The Neighborhood received a Facebook message from Alton Melvar M. Dapanas, asking us to check out the link attached. Turns out it was a portal to Spoken Word Philippines’ poetry folio, Bukambibig, and a direct link to Volume 1, Issue 3: Disasters. The publication, which Alton Melvar M. Dapanas, I found, is the General Editor of, introduces itself as the “country’s first multilingual and digital folio of performance poetry written in Binisaya, Bikol, English, Hiligaynon & Kinaray-a, Ilokano, Pangasinan, and Tagalog, written by Filipino poets residing in the country or in diaspora.”
I’m a picky reader–despite lacking knowledge (or refined taste) for what good literature supposedly is. But for a while, my eyes were glued to the screen. Disasters is filled with works of honest writers.
Mark Dimaisip’s “Sun-kissed, Windswept, Weather-beaten” bears his childlike perspective on Filipinos’ way of facing natural disasters–narrating years of his childhood spent in brownouts and candlelit homework, toxic air and volcanic ash, and rescue missions during the 1990 great Luzon earthquake. But during months of grey skies, he also remembers a rare blue moon following a peaceful sunset of electric colors.
Rea Maac talks to the storm in “Bakit Kay Lupit Mo,” personifying it to an uninvited visitor who comes at night and goes the next morning, leaving a mark in the form of destroyed houses and destroyed lives–if there are any left.
Adeva Jane H. Esparrago’s “I Still Shudder” contains the horrors of her haunted memories, expressing fear and trauma of screeching, rainy evenings. And as her mother told her, don’t look, the sight of two dead bodies wrapped in an embrace–a father and his son–didn’t escape the corner of her eye.
As a self-confessed chismosa, I was naturally intrigued by spoken word poetry because people talked about it. Through eavesdropping coupled with word-of-mouth communication, I learned that it was becoming an actual thing here, as there was a growing number of Sarah Kays infiltrating Sev’s Café. The first time I went to a spoken word poetry gig, I felt a wave of raw emotions that surged softly through the crowd. The performer wore his vulnerability on his sleeve through “a very personal” piece he wrote – a brave act I’d liken to being naked in public. Ah, I thought. Brilliant. But that night, no matter how much I enjoyed the brief but striking performances, I went home remembering the feeling but forgetting details: the words.
They say that spoken word poetry is best enjoyed when heard live, or written and performed. But if you’re one who prefers to retreat to your own reading nook, then that’s fine too. For literary lurkers like myself, Bukambibig is a step to further appreciating spoken word poetry because it simply helps the words stick. It’s a digital folio that’s accessible enough to be the companion of a live performance, or it could even be enjoyed alone.
You can have it one way or another, so go ahead and set an hour or two a week dedicated to sessions of pure Filipino spoken word poetry. There’s no harm in trying it out–Bukambibig would be a great start.
Art by Mags Ocampo