Sunday, June 23, 2013

JOEY AYALA’S SOCIAL ARTISTRY (Last part) (June 24, 2013)

Joey Ayala with his Philpop 2013 entry "Papel" collaborating with Gloc 9 and Denise Barbacena

Vim Nadera: What are your recent concerns?
Joey Ayala: I’m working on the musical aspect of another core of artwork titled Tubig naman. Para masaing yung bigas. (Laughter.) Water is so much a part of us, so intimately a part of us, that we take it for granted. Our bodies are water – we are conscious bodies of water. Our geography is saturated in water. And our waterways are saturated by us – by our wastes and toxins.

Engineers, scientists, conscientious government- and business-people and activists seem to agree that community engagement is essential to efficient and competent water management. “Tubig” is meant to be a set of music/movement pieces at the core of an educational resource that can used for engaging communities in efficient and competent water management.

“Tubig” contemplates Tubig, that animates our water-spirit. The flow, the liquidity, the soft strength, the power to create and destroy, the many-faced implacability..... of Tubig.

I’m working on the technical aspect of music as well, investigating the blend of techno textures with indigenous timbres.


VN: Could you elaborate on this blend? Who are you collaboring with?
JA: I am such a lyric-oriented musician artist and so, for balance, have embarked on a conscious sound/texture/technology upgrade. A handy project for this is Tubig – part of whose development is another project titled Burst –an exhibit of fractal art by Medge Olivares – on 16 July 2013 at Whitespace – for which I am doing music. Pasok naman ang konsepto ng fractal art sa tubig. Nature and natural patterns are fractals – radiant realities that repeat infinitely with minute variations that build up to discernible patterns that seem to harmonize with human senses –and these patterns may even be expressed mathematically, something that was glimpsed by scientists as early as the 17th century. So we – myself and the people I work with. Onie Badiang, Chong Tengasantos, Tapati, and other soon-to-be-invited artists are working on these overlapping projects.

I’m writing songs – one which is a finalist in this year’s PhilPop Songwriting sweepstakes.


VN: Why do you still join songwriting contests?
JA: Malaki ang premyo! And I don’t like contests BUT I also maintain a self-challenge to occasionally do things I’m not comfortable with.

VN: What can you say about current trend in music?
JA: Sorry, I’m not aware of any trends... technology, management and marketability have always shaped what is universally-distributed and consumed so ganoon pa rin naman, mas mabilis at mas laganap nga lang ang pag-akyat-baba ng sikat na performer dahil sa mas mabilis at mas laganap ang technology at marketing systems. Also, what people naturally or instinctively like and support is not a matter of conscious choice. Very few people take the trouble to retool their decision-making. As in what to buy or support. To align them to some developmental or beneficial vision-mission. Very few people see the magnitude of effort that goes towards setting up systems that produce trend-setters. People notice the stars and not the stage on which they stand. There are thousands of stars waiting by the side of the stage!

VN: Is it insulting to serious music artists like you that non-singers are ones topping the charts?
JA: No, it is educational – proof that clear targets, discipline, and good management and teamwork can achieve practically anything! In SHOWBIZ audiences notice the SHOW but don’t pay attention to the BIZ. The names you mentioned represent TEAMS that are good at both SHOW and BIZ. Artists who may be good at SHOW are not necessarily good at BIZ, and vice-versa. So there’s really no insult, only education. Everybody does his/her best. Being a “serious” artist guarantees neither good SHOW nor BIZ!

VN: Are you experimenting on something?
JA: I’m experimenting with self-cut hair. I cut my own hair. Obvious ba o hindi? Buti na lang uso ngayon ang buhok bagong-gising.

VN: How true that you are coming up with a Joey Ayala line of fashion?
JA: Baka ako lang ang magsusuot! It’s still in the back of my mind but then I need to focus on music and writing for the time being. Limited energy!

JOEY AYALA’S SOCIAL ARTISTRY (Third of four parts) (June 17, 2013)

Palay Bigas Kanin on http-:www.joeyayala.com:palay-bigas-kanin

VN: As we celebrate the National Year of the Rice, could you share with us our project Palay Bigas Kanin? How is it now?

JA: Palay Bigas Kanin (PBK) is a “CoreBook” – a term coined to mean “a set of learning-teaching material organized around a core of artwork”. The CoreBook idea occurred to me while contemplating the many practical applications of art for development. As I put it in my intro: “It is a set of educational material grown around a core of artistic work. In this case the art-core is a set of songs inspired by the image of rice – thus, the title, Palay Bigas Kanin. If it is true that all things are actually just one thing, or that all things are interrelated, then it must be true that one can teach practically anything starting from practically anywhere. PBK tests this premise by radiating into a broad spectrum of content coming from a simple, mundane, objective reality -- Rice.”

After you wrote all the lyrics except for last verse of rap in Magtanim Ay Di Biro by OG Sacred (a.k.a. Sheilbert Manuel), I farmed it all out to other composers, performers, and arrangers. Sagot Na O Sirit Na is by Errol Marabiles a.k.a. Budoy of Cebu-based Junior Kilat. Nick Devroe arranges. Contains a chanting loop from PBK 02.

By that, I mean Hindi Lang Ang Ifugao which was sung by Katz Trangco, backed up by Onie Badiang and I. Gangsa and tongatong performed by Mlou Matute, Grace Bugayong, Tapati, Onie, and me who also did the synth tracks. Halina At Hain Na is by Onie backed by Tapati. Dalit Kay Dalacdac is by Ronolfo "Popong" Landero all the way! In Aking Paaralan Ang Aking Palayan, Noel Cabangon did the vocal, guitar and composition. Arrangement and backing instruments are by Bob Aves. Pasyong Mahal Ng Maylupang Panginoon Namin is by Ira Peñalosa of Reggae Mistress duets with Onie, backed up by Tapati. Composition and vocal arrangement are by Maricris Joaquin, instruments arranged and played by me. Ambahang Sambahan is by Gruppo Musica Mundi, Marawi State University-based all male choir. Composed, arranged and directed by Frank Englis. Tapati sings Dasal sa Ghazal which is Mlou Matute who also does the instrumentation with Grace Bugayong and me on synth tracks. For Atin Cu Pung Singsing/Ako ay May Lupa, Ira Peñalosa of Reggae Mistress is on lead vocals. Counterpoint and bungkaka are courtesy of Onie. Areglo and synth instrumentation by Erwin Galang. Rene Chong Tengasantos on various percussions. Kasal, Binyag, Libing is my collaboration with Onie and Tapati. Composition, areglo and synth tracks are mine. Oryza Sativa! is my sis, Cynthia Alexander, all the way! Ang Bansa Ng Pambansa is by Lourd de Veyra and Radioactive Sago Project. Francis de Veyra is the arranger. Kakanin is mine backed, again, by Onie and Tapati. Bass by Onie while banjo, octavina, rainstick by yours truly. Magtanim Ay Di Biro is by rapper Sheilbert Manuel a.k.a. OG Sacred of Sigaw ng Tundo. Ira Peñalosa comes in at the end. I recomposed the in-between verses. Backing tracks by Tapati and Onie who is on bass. I am responsible for the guitars and octavina. Banduria is by Junn Esteban. Noon Po Sa Amin is by Onie. Vocals, bass, guitars, and arrangement. Tapati sings backup. Me on guitars. It is composed by Westdon "Dong" Abay of Yano and Pan. Eat All You Kan-on is by Onie. Again, on vocals, bass, guitars. Me on guitars too. It is composed and arranged by Onie. Once more, Kahit Palay, Bigas, Kanin ay Kaunti is Cynthia Alexander all the way! May Mito, May Totoo is by Irma "Chang" Tengasantos of Reggae Mistress backed by Onie. Composition, areglo and synth tracks by Jun Latonio. Gluten is by Onie who is on vocals, bass, and guitars too. I am on guitars and synth tracks. Onie and I collaborated on this composition. Last but not the least, on Track 20, is Bangkakawan – a communal performance by the Tigwa Manobo of Bukidnon. It is recorded by Pio Pataganao.

On the other hand, our Palay Bigas Kanin CoreBook, using National Artist BenCab’s Napuwing on its cover, includes your essay and mine, together with the works of Prof. Felipe De Leon Jr., Dr. Elena Mirano, Dr. Jose Buenconsejo, Arch. Bobby Mañosa, Prof. Christine Bellen, Director Grace Pascua, Totet de Jesus, Prof. Jocelyn Guadalupe, Dr. Estrella Agustin, Mr. Felipe Latonio, Prof. Lucy Magalit, Marisa Marin, Prof. Emeritus Steve Villaruz, Herbert Alvarez, Angel Baguilat, Marili Ilagan, Dr. Jessica De Leon, Susan Balingit, Prof. Isabel Colendrino, Dr. Isagani Serrano, Dr. Ramon Clarete, Congressman Teodoro Baguilat, Tina Arceo Dumlao, Dr. Nieves Dacyon, Dr. Alex Brillantes Jr., Alma Quinto, Dr. Prospero Covar, and Dr. Zeus Salazar. Playwright Boni Ilagan and Dempster Samarista did the video while Micheline Rama did the design and the layout. Ms. Pauline Salvaña-Bautista is the Managing Editor as well as the organizer and networker!

