Romulo Baquiran on AGAM

By Romulo Baquiran
June 30, 2017 | Mt Cloud Book Shop

Tama yung sinabi ni Padma, binigyan yung mga authors ng litrato, tapos wala silang alam na objective data tungkol dun sa litrato na yun, at yun yung tinulaan. Ginawa ito ng late 2013 , tapos mabilis na tapos! In three months, ni-launch na early 2014, at 2015 umani ng mga awards.

24 authors na iba-ba, may essayist, may poet, may journalist, meron ding porn artist. Ayun yung cover. Ang gagawin ko lang ay, yung sa poetry kasi yun yung focus ko. Hindi ako pupunta sa kwento o sa essay, dun lang sa poem kasi kailangan may focus. Nung binasa ko yung 8 poems ng mga kasama ko. Basically, ekphrasis pala ang ginawa ng libro. Ekphrasis is mayroong image, painting man yan, or in this case photograph, at yung writer tutulaan niya. Or i-describe, basically. Nauna na yung mga Greeks satin. So itong Agam, Greek pala! Ekphrasis ang tawag.

Photographs ni Jose Soriano . Binigyan bawat author ng tigiisang litrato para tulaan niya. Yung iba tig-dalawa. Si RayVi ata dalawang photos, si Joel Saracho, dalawa din. Very basic Ekphrasis.

So ito yung mga nakasama kong poets – si Padmapani Perez, Ramon Sunico, Ricardo de Ungria, Daryll Delgado sa Waray, Marjorie Evasco sa Cebuano, Herminio Beltran sa Ilocano, Grace Monte de Ramos (Cebuano.. Waray ata), at Joel Saracho sa Tagalog. Iisa-isahin kong silipin ang mga tula nila. Pero bago ko sinilip, tignan ko muna… parang deduction no? General characteristics and then from there titignan natin ang mga ginawa ng mga authors.

Basic – kasi sinasabi nila ang mga writers sensitive. Super sensitive ang kanilang emotions kaysa sa iba.. lang naman. Daw lang naman. I’m sure maraming sensitive din dito ano, lalo na sa mga karanasan sa pagibig.

Basically pala, gusto kong i-introduce yung sarili ko. Hindi ako tumutula ng environment dahil kaya nungbinigyan ako ng topic na ito, napilitan akong basahin yung mga volumes of readings na pinadala… ang dami eh! So yun, napilitan tuloy ako. Pero nung basahin ko yung mga kapwa ko ring poets, nakita ko na ang basic na damdamin was really compassion. Kasi yung mga pictures pag tinignan mo talaga, speaks volumes to you as a writer. So, ang daming inspirasyon ang map-produce through the picture. The basic, in ekphrasis, ay mayroon emotion na nakukuha. At basically sa mga writers, dahil compassionate, awa o pakikiisa. Sabi ng isang psychologist ng Filipino ay mayroon daw seven steps ng Filipino pagkikipagkapwa. It begins with Patanong-tanong, kikilalanin mo lang; Palapitlapit. Then finally, the final stage is pakikisa – when you become one with the other. Sa umpisa patanong-tanong, tingin-tingin lang muna, tapos pakikipagkapwa mo palapit ng palapit. Pero itong mga writer, meron pang isang level pa. Hindi lang pakikiisa, kundi nung tinignan ko ang mga poems nila – nasapian! Kumbaga, dialectical kasi yung relationship. Habang tinitignan mo yung picture, tumitingin din sayo yung character and nagkakaroon kayo ng connection. The character becomes you, and you become the character. So mayrong ganung process na dinaanan ng walong writers, sila Padma siguro can validate this. So yung kaluluwa, yung level ng kaluluwa na pinroduce ng authors na ito.

Dahil literature teacher ako, kailangan tignan ko sila bilang literary elements. Pagtitignan mo siya, ano ba yung ginamit ng mga authors. Basically, it’s apostrophe. It’s a very simple literary device wherein characters in a play, biglang kakausapin yung audience. Like an aside, diba? Shakespearean. Biglang kakausapin ka ng character sa isang play, that’s an apostrophe. The monologue is an apostrophe, mga iniisip niya– “to be or not to be”, wala naman siyang kausap, kausap niya yung sarili niya. Pero habang kausap niya yung sarili niya, naririnig natin siya. Yan ang mga apostrophe. Sa Filipino it’s called a “Panawagan”, wherein you call out to somebody, you don’t know maybe God, maybe something else. But basically, yung sarili mo rin. So youre talking. When you’re talking to yourself you’re doing apostrophe. At ito rin yung mga appeal, mga sulat, mga panawagan sa mga politico, it’s an apostrophe. Pero yung pinakasikat sa mga Pilipino ay yung radio. You hear something na sa loob ka ng bahay, kung anong sinasabi ng DJ.. kahit anong ginagawa mo naglalaba ka, naglilinis ng bahay, it’s a dialogue; it’s a monologue. Usually ang kinakausap Diyos, an audience, usually imaginary. It’s not really an actual person you’re talking to but an imagined person. Pero habang nagiimagine ka, you’re doing communication. In literature tinatawag na poetic voice. It’s a voice na hindi mo naririnig sa actual conversation, but it’s an imagined voice – a lover… something imagined. It’s not really the writer, it’s something else.

