into a multi-media experience. This popularizes poetry to a wider audience as the word transcreating into movement, sound, and color.

Collaborating with our performing artists, choreographers, and composers are wordsmiths whose work will be reshaped: Marge Evasco, Anthony Tan, Ralph Semino Galan, Henry Opulencia, German Gervacio, and Christine Godine-Ortega. It premieres February 11, 2009 at the MSU-IIT Rooftop Theatre in Iligan City .

“Tales” and "Tatlo" continue to delight

[view Tatlo trailer video]

IPAG’s long-running “Tales From Mindanao” and its sequel "Tatlo sa Isa" completed its 1st leg of a national tour last August thrilling Manila as it has done in the last 17 years playing to full houses and captivating audiences. (IPAG estimates this string of dance-music vignettes has fascinated almost a million audiences around the country and the world.)

Davao hosts the 2nd leg which begins in the 3rd week of November. “Tales” and its sequel “Tatlo Sa Isa” are set to hit the provinces of Davao and South Cotabato again this season, and Cagayan de Oro in February, 2009.

Ranaw: Isang Alamat
Nov. 10 – 14, 2008
10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.
MSU-IIT Mini-Theatre , Iligan City

Tatlo sa Isa
Nov. 18 – 24, 2008
Davao and South Cotabato , various venues

Tales From Mindanao
Nov. 26 – Dec. 5, 2008
Manila schools, various venues

Ranaw: Isang Alamat
Tales From Mindanao
Jan. 21 -24, 2009
Davao City, various venues

Tales From Mindanao
Feb. 5, 2009
XU, Cgn de Oro City

Tula Tugma sa Dula
Feb. 11-13, 2009
7:30 p.m., CASS Rooftop Theatre
MSU-IIT, Iligan City

Ranaw: Isang Alamat
[dates depend on open sked of the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino of the CCP]

Three People in One Island
International road tour
Spring, last week March – April 2009
U.S. East and West coast

Performance schedules may change without prior notice. Please contact IPAG Marketing for immediate and specific information [09167006209 or +63-4922354, fax: 2232494 email: ipagarts@yahoo. com web:]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Winners of the 58th Palanca Awards for Literature


Filipino Division


Norman Wilwayco

Elmo Basangdahon


Grand prize, Nobela


Maria Lucille G. Roxas

“Game Show”

1st prize, Maikling Kuwento

Lemuel E. Garcellano


“Anghel Kalahig”

2nd prize, Maikling Kuwento

Rommel B. Rodriguez


3rd prize, Maikling Kuwento


April Jade B. Imson

Pinatola I’ Kilid

“Si Karding at ang Buwaya”

2nd prize, Maikling Kuwentong Pambata

Allan Alberto N. Derain

Alon Darang

“May Tatlong Kurimaw”

3rd prize, Maikling Kuwentong Pambata


Jing Panganiban-Mendoza

Sestina Amara

“Ang Pagbabalik ng Prinsesa ng Banyera”

1st prize, Sanaysay

Michael M. Coroza

Harana ng Puso

“Ang Mabuhay Singers at Ako sa Pag-awit At Pag-ibig”

2nd prize, Sanaysay

Eugene Y. Evasco

Latido Del Corazon


3rd prize, Sanaysay


Mikael de Lara Co

“Ang Iba’t Ibang Ngalan ng Hangin”

1st prize, Tula

Renato L. Santos

“Sari-Saring Salaghati…”

(at good-bye-my-kangkungan)

2nd prize, Tula

Niles Jordan Breis

Maria Socorro Antimonado

“Rubrica” mga lakbay-nilay at


3rd prize, Tula


Floy C. Quintos

Noel Carillon

“Ang Kalungkutan ng mga Reyna”

1st prize, Dulang May Isang Yugto

Debbie Ann Tan

Golden Piat

“Teroristang Labandera”

2nd prize, Dulang May Isang Yugto

Allan B. Lopez

“Masaganang Ekonomiya”

3rd prize, Dulang May Isang Yugto


Emmanuel A. Dela Cruz/ Michiko Yamamoto


1434456 “The Singalong Singhs”

1st prize, Dulang Pampelikula

Dennis M. Marasigan


2nd prize, Dulang Pampelikula

Alfred Aloysius L. Adlawan


3rd prize, Dulang Pampelikula

Kabataan sanaysay

Allen D. Yuarata

“Nang Dumating Si Joe”

3rd prize, Kabataan Sanaysay

Regional Languages Division


Macario D. Tiu

Sandino De Jesus


1st prize, Maikling Kuwento-Cebuano

Edgar S. Godin

Surealiza Maldoy-on


2nd prize, Maikling Kuwento-Cebuano

Lilia T. Tio



3rd prize, Maikling Kuwento-Cebuano


Leoncio P. Deriada

Ma. Asuncion Magbanua

“Ang Pagbalik sang Babaylan”

1st prize, Maikling Kuwento-Hiligaynon

Alice Tan Gonzales

“Dawata, Anak”

2nd prize,Maikling Kuwento-Hiligaynon

Marcel L. Milliam

Luis Batchoy


3rd prize, Maikling Kuwento-Hiligaynon


Danilo B. Antalan



1st prize, Maikling Kuwento-Iluko

Ariel S. Tabag

Saniata T. Bannawag


2nd prize, Maikling Kuwento-Iluko

Aurelio S. Agcaoili

Alegoria A. Nasudi

“Alegoria Uno”

3rd prize, Maikling Kuwento-Iluko

English Division


Miguel Syjuco


Grand prize, Novel


Ian Rosales Casocot

Tatiana Pedillo

“Things You Don’t Know”

1st prize, Short Story

Tara FT Sering


“Good People”

2nd prize, Short Story

Nadine L. Sarreal

Sarah L. Natahan

“Night Sounds”

3rd prize, Short Story


Celestine Marie G. Trinidad

“The Storyteller and the Giant”

1st prize, Short Story for Children

Kathleen Aton-Osias

“The Mapangarap and the Dream Trees”

3rd prize, Short Story for Children


Jose Claudio B.Guerrero

Headmistress Millie

“Talking to a Fu Dog on a Wedding Afternoon”

1st prize, Essay

Katrina Stuart Santiago

Pregnant Pause


2nd prize, Essay

Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz

Bubu Banchi

“Sapay Koma”

3rd prize, Essay


Francis C. Macansantos

“Morphic Variations”

1st prize, Poetry

Ana Maria Katigbak

Constance Pendleton


2nd prize, Poetry

Marie La Viña

Dee Perez

“The Gospel According to the Blind Man”

3rd prize, Poetry


Maria Clarissa N. Estuar


“Anybody’s Revolution”

1st prize, One-act Play

Percival Intalan

P. Parker

“Secret Identities”

2nd prize, One-act Play

Joachim Emilio B. Antonio

“Newspaper Dance”

3rd prize, One-act Play


Peter Solis Nery

Guglielmo Dellamaggidra

“The Passion of Jovita Fuentes”

1st prize, Full-length Play

Kabataan Essay

Miro Frances D. Capili

“Rated X”

1st prize, Kabataan Essay

Cristina Gratia T. Tantengco

“Things That Lie Beyond The Postcards”

2nd prize, Kabataan Essay

Elfermin M. Mallari, Jr.

“The Roads and Dreams That Meander”

3rd prize, Kabataan Essay

We would also like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to our esteemed judges for sharing with us their time and expertise, and for their dedication to the development of Philippine Literature.

