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حوار الصحفي السعودي سطام الحقباني مع الشاعر الفلبيني سانتياغو فيلافانيا في صحيفة الرياض - الثقافة اليوم Interview with Filipino poet Santiago Villafania conducted by Sattam Haqabani and published this morning in Riyadh Newspaper - Cultural Section today
November 23, 2014
About the poet
Santiago Villafania (b 1971) is a contemporary Filipino poet who writes in English and in his native language of Pangasinan, one of Philippines’ twelve languages. He has published several poetry collections, including: Pinabli & Other Poems, Voices From Caboloan, and Malagilion: Sonnets tan Villanelles. Villafania is one of the most prominent Pangasinan writers. He has received several awards, including the Asna Award for Arts and Culture (Literature) in 2010. He is well known for his effort in reviving Pangasinan as a literary language. His poetry is characterized by its treatment of the human experience in its wide variety, the boldness of imagery, and the vividness and richness of meanings.
A Selected Poem “Looking at the Moon”
looking at that moon
i have wronged my eyes too much
now my heart is blind
give me back my sight
your voice may not be enough
to let me see you
i long to feel you
in the lines of your poetry
unbreaking my heart
Q The structure of the culture in the Philippines is based on the effect left by previous colonial eras, which influenced the techniques and styles of writing. Could you give us a general description of the poetry before and after colonialism up to these days?
Santiago Villafania: Pre-Hispanic Philippine literature was actually epics passed on from generation to generation, originally through oral tradition. These epics were eventually transcribed when we adopted the Latin alphabet for our languages. Most of the notable literature in the Philippines was written during the Spanish period, and the early versifiers wrote in Spanish and the vernacular. Poetry and metrical romances were widely read as a form of entertainment. The most popular secular poetry is the metrical romance, the awit and korido in Tagalog. The awit is set in dodecasyllabic quatrains while the korido is in octosyllabic quatrains. There are numerous metrical romances in Tagalog, Bicol, Ilongo, Pampango, Ilocano and in Pangasinan language.
Q The greatest portion of Spanish literature was written during the American Commonwealth period, mostly by prominent writers and intellectuals who had been educated in Spanish or had lived in the Spanish-speaking society and were influenced by the so-called “Modernismo,” a mixture of elements from the French Parnassian and Symbolist schools, as promoted by some Latin American and Peninsular Spanish writers.
SV The introduction of English as medium of instruction in the Philippines hastened the demise of Spanish so that in less than half a century, English writing had already overtaken Spanish writing. The American colonial period brought about new changes in Philippine literature. New literary forms such as free verse were introduced and used my poets who advocated modernism in poetry. But alongside this development, writers in the vernaculars continued to write in the provinces.
Today, there is a resurgence of Philippine literature in the various languages. The contemporary Filipino poets, whether writing in English, Filipino or their mother tongue, continue to write and ritualize their work in print and online.
Q Aside from proper names in the Philippines, which have a great resemblance to Spanish proper names, do the remains of Spanish imperialism, particularly on the cultural side, still exist even today?
SV No. Spanish imperialism doesn't exist anymore. It has been replaced by American imperialism. Haha :)
The United States gained control of the Philippines as a result of the Spanish-American war. The Treaty of Paris gave Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines for a set price. The Filipinos and Americans fought the bloody Philippine-American War from 1899 to 1902, and the Americans won. Over one million Filipinos died as a result of that war. Even though the Americans won, they decided to help the Philippines become an independent nation. On July 4, 1946, the Philippines became an independent nation.
Q How would you describe the publishing and reading activities in the Philippines in an era dominated by the cinema, which attracts so many people, particularly since the dominant orientation among the audience in your country is probably audio-visual?
SV It is not easy to publish literary works in the Philippines commercially unless you belong to the so-called mainstream literati. Young writers usually start by joining creative writing workshops, winnig major literary awards and eventually publishing their works in university presses.
Foreign books still dominate our bookstores, as young readers patronize foreign authors more than our local writers. Yes, the cinema attracts such a large audience due to the fact that young readers today are more "visual." They would prefer watching the film version of the book, instead of reading it.
