Despite the physical constraints of the pandemic, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, along with a group of highly talented and committed artists, showcased poetry readings, spoken word competitions, musical presentations, dance dramas, theatrical shows, and storytelling events.
This year’s Performatura (aptly subtitled the Performatura: Pandemic Edition) brought the best of our nation’s literature, history, and culture closer to a broader, more interconnected audience. The theme of the event was “Aking Adhika Makita Kang Sakdal Laya.”
For the third day of Performatura, this event is named after The Indie Publisher’s Collab – PH’s INDIEPUBCON theme (Claiming Indie Spaces in these Challenging Times). This event presents TIPC-PH publications that held book launches, including Aklat Alamid, Southern Voices Printing Press, Alubat Publishing, Librong LIRA, Rebo Press Book Publishing, and 8Letters.
Aklat Alamid, a publisher that focuses on bringing children’s literature to other regions, presented a read-aloud of its newly released picture books, “Dako nga Yahong sang Batchoy” (A Big Bowl of Batchoy) by Jennie Arado and Rayah Dizon-Maniago, “Ditoy, Isdi, Idiay, Isna” (Here, There, There, Here) by Heather Ann F. Pulido and Renz Juno Abreu, and “Ti Dakkel nga Armang” (Denden’s Favorite Color) by Michelle Corpuz, Rachel Espiritu, Suzy Corpuz, Rosita Aragon, Luz Miranda. The stories were read in Hiligaynon, Ilokano, and Kankanaey with subtitles in Filipino.
Southern Voices Printing Press launched a book reading of “Mga Munting Babae,” a Filipino translation of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The speakers highlighted the importance of translating text and how it can add value and meaning to literature.
“Nararapat na malaya ang pagsasalin. Sa pamamagitan ng pagsasalin, nakikita at Kanakarasa ang isang mambabasa sa isang bagong daigdig na hindi pamilyar sa kanila.”
The readers were actress and model Ms. Mylene Dizon and former Representative Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela Women’s Party. Moreover, Prof. Rowena Festin, who translated the book with SVPP publisher Sophia Perez, gave a brief insight on language and translation.
Alubat Publishing showcased excerpt readings of Dr. Louie Mar Ganguangco’s HIV novel “Orosa-Nakpil, Malate.” Selected prose from Ganguangco’s novel was read by Mai Cantillano, Winlove Mojica, Jerome Cleofas, Ryan Ram Malli, and Jazminne Peña.
Librong LIRA featured Nick Pichay’s poems from his republished poetry collection “Ang Lunes na Mahirap Bunuin.” Dr. Romulo Baquiran, Jr. and Atty. Rose King-Dominguez provides short explanations concerning their translation process on Pichay’s collection of poetry. Soc delos Reyes, Jerome Flor, and Eloisa Francia provided excerpt reading from the said book.
Rebo Press Book Publishing
Indie publishing house Rebo Press PH featured various performances from its gallery of experienced and young authors, performance artists, and musicians. Vox Populi PH, one of its imprints, also featured readings from its breed of future writing pillars. Arguably the most interesting performance of the afternoon, Rebo not only made its set fun, but also meaningful.
Among the main events was the book launch of journalist and writer Karl de Mesa’s “Calling Out the Destruction: Collected Non-Fiction Meditations on Violence and Transcendence”, a collection of essays that will be available on Rebo Press in December 2021. Helping to make the well-rounded performance was Rica Aquino, who masterfully played the violin to Astor Piazzola’s “Etude No. 4.” Performance artist Ceej Gomera also performed the piece “Entire History.” Finally, the author played his acoustic rendition of Iron and Wine’s “Claim Your Ghost.”
In addition, educator Jan Aldous O. Virina also read a chapter off of Frank G. Rivera’s “Si Jose Rizal sa (Loob at Labas ng Kagila-gilalas na) Daigdig ni Atô.” The chapter, titled “Sa Umpisa ay Dilim at Liwanag,” explores the world of protagonist Atô, an Agta, who eventually meets with the young Jose Rizal. The historical fantasy novel is the latest work and magnum opus of Rivera’s long and fruitful career.
Rebo Press’s founder Maria Kristelle Jimenez also graced the audience with a reading from her work “Salamin: Mga Personal na Prosa.” This book is a collection of personal essays about coping with depression through writing. The reading was superimposed with a short clip directed and edited by Reynand Manaois, featuring indie actress Rizza Dulay.
Vox Populi PH
Youth digital writing publication Vox Populi PH is a neophyte in Performatura, but the group of young writers held their own. Featuring a set of essay, story, and poetry readings, Vox Populi’s contribution to the event was threaded together by a spoken word poem, “Nag-umpisa ang Lahat sa Isang Tinig,” written and edited by founder Maria Kristelle Jimenez and performed by Rebo Press’ resident graphic artist, Gwynette Ivory Marbella.
The participants include Marius Carlos, Jr., who read an excerpt from his collection of essays, “Incarnations”; Maria Kristelle Jimenez, who read her short story “Muning” from her award-winning zine, “Anatomiya ng Pandemiya”; Annalyn Biagtan, who read a chapter from her novel “Eclipse”; Karl Patrick Wilfred Suyat who read an excerpt from his collection of political essays, “Karl, Not Marx”; Jay-ar Paloma, who read his poem “Diglossia” from his zine “postmodern musings”; and Julienne Maui Mangawang, who read her poem “In the Garden” from her collection of poems, “Aftermath: Drawn Out.” The books that authors presented have also been exhibited at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. Aidan Reuel Bernales, also performed his original spoken word piece “Your Poetry Sucks.”
8Letters launched its newest anthologies, “Takipsilim” and “Hatinggabi,” featuring Philippine mythological creatures, through storytelling. Directed by 8Letters’ founder Cindy Wong, it highlights several characters from the two anthologies featuring John Mark Calim as Elias, Paula Alagao as Victoria, Marigold Uy as Aurora, and Ernst Enriquez as Bakunawa.
Performatura: International Performance Literature Festival ran from November 22 to 24. Performers, poets, art conversations with chanters from the regions, book debates, slam poetry contests, book fairs, and interviews with prominent writers were all part of the virtual event.
Performatura and the Future of Indie
Performatura is no stranger to the world of independent publishing and writing. Maria Kristelle Jimenez, the editor-in-chief of Vox Populi PH and the founder of Rebo Press, first attended Performatura in 2018, where she was greeted warmly by Festival Director Vim Nadera and CPP’s Beverly Siy as she assisted in the exhibition of several zines by up-and-coming young writers from that period in her career as a serial indie publisher and organizer. Young creatives who wanted to learn more about the trade and eventually publish in print and digital forms were advised to “keep going” and “hold the line.”
If the success of the event was any indication, then it could be concluded that we will see an even bigger and better Performatura in the future. With the continued rise of indie writing and publishing in the country, it will only open more venues for artists and encourage the growth of like-minded organizations, producing a healthier pool of talented artists that can be featured in upcoming events. The symbiotic relationship of the CCP and the indie community only bodes well for the future, and like all performers who found the stage in a world full of niches, we show our gratitude through art.