Filipino Division


Lualhati T. Bautista, Tagapangulo

Jun Cruz Reyes

Dr. Domingo G. Landicho


Roy C. Iglesias, Tagapangulo

Mark A. Meily

Frank G. Rivera


Dr. Ricardo G. Abad, Tagapangulo

Nonilon Queaño

Manuel Buising


Rodolfo C. Vera, Tagapangulo

Chris Martinez

Elmer Gatchalian


Lamberto E. Antonio, Tagapangulo

Dr. Fanny A. Garcia

Levy B. Dela Cruz


Ani Rosa S. Almario, Tagapangulo

Augie D. Rivera

Christine S. Bellen


Dr. Lilia F. Antonio, Tagapangulo

Roberto T. Añonuevo

Dr. Imelda Pineda-De Castro


Romulo Baquiran, Jr., Tagapangulo

Rhoderick V. Nuncio

Marra PL. Lanot

English Division


Antonio A. Hidalgo, Chairperson

Dr. Soledad S. Reyes

Shirley O. Lua


Malou L. Jacob, Chairperson

Fernando C. Josef

Glen Sevilla Mas


Dr. Jerry C. Respeto, Chairperson

Ronan B. Capinding

Nathaniel Joseph F. De Mesa


Charlson L. Ong, Chairperson

Dr. Jose Neil C. Garcia

Vicente Garcia Groyon III


Ma. Elena Paterno-Locsin, Chairperson

Zarah C. Gagatiga

Ma. Luisa S. Felix


Karina A. Bolasco, Chairperson

Dr. Nilo L. Rosas

Dr. Ronald Baytan


Dr. Marjorie Evasco, Chairperson

Dr. Jaime An Lim

Dr. Cesar Aquino


Dr. Teresita G. Maceda, Tagapangulo

Dr. Belen Calingacion

Atty. Manuel Faelnar


Herminio S. Beltran, Jr., Tagapangulo

Ma. Leonida Fres-Felix

Rufino Rebudal


Dr. Corazon D. Villareal, Tagapangulo

Dr. Isabel Sebullen

Ms. Ada J. Loredo


Ligaya T. Rubin, Tagapangulo

Violeta A. Laraya

Perfecto T. Martin


Dr. Jose Wendell P. Capili, Chairperson

Ralph Semino Galan

Benilda S. Santos

Monday, September 22, 2008

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Our operation hours are from 11 A.M.
to 11 P.M.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

2LIT Preliminary Examination

Poem 10
José García Villa

First, a poem must be magical,
Then musical as a sea gull.
It must be a brightness moving
And hold secret a bird’s flowering.
It must be slender as a bell,
And it must hold fire as well.
It must have the wisdom of bows,
And it must kneel as a rose.
It must be able to hear
The luminance of dove and deer.
It must be able to hide
What it seeks like a bride.
And over all, I would like to hover
God, smiling from the poem’s cover.

The Dangers of This Craft
Fatima V. Lim Wilson

How we sing, even as we are boiled alive.
Those who torment us strain to sustain
Our last notes. In a landscape
Of sameness, our crooked towers scrape
Sensibilities, the well-trained eye.
Why when starved, do we thrive?
Remembrance of childhood’s bread
Rising. The taste of dulcified
Droppings of air. Our well-
Meaning friends beg us, please,
Speak in the measured tones
Of the mediocre. Show off
Our mastery of muteness,
The ambidextrous virtuosity
Of work-stained hands. Let
Those knitting needles, heavy
Handled axes fly. Why must
We hear voices? See the moving
Parts of still objects? And so,
We insist we no longer see
Through whitewashed walls.
We confess our dreams of flying
Have ceased. We scheme,
The miracle of money keeping us
Awake. Our pleasure lies
In memorizing the exactness
Of recipes. We are found to be
Most eloquent when quiet, even
As we argue happily with the teeming
Inhabitants opening doors in our heads.
We stare seemingly unmoved at the fire
Of our burning books, all the while
Enthralled, reading secrets in the flames.
They think they’ve killed us off
Even as somewhere, everywhere, a child
Recalls the beat of the ocean womb.
They dance upon our tombs, unaware
Of how they have fallen
Victim to the rhythm
Of our singing bones.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Puedo escribir los versos mas tristes esta noche...


Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.

Escribir, por ejemplo: "La noche está estrellada,
y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos."

El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.

En las noches como esta la tuve entre mis brazos.
La besé tantas veces bajo el cielo infinito.

Ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería.
Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido.

Oir la noche inmensa, más inmensa sin ella.
Y el verso cae al alma como al pasto el rocío.

Qué importa que mi amor no pudiera guardarla.
La noche esta estrellada y ella no está conmigo.

Eso es todo. A lo lejos alguien canta. A lo lejos.
Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Como para acercarla mi mirada la busca.
Mi corazón la busca, y ella no está conmigo.

La misma noche que hace blanquear los mismos árboles.
Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero cuánto la quise.
Mi voz buscaba el viento para tocar su oído.

De otro. Será de otro. Como antes de mis besos.
Su voz, su cuerpo claro. Sus ojos infinitos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero.
Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido.

Porque en noches como esta la tuve entre mis brazos,
mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Aunque este sea el ultimo dolor que ella me causa,
y estos sean los ultimos versos que yo le escribo.

- Pablo Neruda

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tonight I can write the saddest lines


Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write for example, "The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance."

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

- translated by W.S. Merwin from the Spanish original
written by Pablo Neruda, 1971 Nobel Prize Winner

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

For 3CA3 (Literature 103)

Answer in essay form the following questions (50 points total):
(Remember that ARTICULATION is what matters most.)

1. (a) In "Poem on Returning to Dwell in the Country", what is the meaning of Tao's observation that "the life of man is like a shadow-play"? (b) What details in the poem support this observation?

2. (a) In "I Built My House Near Where Others Dwell", why is it paradoxical, or apparently self-contradictory, that though the persona lives near other people he does not hear the "clamor of carriages and horses"? (b) How does he explain this paradox?

3. (a) What does the persona of "To the Assistant Prefect Chang" mean when he says that he plans to "unlearn"? (b) What is the significance of his loosening his robe?

4. (a) How would you describe the mood of "The Hill"? (b) What emotions does the poem evoke?

5. How do the final two lines of "On an Autumn Evening in the Mountains" tie the rest of the poem together?

Note: Submit your computer-printed or typewritten essays on July 25, 2008, during the first hour of our class period: 3:00-4:00 PM. I will not accept late papers, nor handwritten answers.

For 3CA2, 3JRN1, 3ECO1 (Literature 103)

Answer in essay form the following questions (50 points total):
(Remember that ARTICULATION is what matters most.)

1. (a) In Song 24 ("I Beg of You, Chung Tzu") what is the persona's relationship with Chung Tzu? Support your answer. (b) What internal struggle is the speaker experiencing?

2. (a) In which season is Song 34 ("Thick Grow the Rush Leaves") set? (b) How do the seasons and the natural images relate to the persona's emotions?

3. (a) In "Poem on Returning to Dwell in the Country", what is the meaning of Tao's observation that "the life of man is like a shadow-play"? (b) What details in the poem support this observation?

4. (a) In "I Built My House Near Where Others Dwell", why is it paradoxical, or apparently self-contradictory, that though the persona lives near other people he does not hear the "clamor of carriages and horses"? (b) How does he explain this paradox?

