Monday, August 1, 2016



AMBIL: Mga Pagsubok, Pahiwatig & Interbensyon by E. San Juan (CreateSpace/Amazon, 2014)

AMBIL: Mga Pagsubok, pahiwatig & interbensiyon tungo sa 
pagbabagong-buhay ni E. San Juan, Jr.

To effectively disturb and awaken a nation up from the stupor of sheer commercialism and senseless urban growth…to elicit a sense of injustice…to draw from its people who have been drowned under the excesses of global capitalism the sense to take heed, even for a moment, that oppression is upon them…to illustrate the stark and the crude; the sophisticated and the sleek…all converging upon this picture of reality and consciousness of the present…
This is the cauldron of emotions, ideas, poetry, excerpts, frameworks, contexts that burn through the pages of E. San Juan Jr.’s AMBIL. 
The hyper-outgrowth of commercialism and Western imperialism in Manila, for instance, could be the microcosm of the current global economic and cultural structure. The seemingly endless and rapacious business-as-usual alteration of the planet’s ecosystem is evidenced by the now too common weather-driven calamities that devour every bit of survival the impoverished Filipino could hardly clutch on to. 
San Juan seems to take aim at those who are conveniently barred from the debilitating realities of the oppressed simply because one lives within the alienating lifestyle of the privileged. AMBIL arrests its readers’ sensibilities and challenges one to act upon the current status-quo. The voices derived from the realms of San Juan’s deeper thoughts are powerful, but soothing at the same time; recklessly sublime in exacting active intellectual engagement and progressive thoughts. I have a sense that from this beautifully chaotic wave of ideas, with an urgency to provoke, is the drive to sharpen the silhouette of hope that our people, in a nation now gone totally insane, could actually be empowered to rise up from. 
The content of AMBIL is sweeping and wide. For a small bit of sampling, San Juan puts forth issues in technology, in the shadows of whistleblower Edward Snowden; or,  from Yoko Ono’s take on anarchism; or, from playful concoctions of “therefore, I am” in Descartes’ cogito-ergo-sum fashion…expressive valedictions that are just so “Diliman” in De Gustibus Non Disputandum…or, a dive in what I perceive as a diagraming of the dialectic of celestial time, motion and the vector of chance; as if the page was alive, with what looks like an attempted linear illustration of quantum physics…even prancing upon the iconic song of Procol Harum…to scenes of torture brought alive from victims’ voices from the Martial Law days… 
To reference this book closer to my being an educator, what I find most devastating to a society that is already too protracted between the haves and have-nots, is the continuing onslaught of the neoliberal agenda slicing deep into public education, unimpeded and explicit in its focus to control. Slowly, social justice narrative in the context of a meaningful democratic academia is getting farther out of the picture. I find this true for most learning institutions here in the US. High-stakes standardized curricula have become widespread; even finding its way to the Philippine education system. I am fixated in reading AMBIL, in San Juan’s attempt to inspire educators like myself, students and intellectuals alike, not only to dialogue about what is disturbingly wrong with this system; but, to shake us out of our comfort zones of being mere spectators. His voice becomes the hands that feed hungry souls needing to be re-awakened of its revolutionary mindset; capable of shifting this paradigm of oppression and imperial motivations towards a more equitable social framework. 
But, to see these AMBIL excerpts molded in its entirety is to experience a literary project about radicalism…confronting the very nakedness of oppression that the world is now amidst. What is most moving personally, is how these expressions are done lyrically in the vernacular; deep, melodic, crass but colorful in intensity and desire.  It has been years since I experienced the love for the Pilipino language.
From this book, I am rejuvenated and again feel that unmistakable pride of what it is to be a Filipino…having been drenched with words full of energy…full of conviction and passion…
 And so, finally, upon San Juan’s challenge, how worthy indeed would these all be, if not to be acted upon?
Inihagis…itinulak…nadurog sa pagitan ng alikabok at abo…
Nasubukang…nagtatalik…ilipat kahit papano…sa ilalim sa ibabaw…sa likod…sa harap…
Kayo ang testigo…kayo ang nakasaksi…
Ano ang gagawin ninyo? 


ROGER RIGOR: Teacher/UW Ida B. Wells School of Social Justice 

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