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- isys.com.

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