5. (a) What does the persona of "To the Assistant Prefect Chang" mean when he says that he plans to "unlearn"? (b) What is the significance of his loosening his robe?

Note: Submit your computer-printed or typewritten essays on July 23, 2008, during the first hour of our class period: 11:00-12:00 AM (3CA2); 3:00-4:00 (3JRN2); 6:00-7:00 (3ECO1). I will not accept late papers, nor handwritten answers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

For 1BES1, 1ECO2, 1JRN2 (Literature 101)

Summary of the Novel Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate)

from SparkNotes

In a style that is epic in scope yet intensely personal in focus, Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate tells the story of Tita dela Garza, the youngest daughter in a family living in Mexico at the turn of the twentieth century. Through twelve chapters, each marked as a "monthly installment" and thus labeled with the months of the year, we learn of Tita's struggle to pursue true love and claim her independence. Each installment features a recipe to begin each chapter. The structure of Like Water for Chocolate is wholly dependent on these recipes, as the main episodes of each chapter generally involve the preparation or consumption of the dishes that these recipes yield. The details of additional secondary recipes are woven throughout the narrative.

Like Water for Chocolate tells the story of Tita dela Garza, the youngest daughter in a family living in Mexico at the turn of the twentieth century. Tita's love, Pedro Muzquiz, comes to the family's ranch to ask for Tita's hand in marriage. Because Tita is the youngest daughter she is forbidden by a family tradition upheld by her tyrannical mother, Mama Elena, to marry. Pedro marries Tita's oldest sister, Rosaura, instead, but declares to his father that he has only married Rosaura to remain close to Tita. Rosaura and Pedro live on the family ranch, offering Pedro contact with Tita. When Tita cooks a special meal with the petals of a rose given to her by Pedro, the still-fiery force of their love (transmitted through the food) has an intense effect on Mama Elena's second daughter, Gertrudis, who is whipped into a lustful state and flees the ranch in the arms of a revolutionary soldier. Meanwhile, Rosaura gives birth to a son, who is delivered by Tita. Tita treats her nephew, Roberto, as if he were her own child, to the point that she is able to produce breast milk to feed him while her sister is dry.

Sensing that Roberto is drawing Pedro and Tita closer together, Mama Elena arranges for Rosaura's family to move to San Antonio. This separation devastates Tita. A short time later, news arrives that Roberto has died, most likely due to his removal from Tita's care. The death of her nephew causes Tita to have a breakdown, and Mama Elena sends her to an asylum. Dr. John Brown, a local American doctor, takes pity on Tita and brings her to live in his house. He patiently nurses Tita back to health, caring for her physical ailments and trying to revive her broken spirit. After some time, Tita is nearly well, and she decides never to return to the ranch. No sooner has she made this choice than Mama Elena is injured in a raid by rebel soldiers, forcing Tita to return. Tita hopes to care for her mother, but Mama Elena bitterly rejects Tita's good will. She refuses Tita's cooking, claiming that it is poisoned. Not long after, Mama Elena is found dead from an overdose of a strong emetic she consumed for fear of poisoning.

The death of Mama Elena frees Tita from the curse of her birthright and she accepts an engagement proposal from John Brown, with whom she has fallen in love. In the meantime, Rosaura and Pedro have returned to the ranch and have produced a second child, Esperanza. Immediately, Pedro's presence throws into question Tita's love for John. The night that John officially asks Pedro to bless the marriage, Pedro corners Tita in a hidden room and makes love to her, taking her virginity. Soon after, Tita is certain that she is pregnant and knows that she will have to end her engagement to John. The affair between Pedro and Tita prompts the return of Mama Elena, who comes in spirit form to curse Tita and her unborn child. Tita is distraught and has no one in whom she can confide.

In the midst of Tita's despair, the long-lost Gertrudis returns to the ranch as a general in the revolutionary army, at the helm of a regiment of fifty men. Tita is overjoyed at the return of Gertrudis, who is just the companion she seeks. Gertrudis forces Tita to tell Pedro about the pregnancy. He is gladdened at the news, and he drunkenly serenades Tita from below her window. Outraged, Mama Elena's ghost returns, violently threatening Tita and declaring that she must leave the ranch. For the first time, Tita stands up to Mama Elena and, in forceful words, declares her autonomy, banishing her mother's spirit, which shrinks from an imposing presence into a tiny fiery light. As she expels the ghost, Tita is simultaneously relieved of all her symptoms of pregnancy. The light from Mama Elena's ghost bursts through Tita's window and onto the patio below where Pedro still sits, setting fire to his entire body. After rescuing Pedro, Tita is consumed with caring for him and helping him recover. John Brown returns from a trip to the United States and Tita confesses to him her relations with Pedro. John replies that he still wishes to marry her but that she must decide for herself with whom she wishes to spend her life.

Years pass, and the ranch focuses its attention on another wedding, this time between Esperanza and Alex, the son of John Brown. Rosaura has died, freeing her only daughter, Esperanza, from the stricture that had previously forbidden her, as it had Tita, from marrying. With Rosaura dead and Esperanza married, Tita and Pedro are finally free to express their love in the open. On their first night together, Tita and Pedro experience love so intense that both are led to a tunnel that will carry them to the afterlife. Tita turns back, wanting to continue in life and in love with Pedro. Once she does, she realizes that Pedro has already crossed over. Wanting desperately to be with him, Tita attempts to ignite her inner fire by eating the candles that had lit the room until they extinguished themselves at the moment of Pedro's death. When she succeeds in recreating the climate of true passion, she reenters the luminous tunnel and meets Pedro in the spirit world. The final union of their bodies and spirits sets fire to the entire ranch, and the only remnant left of their love is the recipe book in which Tita recorded her wisdom.

Answer in essay form the following questions (40 points total):
(Remember that ARTICULATION is what matters most.)

1. Discuss the role of tradition in the novel and the impact it has on the characters' lives. What does the novel tell us about the domestic life of Mexican women? Elaborate. (10 points)

2. The three dela Garza sisters possess different personalities. By tracing their trajectories through the course of the novel, discuss the way each sister embodies a female stereotype. What statement might the author be making through these types about options in the lives of Mexican women? Expound on your answer. (20 points)

3. In your opinion, is Tita a strong female figure? A feminist character? Explain why or why not. (10 points)

Note:Submit your computer-printed or typewritten essays on July 22, 2008, during our class period: 8:30-10:00 AM (1BES1); 10-11:30 (1ECO2); 1:30-3:00 (1JRN2). I will not accept late papers, nor handwritten answers.

Use the extra time you have on Thursday after the film viewing to form discussion groups, so that your answers to the questions will be deep rather than shallow.

Monday, July 14, 2008

For 1LM2 (Literature 101)

Summary of the Movie Dead Poets Society

by Jessica See

Dead Poets Society explores the conflict between realism and romanticism as these contrasting ideals are presented to the students at an all boys preparatory school. Welton Academy is founded on tradition and excellence and is bent on providing strict structured lessons prescribed by the realist, anti-youth administration. With the dawning of each new semester, hundreds of parents abandon their sons, leaving them in the tried hands of Welton staff in hopes that they will raise doctors and lawyers. When a replacement English teacher arrives, who happens to be a Welton alumnus, he brings with him a passion for teaching romanticism, thus opening a never-before-seen world to his students.

