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Of poetry and the National Anthem

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THE Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Performatura: Performance Literature Festival is back for its third installment as it once again “highlights the rich tapestry of Philippine artistic traditions that leap beyond the written word.”

The festival will be held from April 5 to 7 in various venues inside the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Pasay City.

This year’s theme, “Ang Mamatay nang Dahil Sa ’yo” (To die for you), tackles the issue raised last September by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III who said he wanted to change the last line of the Philippine National Anthem to give it a more positive spin.

“The Philippines has so many more important issues but what our legislators busy themselves doing is changing the last line of the National Anthem,” multi-awarded poet and festival director, Vim Nadera Jr., told the media during a forum on March 20 at the Kamuning Bakery and Café in Quezon City.

Performatura is a biennial festival which features performances, poetry readings, literature classes, art talks, regional chanters, book discussions, a slam poetry contest, film screenings, a book fair, art exhibits, and interviews with renowned writers at various venues in the CCP.

But beyond the National Athem, this year’s Performatura (a term Mr. Nadera coined by combining the words “performance” and “orature”) also “alludes to issues that are relevant and [are] being discussed in our society today,” said a press release.




“‘Ang Mamatay nang Dahil Sa ’yo,’ can mean a lot of things to different people,” Mr. Nadera said, noting that this is what he wants to achieve in the poetry slam that will be held during the festival.

A poetry slam is a competition in which poets perform spoken word poetry and are judged by a panel.

The first day of the festival will be dedicated to literature in general and spoken word performances. Among the highlights of the first day will be an interview with Resil Mojares who was named National Artist for Literature last year, while Dumagats from Mauban, Quezon province will stage the story of their local hero, Gat Uban.

Kuwit, the literary group of the Philippine High School for the Arts, will lead a set of performances such as storytelling with the National Library of the Philippines’ Storytellers and Puppeteers.

In the afternoon, a film by poet and filmmaker Khavn dela Cruz will be screened for free at the CCP Dream Theater while US-based poet and visual artist Sam Roxas-Chua will teach Asemic Writing during the Literaturo segment. His artworks will also be on view during the festival.

The second day will honor National Artist for Visual Arts Francisco V. Coching, who is best known as a master illustrator and storyteller behind Filipino comics from the 1950s to the ’60s.

The Coching family, through Lulu Coching and Marabini Coching Williamson, will “give an intimate portrait of Coching as father, uncle, and lolo (grandfather),” said the release.

Students from the Eastern Samar National Comprehensive High School will read Mr. Coching’s comic book Lapu-lapu in front of an audience, while the Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books Book Club will hold a book discussion about Mr. Coching’s El Indio.

Tadhana, a spoken word group, will also pay homage to Mr. Coching through a set of literary performances by female spoken word artists in honor of Mr. Coching’s women warrior characters like Mara-bini, created in 1935.

Noted comics artists Rico Rival, Randy Valiente, and Shaun Garcia will give tribute to Coching through talks and art activities while Liwayway Magazine’s Ernie Patricio will share his techniques in illustrating comics.

Veteran illustrator Danny Acuña can be commissioned to do on-the-spot portraits at the CCP Main Lobby that day. Performatura visitors may also view the ongoing Coching Birth Centennial Exhibit entitled Nasaan ka na, Mara-bini?, curated by Alice Sarmiento.

The last day of the festival is in honor of the National Artist for Literature Edith Tiempo in commemoration of her birth centennial.

Fictionists and poets who were influenced by Tiempo will be having a tribute performance including poetry reading and talks. An interactive centennial exhibit curated by Ateneo de Manila University professor Danilo M. Reyes and artist Gwen Bautista will also be on view.

Podcast producers Pakinggan Pilipinas will lead a series of readings of Ms. Tiempo’s works, while Silliman University’s Kahayag Dance Company, opera singer Katrina Marie Saga, and pianist Jasper Domingo will perform “Bonsai,” one of Ms. Tiempo’s most anthologized poems.

Artist Annie Pacana Lumbao will show her projection art based on Ms. Tiempo’s poem, “City Man.”

Performance literature expert Azam Rais of Malaysia will showcase his talent while a workshop conducted by University of the Philippine’s Dr. Belen Calingacion will teach how to use Ms. Tiempo’s poems as material for a speech choir.

Film critic Ed Cabagnot will discuss Ms. Tiempo’s milieu using the film A Nation is Born, believed to be the first film shot in Dumaguete.

The Performatura: Performance Literature Festival will run from April 5 to 7 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Pasay City. Admission is free though visitors are encouraged to donate a book which will serve as an admission ticket. A book is equal to a whole day admission and the books will go to CCP partner libraries. For more information, visit https://www.culturalcenter.gov.ph/index.php/events/literature/performatura-2019-performance-literature-festival/details. — Zsarlene B. Chua