PBK attempts to lead its users to a broad range of “subjects” – nutrition, choreography, spirituality, music, pedagogy, poetry, economics, politics… as a demonstration that, theoretically, one can learn-teach anything coming from anywhere (such as palay-bigas-kanin). Ang lahat ng bagay ay magkaugnay. The project is done in the sense that the songs are recorded and available on youtube together with video conversations with many of the participating artists, including yourself, the author of the songs’ texts. The non-song/video materials exist so far as a file downloadable from www.blafi.org and www.foundationawit.com. I hope to see a more formal presentation of PBK as part of the NCCA’s Music Committee’s website within the year, PBK being a project initiated by the said committee when I was the chairperson.

JOEY AYALA’S SOCIAL ARTISTRY (Second of four parts) (June 10, 2013)

Joey Ayala (right) with his mom, poet Tita Lacambra Ayala, whose book Tala Mundi won in the last National Book Awards for Poetry in English

Vim Nadera: Did your artist parents encourage to love art?
Joey Ayala: Not really. They just let me be, and left things lying around (typewriter, paper, things to read), and did nothing to prevent my explorations. I think this was a fine, non-invasive sort of natural encouragement.

VN: Why did you take up Economics in college?
JA: Upon my father's advice. I wanted to do Music but there was no such course in Ateneo de Davao in the 70s. He said I was already a writer and already a musician so I didn't have to study those. He asked "what was your lowest grade in high school?" and that happened to be Economics. "So, study that!" he said.

VN: How did that influence your music?
JA: I think it was more my thinking and lyric-writing rather than the music per se that was influenced. I became more aware of systems, how parts of them interact, how their limits and sensitivities to everything.

VN: How did the “Joey Ayala Sound” evolve?
JA: The wide range of music I was exposed to in childhood PLUS exposure to real live Mindanao musicians during college days = the Joey Ayala sound.

VN: How did the environment in general, or ethnolinguistic groups, get into your system?
JA: “Environment” was always there. As a child I played in it. I spent hours up in trees. Hours playing with insects. This was my playground. So when I started writing songs my attention was quite naturally “nature”. Ethnolinguistic groups – when I first met and listened to Mindanao musicians (agong, kubing, hegalong, kulintang, etc.) my thinking was “how come we know so much foreign music and practically nothing about living virtuosi in our own country?” I felt this overwhelming desire to change this situation.

VN: Now that you are based in Metro Manila, did you notice the change in your music? Or is it unconscious?
JA: My move to Manila was like leaving the production place (Davao) and camping out in the marketplace where what was produced was now to be sold. In 1991 I thought I would stay in Manila only two years. Turns out cash flow is not easy to leave behind. How has this affected my songwriting? I spend more energy attending to performing than when I was in Davao. I’ve written a lot less here in Manila where there is more external and psychological noise. I’ve also learned to write upon the request of clients. In Davao the motivation was always internal.

VN: What is Organik Muzik?
JA: I became the chairperson of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ music committee in 2008. Organik Muzik was the title of our committee’s contribution to the annual celebration of National Arts Month (Ani ng Sining).

The general idea was to feature musical tradition and fusion “organic music” – on the same stage. You were part of the Manila leg of the first Organik Muzik. If you remember, one of the main sections was the Balagtasan meets Rap – with you as Lakandiwa as well as the mambabalagtas Teo Antonio and Mike Coroza in a poetic joust against Shielbert Manuel and other Tribu rappers from Tondo!

JOEY AYALA’S SOCIAL ARTISTRY (June 03, 2013)

Joey Ayala, in his trademark shirt, speaking on behalf of other 2013 Philippine Popular Music Festival finalists who bested 3,3

José Iñigo Homer Lacambra Ayala is three years short of getting a new citizenship, that is, becoming a Senior Citizen!

Yes, Joey Ayala just turned 57 last Saturday.

And he is showing no sign of singing his swan song.

In fact, he still made it to the finals of 2013 Philippine Popular Music Festival with another veteran singer-composer Jungee Marcelo.

Through his composition Papel, Joey adds prestige to Philpop, where he couldeasily become a member of the Board of Judges, with the Angry Young Musicians who wrote these potential big hits in Askal by Gani Brown; Segundo by Paul Armesin; Sana Pinatay Mo Na Lang Ako by Myrus Apacible; Sometimes That Happens by Adrienne Sarmiento-Buenaventura; Space by Raffy Calicdan of Take Off; Araw, Ulap, Langit by Marlon Barnuevo; Sa 'Yo Na Lang Ako by Lara Maigue of the Opera Belles; Do, Do, Do by Marion Aunor; Kung `Di Man by Johnoy Danao; and Dati by Yumi Lacsamana and Thyro Alfaro whose entry Himig Ng Panahon made waves last year.

Win or lose, Joey has proven his relevance to others, and to himself of course, after besting 3,383 music artists from Australia, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Macau,

Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom, and United States.

It was no less than Ryan Cayabyab -- Philpop Executive Director – who led the screening committee composed of more than 140 performers, composers, record label executives, academic professionals, to name a few.

By next month, 6 July to be exact, we will know who will take home the pot -- one million pesos -- and other major prizes and surprises from Maynilad, Smart, Meralco, PLDT, Resorts World Manila, TV5, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, NLEX, Sun Cellular, First Pacific Leadership Academy, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, and Philex.

Such support, material or otherwise, which the young blood enjoys has been denied of Joey and other music artists who, to this day, can be considered as alternative.

Thus, he came up with the word -- Bagong Lumad – bago or “alter” and lumad or “native.”

In Davao City, way back in 1982, he blazed the proverbial trail by recording albums like Panganay ng Umaga (Firstborn of the Morning) and Magkabilaan (Dichotomies) in a makeshift studio combining the bago – via electric guitar, bass guitar, synthesizer/sequencer and drums – and the lumad – through such ethnic instruments as include kubing, kulintang, and hegalong of the T’Boli and other ethnolinguistic groups mostly from Southern Philippines.

What was known as a band – that introduced guitarist Onie Badiang, vocalist Bayang Barrios, and the late drummer Noe Tio (who at times collaborated with Joey’s wife Jessie and sibling Cynthia Alexander) – is now a brand.

Or is it a philosophy?

Better known today as Bagong Lumad Artists Foundation, Inc., BLAFI is a United Nations Development Programme Responsible Party.

With co-organizer Pauline Bautista, Joey advocates SiningBayan or Social Artistry capacity-building programs with the University of the Philippines, Civil Service Commission, the Department of Education, and other GOs and NGOs.

Our Foundation AWIT or Advancing Wellness, Instruction, and Talents had the chance to work with BLAFI.

And it is based on friendship rather than partnership.

In fact, the last time we saw Joey perform was when he sang our love theme – Walang Hanggang Paalam -- during the birthday blowout for our wife, Ellay, the Foundation AWIT president, right after a “meeting” last 11 April in her office at the UP Open University where she runs the Multimedia Center.

Up to now, we are harvesting the fruits of our labor from producing the Palay Bigas Kanin project with the UNDP andNational Commission for Culture and the Arts where he served as the (2008-2010) Chairman and Vice-Chairman (2011-2013) of the National Committee on Music, currently headed by Prof. Felipe de Leon Jr. who is also the incumbent NCCA big boss.

How’s Joey?

After 14 albums that include Mga Awit ng Tanod-lupa (Songs of the Earth-Guardian); Lumad sa Síyudad (Native in the City); Lupa't Langit (Earth and Heaven); 16lovesongs ; Awit ng Magdaragat (Songs of the Seafarer); Organik; Basta May Saging(As Long as There Are Bananas!); JoeyAyala: RAW; Encantada (Music from a Ballet Philippines dance-drama, 1992.); Parol(Music from a Ballet Philippines Christmas dance-drama, 1995.); and, of course, Palay Bigas Kanin?

And, yes, after Sita at Rama or puppet theater production with his sis Cynthia Alexander and Professor Emeritus Amelia Lapena Bonifacio?

Well…

Vim Nadera: How was it growing up in a family of artists, with a painter father and poet mother ?
Joey Ayala: We had lots of books, there was always music playing, and both parents were always busy with some project - cooking, writing, making scale models, painting, reading, etc. I was never in any other situation so that was "normal" for me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

PAT “PARALUMAN NG PANITIKAN” FERNANDEZ (Last part) (May 27, 2013)

Patricia Fernandez during Ms. International beauty pageant in 2006

Vim Nadera: Have you tried writing?
Pat Fernandez: I used to have a fashion and lifestyle column in Showbiz Sosyal just for fun. I seldom get to blog.

VN: Please tell us about your thesis.
PF: The Correlation between Communication Apprehension and Pageant Preparation Techniques in Mutya ng Pilipinas in 2006.

VN: How did you defend it?
PF: (Laughter.) It was such a long time ago. My panelists were amused with the photos in the appendix.

VN: What kinds of book do you love to read?
PF: I like fairy tales, children's books, and inspirational stories. I usually go with the bandwagon when I read new stuff.

VN: Who are your favorite authors?
PF: Roald Dahl, Louisa May Alcott, and the Grimm brothers. I read the stories again and again. Their stories would never lose their charm.

VN: If you were a character in a story, who would you be?
PF: Sleeping Beauty, Gretel or Dyesebel. When I was young, I would usually ask my dad to read me their stories.