The story is predominantly viewed through the eyes of Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke), a newcomer to Welton, and his roommate Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard). Todd is painfully shy and terrified that what he might say is insignificant and meaningless. This is particularly disturbing to him since he is repeatedly told that he has "big shoes to fill" being the younger brother of a former valedictorian. Neil, on the other hand, is bright and full of ambition, which is unfortunately squelched by his overbearing, controlling father. Mr. Perry dictates every detail of his son's life including extra curricular activities, future plans, and specifically what others think of him.

The new English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams) begins his teachings with a fervent lecture on their imminent deaths, explaining to the students that their lives are fleeting so they should seize the day to make their lives count, to leave a legacy of "carpe diem." He continues his teaching by instructing the class to rip out the pages of their books which describe a scientific way to determine the greatness of poetry. He teaches them the works of the romantic poets such as Thoreau and Lord Byron and employs outdoor exercises to warn them of the dangers of conformity and the power of sports as a way which human beings push each other to excel.

Amidst these eccentric activities, the students, intrigued with their new teacher, learn that he was a member of the Dead Poets Society. When asked, Keating describes glorious moments of creating gods, but warns them to forget about the idea. Nevertheless, they repeatedly sneak off campus to convene their own version of the Dead Poets Society. Todd is allowed to attend as an exception: since he does not want to read aloud, he keeps minutes of the meetings. Throughout these meetings, each character is able to develop his own romantic or realist nature.

The shocking clash between realism and romanticism begins to unfold when Charlie Dalton (Gale Hansen) prints an obnoxious article in the school news in the name of the Dead Poets. The administration is appalled and begins an investigation. Meanwhile, Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles) fall madly in love with a girl who is practically engaged to the son of his parent's friends. He pursues her relentlessly, driven by romantic ideals, in the face of the threats on his life by her boyfriend. Neil realizes that his real passion in life is acting and proceeds to land the role of Puck in a Midsummer Night's Dream at the local theater. He begins to weave a tangled web of deception by failing to inform his father, then lying to Mr. Keating when his father finds out and demands he quit the play. Feeling trapped, after his final performance and a standing ovation, he takes his own life.

This horrible outrage echoes through the hallowed halls of Welton, applying even greater pressure to the Dead Poets Society. When Mr. and Mrs. Perry demand a thorough investigation, Welton administration links the Dead Poets Society, which they determined as the cause for the upheaval, to Mr. Keating. Each member is called before the administration and their parents to sign a confession statement indicating that Mr. Keating filled their minds with these lofty ideals ultimately leading to Neil's suicide. Richard Cameron (Dylan Kussman), ultimately a realist concerned most with doing what is already determined to be right, signs the statement and encourages the rest of them to do the same. Knowing full well that Keating was not responsible, Cameron lets him take the rap to free himself.

Angered by this betrayal, Dalton punches Cameron in an impulsive fit displaying his final romantic act, only to be expelled. The last to sign, though unwillingly, is Todd, thus removing John Keating from his treasured position. In one final scene, displaying the beauty of a balance between the two ideals, Todd is able to cry out to Mr. Keating, who stopped by the class to collect his belongings, "O Captain, my Captain!" Todd, who previously had no identity, contributed his verse to mankind, climbing to the top of his desk to salute his fallen teacher, who changed his life.


Answer in essay form the following questions (20 points each):
(Remember that ARTICULATION is what matters most.)

1. In John Keating's romantic philosphy, why it important to seize the day, "to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"?

2. Explain why women should also practice carpe diem in relation to the poem "To the Virgins, to make much of Time", the most famous piece written by the Cavalier poet Robert Herrick.

by Robert Herrick

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying,
And this same flower that smiles today,
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
and while ye may, go marry;
For having lost just once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

Note: Submit your computer-printed or typewritten essays on July 21, 2008, during our class period (9:00-10:00 AM). I will not accept late papers, nor handwritten answers.

For 1LM1 (Literature 101)

Movie Analysis of Moulin Rouge

by Yazmin Ghonaim

Moulin Rouge (2001) brings to the screen the visual and aural spectacle associated with the famed music hall (inaugurated in Paris in 1889), the home of the exuberant cancan dancers often described as "the most exotic sex market in Paris". Focusing on the bohemian art and lifestyle of the Montmartre-based entertainment center, director Baz Lurhmann (William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet; Strictly Ballroom) employs what he terms the "Red Curtain" style of filmmaking, where the film viewer sees the Moulin Rouge's celebrated stage as the exalted mise en scène of a simple love story.

When the Moulin's most desirable entertainer and courtesan, Satine (Nicole Kidman: Eyes Wide Shut), mistakenly identifies penniless writer Christian (Ewan McGregor: Eye of the Beholder; Velvet Goldmine) as a wealthy suitor and her highest bidder for that evening, the misinformation tricks her into wanting to seduce the lucky lad. Unaware of the misunderstanding and dumfounded by her beauty and her eagerness to please him, Christian fails to deliver the expected performance, yet manages to enrapture Satine with an inspiring song about his genuine love and poetic sensibilities. Soon, however, the appearance of the destined client, the powerful Duke of Worcester (Richard Roxburgh), shatters the enchantment. The ambitious Satine dismisses Christian and decides to clear her mind of the ethereal sentiment he inspired. Yet her heart, as if captured by the artist's saving virtue, would henceforth send the material girl conflicting counsel.

Moulin Rouge invests vastly in depicting the picturesque quality of the world that its characters inhabit. Impressive set designs house the adequately costumed characters, while choreography, color, sound, impatient editing and an active camera capture the extravaganza of the time and the place. Moulin Rouge slightly furthers its raison d'être by insinuating the artistic and social revolution that prompted a democratization of leisure (or a "leveling of enjoyments" where all classes merged) and that lay the foundation for the 20th century's production of mass culture. Appropriately, Moulin Rouge includes artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (played by John Leguizamo), who is known for immortalizing the subjects of brothels, bars and dance halls in his paintings, prints and posters. (In the film, Lautrec is defined as the carrier of the bohemian maxim of "Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Love".) Yet what prevents Moulin Rouge from being classified as simply an amusing representation of the historical setting is its surprisingly effective application of modern songs (by artists that range from the Beatles to Elton John, Madonna to U2). Some memorable songs such as "All You Need Is Love" and Elton John's "Your Song" are interpreted by Kidman and McGregor, whose imperfect voices --rather than categorize the actors as mediocre singers-- seem to express their characters' inherent humility toward their aggrandized notions of love. Furthermore, the new versions of these classic songs refresh the words and accentuate the harmony of their meaning. Although Kidman's personification of the struggling starlet is more convincing than that of the voluptuous cabaret performer, all of Moulin Rouge's players manage to transcend their theatrical persona to embody --within their cinematic reality-- their true identities.


Answer in essay form the following questions (20 points each):
(Remember that ARTICULATION is what matters most.)

1. Plato and Aristotle agree that Art is an imitation of Nature, since both classical Greek philosophers subscribe to the Mimetic Theory of Art, which means that all works of art closely resemble life and reality. Pastiche, on the other hand, is a dramatic, literary or musical piece openly imitating the previous works of other artists, often with satirical intent. In Moulin Rouge, does art imitate life or does life imitate art, or does the movie embody both tendencies? Elaborate on your chosen answer as best as you can.

2. The play within the play is an effective literary device in William Shakespeare's Hamlet. How effective is the deployment of "Spectacular, Spectacular" (the play within the movie) in enhancing and emphasizing the doomed love between Christian and Satine, which becomes the main storyline of the film? Elaborate on your chosen answer as best as you can.