So titignan natin yung unang author. Pasensya na kinunan ko lang kaninang umaga, it’s not scanned. Ito yung tinignan ni Padmapani. What can you write about this? It’s a mother. Wala talagang objective data kung sino ba ito. Basta from a victiim of Yolanda, taken a few weeks after the event. It’s a mother carrying a child. Palagay ko ang naisip ni Padma… eh ano gagawin niya? Ang title ng poem is Mothers Speak. This figure is a representative of all mothers na ganun ang situation. Sino kausap ng mother? The mother is speaking to the sea. Kasi yung husband niya, at least dun sa kwento sa loob ng poem, ay tinangay ng dagat at hindi na makita. Then, the mother speaks to the sea ganito ang sabi niya. This is the final (stanza):

“Someday my son will cast
his nets into your waters.
This is the only way we know how to live.
They say he will have to go farther
and farther from land to bring fish home.
This is the only way we know how to live.
When he goes to you,
I would only wish for you to give him back.”

Para kasing, baka in the future mawawalla nanaman yung anak niya. Kasi yung asawa niya, the father of this child, tinangay na ng dagat. So, this mother is requesting the sea na kung pwede lang, spare my son. In the future pa no? So it’s really.. andaming level for imagining the situation. The incident happened in the recent past, pero the mother is now forward looking and wishing that… bale sinasabi ni red kanina na ito yung incarnation, but imagined lang sa poetry.

The second poet is RayVi Sunico, “Diptych not Selfie”. Binigyan siya ng dalawang photo. It’s a seller – tindera ng kalabasa. There’s another photo. It’s actually like a before and after, the now and the future. The second photo nawala na yung tindahan. Of course it’s another place, but the juxtaposition in Agam ganito. Nawala na yung ano.. Again the sapi is complete, the author is talking as the tindera. Ganito yung linya niya:

“Kaya inyong awa na po,
Dali, dali!
Kunan nyo na ako’t
kakaunting tinda
bago maanod
ng taksil na baha
na nagkukunwaring maamong
sapang pampalamig sa paa….”

Parang ganun ulit, future, forward looking and eksena, because we don’t know kung ano mangyayari dito sa atin ngayon because of climate change and the character is pleading to the camera man. Pero meron akong nasense dito na ironic or sarcastic. Ofcourse sabi ni Spivak, you cannot make the sub-altern speak, pero mukhang dito sa literature pwede. The other, o yung nasa ilalim, can speak. Eh ito nga ang ginagawa ng mga writers. Sarcastic siya in the sense, reading ko lang naman, ang sinasabi ng character, nung tindera “ wala ka bang gagawin tungkol sa aktwal sa buhay ko? Parang kukunan mo lang ba ako ng litrato?” parang may ganun, konting… although hindi outright, pero mararamdaman mo na parang may ganun.

Mabilisan lamang ito kasi walo sila. Iisa-isahin natin sila kung pano nila ginamit yung mga literary devices.

This one is for Ricardo de Ungria, pinasalita niya ulit, again nasapian si Ricardo de Ungria ng magsasaka, pero siyempre dahil mediated ang literature, he is speaking in good, perfect English, na mayroong beatnik. Parang may ganun. Pero siyempre alam natin na ganun naman ang Filipino literature, may halo talaga ng western and the local. Ricardo de Ungria uses this… the uncertainty expressed very well.

“Last month they said it rained ice beyond that mountain.
I do not know who’s to blame for all these mysteries
I do not know what kind of debt this is we are paying,
I do not know what will happen—to my family and the land I till.

Maybe the crow has turned white. I just haven’t seen it around.
I don’t know. I can’t tell. I don’t know.”

Pero nakikita ko yung Filipino world-view dito because of that line. “Maybe the crow has turned white.” Parang yung uwak naging puti na. Diba may kasabihan na pag puti ng tagak, pag puti ng uwak.

This one by Daryll Delgado, may mamang nakabike. We don’t know, siyempre di naman talaga siya nawala sa baha ng Yolanda, but Daryll Delgado imagined na tinangay siya at hinahanap niya. Again it’s a monologue, inimagine ni Daryll na siya ang housewife nitong mamang to. Literally panawagan, dahil pumunta yung character sa Radio Station and is pleading with the audience “please lang, nawawala yung asawa ko pakihanap naman.” It was in Waray but tinranslate sa English.