VN: Are you happy with your accomplishments?
PF: Yes. I’m in Solar Daybreak as Weather and Lifestyle Anchor. I am in Solar Headlines since last year too. I used to be in Good Morning Club; Princess and I; Cocktales; Balitang 60; Sapul sa Singko; Aksyon 41; Amaya; Pepito Manaloto; BFGF Luvcrazy; Eat Bulaga; Global TFC Filipino Ka, Sabihin Mo; Magkaribal; Solar Shop TV Live; and Unang Hirit. As a TV commercial model, for Southeast Asia, I was in the ads of Knorr / Royco, PH Care, and Colgate Total Whitening. Here, I had the chance to endorse Progress Preschool Gold, STI, Wings, Coca Cola Advisories, and Sun Cellular. On the other hand, I was print too -- in Wedding Flavors, Tech Innovations, Comfort Chinese Lifestyle Magazine, Philippine Tourism Feature -- and on the cover of Men’s Health with JC De Vera.

VN: How would you see yourself 10 years from now?
PF: On cam work will always be my first love and I wish I can do it forever. Ten years from now, God-willing, I want to have my own family and I will encourage my kids to read books and study foreign languages. I would also want to produce kiddie shows/movies and have my own preschool and/or orphanage with an organic garden and a colorful kitchen.

VN: What are your tips for future Patricia Fernandezes?
PF: Try to learn as much as you can from everything you encounter. There is always a reason when things happen.

PAT “PARALUMAN NG PANITIKAN” FERNANDEZ (Third of four parts) (May 20, 2013)

Patricia Fernandez (right) with Glady Duenas, Jo-anne Alivio, and Alice Dixon during the 50th anniversary edition of Bb. Pilipinas (Photo courtesy of Joyce Ann Burton's Adventures of a Beauty Queen

Vim Nadera: Walk us through the recent 50th Anniversary Edition of Bb. Pilipinas.
Pat Fernandez: Our opening walk was tear-jerking. It's such an honor to walk side by side with the other queens I admire. Aside from other triumphs, I was also thrilled when they showed a clip of when I got in the finals of Miss International. It's a first on Philippine television.

VN: Among the former winners, who is your role model? Why?
PF: Aside from our chairperson, Ms. Stella Marquez-Araneta, I'm blessed with a lot of mentors from Bb. Pilipinas. Among the queens who have coached or trained me are Patty Betita, Marina Benipayo, Karen Agustin-Ostrea, Denille Velmonte-Valera, Maggie Wilson-Consunji, Gionna Cabrera, Carlene Aguilar-Ocampo, Nadia Lee Cien Shami, Alma Concepcion, Jewel Loboton, Daisy Reyes, Lara Quigaman-Alcaraz, Melanie Marquez, and Gloria Diaz. It feels great when your sisters are there to support you. They are all women of substance.

VN: What can you say about Bb. Pilipinas?
PF: It's a fun sorority :) We inspire each other.

VN: Did being a Bb. Pilipinas give you an edge in, say, looking for a job?
PF: Definitely. I usually joke that I took a masters program in personality development because I trained for two years before I competed abroad.

VN: What are the ups and downs of a beauty queen?
PF: It's fun to help and inspire others in more ways than one. During our reign though it was quite a challenge to keep our bodies fit for competition because people (especially relatives) would usually say "You're too thin!" and they would fill our plates with more food!

VN: Have you also tried acting. What are your film projects ?
PF: I dabbled in several soap operas and sitcoms in GMA, ABS-CBN and TV5. I have a cameo role with Lovi Poe, Paulo Avelino, and Jennylyn Mercado in Regal Film’s The Bride and The Lover this month. And I have another upcoming movie in December.

VN: You graduated cum laude when you finished B.A. Speech Communication at UP. So you are more of a speaker?
PF: I enjoy communicating with people. By the way, I was a member of the UP Speech Communication Association and UP Social Dance Club too in 2003. I also love piano playing and swimming!

VN: What makes you beautiful?
PF:I try to stay positive most of the time through constant stretching, prayer, and meditation. When I can't manage it alone. I acknowledge the feeling and allow my friends to help me. I also list my blessings from God. Happy girls are the prettiest.

VN: What is your daily beauty ritual?
PF: Hydrate often and exercise my portion control. I don't deprive myself of the things I love. I eat almost every hour if possible -- in small portions.

PAT “PARALUMAN NG PANITIKAN” FERNANDEZ (Second of four parts) (May 13, 2013)

PATRICIA FERNANDEZ GRADUATING FROM UP COLLEGE OF ARTS AND LETTERS (2007) AND ST. PAUL COLLEGE PASIG HIGHSCHOOL (2003) AND GRADE SCHOOL (1999)

VN: Being the first Paraluman ng Panitikan, what do you intend to do about Philippine literature?
PF: I promote everything Filipino in every way I can. I am quite fond of watching Filipino plays, shows, and musicales. I always push performers, writers, and playwrights to guest in our show.

VN: As a former Miss International finalist, how can you help to promote reading and intellectual property rights?
PF: We do promote the value of education in Miss International. Majority of the finalists are multilingual and are quite adept in terms of intercultural communication. For Bb.Pilipinas, we read books to kids during our charity events. I attend whenever I can.

VN: How did you manage your life, as a student, while, at the same time, a beauty queen?
PF: I'm grateful my professors were very understanding when I had to fulfill my duties as Mutya ng Pilipinas on my senior year. I remember Ma'am Villy Buenaventura (bless her soul) even bought and promoted several ticket booklets when I joined Mutya ng Quezon City prior to the national pageant. I obtained thesis respondents from Mutya. For Bb Pilipinas, I was already working at the time I joined.

VN: All in all, you have four titles?
PF: More or less. Aside from the Miss International Top 12 Finalist and Bb. Pilipinas International – both in 2008 – I was chosen Ms. Natasha. Two years prior to that, during the Mutya ng Pilipinas, I was First Runner-Up, Best in Swimsuit, and Ms. Stesstabs Stressfree Beauty. But, before that, I became Mutya ng Quezon City Turismo in 2006 too. There I was proclaimed Ms. Bobson Jeans and Ms. Gibi Shoes.

VN: Any ugly duckling story when you were still a kid?
PF: I was Little Miss Basilan, Mandaluyong 1991. (My mom just didn't allow me to join Little Miss Philippines though I had everything planned already at that time). However I was terribly awkward during my gradeschool and highschool years. I just didn't care. I would wear anything my relatives would give me during Christmas -- regardless of the size. I had so many other pretty batchmates in Immaculate Conception Academy and St. Paul College Pasig. I only became UP's Centennial Muse after Bb.Pilipinas.


VN: How did you enter the world of beauty contests?
PF: I was an alto singer of the UP Singing Ambassadors from January 2005 to March 2006. Our conductor, Sir Ed Manguiat, took us to premier designers like Mama Renee Salud and Tito Pitoy Moreno for our choir costumes. I was very fortunate because both designers encouraged me to join. Mama Renee said I had the waistline of a kontesera (23" at that time) and introduced me to my pageant mentor, Mr. Rodgil Flores. Tito Pitoy, on the other hand, used to refer to me as his Darling Little Princess in his shows and made me wear all sorts of head pieces. He helped improve my poise and confidence and encouraged me every step of the way.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

PAT “PARALUMAN NG PANITIKAN” FERNANDEZ (First of four parts) (May 06, 2013)

A Bb. Pilipinas International in 2008, Patricia Fernandez (right) was crowned by poet Teo Antonio as this year's "Paraluman ng Panitikan" to celebrate World Book and Copyright Day at SM Mega Mall last 23 April.

Twenty-third of April has been witnessing how hard the National Book Development Board (NBDB) and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO)-Philippines worked just to organize World Book and Copyright Day activities via literary food walks, seminars, and book fairs.

Hermanas mayores -- Atty. Andrea Pasion Flores, NBDB Executive Director and Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz, NBDB Chair – found new partners not only in Atty. Ricardo Blancaflor, IPO-Philippines Director General but in the Department of Education, Korean Copyright Commission, Visprint Inc., Vibal Publishing Inc., Precious Pages, to name a few.

During the 52nd UP National Writers Workshop in Camp John Hay in Baguio City last month too, we took their invitation up as part of Likhaan: University of the Philippines Institute of Creative Writing’s meeting’s other matters!

Seriously, we took it though.

Yes, there was the master plan to dress up trucks in the heart of Ortigas business center, to assemble at the parking lot beside Prestige Tower where NBDB transferred, and to have a motorcade before yuppies – both young urban professionals and young urban poor -- just to prove this year’s theme “Reading Rocks, Copyright Rules.”

Of course, there was a variety show at the Events Area of SM Mega Mall A.

As expected, instead of ice skating, there were welcome remarks and all sorts of messages, acoustic performance and song number by Flying Ipis and the IPO Choir respectively, and announcement of winners and special prizes for, say, Frankie Torres and Joel Donato Jacob, who won in the NBDB-UP ICW Love Letter Writing Contest wherein we and ICW Director Jose Dalisay were urged to judge.

For sure, it would be incomplete without poetry reading.

Why?

Because it is in honor of great men of letters -- Spanish Miguel de Cervantes, British William Shakespeare and Peruvian Inca Garcilaso de la Vega – who died on 23 April way back in 1616.

By the way, it was also the date of birth or death of internationally renowned

writers like Maurice Druon, Haldor K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla, and Manuel Mejía Vallejo.

So in 1995, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's General Conference in Paris considered it perfect to pay homage to books and authors, annually, on the 23rd day of April.

Eventually, it became World Book and Copyright Day as well as UNESCO Prize for Children's and Young People's Literature in the Service of Tolerance.

When we got invited, we really remembered that word “tolerance”!