Note: Submit your computer-printed or typewritten essays on July 21, 2008, during our class period (10:00-11:00 AM). I will not accept late papers, nor handwritten answers.

Love Woman Triumphant


by Ralph Semino Galán

Like her four previous collections, Love Woman (Manila: UST Press, 1998, 107 pages) is replete with exquisitely-felt, expertly-crafted poems, thus, affirming once again her status as one of the best Filipino poets writing in English past or present regardless of gender. Her fifth book of poems, which derives its "metaphorical center" from Doris Lessing's novel Love Again, is divided into four parts. "Love Woman," the first section, contains 19 poems on a variety of themes seen from the perspective(s) of a woman's constantly compassionate heart and ever expansive mind: love in its various shapes and shades, the social malaise of poverty, abortion, the Ozone Disco disaster, ars poetica, music, and the sheer exuberance of amorous experience.

In "A Matter of Choice," a poem divided into two parts, she tackles with great sense and sensitivity the controversial issue of abortion. Dimalanta’s poetic perception is never myopic as she convincingly presents both sides of the proverbial coin with her characteristic flair for verbal dexterity (notice the wordplay: "all the ugly/uns of this world… my too young/ un of my luckless undelivering womb.) ---

This is pure bereavement./ A cipher with its host/ of the
never-should-have-beens,/ here where life begins and
ends/ in a spate of blood, spite, unfaith,/ unhope, unlove
and all the ugly/ uns of this world, so where,/ where is
there life?/ What has been withdrawn, disjected?/
Nothing but the ugly uns/ you have been spared, my too
young/ un of my luckless undelivering womb.//

("A Gift of Unlife")

Confined within a mayfly’s lifespan no matter/ you will
live forever, oh, yes.../ yes... yes... it is good,/ this air,
this sun, this rhythm/ of grass counterpointing/ your
every breath, His Finger/ tracing diverse designs, like
you,/ Pure Song, lifework, schemed/ for in a world rife
with salvaged/ graces, wombed in a cell,/ as cosmic and
expansive/ as your young beginning dreams.//

("Of Life")

She employs the same ambivalent angle of vision in "A Mountain's Passing," a paean/lament, eulogy/elegy on the closure of the gigantic garbage dump site better known to the layman as Smokey Mountain:

…soon he would be/ standing, looking up, not knowing/
after this mountain's rite of passing,/whether to hymn
or cry.

In “What Poetry Does Not Say,” she reiterates her belief that the subject matter of poetry is best expressed paradoxically by the most careful of non-expression:

For poetry never says;/ it unsays. To say/ is to confine,
contain,/ to unsay explore the/ vaguely all-hovering./
Presence of the unseen,/ deliberately left out...

Poetry or the meaning/fulness of poetry, therefore, for her is something elusive, evasive and equivocal, like love. It is quite similar to poet-critic Gémino H. Abad's definition of insight as "illumination of a thought that no idea expresses, a radiance of feeling that no thought catches."

But in "Perhaps a Few Poets" she is also cognizant of the fact that poets in this day and age are an obsolete breed, a somber choir of "ineffectual angel(s)." At best, they are mere "apologist(s) and rhapsodist(s)/ for ancient and dying faiths," for poets cannot solve through metaphors the more practical problems of the real world.

The last three poems of the first section, along with "Waiting Game," "Slidings," "It is in Her Eyes" and "Romancing the Lake," are investigations on “the precious rhetorics of love.” “Love Woman 1,” a poem dedicated to Diana, Princess of Wales, interprets in another light the surrounding circumstances of the car crash that nipped in the bud the life of England’s Rose:

this final private fling,/ this binge of anonymity,/ this silken
intimacy,/ white heat of pain’s intensest peaking/ caught
raw shorn of royal trappings,/ one instant dredging/ of the
body’s last reserves/ from those hurt places of the past/ in
one last heightened rewind,/ in a tight desperate grip of
present,/ the heart’s leap/ out of its crook/ into blazing,
brazing space.

"Love Woman 2" is a nameless, abstracted, almost archetypal female who avers that "love is elision/ perpetually sliding into new/ faces, new syntax, nothing/if not something else." And for this "lovely freak of nature," time and space are her only adversaries, as she offers herself to the growing sphere of her affection, "her far-flung provenance."

"Love, Lie Still…" is a painfully delicious and delicate piece about the "necessary fictions" of true love. The persona-lover and the beloved-other are in bed, physical or metaphysical it does not matter, where "bland breasts/ inevitably resting upon mindless/ hands… just there, serenely/ dreaming, so naturally together.//" But dreams are bound to end like all forms of romantic love, so how maintain the illusion/collusion to keep the flames alive?

The solution provided by the poem is deceivingly simple "to lie still," but the phrase is loaded with a good number of possible semiotic readings. The two most plausible are: to be immobile and let the wave of disillusionment pass, or to keep on churning falsehoods to retain a semblance of truth. Love as illumined by these three poems does not seem to exist without its concomitant deprivations, through "various subterfuges, "imaginary space(s)" and "lost possibilities."

On the other hand, "Turkish Resonances," the second part of the collection, recounts a weeklong sojourn she has taken with a group of fellow Thomasians in Asia Minor. Introduced by a journal entry, the nine travel poems are like impressionistic snapshots and philosophical postcards of the various places and spaces she has visited in Istanbul, Ephesus, Delphi, and Athens, the shimmering gem in the crown of Hellenic Civilization.

"Along the Bosphorus" recreates the experience of being ferried across the throat-shaped body of water that unites the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, the same strait that separates Europe from Asia:

This ferry furrowing through the/ Bosphorus straddling
between/ heart and mind pulling us/ from one continent
to another/ in a pulsating wavelike dancing/ in a matter
of minutes…

"The Parthenon Seen and Shot from Hotel Aphrodite" transforms a fiasco into a poetic contemplation of the subject-object dichotomy. The persona and a you (whose identity is not revealed in the text) took snapshots of each other with the famous Greek edifice serving as the background. The resulting photographs were dismal, to say the least, but the poet’s inner vision redeems them from the trash can of the real world and transmutes them into the metaphorical realm of poetry:

Not quite worthless shots, really./ See there?/ Excavate
deeper/ into the stony sites/ of the receiving mind...//
The Parthenon and you,/ I and the Parthenon,/ Subject-
Object,/ One repressed the other/ played up alternately
both,// Contemplator and text,/ Singer and Song,/
Separate and One.//

Reminiscent of William Butler Yeat's often-quoted poem, "Flying to Byzantium" is a contemporary, if not postmodern, rendition of the quest for the transcendental. But unlike Yeats whose search for eternity is through art and artifice, Dimalanta pursues “sites/ for ruined dreams to sit on/ long after golden birds/ on golden boughs/ have run out of songs.” Her poetic persona therefore is more world-weary, aware as she is that nothing really remains of human monuments but ruins and memories.

Dimalanta's transit poems are never purely descriptive, for her journeys are both inward and outward oriented. She seldom catalogues scenes and scenarios for their own sake. More often than not, she examines her travel experiences from a philosophical or aesthetic vantage point. As a result of her constant confabulations, landscapes become inscapes, not only mere routes of escape, and random sights and sounds become the sources of specific poetic insights: “from mythology to the/ mundaneness of moods…” [“Delphic Capers], “Enchantment is in retrospect.” [“Along the Arcadian Way”], “And to fathom this mystery/ we have ourselves to be/ unfathomable…” [“Meryam Ana at Ephesus”].