Q In the Philippines there are so many languages and dialects. This fertile environment has made it possible for a number of literary figures to emerge. In the Arab world, however, we have not heard of any famous poets from the Philippines. What is the reason for this, do you think?
SV Yes, we have 170 languages and more than 500 dialects. Since public education was institutionalized in the Philippines, with English serving as the medium of instruction, we have been looking toward the West. The Philippines is an American colony, so to speak. I guess the reason perhaps is that our writers took the American and European writers as their models. While I was still in college, the only Arabic literature I became familiar with by heart is the Qur'an and, of course, the translation of the One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), ghazals, and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. And perhaps the other major reason is that most of our writers have not been translated into Arabic.
It would be a great idea to come out with an exchange program for poets between the Arab countries and the Philippines. Thereby, we can introduce our contemporary writings and writers.
If I am not mistaken, I am one of the first Filipinos whose poetry has been translated into Arabic language. My heart-felt thanks to the poet Nizar Sartawi.
Q In 1911, around 11 million people from the Philippines were working abroad. Most probably some of these emigrants were creative writers. Do you have any prominent poets among these?
SV Since the early nineteenth century, Filipinos have been migrating and working abroad. Yes, some of them are creative writers. To name a few: Bienvenido N. Santos (1911–1996) was a Filipino-American fiction, poetry and nonfiction writer; José García Villa (1908 – 1997) was a Filipino poet, literary critic, short story writer, painter, awarded the National Artist of the Philippines title for literature in 1973; and Carlos S. Bulosan (1913 – 1956) was an English-language Filipino novelist and poet. who spent most of his life in the United States. His best-known work today is the semi-autobiographical "America Is in the Heart."
Q An archipelago with 7107 islands, the Philippines has a variety of climates that make it a suitable place for any creative artist. Which places in the Philippines inspire you?
SV While I can write anywhere, whether in bucolic rural areas or modern cities, I am more inspired to write in and about my province of Pangasinan. Our local history, myths and legends, language, and culture have been the subject of my poetry.
Q You write in both English and Pangasinan. Which of the two languages gives you more space for expressing your feelings and your surroundings?
SV Both. My early poems are all in English, and the paucity of published works in Pangasinan inspired me to write in my mother tongue and revive our dying literature— poetry in particular.
I started writing poetry in my native tongue only in 2001, and relied solely on my mastery of the spoken language and instinctive phonetics to come out with my first poetic attempts. I have come out with five poetry books since.
While I can write or translate from English to Pangasinan and vice-versa, I am more comfortable now writing longer poems in the Pangasinan language and shorter poems in English.
Q In your poetry I feel an ecstasy that takes meaning to higher horizons, and a strength of expression that describes the most delicate things. What has influenced Santiago most, nature or his childhood? And who does read most?
SV I am influenced both by nature and my childhood. I grow up in a province surrounded by rice fields, hills, rivers and seas. As a child, I was always fascinated with our local stories. So I believe my environment and childhood feed my imagination, which was eventually heightened by the books I’ve read.
I started writing in English when I was immersed in reading classic literature books during my college days. I was particularly interested in the works of the Romantic poets, E. E. Cummings, Jose Garcia Villa, Pablo Neruda, Piet Hein, Saadi, Hafez, and Basho. And I believe some of these poets, if not most, have influenced my writings.
Q Poetry is the mosaic of a life that might be long if it were put in the form of a novel. Has Santiago attempted to write prose, in response to a state of deep grief that he has experienced?
SV Yes, there is an attempt to write a novel, but have not quite finished it. I am also attempting to write science fiction. But currently, my only writings in prose are in my literature and arts column for the local paper “Sunday Punch,” published in Pangasinan.
Link source - http://www.alriyadh.com/996794 (in Arabic)
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World Festival of Poetry | 2015 Poetic Sanctuaries – Pangasinan
World Festival of Poetry | 2015 Poetic Sanctuaries – Pangasinan
ANGGAMAN masaksakbay ni, malikeliket ko lan ibelyaw so pibiang na luyag ed World Festival of Poetry tan say Pangasinan et sakey ed saray 2015 Poetic Sanctuaries no arapen a komatlo ono komapat a simba na Nobiembri 2015.
Say angiletneg na World Festival of Poetry ("International Fb-Website") onliliberliber ed apatiran sokung na mundo ya mangitatalaga na poetic sanctuaries. Ed sayan taon et wala ira ed Spain tan Peru-Bolivia insan dia ed India tan Filipinas no arapen a taon. Wala ira’y nagawan anlongan ed iparungtal kon pasen: Dagupan City, Kapitolio na Lingayen, Alaminos City, Bolinao tan dia ed naduruman awiran tan unibersidad a labay dan mianlongan.
Kabansag tonia, no natultuloy bilang, et say pangiter na gamor tan pamirbir na Writers International Network (WIN) Canada ed pigaran antabay na kuritan a Pangasinan a sikaraya di Sergio Bumadilla (umaanlong, managsulat na kumbilay), Ferdinand Quintos (umaanlong), Leonarda Carrera aka Amor Cico (managsulat na atikey a tongtong tan kumbilay), Prescillano Bermudez (Ilocanon umaanlong, sumusulat) tan sayan magter a lingkor yo.
Say WIN president a si Ashok K. Bhargava et ombisita ed Pangasinan a gawaran da met na pamirbir so Kurit Panlunggaring.
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This movement aims to help revitalize contemporary Pangasinan arts and culture through any of the following: by acknowledging and supporting works by Pangasinenses and non-Pangasinenses that help to revitalize contemporary Pangasinan art and culture; initiating projects that would contribute to the revitalization movement for Pangasinan art and culture; creating a network, venue, and forum for Pangasinense artists, Pangasinense cultural workers, Pangasinense intellectuals and scholars, and the people of Pangasinan to collaborate on meaningful projects that would contribute on the revitalization movement for Pangasinan art and culture; and acknowledging the contributions of an earlier generation of Pangasinan artists and intellectuals in the twentieth century and even earlier who have made very important contributions to Pangasinan’s artistic and cultural life.
Some of these intellectuals and native artists include Juan Saingan, Felipe Quintos, Narciso Corpus, Antonio Solis, Juan Mejía, Catalino Palisoc, Pablo Mejia, Juan Villamil, Maria Magsano, Insyong Tamayo, Fr.Mariano Pellicer, Rayner, Fr. Lorenzo Fernandez Cosgaya, Dr. Perla Nelmida, etc. The movement will also resurface and acknowledge unknown or even anonymous artists and intellectuals who have also made important contributions to Pangasinan’s artistic and cultural life in the past.
Anacbanua as an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement also aims to help reawaken a strong sense of ethnic pride or a Pangasinan nationalist sentiment among all Pangasinenses in the homeland and also in the diaspora. This could be achieved by making the works available and accessible to all Pangasinenses using new media like the Internet and bringing the works and making them available to the youth of Pangasinan.
The movement embraces works, contributions, experts, individuals, and groups who have made significant contributions and works to Pangasinan’s artistic and cultural life through the following fields and disciplines: Literature, Visual Arts, Music, Dance, Theater, Cinema, Linguistics, Cultural Studies, History, Anthropology, Archeology, Journalism, Ethnobotany, Silviculture, Agriculture, Culinary Arts, Publishing, and New Media (Internet).
Anacbanua is an ancient term in the Pangasinan language whose two words anac and banua are also a part of the Proto-Malayo Polynesian vocabulary. Anacbanua refers to the original inhabitants of a given place or settlement particularly those who had been born in the village who are also the cultivators of the land. It is an endonym, a name ancient Pangasinenses call themselves by, a claim to the land they founded or reclaimed for the members of the ethnic community to retain privileges and ascendancy amidst foreign intrusions. Thus, anacbanua serves as an ethnic identifier, a cultural marker that separates the Pangasinan from the Aeta, Zambal, Iloko and other Cordillera peoples who had come to live among them. During the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the term was used to designate the indigenous elite of the Pangasinan province.
Christopher Gozum is an independent Filipino filmmaker currently working as a medical videographer and video editor in the Middle East. He was born in the town of Bayambang, province of Pangasinan in the northern Philippines.