So, we extended it to filmmaker Khavn de la Cruz, sculptor Raul Funilas, and performance artist Martin de Mesa to jam with poets in English and Filipino such as Gemino Abad, Jose Lacaba and his son Kris and daughter-in-law Kit, Benilda Santos, Rebecca Anoñuevo, Roberto Añonuevo, among others.

However, National Artist Virgilio Almario tolerated it too but with a twist.

He wanted to make that red-letter day a month-long feast.

Next year, he wishes to start this Flores de Abril from the birthday of our National Poet, Francisco Balagtas, who turned 225 last April 2 also known as the Araw ni Balagtas.

That is why, being a Rio Alma that he is, plus being the newly appointed Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) chair, he tried to put certain Filipino touch to it!

With a big help from the KWF -- in cooperation with the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) and Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA) – he grabbed the very rare opportunity to avail the services of California-based Teo Antonio who happened to be in the country with his hardworking wife Sol as if they were here just to take care of business in the absence of his katalo, Mike Coroza, who was celebrating with the Thais after Bangkok was proclaimed “World Book Capital 2013.” 

Informally hailed as the “King of Balagtasan,” Teo easily revived the dying art of “pagpuputong” or crowning to the amazement and amusement of every mall moll around.

Even of the Gen X, or Y, whose vocabulary is limited to Eraserhead’s famous first line in Huling El Bimbo.

The Muse during that literary, and/or literacy, fiesta was, is, and, will be known as “Paraluman ng Panitikan.”

For 2013, she is none other than – Ms. Patricia Fernandez – a bookworm who is also an actress, host, model, print and broadcast journalist, and beauty queen who was crowned Binibining Pilipinas-International in 2008!


Vim Nadera: What can you say about your Paraluman ng Panitikan experience during the World Book and Copyright Day celebration last 23 April?
Patricia Fernandez: It was an overwhelming experience. It's quite rare to find guys who'll actually praise you through poems in public.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

ASIATOPIA’S CHUMPON APISUK (Last part) (April 29, 2013)


VN: What is your role in the history of art in Thailand?
CA: I am a Thai artist working in Thailand. I am proud of my role in Asiatopia and in the performance art movement in Thailand.

VN: Is there a Thai trademark when it comes to performance art? Or art in general?
CA: Thai politics may be. But, I think, we do not have enough a variety school of practices in order to have a trademark. But, it is like noticing that Filipinos walk differently than Thais or Singaporean, etcs. There is something in our culture that makes us eat the way we eat, talk the way we talk, etc.

VN: For you, who are the most important performance artists in the world?
CA: Boris Nieslony, Esther Ferrer, Richard Martel, Randy Gledhill, Seiji Shimoda, Terrence Houle, Shannon Cochrane, Paul Coulliard, Jurgen Fritz, Sinead O’Donnell, Alastaire McLennon, Lee Wen, Arahmaiani, Iwan Wijono, Yuan Mor’O, Mideo Cruz, Hong O Bong, etc… But I am also inspired by works of Joseph Beuys, John Cage, Marina Abramović, etc. I found all these people are very important in performance art development in the world. Both East and West. They inspired young people. They invented their own form of performance art. They organized performance art gatherings.

VN: What can you say about the performance art festivals in other countries?
CA: I don’t feel that I have seen enough better performances to say the bad ones.

VN: Do you use art to change society?
CA: I think art is about freedom of movement, creativity. It is about human rights. It is something we need besides TV, music, movies, dinner, etc… Art is good to go with good wine or good whiskey. It makes us think about freedom.

VN: What is Empower Foundation all about?
CA: Empower Foundation is a Non-Governmental Organization founded by my wife -- Noi Chantawipa Apisuk -- and it is for and by sex workers in Thailand. It views art in the context of freedom and humanity.

VN: How do your wife and daughter see you as an artist?
CA: My wife sees me as a husband, a lover, and a man who makes performances, I hope. My daughter used to say that she was surpised to know what I do was art. (Laughter.) But she gets used to it by now

VN: What about as a husband and as a father?
CA: I don’t feel much as a worried father now. My daughter is 34 years old. She is very much on her own. But I respect her for her works. She is a classical pianist.

As a husband, I am very proud of my wife. She is strong and independent. She is very strict with me many times. She is one of the most important woman activists in Thailand, and in the world, I think. She is a great thinker. She always has her new ideas about feminism. She is a great human rights fighter, on and off stage. And I think she is the best woman I’ve ever met.

Monday, April 22, 2013

ASIATOPIA’S CHUMPON APISUK (Third of four parts) (April 22, 2013)


Vim Nadera: Personally, what happened since you first performed in 1996?
Chumpon Apisuk: My popular international participation in performance was in Bali in 1986. However, I already did several action art with friends like Surapol and Kamol before that.

VN: What is you most memorable performance? Why?
CA: I have a few performances that I keep on repeating like Standing wherein I stood holding an umbrella with an empty chair and Hearts where I burst several heart-shaped balloons. I like them so much. Standing is good for outdoor action, and Hearts was good for indoor, especially a room with good resonance. I like simple action that makes good impressions to people. Most of my performances do not have much action. Not complicated. Most of the time it is the site that really inspires the piece.

I normally repeat my performance for a few times until I find it enough or satisfactory. I learn a few things or find a new piece from it. I never get bored of repeating Standing and Hearts. I will never get bored doing it. And because of its interactive nature, both pieces often inspire me to think of newer ideas.

VN: Newer ideas like Concrete House? Why did you put it up in 1993?
CA: In Bangkok, even before the early 90s, there were only a few commercial art galleries. No not-for-profit type of art centers. It was harder when The Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art went out of business in 1988. Artists who used to hang out at The Bhirasri had no place to go to where they can get together. We just trooped to our friends’ pubs. Organizing art exhibitions in pubs was not really a bad idea. However, the pubs at the time were not built as alternative spaces. So, this is where the Concrete House fit in. My wife and I bought a building for us to have our own space for work. The building was huge. So we began what we called ARTIVITIES which was good for such a big space.

We had Alwin Reamillo from the Philippines and Juliet Lea from Australia who were the first couple to be our artists-in-residence. Then the Yellow Man from Singapore, Lee Wen, came in and a few international artists including German Helmut Lemke, Singaporean Koh Nguan How, and Veronica whose surname I forgot since she later ended up in Hanoi for a long time. They jammed with our group composed of Vasan Sitthiket, Surapol Panyawacheera, Paisan Plienbangchang who all participated with other Thai artists.

VN: You have been curating ZOOM? What is it all about?
CA: I was invited by Jurgen Fritze, the organizer of ZOOM, to Hildeshiem, Germany. I was just then curating artists from South East Asia to his festival. It was great event in a small town. The performance space was an old church. The acoustic and natural daylight of the place were wonderful. There were a few Thai people living there and they came to make somtum or papaya salad for us everyday.

VN: What is your plan for Nan in particular and other cities in general like Bangkok or Korat or Chiangmai?
CA: When we first organized events like these, we always say that art is like a virus. It spreads through the air and it contaminates by touch. It is incurable. That’s what we are experiencing ever since. First, we do not want to control the art we organize. We would like to see it grow.

But we are not going to do everything that is out of our reach. The event in Korat and Chiangmai happened because of our friends who find an opportunity to do so. So, we support them and all the artists who join us each year. We hope someday they will be able to organize and curate events by themselves. Then we will work together. It is better than working alone or just in one area.

It is similar to Nan. For me, it is favorable because it is my hometown. There are local organizations that are willing to see possibilities of having art festivals in the provinces. So, what we did this year with you was our first try. The result is positive and now we are ready to go ahead with a slightly bigger event next year. Someday, I hope, we will be ready for an International Art Festival in my hometown in Nan.

ASIATOPIA’S CHUMPON APISUK (Second of four parts) (April 15, 2013)

Chumpon Apisuk during the Perfurbance Performance Art Festival in Jogjakarta, Indonesia in 2009

Vim Nadera: How did Asiatopia all begin?
Chumpon Apisuk: The performance artists in Thailand in the early 80s were working together, collectively organizing performances and events in Bangkok’s galleries. I used to have an art center called Concrete House, so the building automatically became a center where we all could meet. There were Surapol Panyawacheera, originally from Korat; Vasan Sitthiket, a versatile artist; Kamol Paosawasdi, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University; and my wife Noi. We were the main active members of the group at the time. Later Paisan Plienbangchang, Jittima Pholsawake, and Mongkol Plienbangchang came in during the beginning of Concrete House in 1993 or 1994. Nopawan Sirivejkul and Padungsak Kotchasumrong came in afterward. But they helped us do Live Art, a platform for performance artists in Thailand. There were artists and artist groups that did something which could be called performance art since early 70s. A group named Bangladesh Band made sound and action art in Korat Technical College in 1972. Some artists did serious campaign against capitalism by throwing real money, around 10,000 baht, into Chao Praya River around the same time. However, there was conscious, or continuous, movement. Things died out when the Civil War broke out between the military government and the communist party in mid-70s. In 1985 the political situation in Thailand got better, the government and the communist reached an agreement to stop fighting. Most intellectuals who joined the communists came back to the city. Thai students who went to study abroad came home. It was the time that we could get back together again. I was working for an art center called Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art, so the center became a hangout for artists, writers, and theatre people. I helped in coming up with an event called Wethi-Samai: Contemp-tre in 1986. It was a collective idea of Vasan Sitthiket, again, and Chatvichai Prommadhattawethi, a secretary of the board of Bangkok Art Centre; and Suvanich Virojanalak who passed away in 1998. Wethi-Samai attempted to introduce performative art form and to combine divided disciplines among the art-related activities. It was crucial in building a strong artist network today. I think the idea of performance art began in Thailand during that time. Around same time, I did a performance outside Thailand in an art festival in Indonesia. The news about my performance in Bali was louder than in Bangkok. Newspapers and magazines wrote about it. In 1987 I did a one-year solo action called Bangkok-Chiangmai. I caught newspaper pages again. Add to that, I was invited to participate in a regional artists’ exchange in Western Australia known as ARX 87 in 1987 and in 1989. So I became recognized as a performance artist by the press then. I have been busy with activities at Concrete House since it was founded. In 1996, I participated in the Nippon International Performance Art Festival. It became the idea of organizing a platform in Thailand.

