Young poets compose to court voters | Inquirer News

Young poets compose to court voters

09:51 PM February 13, 2013

STREET POETRY A member of K.M. 64 posts poems about the State of the Nation Address and Labor Day. For the May elections, the poetry collective is coming out with fresh verses in support of senatorial candidate Teddy Casiño. PHOTO COURTESY OF K.M. 64

These young poets have their own way of rooting for their candidate.

Calling themselves “Poets for Teddy Casiño,” members of Kilometer (K.M.) 64 are using poetry as an alternative campaign gimmick to persuade the public to vote for Teddy Casiño, the lone senatorial candidate fielded by the left-leaning Makabayan coalition in the 2013 midterm elections.


“It’s just a small effort to help his (Casiño’s) campaign,” said Rustum Gil Casia, 33, a founding member of K.M. 64.


K.M. 64 is a poetry collective known for being critical on such national issues as oil price and wage increases, and agrarian reform. It has 20 members from Manila and Southern Tagalog.

Casia said “Poets for Teddy Casiño” started with a verse written by former political detainee Axel Pinpin about making a distinction between trapos (traditional politicians) and the “new ones.” Others started pitching short poems that talked about Casiño and his platform, he added.

Poetry is usually “used to woo women,” Pinpin said. “It’s the same banana to woo the voters, although ours are more than that.”

“Our poems for Teddy try to expose the trapos (traditional politicians) and make the voters realize that they need new and genuine legislators,” he said.

Daunting task

The poems were posted on K.M. 64’s Facebook account, marked with a picture of a pencil and stuffed teddy bear wearing a shirt that read: “Teddy cares.”


“But since we are now allowed (the campaign period for national candidates started on Tuesday), we will start posting copies of them on public places, electric posts and jeepneys,” Casia said.

K.M. 64 also planned to translate some of the poems, all written in Filipino, into other languages in the vernacular to reach a bigger audience.

Casia acknowledged that it would be a daunting task to match the television ads and campaign posters of other candidates since Casiño preferred to run outside the political parties backed by rich donors.

Close to people

“This is the kind of politics that we want to push—the supporters themselves taking the initiative to campaign for a candidate,” he said.

Casiño, who will be proclaimed in Calamba City on Feb. 15, has no idea yet of the poetry campaign, Casia said. “I, for one, am spending P55 a day just to access the Internet. But I won’t mind as long as it’s for Teddy,” he said.

Some of the poets pledged to publicly recite their works. For instance, poet-activist Rogene Gonzales, 24, planned to perform “Sino si Teddy Casiño, tanong mo?” on Valentine’s Day during the annual fair of the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

“It’s a challenge to use verses as a means of persuading voters out of traditional politics,” Gonzales said.

Casia said other members of K.M. 64 in Manila, Tarlac and Quezon would also be encouraged to write poems for Casiño. The group’s newest member is cultural worker Ericson Acosta, who has just been released from prison after being charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

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More than pledging poems as campaign materials, we also want to help in voters’ education and bring poetry closer to the people,” Casia said.

TAGS: Axel Pinpin, poems, poetry, poets, Teddy Casiño

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