Wednesday, February 08, 2012

in the foothills of talinis

Just before the overture, a group of people occupied the stage, bearing nature instruments like the budyong (conch shell) and bamboo, and then playing them in rhythm to a video montage in the background.

This was one of the opening presentations of Handulantaw, Silliman University’s preview of the 50th Cultural Season that would start on June 2012 until May 2013, at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium last January 27. And this particular number was a melding of melodies and verses with my poem “In the Foothills of Talinis.”

Handulantaw, in the words of the show’s director Dessa Quesada-Palm, “constitutes a collective act of remembering. It has fragments of the past fifty years and more, a cultural mosaic of the locale that continues to shape, instruct and inspire this generation of artists and cultural workers in its own being and becoming. It is a necessary conversation that invites retrospection and looking forward. Hence the deliberate connection of handum/handumanan (‘reminisce/keepsake’) and lantaw (‘looking forward’). And that is the grace of a rich history, that in putting together and making sense of its parts, what may seem so disparate, belonging to distant contexts of time and space, are brought together in a narrative that becomes accessible, real and meaningful to the present.”

The presentation of my poem was followed by a string of brilliant performances: Kwerdas, Silliman University Gratitude Goodwill Ambassadors Women’s Ensemble (Valencia folk song “’Day Baling Mingawa”), College of Performing and Visual Art’s Rondalla (folk song “Pobreng Alindahaw”), the cast of Godspell (“Light of the World,” excerpt from the play), Silliman University Jazz Ensemble (“[I’ve Got You] Under My Skin”), Silliman Kahayag Dance Troupe (dance based on the poem “Bonsai” by National Artist for Literature Edith Lopez Tiempo), Jem Robert Talaroc (“Black Bird”), and much more.

All of these were witnessed by media representatives from across the country such as ABS-CBN, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, Cebu Pacific’s Smile Magazine, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Magazine, Esquire Magazine Philippines, Philippines Graphic Magazine, Business Mirror, Good Housekeeping, Zee Lifestyle Magazine, Visayan Daily Star, MetroPost, Bohol Chronicle, Negros Chronicle along with the city’s university papers like The Weekly Sillimanian, Foundation Times, The NORSUNIAN, and The Monthly Paulinian.

More stories about the evening are found here, here, here and here. And there are more to come.

Truly, it was a night of talents, of what was to come soon in the Dumaguete, a place where culture and the arts were ingrained not only in the city but also in those who peopled it. And I am glad, even for such a short period of time, that I was a part of it.

Special thanks to Sonia SyGaco and the members of the Silliman University’s Cultural Affairs Committee for giving me this opportunity.


In the Foothills of Talinis

We have come so far
from the shore,
away from the city,
becoming gods
of our distances.

Now here we are
more alien than snails,
our lungs baptized
with what is once known
and new: this air of Valencia.

Deep beyond the tangle
of copses a yap of a dog,
a clump of muted fireflies,
a groan of a waterfall,
a cologne from wild flowers.

Or this: a sun that hunkers
between hills like the crest
of a deified rooster.
Hear it crow majestic,
gold sweeping green.

Now look for a fern,
a quiet promontory,
or just a forest floor.
We have come so far,
rest would be at hand.

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