VN: Is there a need for a performance art? Why?
CA: I was asked this question so many times. In return, I asked them: “Why do we need apples in the market? Why do we need strawberries? Why do we need peaches from China? Why do we need art?” So, if you can think of all that, then naturally the next question could be: “Why do we have to stick on the artforms that we usually have.”

VN: What about a performance art festival? Why?
CA: Festivity seems to be a better word and it does not sound so heavy. It is basically a platform for artists from different places to meet and work together in same situation and same site. In performance art in many countries or areas, artists do not have places to perform that often, or they have to work among themselves, so the festival was a kind of event wherein artists can come together and share what they do. At the same time, the viewers also have a chance to see art and be part of it.

VN: How was it received before? Did the reception change through the years?
CA: Art is not popular or easy for the market to chew. So it always has limited audience. Many art forms like conceptual art or performance art have lesser audience.

For me to organize a performance art event, I do not expect a large number of audience. But I was surprised and happy that each year we have younger and younger people who join our workshops. Especially in 2012, we have more than 50 young students taking part in performance workshops in Bangkok and Korat.

VN: Why did you have a performance art conference in Bangkok? Could you tell us more about it?
CA: The performance art conference organized regularly by an artists organization called the Art Service Association or ASA run by Boris Nieslony from Cologne, Germany. He organized the conference many times in many countries before. Rolf Hinterecker, another artist from Cologne, helped Boris organize the Bangkok Conference. At the time, Concrete House was the only artist-run center in Thailand. We used to be the only space for performance art. I think this is the connection. 

During the conference, artists can present their work by talking about them, showing video or perform, etc. And it was all for and about artists, not for public. There were a few hundred artists from all over the world who attended. It was great event. And I learned a lot and I enjoyed a lot.

ASIATOPIA’S CHUMPON APISUK (First of four parts) (April 08, 2013)

Asiatopia's Chumpon Apisuk (left) and his wife Noi Chantawipa Apisuk who founded Empower Foundation

Chumpon Apisuk invited us to the Sex Workers of ASEAN (SW-ASEAN)

Art Exhibition at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) in Thailand.

Last week we were supposed to take part not as a sex worker, of course, but as a performance artist – though the two are at times akin.

But we had to beg off because of the 52nd University of the Philippines National Writers Workshop in Baguio just to be with this year’s fellows in Charmaine Carreon, Thomas David Chavez, Ralph Semino Gálan, Richard Gappi, Anna Maria Harper, Gabriela Alejandra Lee, Jim Libiran, Chuckberry Pascual, Rommel Rodriguez, Beverly Siy, Emmanuel Velasco, and John Jack Wigley as well as panelists in Gemino Abad, National Artist Virgilio Almarion,Romulo Baquiran, Jr., Jose Dalisay, Jr., J. Neil Garcia, National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, Charlson Ong, Jun Cruz Reyes, and Rolando Tolentino!

Add to that, because of the annual Araw ni Balagtas celebration last 2 April: first, the early morning wreath-laying ceremonies the Balagtas Shrine in Pandacan with Manila mayor, Alfredo Lim, and his cultural attache, Gemma Cruz Araneta, collaborating with Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas’ Secretary General, Dr. Mike Coroza and Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo represented by R.R. Cagalingan, Kriscell Largo Labor, and Atty. J.C. Cuñada, among others, and, for the first time, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino whose new Chair is National Virgilio Almario volting in with dynamo Director General Roberto Añonuevo; second, the KWF’s commemoration of Balagtas’ 225th birth anniversary through the revitalized Talaang Ginto crowning Joselito De Los Reyes as the Makata ng Taon 2013 followed by other firsts in honor of the two Tungkung-Kalan pillars who with Rio Alma modernist in Filipino poetry in the 60s: Rogelio Mangahas who delivered the Panayam Balagtas and the Lamberto Antonio who was awarded with Dangal ni Balagtas!

Anyway, why did Chumpon choose us?

During our stay in his parents’ ancestral home which he named Mae Kumpaeng House in Nan, he learned about our research on the effect of Poetry Therapy on Persons with AIDS back in 1999 at the San Lazaro Hospital's Bahay Lingap in Manila.

Last year, we were able to talk about it when Tupada Action and Media Arts’ Rommel Espinosa sent us to represent the Philippines to the 14th Asiatopia Performance Art Festival which he founded.

Indeed, we are happy and honored to be the only Filipino to be accepted to its 1st South East Asia Artists Exchange when it opened in his hometown in Baan Namkrog Village where we shaved our head as a monk for our Kiping ritual.

From 5 to 25 November, we were in for twists and turns with a couple of couples such as Singaporean renaisance man Lee Wen and his Japanese wife Satoko Lee as well as the Thai terrific tandem in Paisan Plienbangchang and Jittima Pholsawake.

Completing this very diverse batch was Changmai’s pride, sculptor Boonsong Rodtap, who helped us like their entire “Dream Team” composed Mr. Yang, Xao, Pranee, and the DASTA (Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration) staff.

In Bangkok, he assisted us in our Cold War performance where we broke a big block of ice at the BACC. When we moved to Korat -- with Australian Adonis Yiorgos Zafiriou, Burmese ruby Zoncy Phyu, Singaporean rocker Arif Ayub, another Thai power partner Mongkol Plienbangchang and Aor Nopawan -- he was so consistent in being a Good Samaritan so we gave him our props and costumes we brought from Manila as a token of our appreciation. Same thing we did to generous trio of Toyting Chularat, Kun Permpooka, and Sittichai Petchtalay. They, too, were instrumental in extending their hands to young art students, who collaborated with us in collecting garbage and all, for our art project called baZOOra.

Eventually, this endeavor evolves into e-baZOOra after we -- representing Foundation AWIT (Advancing Wellness, Instruction, and Talents) presided by our lifetime partner Dinah Palmera Nadera -- collaborated with Integrated Recycling Industries’ Lee Salvatore Echiverri and Commission on Information and Communication Technology’s Toni Torres who has mobilized her i-school links with state universities and colleges in time for the International Mother Earth Day celebration on 22 April.

At the Technology Ratchamongkol University in Korat, as in Silpakorn University in Bangkok, these energetic “environmental artists” like Tungmay Chompoosee and her friends became our “classmates” during the workshops offered by the indefatigable Irish Sinead O’Donnell and the ageless Swiss mister and misses Ruedi Schill and Monika Gunther, who conducted workshops like the American action drawing master Morgan O’Hara whom we met in Osaka, Japan during the Nippon International Performance Art Festival two years ago.

Everything was made possible by Chumpon and his wife Noi Chantawipa, our newfound role models.

As born organizers, they are unstoppable as awesome twosome since last year’s Asiatopia or this year’sSW-ASEAN symposium at the BACC Auditorium.

Or, surely, in the upcoming 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok this November.

With or without their Empower Foundation, the Apisuks will always be remembered for their love.

Not only for the arts but for humanity.


Vim Nadera: What is Asiatopia?
Chumpon Apisuk
 Asiatopia is a performance art festival I started with friends and colleagues in Thailand way back in 1998.

RIO ALMA’S ON FIRE (Last part) (March 25, 2013)

Rio Alma in red with another National Artist, Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera (second from right), during a Francisco Balagtas Day celebration last April 2 at the Balagtas Shrine in Pandacan, Manila

Vim Nadera: Under you, Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa must be more eventful?
Virgilio Almario: Sa Agosto 19, 20, at 21 -- magkakaroon ang KWF ng Kongreso sa Wika. Gaya ng dati, magkakaroon ng Ulat ng Tagapangulo ng Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino ukol sa aking mga nagawang hakbang ng KWF sa nakaraang anim na buwan at iba pa. Siyempre, sa ika-31 ng Agosto, ang taunang kongreso ng Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas. Taon-taon, nagbibigay ang UMPIL ng Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas, Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez, at Gawad Pedro Bucaneg sa mga pinakamahusay na manunulat, guro, at samahang pampanitikan. Para sa 2013, ang ating paksa ay iikot kay Andres Bonifacio na magdiriwang ng ika-150 anibersaryo sa Nobyembre.

VN: Good thing, you have the support of your Lupon ng mga Komisyoner?
VA: Oo. Unang-una, sa unang pagkakataon, ngayon lang nagkaroon ang KWF ng Lupon ng mga Komisyonder na nominado ng iba’t ibang organisasyong pangwika at pampanitikan. Aktibo ang mga Komisyoner, lahat may kani-kaniyang proyektong dapat alagaan sa kanilang mga rehiyon. Kaya ngayon palalakasin namin ang mga sentrong pangrehiyon ng KWF. Ang tinatawag na Sentro ng Komisyon ay hindi lang dapat sentro ng wika kundi sentro ng kultura.