In keeping with the spirit of the Philippine Centennial, the third section, subtitled “Our Voices, Our Zones,” verbalizes in a series of character sketches and dramatic monologues the patriotic feelings and ruminations of six women associated with the Revolution of 1896: Teodora Alonso, the mother of Jose Rizal; Josephine Bracken, Pepe’s girlfriend who became his wife two hours before his execution; Patrocinio Gamboa y Villareal, a Jaro heroine; Tandang Sora, the famous katipunera; Gregoria de Jesus, Andres Bonifacio’s wife and “comrade-at-arms;” and Teresa Magbanua Ferraris, another female fighter from the Visayas.

The six poems are quite interesting as socio-political commentaries, for they provide us with possible portraits of these women warriors, heroines whose contribution to the Revolution have often been ignored or effaced by the patriarchal chroniclers of history. Taken in this context, the six poems can be considered as alternative versions of certain historical events, a herstory of the Revolution, écriture féminine counteracting phallogocentric writing. Hear their heroic female voices rise above the totalizing din of male discourse:

Coming home, it seems she really/ has not left home at all./
Home is in the heart’s lush country... and her own/ gentle
hovering and insinuating/ female voice in subtle shades
rising/ as passions in the dark and spreading/ in the
nascent light of faith like/ white confettis in the night.//

("Tandang Sora: Confettis at Pugad Lawin")

Certainly soon, God would will/ to have this woman voice/
take a leap into the elements,/coming out naked in its
wounding/ under a shower of blazing meteors,/ to claim
despite the onus/ of her sex and the curse of her time,/
what godfully is hers alone.//

("Gregoria de Jesus: Beloved Comrade-at-arms")

Nay Isa fought not only with a skill/ akin to or even
excelling man's/ but also with the grit and heat/ and heart
of one woman's being/ ignited in a body text of rage/
and leonine grace and feriocity.//

("Teresa Magbanua Ferraris: Not for Nothing, Brothers")

Reprinted from Flowing On, her third collection of poems, "Other Voices, Other Zones," the fourth and last section, articulates in a sequence of dramatic monologues the sentiments of four heroines from distant lands. Winnie Mandela, Benazir Bhutto, Laila Abou Saif, and Sisulu are polyester women, whose participation in politics, sexual or otherwise, do not diminish the silkiness of their sensibilities. Listen, for the instance, to the voice of Benazir Bhutto:

shahid, i bear your vision/ in my womb like a foetus/ i
shall deliver and send forth/ into the thickest nights,/
wide into the farthest/ reaches of the country’s core...

Or the more feminist utterance of Laila Abou Saif:

sisters of all colors/ and calling, under this skin/ flows
the same blood with/ one intensity and power,/
sputtering forth the same/ sparks, in anger, in need...

Dimalanta’s fifth volume of poetry focuses on love in all its multifarious guises and disguises: romantic love, erotic love, love for the poor and the disenfranchised, love for her dearly departed writer-friends Bienvenido Santos and Edilberto Tiempo, the love of words and the wonderful worlds they create, the love of music, Wanderlust, the love of country, and womanly love for her “gentle,/ loving, long chafing brood.” Love Woman recognizes the fact that in the final analysis, everything essential, whether ephemeral or eternal, is a manifestation of the four-letter word, the Tetragrammaton that defies definition and the constraining cage of language.

Dimalanta’s poetic voice is sui generis; no other poet, nor poetess for that matter, composes poetry the way she does. Thus, her liguistic stamp, being both distinct and distinctive, and the difficult themes she has chosen to tackle make her fifth collection of poems a singular contribution to contemporary Philippine Poetry in English. For in this her latest offering, she has transcended the traditional paradigm of feminine/feminist by becoming what Josephine Acosta Pasricha calls "the true female... reconciling the maternal cyclical structures with the linear time of history and contemporary politics, thus, understanding herstory (sic) and the future of man/womankind."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

For 2LIT (Poetry)


Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence - this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word "woods."

Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they'll never let her get away.

Each drop of ink contains a fair supply
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what's here isn't life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,
and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof's full stop.

Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.

- Wislawa Szymborska

Answer in a 3-5 page essay the guide question below (maximum score is 50 points):
(Remember that ARTICULATION is what matters most.)

Compare and contrast the different functions of writing in the movie "Atonement" and in the poem "The Joy of Writing" by Polish Nobel Prize for Literature winner Wislawa Szymborska.

Note: Submit your computer-printed or typewritten essays on July 22, 2008, during the first hour of our class period: 2:30-3:30. I will not accept late papers, nor handwritten answers.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


(after Walt Disney's "The Little Mermaid")

under the piscean sea
of feelings, i live
princess of the deep.
my love is a turbulence
breaking near the water's

since what i long for
is an earthly prince
dry yet fertile like land
far yet warm as the sun
shimmering on the sea's
surface from my vision

but this watery love
like the sea spray
is doomed, for i am
a mermaid forever caught
in the ocean's overwhelming

My Kind


I have no oven large enough,
Dear Sylvia, to roast
my head like a lamb for dinner.

Nor a brand-new car parked
in a garage, Dear Anne,
to etherize my soul.

Nor stones heavy with sin,
Dear Virginia, and a river deep
as forgetting to drown myself in.

Nor do I live in a building,
so high like the bluest
of skies, Dearest Maningning.

Sisters in rhyme, in crime,
how then shall I make my quick
and extraordinary exit?

Or shall I kill myself slowly
with beer and cigarettes,
bit by bit?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pistang Panitik 2007

The 28th Manila International Book Fair
World Trade Center

After the success of last year’s "Pistang Panitik," LIKHAAN: The U.P. Institute of Creative Writing, in partnership with the Book Development Association of the Philippines, Prime Trade Asia, Anvil Publishing, the National Book Development Board and Read Or Die, will mount "Pistang Panitik 2007" at the World Trade Center from August 30, 2007 to September 2, 2007 to coincide with the 28th Manila International Book Fair.

"Pistang Panitik" was conceived by UP ICW Director Vim Nadera as a literary festival where readers and writers alike can meet and greet. This year’s "Pistang Panitik" is much more ambitious as it spans over the 5 days of the Manila International Book Fair and will focus on the five living National Artists For Literature: Virgilio Almario, Bienvenido Lumbera, Alejandro Roces, F. Sionil Jose, and Edith Tiempo. It aims to re-introduce to contemporary audiences all their contributions to Philippine culture and the arts through commentaries by noted literary critics, performances by theatrical and poetry groups, and reader reactions.

Araw ni Bienvenido Lumbera
AUGUST 30 Function Room A 1:00-3:00 PM

KRITIKO: Dr. Roland Tolentino, Dr. Rod Nuncio, at Dr. Rosario Torres Yu
MULA SA MAMBABASA: Kristin Mandigma & Marianne Suba

Araw ni Francisco Sionil Jose
AUGUST 31 Function Rm A 1:00-3:00 p.m.

KRITIKO: Dr. Neil Garcia, Dr. Ophelia Alcantara Dimalanta at Prof. Ferdie Lopez
MULA SA MAMBABASA: Mia Sereno & Israel Realin

Araw ni Virgilio Almario
SEPTEMBER 1 Function Rm B1:00- 3:00 p.m.

