Latest Stories

Poetry served as ‘raw fish’ leaves dark, bitter taste


ILLUSTRATION for “Sample Exploratory” poem by Dennis Aguinaldo

From a university haunted by tragic deaths emerges a collection of poems and prose that hopes to rouse a discourse on the often “unspeakable” realities of self-annihilation, dilemma and death.

“It is dark, obscure and with images that seemed without any connection to the poems,” said Emmanuel Dumlao, one of the authors of “Waylaying Innocence.”

Dumlao, 50, and Dennis Aguinaldo, 34, a fellow professor at University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), launched the collection of 40 poems in English and Filipino at UP Rural High School and UPLB on July 17-19.

“Waylaying Innocence” is a collaboration of poetry and visual art put together by the professors and UPLB students Jesa Perl and Paulin Reyes, who rendered the illustrations.

The images include a vulture, empty school chairs and a graveyard—all in plain black or white silhouette. These are meant “for the readers to make the connection by filling in that void, that absence,” Aguinaldo said.


Aguinaldo went further—even darker—as he talked about the body of works that tackled sensitive cases of students’ suicides and the killings of UPLB students that happened no more than two years ago.

“Female About / Photos Map / Do you know / Kristel? To see /what she shares with” were lines from Aguinaldo’s piece: “Add Friend.”

He described it to be more “avant-garde” in form as it juxtaposed words from the Facebook page of Kristel Tejada, the UP Manila freshman who took her own life after she failed to settle her tuition early this year.

Aguinaldo’s other poem, “(SELF) Application Form,” is based on the UP Student Emergency Loan Fund form, while “Article 330” is lifted text from UP Code’s “no late payment policy” and a Department of Health’s advisory against the use of silver cleaners.

“They were served like sushi, a raw fish cut and cured into a prose,” he said.

Dumlao’s, on the other hand, are rich in metaphors. “Mirasol” uses the image of a sunflower turned away from the sunlight to depict depression.

The other poems hint at the deaths of UPLB students Given Grace Cebanico and Ray Bernard Peñaranda and of high school student Rochelle Geronda, who were killed separately in 2011 and 2012.

“In a community we all thought was nonviolent and without class struggle, we were shocked, enraged and even grieved for the lives lost. But how well did we know the persons? How were we responsible for these deaths?” Aguinaldo posed the questions.

Poetry as a ‘waylayer’

The poets, who shouldered the cost of publication, sold all 500 copies for P75 each. They are now considering reprinting another batch.

They said they did not only intend to raise public awareness but also encourage younger poets.

Unlike the usual book launch, they hopped from classrooms to college student organizations to promote poetry and stir discussions on social issues.

“Poetry itself is the ‘waylayer,’” Dumlao said. “It lurks and attacks the reader’s consciousness when least expected. It shatters his innocence and breaks his comfort zone.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Emmanuel Dumlao , language , News , poetry , Regions

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  6. DOJ to NBI: Arrest Cedric Lee, 4 others
  7. Cardinal Tagle to faithful: Join politics to clean it
  8. Estrada, Gigi Reyes denied access to evidence from other respondents
  9. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  10. DOJ orders arrest of Cedric Lee
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  3. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  4. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  5. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’


  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers
  • South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  • Classmates celebrating 60th birthday among missing in ferry sinking
  • Sports

  • Nadal passes clay landmark with 300th victory
  • Wawrinka waltzes through with Monte Carlo walkover
  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Business

  • Total says makes ‘very promising’ oil find off Ivory Coast
  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster
  • PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS
  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • Marketplace