VN: By the way, what ever happened to the UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino published during your term as the Sentro ng Wikang Filipino director?
VA: Basta ang plano ko ay maglabas ng ikatlong edisyon sa susunod na taon.

VN: How would you call it?
VA: Diksiyonaryo Almario?

VN: Any other publication?
VA: Balak ko ring maglabas ng serye ng publikasyon na tatawagin kong Aklatan ng Bayan. Dito ko ilalathala ang huling limbag ng mga aklat sa wika at panitikan na wala na sa sirkulasyon. Gayundin ang mga bagong pag-aaral at ehemplo ng mahusay na panitikan na puwedeng gamitin ng mga bata sa paaralan. Nasa pipeline, halimbawa, ang isang koleksiyon ng mga alamat na Maranao. Nakahanda na rin ang isang panitikang-bayan ng Cordillera. Gusto ko ring magkaroon ng pagpili at pagsasalin sa Filipino ng mahuhusay na panitikan sa loob at labas ng Filipinas.

VN: You have been launching at least a book every year. Could you tell us more about Ang Romansa ng Pagsagip sa Osong Marso that you launched last 8 March, the day before your birthday, at the UP Vargas Museum?
VA: Ang Romansa ng Pagsagip sa Osong Marso ay ang aking eksperimento na maaaring ang kauna-unahang speculative poetry kung hindi man dito ay sa buong daigdig. Lahat ng bagay sa aklat ay naganap sa “Third Universe” matapos magunaw ang unang dalawa. Ang paniwala ko lang naman ang lahat ng sci-fi, gaya ng Star Wars or Star Trek, ay mga panitikang alegorikal. Kahit pang-hinaharap, nandoon pa rin ang mga problema sa kasalukuyan. Ganoon din ang sa akin. Sa kaso ng libro ko, ang suliranin ay espirituwal.

VN: Are you saying that Rio Alma is getting spiritual?
VA: Para sa akin, ang pagiging maka-tao, ang pagiging maka-kalikasan ay hindi problemang materyal. Problema iyon ng espiritu ng tao. Hindi ito mauunawan kung wala kang pagbabagong espirituwal. Kaya, iyon ang ginawa ko, sasakupin nila ang isang planeta, miminahin nila, uubusin nila lahat ng kayamanan, at saka dudurugin hanggang sa mawala sa uniberso. Kung noon ay maraming kuwento sa namamatay na araw, ngayon wala akong ginawa kundi magtanong: Ito kayang araw na ito ay magkakaroon ng resureksiyon? 

VN: What is your dream project?
VA: May dalawa talaga akong malalaking pangarap. Una, ang pagsasalin ay mabigyan ng pagpapahalaga. Kung maaari ay ma-professionalize ito ng aking administrasyon. Sana nga, magkaroon tayo ng isang Kawanihan sa Pagsasalin. Ito ay upang mapaunlad ang pagsasalin at mabigyan ng lisensiya ang mga tagasalin. Ikalawa, ibig kong makapagpatayo ng isang gusali para sa KWF. Sa ngayon, para kaming sardinas sa aming tanggapin. Palagay ko, ito ay sintomas ng pagtrato ng pamahalaan sa wikang Filipino.

VN: How do you manage to be always one step ahead?
VA: Marami kasing dapat gawin. Napansin ko sa pag-aaral ko ng panitikang Filipino na ang daming nasayang na panahon sa Siglo 20. Ang ating talino tuloy hindi nakasabay sa pangangailangan ng panahon. Ang babaw ng nalikhang panitikan sa Filipinas. Ang ginagawa ko lang ngayon ay ulitin ang mga posibilidad na hindi nangyari noon. Noong una, inulit ko na ang mga ginawa nila. Kininis ko. Ngayon, ang ginagawa ko na ang mga bagay na hindi nila ginawa, nakalimutan nilang gawin, o kaya wala talaga sa kanilang kamalayan. O ayaw nila. Halimbawa, ang isa ko pang ilalabas na libro ay Libog at Lunggati. Ito ang unang libro ng panulaang erotiko sa Filipino. Siguro, ilalabas ko ito dalawang buwan mula ngayon. Masusundan pa ito ng pagpapaliwanag ko ng Bagong Formalismo na may pamagat na Ang Tungkulin ng Kritisismo sa Panitikan ng Filipinas. Hunyo ang target ko para dito.

VN: Wow. All in one year?
VA: Alam mo, naplano ko na ang buhay ko limang taon na ang nakakaraan. Kaya, ang lahat ng iyan, ang nasimulan na noong pang 2008. Kaya, kung ano ang unang matapos, inilalabas ko lang. Mayroon pa akong nakahanda na 10 pa! Malapit nang mabuo ang Orasyonal. May tinatapos din akong nobela. May koleksiyon ako ng maikling kuwentong fantastiko.

VN: It seems that you have written all the literary genres. What about scriptwriting?
VA: Ayaw ko namang subukan iyon. Dula na lang. May opera ako. Ang titulo nito ay San Andres B. Nilapatan ito ng musika ni Chino Toledo. Ididirihe ni Floy Quintos. Itatanghal ito sa Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater sa tulong ng National Commission for Culture and the Arts at National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Kaya abangan ninyo ito sa ika-30 ng Nobyembre ngayong taong ito – ang seski-sentenaryo ni Bonifacio!

RIO ALMA’S ON FIRE (Third of four parts) (March 18, 2013)

Tagapangulong Virgilio S. Almario, wearing his trademark fedora hat, and the new Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino's Kalupunan ng mga Komisyoner. Standing from left: Com. John Barrios, Com. Orlando Magno, Com. Jimmy Fong, Com. Jerry Gracio, Com. Abdon Balde. Seated, from left: Com. Ma. Crisanta Flores, Com. Lucena Samson, Com. Lorna Flores,  Com. Purificacion de Lima, and Com. Noriam Ladjagais. (Photo by Kriscell Largo Labor)

Vim Nadera: Sir, what’s in store for May?
Virgilio Almario: Sa Mayo, kung saka-sakali, ipagdiriwang namin ang pagkamatay ni Vicento Sotto dahil sa buwang iyon siya yumao. Kaya magkakaroon tayo ng forum sa ngalan ni Vicente Sotto para sa peryodismo o pamamahayag. Si Sotto kasi ay isang peryodista pero siya rin ang itinuturing na Ama ng Panitikang Bisaya. Hindi lamang siya ang tagapagsulong ng Panitikang Sebuwano kundi siya rin ang kauna-unahang kinatawang Bisaya sa noo’y Surian ng Wikang Pambansa. Ito ay pagpapatunay lamang sa aking pagdakila sa mga katutubong wika sa Filipinas. Hindi ako pro-Tagalog. Napakaraming bagay ang matutuhan natin sa mga panitikan at kultura mula sa iba-ibang katutubong wika natin sa Filipinas. Kaya dapat natin silang makilala at mapag-aralan lahat.

VN: Any more language heroes you want to honor?
VA: Sa aking talumpati para sa Ambagan 2009 sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, maaalala mong pinamagatan ko itongMga Unang Bayani Ng Wikang Pambansa. Ilan sa mga una kong binanggit ay sina Felipe Jose, Wenceslao Vinzons, Tomas Confesor, Hermenegildo Villanueva, at Norberto Romualdez. Sino nga ba sila? Sila ang mga delegado sa 1934 Kumbensiyong Konstitusyonal. Doon kasi opisyal na ipinanganak ang Wikang Pambansa -- batay sa isang wikang katutubo ng Filipinas at ang mga pangalang inilista ko ay lima lámang sa mga bayaning nagpanukala, nagtanggol, at nagtrabaho alang-alang sa mithiing ito. May iba pa, at mababanggit ko sa aking talakay, ngunit nais kong mag-umpisa sa lima. Sa pamamagitan nilá lilinaw kung bakit ganito ang Seksiyong 3, Artikulo XIII sa 1935 Konstitusyon. Dahil dito, aming bubuksan sa Hunyo ang Publikong Talakayan sa ngalan naman ni Norberto Romualdez hinggil sa Araling Pangkultura. Lingid sa kaalaman ng marami, siya kasi ang gumawa ng batas na lumikha ng Surian ng Wikang Pambansa. Kung si Pangulong Manuel Luis Quezon, na isang Tagalog, ang Ama ng Wikang Pambansa, si Romualdez, na isang Waray, ang maituturing na Arkitekto ng Wikang Filipino! Sino nga ba siRomualdez? Siya ay isang dating mahistrado sa Korte Suprema, miyembro ng National Assembly, iginagálang na pilolohista. Siya ang bumuo sa batas upang isagawa ang tadhana ng 1935 Konstitusyon. Nasa likod siya ng National Assembly ng 1936 kung kailan nagkaroon ng Commonwelt Act No. 184. Mas kilala ito bilang National Language Law na bumuo ng National Language Institute (NLI) at ng Wikang Pambansa. Ang totoo, siya rin ang nakipag-usap kay Jaime C. de Veyra -- ang kaniyang kaibigan at kapuwa Waray -- upang maging unang tagapangulo ng NLI nang buksan ito noong 1937. Wala pang isang taon, inirekomenda ng NLI ang Tagalog bilang batayan ng Wikang Pambansa. Noong 1937 din, pinirmahan ni Quezon ang Executive Order No. 134 na nagpoproklama sa “isang wikang pambansa batay sa diyalektong Tagalog bilang wikang pambansa ng Filipinas.” Hanga ako sa sipag ni Romualdez sa pagsusulong ng Commonwealth Act No.184 sa kongreso. Pati kay de Veyra na nakaupô noong tagapangulo ng kagawaran sa Espanyol sa UP. Magkasáma rin kasi sila sa samahang Waray. Gayunman, tulad ni Romualdez, pinilì ni de Veyra na maglingkod para sa Wikang Pambansa. Hindi naging sagwil ang interes sa Waray upang kilalanin ang Tagalog bilang higit na karapat-dapat na batayan ng Wikang Pambansa.