KRITIKO: G. Roberto Añonuevo, Prof. Mike Coroza at G. Rogelio Mangahas
TAGAPAGTANGHAL: Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo
MULA SA MAMBABASA: Kristel Autencio, Renita Norada

Araw ni Alejandro Roces
SEPTEMBER 2 Function Rm A1:00- 5:00 p.m.

KRITIKO: Dr. Isagani Cruz, Prof. Lito Zulueta, at Prof. Danton Remoto
TAGAPAGTANGHAL: Alitaptap Storytellers Philippines
MULA SA MAMBABASA: Rachel Teng, Karen Inocencio & Paolo Cruz

Araw ni Edith Tiempo

KRITIKO: G. Alfred Yuson, Dr. Gemino Abad, Prof. Ralph Semino Galan
MULA SA MAMBABASA: Pamela Punzalan & Mia Marci

Note: The revised version of "Articulations of Both Heart and Mind: The Love Poems of Edith L. Tiempo", the paper I read for this literary event will be published in the June 2008 issue of UNITAS, UST's scholarly publication for the arts and the sciences. Many thanks to John Jack Wigley, the Acting Director of the UST Publishing House, for believing in my capacity as a literary critic, albeit a fledging one.

Ubod New Authors Series


The National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) through the National Committee on Literary Arts (NCLA) will formally launch the “Ubod New Authors Series,” which features 40 of Philippine literati’s newest gems, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Lobby, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City, on Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.

The series consists of 50-page chapbooks (5½” x 8½”) of selected poems, fiction, creative nonfiction and drama in English, Filipino and other Philippine languages written by young and promising Filipino writers. Ubod is the Tagalog and Cebuano word for “heart extracted out of palm or bamboo.”

Presidential assistant on culture and NCCA executive director Cecile Guidote Alvarez, CCP vice president and artistic director Fernando C. Josef and NCLA head Joselito Zulueta will present the first copies of “Ubod” to the authors.

An overview of the series will be presented by Ricky de Ungria, UP Mindanao chancellor and former head of the NCLA from 1998 to 2001, when “Ubod” was first hatched.

There will also be remarks from Gemino Abad, general editor of “Ubod,” and Hermino Beltran, head of the CCP Office on Literature and former head of the NCLA from 2001 to 2004, during which “Ubod” started to be implemented.

The writers of the series are Sid Hildawa, Naya Valdellon, Gabriela Lee, Raul Moldez, Rosendo Makabali and Ralph Semino Galan for poetry in English; Joseph Salazar, Edgar Calabia Samar, Richard Gappi, Joselito de los Reyes, Joselyn Floresca, Enrico Torralba, Marieta Culibao, and Jema Pamintuan for poetry in Filipino; Santiago Villafania for poetry in Pangasinan; and Estellito Baylon Jacob for poetry in Bicolano.

The series also features Anna Felicia Sanchez, Peter Mayshle, Ian Casocot, Mildred Malaki and Arifa Jamil for fiction in English; Alwyn Aguirre, Vlademeir Gonzales, Alvin Yapan, Maricris Calilung and Ernesto Carandang Jr. for fiction in Filipino; Julio Belmes for fiction in Iluko; Januar Enero Yap for fiction in Cebuano; Genvieve Asenjo for fiction in Kinaray-a; and John Barrios for fiction in Aklanon.

Also included on the series are the works of Georgina Verdolaga and Maryanne Moll for creative nonfiction in English; Debbie Ann Tan, Christopher Gozum, and Liza Magtoto for drama in English; and Bay-viz Canleon, Edward Perez, Dennis Marasigan and Chris Martinez for drama in Filipino.

Note: This event happened almost three years ago, but since I am waxing nostalgic while creating this online archive of my life as a writer, I might as well include this press release as well as two pictures courtesy of Ian Casocot.

Ralph Semino Galan with Ian Casocot at the CCP Main Lobby.

Dalawang Tula Tungkol sa Baguio


Malamig ang pag-ibig ng Baguio
kasinlamig ng mga mata mo
O irog ko.
Ang mga mata mong
di nakatitig sa aking pag-iisa:
dalawang ilog na dumadaloy
patungo sa puso ng iba.

Nagiging yelo ang puso ko
dahil sa lamig ng labi mo
O mahal ko.
Tulad ng Baguio,
ang dampi ng iyong halik
ay kasinlamig ng habagat,
pinamamanhid ang aking balat.

Nakapatong sa mga balikat ko
ang mga nanlalamig na daliri mo
O sinta ko.
Ang mga daliri mong
kasinlamig at kasimbango
ng mga punungkahoy ng Baguio:
mga berdeng kandilang nakatirik

sa libingan ng aking pagnanasa
sa puntod ng aking pag-asa.



Binabagyo ako ng mga alaala.

Amoy pine trees ang simoy ng hangin.

May nalimutan ba akong gawin
kaya’t ako ngayo’y inaabala
ng mga imahen?

Sarisaring simbolo ang gumagambala
sa puso ko’t diwa,
nila ang aking damdamin,
gaya ng paghiwa ng mga Igorot
sa tigang na lupa
para malikha
ang Banaue

Ang isipan ko naman ay binubulabog
ng mga tunog ng kalikasan:
Ang mga kuliglig na kumakanta
ng kakaibang melodiya...
Ang mga ibon na humuhuni
sa Burnham Park ng aking guniguni...

Nararamdaman kong umiinit
ang aking katawan
nang ang iyong mukha sa aking isipan
ay nasilayan.
Ang iyong mukha
na nagpapatunaw sa ginaw
na dala ng bagyo ng alaala,
ng alaala ng Baguio...

Ano ba ang nagawa kong kasalanan
at ayaw akong iwanan
ng mga nagliliyab mong larawan?



If love is a yearning to be like (even to become)
the beloved, then hatred, it must be said,
can be engendered by the same ambition,
when it cannot be fulfilled.

-Salman Rushdie,
The Satanic Verses

Isinumpa kita:
Hindi ka liligaya sa piling ng iba
habang ako ay nag-iisa sa kama,
binabalutan ng kumot ng kalungkutan,
nakapatong ang ulo sa unan
ng pinakamalupit na pangungulila.

Isinumpa kita.
Sa kabilugan ng buwan,
nagsindi ako ng maitim na kandila
at ibinulong ko sa hangin
ang lihim na panalangin, ang orasyon
para sa mga mangingibig
na hindi marunong magmahal.

Isinumpa kita,
paulit-ulit --- umaga, tanghali, gabi ---
tuwing nakikita ko sa iba ang kaligayahan
na ipinagkait mo sa akin;
sa mga oras na naaalala ko
ang iyong maiinit na yakap at halik,
ang pitik ng iyong puso.

Isinumpa kita.
Ang pinakamabisang gayuma
ang ginamit ko laban sa iyo,
na walang iba kundi ang tindi
ng aking pag-ibig na binaliwala mo
at naging marubdob na poot ---

Isinumpa kita, dati kong sinisinta:
Hindi ka liligaya sa piling ng iba!

-Ralph Semino Galán

On a Boat to Puerto Galera

(for Jun, Rommel and Donald)

the ship of fools
ferries us across the strait
that separates luzon
from the yearned for
shores of mindoro.

leaving our city lives
behind, we stand on deck
straining our eyes
against the glare of light
frolicking on water.

we sigh, imagining
the sand of white beach
crunching beneath
our feet, the sun bronzing
the skin of our backs.

passing by the islands
of verde and maricaban
we shiver, thinking
of the warm sea embracing
our bodies like a lover.

heaving with the heavy
cargo of our foolish
fantasies, we disembark thus
in puerto galera
way ahead of schedule,

long before our rusty galleon
has reached the safety of harbor.