“You see this, this husband of mine, Filemon Pulga,
he was a good man, he worked very hard,
Barely spoked, loved to sing.
No serious vices, only drank tuba every now and then,
He had many friends, a good father to his children.
An affectionate husband to me.
That is why I am here, searching yearning for him
and asking for your help.”

This one by Marjorie Evasco, “Krutsay”. This is in Cebuano. Krutsay is a term na parang kung walang hangin pag nagssailing out sa laot (inaudible) tatawagin ang hangin, kaya lang napasobra yata yung tawag sa hangin, naging bagyo. Ito yung irony nung title. 4 poems yun, parang sonnet, continuous poem kaya 4 poems. Ito yung last part:

“It’s getting gloomier and gloomier in our world. Be on guard,
neighbors, the balancing
Spar shouldn’t be abandoned. We must not forget the terror
of this typhoon:
It brings storm surges, lays waste our town…Wake up! Get
ready to leave!
Would a simple fisherman’s song suffice? If not, how else
would we live?”

So ito yung tanong nung mangingisda. Ang lalim ano? Pero siyempre dumaan na ito sa imahinasyon ng awtor. Double imagination kasi si Marjorie Evasco, babae, inimagine niya yung dialogue ng lalaki. Very beautiful Cebuano poems. Ito yung mediation ng literature na pwedeng mangyari sa pagsulat ng tula.

Eto, Ilocano naman ito. “No Sapay, Mang Poldo”, why is it Mang Poldo? Ito yung last part ng poem.

“We fear, Mang Poldo,
Because what we witness
Is no one but ourselves.
Yolanda may come to pass
Ilocos, Pangasinan and Cagayan
By another name on another day
And may strike us, our families, relatives and townmates
With its cruelty.”

So, maaring si Mang Poldo, ang tao ditto sa picture, ay taga Tacloban. Pero ang disaster na ito pwedeng mangyari kahit saan sa Pilipinas – sa Luzon man o sa Visayas.”

And this one by Grace Monte de Ramos. Naging peg ni Grace dito ay yung St. Isidore dito sa taas. Itong poem kasi dito sa Agam, mayroong dasal. Our Father, Hail Mary, mga dasal… tapos linagyan niya ng dialogue na sinasalita nitong aleng ito. So the prayers and dialogue are dispersed. Very touching, ito yung isang part.

“What happened to our weather?
The paths of the winds have changed.
The rainy months have moved.
Why has the southwest wind lost
Its way, no longer arriving on the usual day?
Fathoms of rain have crashed
Onto the fields.

Ay St Isidore
It seems your blessngs
Have overflowed.”

Mayroong ironic dun sa dasal. Parang nasobrahan nung dasal… ay hindi naman. Parang yung juxtaposition lang talaga ng dasal at ng mga nangyari.

This is the last poem, “Bahagharing Saya ng Aleng Masaya”. Joey Saracho is a journalist pero nagsulat siya ng tula dito. Ito siguro yung resiliency ng Filipino embodiment. Kasi kahit sa kabila ng pagiging biktima ng disaster, ang mga Pilipino madaling sumaya. Itong photos na ito naging inspiration ni Joel, rainbow. So inimagina niya:

“She sees in her mind
The shack she will build with the sack
As the roof over her head.
So she can see the rainbow
Even in dark mornings.”

Of course, may isa pang tula si Joel na ironic ditto sa una niya. So inadopt ni Joel itong “sitsiritsit alibambang”. Inadopt niya, binago niya.

“Sitsiritsit, alibangbang
Nag-storm surge sa Tacloban
Nawalan ng tahanan
Tumira sa lansangan.”

I-juxtapose mo yung first poem and his second poem at parang may narrative na nakukumpleto na yung ale na yun is not really happy about the rainbow sack na dinadala niya kasi wala naman na talaga siyang tahanan, nasira na.

“Nasaan ang iyong sanggol
Pagdating ng panahon
Kasama ba sa nabaon.”

So, a folk song na inadopt ng isang poet to comment on the current situation.

That’s only a preview of the poems that are in Agam. Therefore, my conclusions would be, It really uses ekphrasis with photographs as an inspiration for poetry. The constraint na hindi dapat banggitin ang mga technical parts ng project, wala talagang binanggit but the manifestations of disaster and the feelings of the characters na nasa photos.

Ang aking main contention is yung, sinapian yung kaluluwa… nagsapian ng kaluluwa yung subject at yung author, and that makes the poems in Agam very touching. So, congratulations to Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities and bumili na kayo ng Agam, may discount.