Portia Placino

Repository of my thoughts and images of art, literature, travel, and life.

Remembering Rizal and a Poetry Performance

Cubierta de Noli me tangere de José Rizal

Image via Wikipedia

In their late 20’s, Rizal wrote Noli Me Tangere, Luna painted the Spoilarium and Bonifacio started the armed revolution. Those of us in our late 20’s today, what are we doing with our lives? We go on Facebook and Twitter, we chat, we over-pay for our coffees, we drink and party. A lot of us are forced to work in call centers and other outbound services that pay a tad better than other workplaces. What are we really achieving?

This musing is paraphrased from and inspired by an Ambeth Ocampo quote that spread in Facebook some time ago. I can’t remember his exact words. But it went on something like that. I am in my late 20’s. Though I have never worked in a call center or any corporation for that matter, I understand the sentiment. It’s not just because young people want much money that they go to those workplaces, sometimes (or most times), it’s just the work that is available. At least it is the work that is largely available with a good pay. I’m a teacher and I also have some research projects, I have to say that friends in corporations have more financial stability compared to myself. In today’s society, we do need money to survive. To get money, we need jobs, and the jobs that are widely available are in fact, call center jobs.

Maybe someday, the government will help Filipinos in the creation of jobs. No, not outsourcing from foreign companies but developing local industries for our citizens. They can develop local agriculture in the provinces. We can think of ways to create jobs, so we can stop exporting Filipinos; and start to create a self-sustaining Philippines. Maybe when this happen, we can have more time, energy and resources to develop the arts. Maybe then, we can inspire more people to be like Jose Rizal.

We commemorate Rizal Day every December 30. There are a lot of arguments on his being declared as a National Hero, as well as the colonial agenda behind it. Nevertheless, his words are imprinted in us. He wrote the great Filipino novel, yet to be surpassed. I found a Facebook post once, computing the costs of Rizal’s education and travels; it is substantial, to say the least. But his relatively comfortable life and his opportunities to travel the world and educate himself does not make him any less of a hero. I have great respect for the revolutionaries, of course. Yet, there is something about fiction that immortalizes an age, just like what Rizal did with his Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Through his text, his writings, his letter and his poetry, we shall never forget. What he left us should be substantial enough to remind us of our history.

We should nurture the arts. Jose Rizal is proof enough of it.

This reminds me of the last event I attended for 2011–2HOG: tula-dula-musika-pelikula last December 14 at PETA Theatre. Renato (Butch) Santos, as I find out through Google is a retired banker turned Palanca-winning poet. He pushes and explores the Filipino language in the creation of poetry. Though current usage such as jejemon and text renditions makes a lot of us cringe, he manipulates it into his poetry and makes it relevant to the Filipino youth. This is the challenge of art today, how can we make it relevant for Filipinos today?

2HOG is not just poetry, but inter-media performance. PETA called it cinepoetry or moving poems. The poems were written by Butch Santos while the performance was directed by Maribel Legarda. The visual inter-play was no doubt on the theatrical side–the movements, voices and general acting is larger than life. Such performance will not be out-of-place in a theatrical space. It feels like the actors and the poetry are trying to break out of the screen into the on-looking audience.

Though there are quieter moments in the short performance, it is not made to be subtle. This is among the events that I wish I was able to show my students. Poetry has become detached to the Filipino youth, hearing it and seeing it move would help them appreciate the experience. Uploading it to YouTube is also an excellent idea. As a teacher, I know how difficult it is to get a printed text and convince a student to actually read it. But if it’s in YouTube, it can certainly be a different conversation entirely. (See the cinepoems in Youtube here.) Butch Santos even announced the link during the event, his username is Ewanlangatbpngkuwan.

Yet, the experience of being there, despite the smallish crowd is something else entirely. The mood, the live music, the inter-play of the senses cannot re-created online. At least, not yet. I think that we need more performances of this kind to inspire the youth. Creating and performing should re-claim its place in the spotlight. Rizal was killed for his daring. Today’s artists are killed by a lack of support. If these performances could be made widely available, the public may then re-evaluate the role of art in their lives and perhaps may inspire them to think of what they can do for our country.

Butch Santos was a banker for most of his life, but it did not stop him from being a poet. Neither should the call center industry stop our youth from being artists. As seen numerous times before, the internet is not a place to be limited, rather, it is a place to push boundaries. It was a struggle for Rizal to publish his work, it is no struggle for us to publish ours now. Granted, the accepted avenues may still be difficult to get to, but the advent of internet technology helps us break that barrier. The challenge now is to create something of value with the medium we are provided. 2HOG is just a start.

Here are some photos that I have taken during the event.

I still hope we can create more spaces for the arts, as well as nurture artists and future artists, so more events like this can be possible for more people. In time, we can see another great Filipino novel of Noli Me Tangere‘s proportion. It may not necessarily be in print but in inter-media such as this.


2 comments on “Remembering Rizal and a Poetry Performance

  1. Pingback: Rizal and His Metaphorized Chemo « Paperdolls + Pages

  2. Pingback: Art Conversations: Critical Art Practices in the Philippines « Portia Placino

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s



Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,572 other followers

Follow Portia Placino on WordPress.com


We turned the crib into a toddler bed a few days ago so we can use it again. We've been co-sleeping the past few months since I accidentally dropped her into her crib one time as she was getting too heavy for me. Another issue we had was her climbing, which I thought wouldn't happen until she's 3. With all the acrobatics going on, I thought it would be safer if she stayed with us for a while. Then, she just became more stable in climbing the bed and other things, I decided to just turn the crib into a toddler bed and see how that would go. She loved it. We hang out, play with the gang, and even read stories there. Tonight, I turned off the lamp and she led me there to sleep. Let's see how that goes. I'm afraid she'll fall off it. Also, what will happen when she wakes at 4-5am for her feeding? I really don't know. But fingers cross this experiment goes well. I am definitely not a fan of co-sleeping. We lasted over a year with her in her crib until the dropping/climbing incidents. Where did your baby/toddler sleep? #toddlernarratives
She is 18 months old today. Thought we'd celebrate with great food but it really didn't turn out as planned. That's life I guess. But she insisted on going up and down the stairs of the restaurant until she can manage it on her own. The 18 months flew by so fast. Here she is, little miss independent. #toddlernarratives
Petty Mommy revenge. I will eat Yan Yan while you nap! It is all mine! 90s me is pleased. Lol. #babynarratives
Omg!!! 1 year ago?!? #babynarratives
Agawan sa milk tea pagkatapos magpabakuna kontra sa polio. Natuto din po kami mag-jeep para tipid. Lakas! #milktea #babynarratives
This is the little one dancing to k-pop. Lol. Can anyone tell us what songs she was dancing to? We had a tough Friday. We went to public health unit to get an OPV. Then we walked to Rodic's for lunch. After that she rode her first Ikot jeep to go to school. After school, we tried to get a cab to get home, but after like 30 minutes, we really couldn't get one. There were very few cabs on campus and a grab ride would cost a fortune, so we decided to gamble with a jeepney ride. Little one fell asleep for most of it but I felt so bad for her, she looked so dishevelled after. As it was late and we don't have time to cook before she gets really hungry, we stopped by Centris to eat. She enjoyed fries at KFC. But #gamerchef forgot to get me a cookie from Family Mart. There were several events going on and she spent some time dancing to k-pop near Better Days. Being poor is no joke and we are still fortunate we can turn a horrible situation around. I could only shudder at the thought of having no extra money when you need to stop over for food. This is Friday night at the Metro. We are exhausted, but today is also a testament to how resilient babies could be. Go Leia! Dance! #babynarratives
%d bloggers like this: