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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Breaking Signs: Don’t Steal Other Writer’s Work

TWO interesting things occurred to the judges of this year’s Gawad Surian sa Tula-Gantimpalang Colantes. In their deliberation to determine which among the fifty-one or so entries would be included in the roster of winners (see Breaking Signs, April 20), Jesus Santiago and Cirilo F. Bautista found, first, a number of authors attempting to infuse new energy into Filipino poetry’s form and substance. This is most desirable, as Filipino poets seem to be frozen in the timeframe of traditional expressionism or discourse. The infusion comes from the influences of urbanism on the development of the Filipino language. Mass media, cultural politics, and population mobility have fueled the spread of Tagalog across regional boundaries, giving it an access into other languages. This results in its filtration into those languages and vice-versa. The new dynamism defines its present contour. The migration history from "Tagalog" to "Pilipino" to "Filipino" can be read, for instance, in vocabulary borrowings or in thematic viewpoints. These three variations of the same language continue to exist, but Filipino, according to the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF), is the language spoken in Metro Manila and other multi-ethnic cities.

Without going into further linguistic distinctions, we can say that because Filipino — which is now called our national language — has a democratic character, it offers contemporary poets new inroads and challenges. Indeed, some of them have shown that words, phraseology, and imagery from one region can be positioned within the structure of Tagalog. John Iremil Teodoro and Genevieve Asenjo of Antique, Jose Jason Chancoco of Bicol, and Santiago Villafania of Pangasinan have done exactly that and, consequently, contribute to the enrichment of the poetic medium. Also, because it accommodates other languages within its semantic system, Filipino appears to be most appropriate for poets to delineate the complex urban world with its ethnical and international character. Eros Atalia’s winning poem, "Remedyo," is a successful capturing of the way common urbanites of the working class speak and think. The repairman in the poem has a native voice, that is, he appears to be a flesh-and-blood embodiment of a character in a critical situation wanting to improve his fractured relationship with his girl, just as he wants to repair the broken appliances his customers leave to his care. Reuel Aguila employs a Japanese form of prose-poem to articulate the thoughts of a man returning to his native soil in "Haibun sa Pagbabalik." If this freshness blowing into the space of Filipino letters will be sustained on a large scale, a really new linguistic dimension will evolve in our poetic heritage.

Second, the contest judges found plagiarism rearing its vexed head among the entries. Plagiarism is defined as "the appropriation or imitation of the language, ideas, and thoughts of another author, and representation of them as one’s original work." Plagiary, a synonym for both plagiarist and plagiarism, has for its rootword the Latin plagiarius, meaning "kidnapper." Plagiarism, thus, indicates an infringement on the intellectual property of the true originator because the plagiarist steals or kidnaps it. As a literary crime, plagiarism will never be eradicated — it can only be minimized — but editors and contest organizers are helpless in this regard. The discovery of plagiarism is burdensome, and frustrating matter. The many poems literary editors receive, for instance, cannot be all investigated to establish their authorial authenticity. Because they just do not have the time and money for that, they take every poem at its face value and rely on the author’s integrity. In the case of this year’s Surian entries, one was an outright copying of the idea and structure of "Ulat Buhat Sa Bulkan," Cirilo F. Bautista’s prizewinning poem in the same contest sometime in the 1990s. The copyist simply reset the theme — the supremacy of art over mundane events — in another location, but the narrative lines of the two poems were similar. When Jesus Santiago was notified of this plagiarism, he smiled and said that his own winning poem in the same contest was also plagiarized some years back. We brought this matter to the attention of Dr. Ricardo D. Nolasco, commissioner of the KWF, with no hope that he would initiate steps to discourage plagiarists from tainting the fine reputation of the Surian contest.

Source: Breaking Signs, Philippine Panorama (May 4, 2008).
Visit Dr. Ciirilo Bautista's website at www.cirilofbautista.tk

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A Tao 道 Sign

Le poèt de Pangasinan

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.

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A collection of ghazals in Pangasinan language. Order now at Amazon.com


A collection of haiku, senryu, tanka, haiga, and other poems in English and Pangasinan language. Order now at Amazon.com


“Santiago Villafania is a searcher with a seemingly insatiable curiosity and endurance. His quest has brought him to explore world poetry from points East and West. He is no stranger to sophisticated verse forms such the Sapphic strophe nor to the diverse permutations of the Japanese haiku. But he is not a formalist, he has daringly explored Asian and Western cultures in a very personal way and writes his mind with a daring, invigorating, aesthetically pleasing ease. In his poetry Villafania displays not only a breadth, but it feels very much like a breath of fresh air.” – Ute Margaret Saine, poet, critic, translator, past president of PEN Orange County and the former editor of the California Poetry Quarterly

“Villafania’s emergence as a poet is a fine moment to celebrate. Another voice from the regions augurs a richer body of writing that Filipinos can hold up as a mirror of our native culture.” – Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for Literature

The Beloved Idiom | A Reading of Villafania’s ‘Pinabli & other poems’ by Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo


LCCN.: 2010338612

Order your copy now at CreateSpace or Amazon.com :)

"The publication of Malagilion: Sonnets tan Villanelles by Santiago B. Villafania should be a source of rejoicing for readers of regional literatures. This second book by Pangasinan's leading poet today is impressive in both form and substance. Villafania has created 300 sonnets and 50 villanelles in his own language that attempt to reflect the primacy of native culture and return the poet to the central stage of social life."A Boost to Pangasinan Literature from Breaking Signs by Cirilo F. Bautista (Philippine Panorama, 16 Dec. 2007, pp.25-26)

"Villafania is not only a visionary poet, he is a linguistic philosopher who codifies the origin of language and culture, dissects the myths and the common beliefs of the people against the urban legends, juxtaposes the literary tradition against the modern influences by dialectically infusing them in his poetic revelation of truth."Poetic Revelation in Language and Culture by Danny C. Sillada (Manila Bulletin, 12 May 2008, pp. F1-F2)

Photos: Book Launching at the Pearl Manila Hotel, 5 Feb. 2008


"Santiago Villafania's Balikas ed Caboloan certainly has reinvigorated the anlong tradition of Pangasinan that for a long period of time suffered silence from the hands of writers more attuned to English writing. Characteristically anacbanua, Villafania's poetry echoes his predecessors and presages a promising era for young writers in Pangasinan." – Dr. Marot Nelmida-Flores

Thesis: Bilay ed Caboloan - Reconfiguration of Space using a New Historicist Lens by Ayesah Tecson

from Pangasinan 'Anlong': Oral tradition into the 21st century published in Manila Times / Sunday Magazine, March 13 & 20, 2011.

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Six of my poems translated into Arabic by Prof. Abdul-Settar Abdul-Latif (English Dept., College of Education, University of Basrah, Iraq) and have been published in TEXT - the Cultural Monthly Journal, Issue No.13

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