Dagdag pa rito, si Romualdez ay maraming saliksik tungkol sa katutubong musika, instrumento, at iba pang kung tawagin ngayon ay Cultural Studies. Kaya, angkop lamang na dakilain siya sa Hunyo sa pagkakaroon sa KWF ng kauna-unahang Norberto Romualdez Publikong Talakayan sa Araling Kultura sa Filipinas.

VN: What about July?
VA: Ang Sawikaan: Mga Salita ng Taon ay isinilang sa isang pulong natin sa FIT, o Filipinas Institute of Translation, noong Pebrero 2004. Iminungkahi noon ang pagtataguyod ng isang proyekto para piliin ang pinakamahahalagang salita ng taon. Ito ay inspirado ng proyektong Word of the Year ng American Dialect Society (ADS). “Wang-wang" noong 2012 ang napadagdag sa ating mga napiling Salita ng Taon kasama ng “huweteng" noong 2005, “lowbat" noong 2006, “miskol" noong 2007, at “jejemon" noong 2010. Sa taong ito, magpapahinga muna tayo. Pero, muli, makikipagtutulungan tayong taga-FIT sa Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP) at sa Kagawaran ng Filipino ng Paaralan ng Humanidades ng Ateneo de Manila University. Kaya, gaya ng dati, ang mga iskolar, guro, at masusugid na tagapagtaguyod ng wika ay pinagpása natin ng abstrak para sa gaganaping Ambagan 2013: Kumperensiya sa Paglikom ng iba’t ibang Salita mula sa mga Wika sa Filipinas sa ika-25, 26, at 27 ng Hulyo 2013 sa Ateneo. Ito ay ginagawa tuwing ikalawang taon. Una itong ginanap noong 2009 na kinatampukan ng mga panayam ng mga eksperto hinggil sa mga salita mula sa mga wikang Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Ilokano, Ifugao, Kinaray-a, Magindanaw, Maranao, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Tagalog, Tausug, at Waray. Alinsunod ito sa probisyong pangwika sa Artikulo XIV, Seksiyon 6 ng Konstitusyon ng Filipinas na nagsasabing “Ang wikang pambansa ng Pilipinas ay Filipino. Samantalang nalilinang, ito ay dapat payabungin at pagyamanin pa salig sa umiiral na mga wika ng Pilipinas at sa iba pang mga wika.” Kaya, ito ay nag bunga ng isang estratehiya sa pagpapayaman ng wikang Filipino. Kaya tayo humahalaw mula sa kaban ng bokabularyo ng iba’t ibang wika sa Filipinas upang ilahok sa korpus ng wikang pambansa. Noong 15 Pebrero ang takdang panahon para sa pagpapása ng abstrak na hindi lalabis sa 300 salita. Dapat kasing maghanay ang mananaliksik ng mga salitang may natatanging kahulugan sa kultura at kasaysayan ng pinagmumulang etnolingguwistikong pangkat. Dapat maipaliwanag ang metodong gagamitin sa pangangalap, pagpapakahulugan, at pagbibigay ng halimbawang gamit sa pangungusap o karaniwang pag-uusap. Dapat ding mapangatwiranan kung bakit mahalagang maging bahagi ng korpus ng Pambansang Wika ang mga salitang ito. Para sa reserbasyon, maaaring tumawag sa # 547-1860. Hanapin sina Dr. Michael M. Coroza, Direktor ng Kumperensiya, Prof. Romulo P. Baquiran Jr., Pangulo ng FIT, at Ms. Eilene G. Narvaez, pangkalahatang koordineytor ng mga gawain. O bisitahin ang website ng FIT na sawikaan.net at/o magpadala ng mensahe safilipinas.translation@gmail.com.

RIO ALMA’S ON FIRE (Second of four parts) (March 11, 2013)

National Artist Virgilio Almario, with his trademark fedora hat, and the new Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino board of commissioners

Vim Nadera: Sir, what is your master plan for the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino?
Virgilio Almario: Marami. Kung tutuusin ang KWF ay quasi-constitutional. Nasa Saligang Batas ng 1987 na kailangang magtayo ang Kongreso ng isang Commission on Filipino Language. Ito ang dapat mangasiwa sa isa pang probisyon na dapat palaganapin ang isang wikang pambansa, na ang tawag ay Filipino, sa pamamagitan ng pagpapayaman at pagpapaunlad nito sa tulong ng iba’t ibang wika sa Filipinas.

VN: Known before as Surian ng Wikang Pambansa (SWP), KWF boasts of its former directors – such as Jaime C. de Veyra, Lope K. Santos, Julian Cruz Balmaceda, Cirio H. Panganiban, Cecilio Lopez, Jose Villa Panganiban, and Ponciano B.P. Pineda. What ever happened to KWF before you took over?
VA: Mayroon ngang Implementing Rules and Regulation ang KWF pero ito ay depektibo. Wala itong naging plano man lamang sa loob ng 12 taon. Kaya sa loob ng dalawang linggo, wala akong ginawa kundi ayusin ang IRR. Pagkaraan, nagpa-workshop ako para gumawa ng isang medium-term plan para sa anim o pitong taon. Kaya nga lang nahuli na ito dahil nagsimula na ang administrasyon ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III. Kaya tuloy sa ginawang pagbabalangkas ng pamahalaan, walang banggit kung paano palalaganapin ang wika, paano ito payayamanin, paano ito magiging isang modernong wika, paano magiging opisyal na komunikasyon, at paano ito magiging wikang panturo. Katunayan, noong panahon ni Pangulong Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, inihabla natin siya. Kinuwestiyon namin ang Korte Suprema tungkol sa E.O. 210 at iba pang regulasyong tulad ng Dep­Ed Order 36 S 2006. Pinapawalang-bisa din natin ito dahil ang EO 210 at DepEd Order 36 paglabag sa Saligang Batas. Kakampi natin dito, bukod sa mga anak mo, sina Dr. Patricia Licuanan, noon ay Presidente pa ng Miriam College; Pambansang Alagad ng Sining na si Bienvenido Lumbera; balae kong sosyologong si Randolf David; ang dating Presidente ng WIKA Inc. na si Isagani R. Cruz; at Efren Abueg, ang writer-in-residence ng De La Salle University. Si Atty. Pacifico A. Agabin, dating dekano ng College of Law ng University of the Philippines, ang ating abogado noon. Natatandaan ko pa nang kausapin ko noon ang dating Punong Komisyoner ng KWF, ang sabi pa nga niya ay tama raw si GMA.

At nang magkaroon nga ng K-12 ang Departamento ng Edukasyon, wala man lang papel na ginampanan ang KWF sa pagbuo ng kurikulum. Dahil dito, hindi nabigyan ng diin ang gagampanan ng Filipino sa pagkakaroon ng bagong basic education program.

VN: So what was your initial reaction?
VA: Sinulatan ko agad si Bro. Armin Luistro ng Dep Ed at si Dr. Patricia Licuanan ng Commission on Higher Education para sabihin sa kanila na ako na ang bagong Punong Komisyoner ng KWF. At, kasabay nito, sinabi ko ring ibig kong makipulong sa kanila. Para malaman ko ang kanilang pagtingin at patakaran tungkol sa paggamit ng Filipino. At kung may maiitulong ang KWF tungkol sa mga bagay na ito.

VN: How did they respond?
VA: Noong Pebrero 27 nagpasabi na ang CHEd na sila ay handang makipag-usap. At nitong Pebrero 28, nang aksidenteng magkita kami ni Sec. Luistro, hindi pa raw niya nababasa ang sulat ko. Kaya sinabi ko na sa kaniya na gusto ko sana na lahat ng bagay na may kinalaman sa Filipino, sana ay isangguni muna sa KWF, para mas mapag-aralan pa bago ito isagawa. At nasa batas ‘yon. Hindi lamang ito tungkulin ng KWF kundi isang kapangyarihan. Kapangyarihan ng KWF ang lahat ng bagay na tulad nito sa lahat ng sangay ng gobyerno. Ito ang nakasaad sa Republic Act 7104. Ang KWF ay may tungkuling tiyakin at itaguyod ang ebolusyon, pagpapaunlad at pagpapayaman pa ng Filipino na wikang pambansa ng Pilipinas, batay sa umiiral na mga wika ng Pilipinas at iba pang wika.

