Capiz-based writers read poetry marking RP’s Independence Day
By Caressa Siglos and Niño Manaog
Photos by Arcturus Dordas and Ben Villarosa
It was an afternoon of history, poetry and fellowship.
A group of writers based in Roxas City and the neighboring towns of Capiz convened by brothers Leothiny and Virgilio Clavel took part in Binalaybay sa Halawód, a poetry reading cum fellowship held June 11, 2012 at the Hontiveros Ancestral House beside the Panay River in barangay Plaridel, Roxas City.
No less than Roxas City Councilor Teresa Hontiveros-Almalbis hosted the artists in their Ancestral House, which stands at the riverside of the Capiz Bridge at the heart of the city.
According to Dr. Leothiny Clavel, the event’s convenor who is also a published Capiznon scholar, they made sure that the event be held in the ancestral residence of Sen. Jose Hontiveros, who is considered a historical icon. Clavel said that holding the “Binalaybay” at the Hontiveros Ancestral House by the Panay River is significant because the house used to be the center of culture at the turn of the twentieth century, while the Panay River is also immortalized in Hinilawod, an epic of Capiz which tells of the adventures of Labaw Dinggin who traversed Halawod. Capisnon freedom fighters likewise traversed the route of the Halawod river in fighting the Spanish forces in the towns of Tapaz, Dumalag, Mambusao, Dao, Maayon, Panitan, Pontevedra, Panay and Capiz (now Roxas City).
According to Clavel, Binalaybay sa Halawod was convened to serve as an innovative way of commemorating the struggle for independence, because he believes “the annual celebration of Philippine Independence needs fresh approaches.”
|Councilor Teresa Hontiveros-Almalbis (right) hosts the group, inspiring them by sharing their family history.|
After the host’s sharing, the gathering witnessed the reading of binalaybay (poems) penned by Francis Russel Varron of Roxas City; Salvador Ochavo Jr. of Sapian; Harold Ortiz Buenvenida of Panay; Marvic Martires of Roxas City, Leothiny Clavel who is a Capiznon now based in Manila, and Niño Manaog, a Bikolano who migrated in the Panay Islands in 2005.
The poets read their works which fell under three themes—social, economic and political themes, with the last brimming with works satirizing the government and the irony of the celebration of independence. Some works were plays with words, while others attacked the current social realities.
Two students from Colegio de la Purisima Concepcion shared to the audience their binalaybay. Kenn Mendoza read “Sunog nga Libro” which laments how modern-day leaders have turned from public servants to feudal lords, the very people the heroes of the past fought against; while Mass Communication major Rhiel dela Rosa shared “Sa Akon Henerasyon,” which compares the past and the present youth and enjoins them to learn from the lessons of the past.
According to the organizers, the initiative sought to promote Capisnon (or Kinapisnon), the language of Capiz, as a vehicle of poetic engagement and as a window to the literary world of the province. More important, it did not only provide a venue for poets writing in the Capisnon language to gather and read their poems in celebration of the freedom of creative expression; it also allowed poets to affirm their freedom of creative expression, which is considered “an important result of the struggle.”
Clavel said that the Hontiveros residence will be cited as part of the cultural accounts of the event and in the book which will feature the same harvest of poems read in the memorial.