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Musings on the Carcar lecture series

/ 07:05 AM September 29, 2013

The Carcar Lecture Series was concluded with its 7th lecture on September 21 featuring “Jose Galicano’s Flash Fiction” presented by Frances Serenio and  “Fimerda’s Feminism:  Ang Buringog sa Dula nga ‘Ang Kaadlawon ni Ginang Cortijeras’”discussed by Dr. Hope S. Yu.  Serenio shared Galicano’s “Timawa Kinsa Ka?” and “Adlaw sa Minatay” as samples of flash fiction – a story told briefly by the character directly to his audience using metaphors and words that echo the rhythm of the emotions of the person. Serenio asked a male participant to read the excerpt and it generated an animated response from the audience.  The “Adlaw sa Minatay” showed the dramatic significance of the day of the dead (be it Nov. 1 or 2 in the Filipino calendar) as the narrator zoomed in on the visit to the graves of loved ones but the most meaningful significance of the day of the dead was his internal issue.

Flash fiction seems to attract the young to appreciate literary writing and to encourage the young to write.   I am more familiar with Galicano as a dramatist more than a poet.  His play “Loling Bihag” was restaged in a zarzuela format when I was in high school in my calle in Luanluan.  His widow who used to play the lead role when he was still alive was still alive when the play was re-staged.  I remember how she would give her directions during rehearsals on how Loling should act the role.  Galicano came from a prominent family.  He was also a good translator.

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In fact, his famous Cebuano translation of Rizal’s “Mi Ultimo Adios” used to be interpreted orally during the December 30 celebration in the 1960s.  His only brother  General Troadio  Galicano was a revolutionary, one of the able generals of General Arcadio Maxilom in the anti-Spanish and anti-American resistance, and later became a senator.  His grandchildren are known visual artists one of whom is the famous Romulo Galicano.

The lecture series concluded with a most fitting discussion by Dr. Hope S. Yu on Fimerda’s (pen name of Filemon Mercado Dayanan) Feminism: Ang Buringog sa Dula nga “Ang Kaadlawon ni Mrs. Cortijeras.” The play has an all-female cast (ten all in all) centering on Angelina (Mrs. Cortijeras), a dressmaker who teaches other women to sew.  She and her sister, Teresa are both strong-willed women who assert their  autonomy. Another interesting character is Lydia who is so fascinated with the English language that she speaks it often.  The life of the play is Simplicia, the clumsy helper and the buringog who criticizes Lydia for her being an English-phile and defends the beauty and strength of the Spanish language.

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Yu presents the buringog’s performance comes about as an indirect result of her disregard for objects and displays of wealth.  From Simplicia’s earlier monologue where she ponders her predicaments then resorts to hiding herself and then showing up for the confrontation,  the buringog’s first step is to question the value of the objects,  The first aspect of property that the buringog satirizes is surface appearance.  Simplicia’s specific address to Lydia constitutes one last feature of feminist interest.  In the play, it was not unusual for the buringog to acknowledge the public by addressing them.  Simplicia addresses the audience in her monologues.

For Yu, the message in the play warns the audience to the fact “that language indeed constitutes us or that we are constituted by language.”  She further asserts that there evidently exists a feminist discourse in “Ang Kaadlawan ni Gng. Cortijeras” for it  effectively criticizes some rarely-questioned conventions of female identity and behavior.  It also acknowledges and invokes the sense of community among the characters as well as the play’s female audience.

The Carcar Lecture Series (there were seven but I was able to attend six) was equivalent to a one-semester course on Cebuano Literature or Cebuano Writers.  The various literary forms were represented – short story, poetry, fiction, essay, drama, novel and translations of popular works by the national writers.  In general, the writers studied were all highly educated, some used to be teachers and supervisors, others served as public officials( mayor, councilors, judges) in Carcar and neighboring towns.  All of them contributed to the popular dailies, Ang Suga, Bag-ong Kusog, Bisaya, some served as editors, columnists, commentators.

Many of them engaged in translation, also composed music.  On a personal note, I felt more proud about my Carcar literary heritage especially when I know some them – relatives of my paternal grandparents, they were my childhood neighbors, their grandchildren were my classmates and friends, some were my former students.  I thank and congratulate the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos headed by Dr. Sabanpan-Yu and the teachers of the Literature Department of USC for the time and effort despite their busy teaching schedule for bringing alive the literary heritage of Carcar.  This is indeed a pioneering work and I hope that the City of Carcar officials will take note of this initiative and most of all, Carcaranons whether they are here or abroad, the fourteen Carcaron writers and their works await your attention!

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