VN: And your next step is…
VA: Kaya ngayong Marso magkakaroon ng National Consultative Forum on Filipino Orthography. Ito ay gaganapin ngayon, Mar.11, hanggang Mar.13, mulang 8 n.u. hanggang 5 n.h. sa Benitez Auditorium, College of Education ng UP Diliman. Ito ay para mapag-usapan na at mabigyan na ng sagot ang lahat ng isyu, o anomalya, tungkol sa ispeling. Lahat na. Magkaisa na. Ngayon, pagkaraan nito, kapag di kayo sumunod dito, di kayo kasali. Ipaiiral namin ito sa lahat, mula sa gobyerno hanggang sa paaralan. May mga inanyayahan kaming mga resource person. Pero bukas ang talakayan sa publiko. Ibig sabihin, kung sino man ang may interes tungkol sa isyu na ito ay puwedeng pumunta at lumahok sa talakayan. Inaasahang magsalita ang bagong Lupon ng KWF na sina Jerry B. Gracio (Samar-Leyte), Purificacion Delima (Iluko), Abdon M. Balde Jr. (Bikol), Noriam H. Ladjagais (Mga wika sa Muslim Mindanao), John E. Barrios (Hiligaynon), Orlando B. Magno (Sebwano), Jimmy B. Fong (Mga wika sa pamayanang pangkultural sa Hilaga), Lucena P. Samson (Kapampangan), Ma. Crisanta N. Flores (Pangasinan), at Lorna E. Flores (Mga wika sa pamayanang pangkultura ng Timog). Pamumunuan ito ng batikang iskolar na si Dr. Galileo S. Zafra, ang direktor ng proyektong Gabay sa Editing sa Wikang Filipino, na galing pa sa Japan. Dadaluhan ng mga manunulat, editor, brodkaster, negosyante, at iba pang propesyonal – kaya puwedeng pumunta ang sino mang ibig makisangkot sa ganitong talakayan.

VN: What about next month?
VA: Ang Abril ay nakalaan sa panitikan -- dahil Araw ni Balagtas ito. Unang-una, ibabalik namin ang prestihiyo ng Talaang Ginto. Makakaasa kayong hihigpitan namin ngayon ang pananalo. Ibabalik namin ang dating pangalan nito. At gagawin naming isang buong araw ang pagdiriwang. Magsisimula ito sa umaga sa pag-aalay ng bulaklak sa Bantayog ni Francisco Balagtas sa Pandacan, Maynila sa tulong ng tanggapan nina Alkalde Alfredo Lim at Gemma Cruz-Araneta. Tradisyon na rin ito para sa Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas at Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo . Tapos magkakaroon nga ng paggagawad ng Talaang Ginto. At ibabalik namin ang Panayam Balagtas. Taon-taon may pipiliin kaming eksperto na magsasalita hinggil sa ano mang aspekto ng panitikan.

RIO ALMA’S ON FIRE (First of four parts) (March 04, 2013)


Rio Alma's latest book Ang Romansa ng Pagsagip ng Osong Marso to be launched on Mar.8, the day before his birthday, by the UST Publishing House at UP Vargas Museum

Rio Alma, the multi-genre literary artist, cultural manager, and teacher

Virgilio Senadren Almario’s nom de plume, is born during the Fire Prevention Month.

This explains why he is the most prolific figure in Philippine literature.

This guru’s on fire!

In fact, literally and literarily, the word “rest” is missing in his vocabulary.

Even after he was given the Orden ng Pambansang Alagad ng Sining 10 years ago, he continued to harvest for his hard work. Urban legend has it that he has this unbreakable daily habit of placing blank bondpaper on his typewriter to write whatever that comes into his mind!

Did this Rio Alma Ritual change when he began encoding on his first computer?

Nahhh…

Since 2001, he had been unstoppable, as in coming out with books, as author or editor or translator – annually, yes, annually -- for 11 years with more than 40 titles and counting: Mutyang Dilim (Talingdao Publishing, 2001); UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino (Anvil Publishing, 2001); Supot ni Hudas (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2002); Florante at Laura (Institute for Public Policy, 2002); Bulacan: Bayan ng Bayani’t Bulaklak (Bulacan Heritage Foundation, 2002); JB, Filipino translation of Archibald McLeish’s JB (Dulaang UP, 2002); Barlaan at Josaphat (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2003); Ikatlong Bagting (UST Press, 2003); Pacto de Sangre: Spanish Legacy in Filipinas (Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day Committee, 2003); Textanaga (National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2003); Dalitext (NCCA, 2003); Dionatext (NCCA, 2004); Ang Hayop na Ito(Anvil Publishing, 2004); Sentimental (Anvil Publishing, 2004); Sari-Sari (Anvil Publishing, 2004); Estremelenggoles(Anvil Publishing, 2004); Pablo Neruda: Mga Piling Tula (University of the Philippines Press, 2004); Memo Mulang Gimokudan (UP Press, 2005); Dust Devils (Aklat Peskador, 2005); Sonetos Postumos, UP Press (2006);Sansiglong Mahigit ng Makabagong Tula sa Filipinas (Anvil Publishing, 2006); Pag-unawa sa Ating Pagtula(Anvil Publishing, 2006); Tatlong Pasyon sa Ating Panahon (UST Press, 2006); 101 Icons (Adarna House, 2007);Bakit Kailangan ang Himala (UP Press, 2007); Isang Sariling Panahon (NCCA, 2008); Likhaan 2: Journal of Philippine Contemporary Literature (UP Institute of Creative Writing, 2008); UP Centennial Edition of Balagtas’ Florante at Laura (Office of the Chancellor, UP Diliman, 2008); Romanza (Tahanan Books, 2008); Mga Biyahe, Mga Estasyon (Anvil Publishing Inc., 2008); Si Rizal: Nobelista (UP Press, 2008); Buwan, Buwan Bulawan (Adarna House, 2009); Pitik-Bulag (Government Service Insurance System, 2009); More 101 Icons (Adarna House, 2009);Huling Hudhud ng Sanlibong Paglimot at Pagbabalik sa Filipinas Kong Mahal (C&E Publishing, 2009); Unang Siglo ng Nobela sa Filipinas (Anvil Publishing, 2009); Filipino ng mga Filipino (Anvil Publishing, 2009); Pitong Bundok ng Haraya (UST Publishing, 2010); Panitikang Pambata sa Filipinas (Anvil Publishing, 2010); UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino (UP Sentro ng Wikang Filipino-Diliman/Anvil Publishing, 2010); Muling-Pagkatha sa Ating Bansa (UP Press, 2010); Rizal: Makata (Anvil Publishing, 2011); Jacintina, Hiyas ng Panulat ni Emilio Jacinto(Aklat Peskador, 2011); Ang Maikling Kuwento ng Filipinas: 1896-1949 (Anvil Publishing, 2012), Komedia de Baler (Sen. Edgardo Angara/National Historical Commission of the Philippines, 2012), and Ang Pag-ibig sa Bayan ni Andres Bonifacio (UST Publishing House, 2012).

On Friday, 8 March, the day before his birthday, he and the UST Publishing House will be launching at the UP Vargas Museum his latest book yet first of its kind. Entitled Ang Romansa ng Pagsagip sa Osong Marso, it is considered the only speculative poetry collection in the country, if not the world.

He is turning 69, which is why is hotter!

Hotter even when he became a National Artist in 2003?

Well, that very same year, he garnered Saiko Eiyosho, highest honorary award from Soka Gakkai University, and two Gawad Chanselor from UP Diliman: as Pinakamahusay na Mananaliksik and as Pinakamahusay na Nilathalang Pananaliksik. Since then, he had been been on a roll: from Best Book of Poetry from the National Book Development Board (2006) to U.P. Centennial Professorial Chair (2008) to University of the Philippines Centennial Award (2008) to U.P. Artist 3 (2010), and U.P. Professor Emeritus (2010).

Only belatedly, he received the highest honor for being an outstanding citizen: Manila’s Gawad Diwa ng Lahi(2010), Bulacan’s Tanging Dangal ng Lipi Award (2008), and Quezon City’s Most Outstanding Citizen (2009).

Last year, as the so-called “father of modern Philippine children’s literature,” he was recognized for being the moving spirit behind Adarna Books -- the first comprehensive series of educational books for Filipino children -- and the founder of Philippine Board on Board for Young People (PBBY). He went to the United States to accept the Distinguished Country Scholar Award 2012 from the International Children’s Literature Society during the 39thInternational Children’s Literature Conference on 14 June at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts.

Recently, a sudden turn of events in Rio Alma’s life seems like an answer to a lot of his unfinished businesses, in one way or another.

He is the new Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino’s Chair!

A natural born Bulakenyo from San Miguel, he is no Juan-come-lately, so to speak, in the field of language or lexicography. He has books about the national language issues namely Filipino ng mga Filipino in 1993 and 2009, Tradisyon at Wikang Filipino in 1998, and Patnubay sa Masinop na Pagsulat in 1981. He was the Director of U.P. Sentro ng Wikang Filipino from 1993 to 1996. Of course, aside from editing the UP Diksiyonaryong Filipinosince 2004, he is also at the helm, as chief editor and translator, of the Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala by Juan de Noceda and Pedro Sanlucar since 2007.

Well, to all the lazybones at KWF, he means bad news!

Why? Because Rio Alma seems to be singing: “So many things to do, so little time...”

Vim Nadera: How was your first day of office as Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino Chair?
Virgilio Almario: Alam mo ba ang ginawa ko noong unang araw ko sa KWF? Sinabi ko sa kanilang lahat na 12 taong walang Diyos ang wikang Filipino.

VN: Why?
VA: Dahil wala silang ginawa. “Masakit mang sabihin,” wika ko, “hindi kayo nagsikap na bigyan ng payo ang inyong mga pinuno, ang mga nauna sa akin, para naman bigyan sila ng bisyon at misyon ng Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino.”