How the Art of Spoken Word Is Shaping Culture Today
Gari Sy Rivera | October 17, 2019
Photos by the author
Silang mga Minsang Umibig (They Who Have Once Loved) was no ordinary spoken word event. It was a night that showcased poetry as a medium that can shape culture and society, just as art does. This "celebration for those who want to express" was held by Amaplaya Monologues on 14 September 2019 at the Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani in Diliman, Quezon City. The pieces and monologues were in line with the night’s theme of celebrating the life of Filipinos who have loved, whether it be for their country, community, loved ones and self, of honoring lives who fought for love and social justice in past and modern times.
As poetry serves as a medium of expression for an individual filled with thought and ideas, it's not always easy to express what a poet has in mind. Ampalaya Monologues artist Jowi Victorio shares that a piece she performed that night was inspired by her own personal experience of letting inspiration take the wheel of her creative process, "'Yung una kong piyesa ay "Gusto kong Sumulat ng ng Masayang Tula," nagawa ko siya dahil na-trigger ako 'dun sa mga nangyayari sa bansa, though, gusto ko talaga sumulat ng masasayang tula," she says, "napansin kong parati na lang akong galit, parati na lang akong nagrarant. 'Dun nag-come out na, lumabas yung story na gusto ko sumulat ng masayang tula pero hindi ko talaga siya magawa. 'Tas 'dun ko sinalaysay lahat ng naiisip ko doon sa mga nangyayari sa bansa natin." (My first piece tonight is titled "I Want to Write a Happy Poem", I wrote it because I was triggered by what was happening in the country, though, I really did want to write a happy poem. I noticed I was always angry, I was always ranting. That's where it came: the story of wanting to write a happy poem when I couldn't was born. That's when I addressed my thoughts on the events within our country.) Integral to her creative process was understanding the purpose of this piece and others, to ask herself why she was creating her art. For Jowi, she realized the answer as soon as she asked that question: “Para sa bayan.” (For my country)
Raymart Avellaneda, also an Ampalaya Monologues artist, says that his piece, Bantayog Ng Mga Nilimot (The Monument of those Forgotten), was a tribute to the fallen heroes during Philippine dictatorship. “Naniniwala ako na ang entablado ngayon sa pagtatanghal sa tula, ito ang makabagong armas, makabagong sandata para alagaan parin ang Kalayaan,” he adds, “Makakapagmulat ka rin at makakalaban ka para sa bayan at the same time.” (I believe that the performance of poetry is a weapon in protecting freedom. You could open eyes and fight for your country at the same time.)
[related: The First Lady of Philippine Theaters]
The night of metaphors, stories, and finger-snapping also featured artists from other spoken word groups such as Words Anonymous and Collaboratory.PH, who performed pieces in line with the theme: monologues that revolved around the relevance of social issues on social media, Philippine history, and even topics on romantic relationships and local communities of farmers and the LGBTQIA+.
Truly, Spoken Word is a platform that touches hearts and minds with its purpose, passion, and personal messages to share with the public. Like the heroes who have dedicated their life for the good of our country, these poets take courage to communicate the ideas they have in their hearts and minds, they are everyday people who are the heroes of their own stories, just like you and me. For event organizer and Ampalaya Monologues writer Mark Ghosn, Spoken Word is present, and culturally relevant in modern times, just like any form of art. “Hangga't may temang kailangan talakhayin, hanggat may puso at pagibig, hanggat may naghahanap ng entablado o paraan para ihayag ang kanilang saloobin, maninitili and tulang pangtalahan sa Pilipinas.” (As long as there’s a theme to discuss, as long as there are heart and love, as long as there’s a search for a stage or platform to impart one’s thoughts, spoken word will remain in the Philippines.)
Catch Ampalaya Monologues and their upcoming anniversary show “Bitter than B4” at the PETA Theater, Quezon City on 19 October 2019.