Postcard Poem

(Maria Cristina Falls Reprise)

I have seen your silent screams
tear across the pages
of my dreams. Two voices
streaming in unison
to some imaginary sea,
stopped short
by the edges of this paper
strengthened like a dam.

-Ralph Semino Galan

Islands and Icebergs

(Or, How to Read a Poem)

Imagine the paper
on which this poem is written
as an ocean.

Imagine these words
as either islands or icebergs
floating on the surface.

Imagine yourself
as an explorer, a cartographer
of heart and mind.

From the safety
of your imagination’s ship,
what do you see?

A mountain peak;
perhaps a ribbon of smoke
from an old volcano?

A drifting glacier;
a pair of polar bears frolicking
on thin ice?

You ask: Where
is the connection, the link
between each to each?

You ask: Must I hop
from this island to the next,
feeling after feeling?

Or must I move
from one iceberg to the other,
thought after thought?

And I answer,
take a deep breath and dive
into the dead calm.

Taste, feel, smell;
see what was once invisible
listen to the silence ---

Read again.

- Ralph Semino Galán

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fortune Telling at Ora Cafe


You arrive all alone
full of fear and apprehension
in this cafe that promises
to foretell your future, as if
your goddamn life with all
its complexities can be reduced
to a pack of cards, the twisting
path of your destiny as clear-cut
as a crystal ball, your strange fate
a text written in the stars.

And so the psychic-seer
reads the signs of your chosen
form of oracle, predicting events
that may or may not happen,
depending on how you see things
as they occur; the accuracy
of his third eye a matter yet
to be seen, his prophetic words
a cipher yet to be decoded
in the succeeding days to come.

But you believe him,
at this particular point in time
yes, you completely believe him:
the major and minor arcana,
the alignment of the planets;
so you leave this cafe with a sense
of certainty that disappears
the very next day, in the tumult
and turbulence of tomorrow's
unpredictable unfolding.

-Ralph Semino Galan



I wave my pen like a wand
and cast a spell to conjure images
of the past: the silk of your skin

I had touched a thousand times,
the impish smile in your eyes,
your firm thighs. Athame in hand,

I slash the veils of illusion
one by one, and stab my devoted
heart with the dagger of art.

I let the blood spill like music,
tears flowing like the solemn lyrics
of a dirge. I let everything go.

I remove my robes and remember
that the path to wholeness
is not in safety but in vulnerability.

Star-clad, I offer my wounds
to the universe, faith transforming
pain into poetry, suffering into song.

-Ralph Semino Galan

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Virgin Labfest 4 Highlights

Stellar Roster of Artists in VIRGIN LABFEST 4 at the CCP
(June 25- July 6)

The Virgin Labfest 4, the most awaited theater festival in the country today, will be held once again at the Cultural Center of the Philippines from June 25 until July 6, 2008, with a stellar roster of writers, directors and actors headlining the performances of 18 one-act plays and staged readings of six other works. Now on its fourth year, the Virgin Labfest, has earned a solid reputation for its exciting and provocative line-up of "untried, untested, unpublished and unstaged" plays from playwrights both young and old. Complementing these are a workshop for high school students who wish to learn more about the craft of playwriting, a contest for owners of blogs (web logs or online journals), the launching of Ma-Yi Theater Company’s anthology Savage Stage, and a public interview with National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose by journalist Howie Severino.


The line-up for Virgin Labfest 4 includes plays by National Artist F. Sionil Jose, award-winning playwrights Layeta Bucoy, Tim Dacanay, George de Jesus III, George Vail Kabristante, Allan Lopez, Job Pagsibigan, Floy Quintos, Debbie Tan, J. Dennis Teodosio and Argel Tuazon, as well as newcomers to the Festival such as Carlo Garcia, Anna Maria Gonzales, Jovi Miroy, Khavn de la Cruz and Malaysian writer Koh Jun Eiow.


Returning to direct the plays are Virgin Labfest “veterans” Jose Estrella, Njel de Mesa, George de Jesus III, Ana Valdez Lim, Nick Olanka Cats Racsag, Tuxqs Rutaquio, Roobak Valle, J. Victor Villareal and Toshiisa Yoshida, and festival first-timers Krystal Banzon, Jeff Camanag, Mayen Estañero, Hazel Gutierrez, Chris Millado, Floy Quintos, Paolo O’Hara and Leo Rialp. Rody Vera is the Festival’s Artistic Director.


Among the over one hundred actors participating in the performances and readings are Tommy Abuel, Irma Adlawan Marasigan, Kalila Aguilos, JK Anicoche, Lovely Balili, Ian Bautista, Riki Benedicto, MacDonnel Bolaños, Nonie Buencamino, Shamaine Buencamino, Tara Cabaero, Paolo Cabañero, Nar Cabico, Bong Cabrera, Kathlyn Castillo, Ricci Chan, Chrome Cosio, Dido de la Paz, Abner Delina, Anna Deroca, Bituin Escalante, Gigi Escalante, Mica Froilan, Bart Guingona, Jef-Henson Dy, Tess Jamias, Nanding Josef, Mailes Kanapi, Skyzx Labastilla, Monica Llamas, Russell Legaspi, Lorna Lopez, Clottie Lucero, Nicco Manalo, Missy Maramara, Juliene Mendoza, Wenah Nagales, Jerald Napoles, Madeleine Nicolas, Phil Noble, Peewee O’Hara, Gem Padilla, Joey Paras, Leo Ponseca, Cheryl Ramos, Arnold Reyes. Bembol Roco, Ness Roque, Amihan Ruiz, Tuxqs Rutaquio, Katherine Sabate, Carme Sanchez, Gilleth Sandico, Jonathan Tadioan, Noel Taylo, Joel Torre, Onyl Torres, Lou Veloso and Randy Villarama.


“This year, there will be five sets of one-act trilogies, each dealing with a central topic or unifying theme ranging from comedies to political commentaries to gender issues to ghost stories, and a program consisting of three productions from Virgin Labfest 3.” says Vera. One of these is a program especially geared for children, consisting of plays commissioned by the Philippine Board on Books for Young People, based on published children’s stories.


National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose will share his thoughts with Howie Severino in a forum titled “From Page to Stage: The Novelist in Front of the Footlights” on July 5.

Staged readings of six other “virgin” plays will also be presented every night from June 25 to 29. On July 3, there will be a reading of selected excerpts from Ma-Yi Theater Company’s anthology Savage Stage, most of which have been performed by the company.

The Labfest Blogfest offers active bloggers to win prizes. All they have to do is attend the first weekend performances and write a web blog or online journal within 48 hours after watching the program they saw. Winners will be chosen for each set of Labfest plays and receive gift certificates and other merchandise.

In the Virgin Labfest Lab, high-school students who are interested in theater and playwriting will be mentored throughout the festival by writer-director Njel de Mesa, after which the students are expected to write short plays to be presented in a staged reading on the last day of the Festival.

The Virgin Labfest 4 runs from June 25 to July 6 and is presented by the Writers Bloc and Tanghalang Pilipino with the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, in cooperation with Boysen Paints, Japan Foundation Manila Office, and Miss Mae Paner. For schedule and ticket inquiries, please call the CCP Box Office at 832-3704 or Ticketworld at National Bookstore branches at 891-9999.