Gozum studied B.A.Film in the University of the Philippines and he is an alumnus of the 2006 Asian Film Academy (AFA) fellowship program in Busan, South Korea. He received the Palanca Awards for Literature for his two full-length plays in 2001 and 2002.
Gozum’s independent films have won awards and received citations in the Philippines and abroad including the Cultural Center of the Philippines Award for Alternative Film and Video (2005), as well as the Best Short Film (2007), the Ishmael Bernal Award for Most Outstanding Young Filipino Filmmaker (2008), the Lino Brocka Grand Prize (2009) and the Best Director Award (2009), all in the Cinemanila International Film Festival. Currently, he is a recipient of the 2013 Ani ng Dangal Award for Cinema conferred by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts in the Philippines.
Anacbanua (The Child of the Sun) which he produced and directed, is the first feature-length film in the Pangasinan language. The film received the Prix des Signes in the Cinema In Transgression section of the 10th International Festival Signes de Nuit in Paris. Anacbanua also received citations from Filipino film bloggers and film critics as one of the best Filipino films in 2009 and one of the 100 Philippine modern movie classics. His second feature-length Pangasinan film Lawas Kan Pinabli (Forever Loved) also received citations from Filipino film bloggers and film critics as one of the top ten Best Filipino Films of 2011.
Gozum’s digital films have been screened at international film festivals and new media art platforms all over the Philippines, as well as in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore, Bandung, Jakarta, Busan, Jeonju, Chennai, Mumbai, Sydney, Honolulu, San Francisco, Toronto, Patras, Paris, Osnabrueck, Prague, Edinburgh, Madrid, and Kyoto.
In 2007, Gozum founded his independent film company Sine Caboloan committed to producing cutting edge films about the Pangasinan province and its’ people in the homeland and in the diaspora. He advocates for the revitalization of Pangasinan’s language and culture through independent cinema. Currently, Gozum is developing a one-acre site in his hometown of Bayambang called Ligliwa Artist’s Garden into an integrated natural farm and food forest that will serve the following functions: an arboretum of useful Philippine native medicinal plants and important Philippine native forest trees ; a site inspired by permaculture for sustainable living ; and headquarters for his independent film company Sine Caboloan.
Presently, Gozum has completed a new feature-length experimental documentary film called Lawas Kan Pinabli (Forever Loved) between 2011 to 2012. He is also preparing for two new independent film projects namely Dapol Tan Payawar Na Tayug 1931 (The Ashes and Ghosts of Tayug 1931), a feature-length experimental film, and Luyag ‘Da’ra’y Anino (A Kingdom of Shadows), a feature-length narrative film.
Born in Urdaneta City, Erwin S. Fernandez is a historian, scholar, writer and translator in Pangasinan and advocate of Pangasinan studies. He graduated with AB History, cum laude and MA History from the University of the Philippines in Diliman where he wrote the full-length biography of Leon Ma. Guerrero III as his MA thesis. Once a recipient of the UP Presidential Scholarship, he was awarded the first Asia Culture Academy Youth Workshop in 2006 at Gwangju, South Korea and the 2009 Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Initiative on East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History, which afforded him to attend a summer archaeological fieldwork at the UI in Chicago. A member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Gamma Mu international honor societies for his academic achievements in the university, he also took some prizes in Pangasinan poetry contests.
His passion for Pangasinan language and culture took him to lead first as vice-president of the Ulupan na Pansiansiay Salitan Pangasinan and editor of the Balon Silew, a quarterly magazine in Pangasinan, and later president of the same. In 2010 he released his first children's book, Say Pasirayew ya Malapati. In collaboration with two other editors, he edited the first anthology of Pangasinan literature, Tagano ed Kelang. His second children's story, Si Liwawa say pusan ag to labay so ondangol, was read in an Inquirer Read-Along activity in Dagupan City in 2011 and featured in Inbox of VERA files.
