MANILA, Philippines — UNESCO marked World Poetry Day last March 21 by publishing in its monthly magazine, the UNESCO Courier, 100 selected articles on world poetry written over the last 60 years.
Former UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor, in Education in freedom, writes about the power of words to melt chains. He says: “Poetry brings its pure grist to the mill of an ethical system that must be rethought.
Thus he envisions how poetry which communicates a universal language can transform our present world: “Is it futile to dream of a different kind of society, one capable of engendering a new humanity and perpetuating harmonious human relationships? It (poetry) is an inner link between poetics, ethics, and politics... The poet must be a catalyst in the renewal of active thinking and the values that are an honor to our species and constantly urge us to exceed our own self-expectations. Poetry is a bulwark against the onslaught of barbarity in its many guises. In poetry, the word is brought to an incandescent heat and speaks to each one of us. It pulverizes injustice or hatred; it is akin to love. For all of us, poetry can make sense of the world, with all its obscure mysteries, great contradictions, and sublime achievements.”
Earlier in the early seventies, another former UNESCO Director-General Amadou M’Bow convened a group of poets from various cultures to declare “War on War” and to set the ethic of philosophy against military aggression. Jean Jacques Lebel explains why poetry is still at the heart of the questions facing society today. During that assembly, the poets proposed “visionary alternatives to the programmed massacres and planned catastrophes which militaristic futurologists and multinational arms purveyors are seeking to impose on all peoples.” But, as he noted, the other systems of belief, perception, and expression have proved incapable of comprehending the present world crisis.
The power of poets today has likewise been acknowledged by Cirilo Bautista, a well-respected local poet and critic who said that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. Through their meditations on human affairs, their texts have become the uncredited almanac of human development.”
Yesterday, a friend and “kabaleyan,” Santiago Villafania, described as Pangasinan’s most outstanding poet today, launched his third volume of poetry entitled “Pinabli and other poems, in Mangaldan, Pangasinan. Published by the De la Salle University, Pinabli is a collection of 200 “anlongs,” some haikus, and translations of poetry by writers who had inspired him like Jose Garcia Villa and e.e. cummings. Most of the anlongs deal with love and the legendary Urduja as well as recollections of family life. He also writes about the centrality of language in our search for identity.
As many know, Pangasinan was at one time a dying language. Not so anymore as it is now one of the major Philippine languages that will be used as medium of learning in the K-12 program. Its recognition can be attributed to Villafania and his colleagues who worked very hard to revive the language after a 30-year hiatus. Please e-mail me at email@example.com
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.
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 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 Literaturefrom 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)
"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
Translations of Erolalia in German, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Bulgarian, and Hindi language. And here is the 1st version of the poem published in The Sunday Times (Manila Times, 11.23.2003).
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