A former member of the faculty at UP, he went home to Pangasinan in 2006 as he realized the need to revitalize Pangasinan culture. Since then, he mingled with like-minded Pangasinans who are also keen on resurrecting Pangasinan literature, culture and identity. Nonetheless, his literary activities did not prevent him from engaging in intellectual pursuits so that he established a one-man research center, the Abung na Panagbasay Pangasinan [House of Pangasinan Studies]. His first project dealt with the relationship between Pangasinans and Ibalois that was soon published as an article in The Cordillera Review followed by an article on early Pangasinan published in Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society. This article gave way to a book, a research project funded by the Sumitomo Foundation, which explored and inquired on the ethnogenesis or the origins of the Pangasinan people and their early history and relationship with other Philippine, Southeast Asian, Chinese and Japanese peoples. From a somewhat remote past about his people, he, then, moved to understand the history of his hometown with a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) dispelling some misconceptions about its foundation that silenced if not erased the role and identity of Pangasinans.
His research interests are varied and wide-ranging from international relations and post-colonial studies to Philippine and Pangasinan Studies. He wrote on US policy and the Arab-Israeli conflict, Philippine military, anarchism, Ho Chi Minh, decolonization, multilingual policy in education, Rizal, early Southeast Asia, Sabah and social movements. His essay on the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN) in the late 1960s was included in a book published by Berghahn Books in 2012. Very recently, his article on the Malaysian involvement in the rebellion in Mindanao in the context of Marcos policy on the claim to Sabah was published in Social Transformations: Journal of the Global South.
Santiago B. Villafania
Santiago B. Villafania, a bilingual Filipino poet who writes in English and in his native language of Pangasinan, is the author of five poetry collections: Ghazalia: Maralus ya Ayat (2013), Bonsaic Verses (2012), Pinabli & Other Poems (2012), Malagilion: Sonnets tan Villanelles (2007), and Balikas na Caboloan (2005) published by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts under its UBOD New Authors Series.
Villafania's works in the vernacular are some of the most representative, if not among the few that comprise that Pangasinan contemporary literary body. His second book, Malagilion was a finalist in the 2007 National Book Award for Best Book of Poetry; and won the Gawad Komisyon (Gantimpalang Tamayo sa Tulang Pangasinan) for Pangasinan poetry in 2007. He is one of the 11 Outstanding Pangasinenses and recipient of the 1st Asna Award for Arts and Culture (Literature) in 2010.
He has been published/anthologized in several countries and some of his poems have been translated into several languages, including Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and Hindi. His unpublished book of poems ‘Murtami’ was translated into Hindi entitled ‘Premanjali’ and was released in the New Delhi World Book Fair in 2013.
He is a member of the Philippine PEN, a commissioner for the Pangasinan Historical and Cultural Commission, and currently writes a literature and arts column for the “Sunday Punch”.
 Fernandez, Erwin (Urdaneta City: Abung na Panagbasay Pangasinan, 2012). Puerto del Japon: Early Pangasinan in Luzon before and after the coming of the Japanese and the Spaniards. pp. 31, 34.
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Aristos | Kiew na bilay tan kakabatan
Makapaermen ya lapu labat ed piugagep dan napaawang so dalan ono karsada et nakaulan nin natiguay ira’y kiew a ngali la mansanlasus a taon ed tatken. Pilatek to ni na lasin Mark Cojuangco ya kargo to kono ta sikato si kinmerew na pirmiso pian naekal iraman a kiew. Inkuan to niyan bastian ya anggapo nepeg iraman a kiew ed tinubuan dan pasen.
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Aristos | Mikanika na Tinapay
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A Tao 道 Sign
Santiago B. Villafania, a bilingual Filipino poet who writes in English and in his native language of Pangasinan, is the author of poetry collections Bonsaic Verses (2012), Pinabli and Other Poems (2012), Malagilion: Sonnets tan Villanelles (2007), and Balikas na Caboloan (Voices from Caboloan, 2005) published by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) under its UBOD New Authors Series. He has been published in several countries and translated into several languages. Villafania is one of the 11 Outstanding Pangasinan conferred with the 2010 ASNA Award for the Arts and Culture (literature) during the first Agew na Pangasinan and also the 430th Foundation Day of the province on April 2010. He is a member of Philippine PEN writes a regular weekly column for the Sunday Punch.