Saturday, June 2, 2018


Eileen Tabios on Sasha Pimentel

Bianca Elorde Nagac on Nick Joaquin

Omehra Sigane on Leny M. Strobel

Bianca Elorde Nagac on F.H. Batacan

Aloysiusi Polintan on Joel M. Toledo

Malou Alorro on Eileen R. Tabios

Korina Chriestiene Reyes, Hubert Victorino, Frances Anne Guevarra, Nancy Jane Victorino and Bianca Elorde Nagac on Bards From The Far East: Anthology of Haiku and Related Forms with primary authors Carolyn Gutierrez-Abanggan, Danny Gallardo, Felix Fojas, Aine M. Losauro, Jose Rizal M. Reyes


Eileen Tabios on Sasha Pimentel

I love Sasha Pimentel's second book, For Want of Water, for many reasons (it is a significant advance from her first book, Insides She Swallowed, which I've also read; what a pleasure to follow such an evolution--especially her expansion into the breadth of language), but I focus here on the power that can  happen when the poet reaches beyond the personal self to speak on behalf of a larger universe.  That universe in this book relates to the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. While the persona copes with loving an addict, the murders across the border also demand attention as well as evoke the poet's birth land, the Philippines. But of course the poems are effective because they retain the minutia of the personal -- of everyday living.  The book's Table of Contents is useful for noting to what the poet turns her attention. Water, metaphorically and not, washes across individual lives to span their contexts and Sasha is deft, smart, empathetic and moving for paying attention.


Bianca Elorde Nagac on Nick Joaquin

Ang Larawan by Nick Joaquin (Anvil Publishing) is the first book I finished this year. It's one of the most profound books I've ever read despite it being written in a stage play format (I often find this format boring). You'll love how each character portrays the conflicts within themselves and how it affects the values of people around them. You'll also appreciate how the characters redeem themselves after their fallbacks. While some appear villainous, it is their own turning points that will make you realize reflections you need in life. Above all, this book is special to me because I always dream of being in a musical play.


Omehra Sigane on Leny M. Strobel

I met her 20 years ago... and It was two years ago that I had the honor of helping her release the 2nd edition of the astounding Coming Full Circle book, truly the book that healed a thousand identities, and more. 
Originally conceptualized with an Eastern classic brush stroke rendered white on black, red on white... Leny selected a cover concept with the Philippine indigenous weaving—oh so apropos.

She's not just the author of the books I design through ritual and meditation, she's one of my dearest friends. One whose work has affected me greatly and gave cause to the expansion of my creativity—out of healing, out of love—in works that go beyond paper and canvas.

Through our collaborations of book designs, online discussion groups, conferences, the non-profit CFBS, symposiums and retreats—I've experienced decolonization as becoming whole but above all, as an act of Love. The pagbabalikloob process of returning to the truth and beautiful essence of who we are at the deepest core is a necessity in this time, on this Earth.

Leny, the only way I know to honor our friendship is with more Love in more action.


Bianca Elorde Nagac on F.H. Batacan

Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan (SoHo Press) is more gruesome than any of Sherlock Holmes' adventures! This is a book for those with strong guts - literally. The mystery in this book opened my eyes to the reasons behind the cruelty of murderers. We often defy them but we never ask them why they have done such things. We often choose to help the oppressed but never give an opportunity to the oppressors to be understood. We are more reactive and less proactive. It is unfortunate that many people have to face death before change can happen. It is such a dismal thought that the changes we often get offer us minimal effect for our society's progress. I've never cared about the government  because I'd like to live a happy life. But that doesn't mean I care less for our society.


Aloysiusi Polintan on Joel M. Toledo

I'm really mesmerized by Joel Toledo's poetry. He has a distinct voice in his verses. This poet has the ability to capture the unhappiness of humankind through a lens pointed at a caterpillar struggling for its growth and blossoming. He fused simple language with astonishing thoughts. The line breaks are meant to make us pause and go on with our life filled with caesuras and tensions. There is always a questioning of the self, an admonition soft in tone yet striking when allowed to resonate. His poems possess what needs to be done: rhythm, restraint, rhetoric and resonance. I am here rooting for more of the sophistication of his craft.

After reading some of his poems available online such as "Attachments", "Prayer", "The Cave" and "Atonement", I was inspired (fingers crossed) to scribble my own poem. But I believe that as I work my own way through this "path of the heart", I have a lot of things to reflect on and lots of poetry to read, write and rewrite.


The day of consistent radiance stays
the same, trajectory of heat goes
from the sky to the skin, leaves of some
elegiac vividness rendered of

light and immensity. Electric
posts form a labyrinth: nirvana
that is unreachable. That cannot
be pursued by a worm's eyeview. That

can only be grasped by sagged palms and
bleached mustache, tasted by a stiff and
dead tongue. That is not the question, dear
Dionysus, you just let it go.

Hearing it from the grapevine, the end
must be near, despite the immortal
monarchy of the sun. Twigs will crack,
the pond will freeze like a station. An

avenue: drunk lovers, ecstatic
sages will allow circulations
to cease. A platform where binaries
will find equal footing with every

irregularity, temperature
and affection. Of fertility
and the fact of life and living. Lord
Tennyson, having written two poems

of thematic opposition is
a transgression. Come the swift future,
a bullet will produce an offspring,
shooting each other until the most

blood-resistant one remains and reigns.
The thing will no longer need Chekhov's
gun, to prove that equalities go
beyond reach. The world only requires

outcomes, be they reciprocations,
mists, pinballs and they suffice for a
communal desire. Poetry, shall
we succumb to death before dying?

24 March 2018


Malou Alorro on Eileen R. Tabios

May 26, 2018
Dear Ms. Eileen,

I have your books and now, I know the meaning of treasure. In a week, I read nine of the slimmer ones in my free time when I’m off from work.  Something made a lot of sense.  I wish time is more than 24 hours.  I have shut off TV but I go back to prepare dinners.

I read your “I forgot” series.  Perhaps, I am not avant garde enough, or grounded; perhaps, I am tribal, parochial, the frog in the well, in-the-box because I find your poetics a long-distance runner.  A tri-athlete.

I started off embarrassed when I read them because of the vast international scope you cover: in language, in imagery, in metaphors, your commas, periods, spaces and the absence of utterance.  I realize I am such a neophyte with birthing poems in these islands.  Your poems, as you wrote:  “I forgot that gemstones can gasp.”

I tiptoe through your pages and revel at the footprints you leave behind for me to tread.  When I read some lines over and over again in other pages, I cannot stop.  I am travelling in a bus with no brakes. Deep inside, I realize there is a world out there.  And I am not yet a part of it.  

But in the MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION book you have a dialogue with Thomas Fink. I feel so much consolation.  For you do not fly but are of this earth.  When you said something about subjectivism, I agree.  What a relief—to feel the grip of your hand as author.  For I am a reader and many of your words do not make sense to me, yet.  I know in time when I read them again, I will have a particular sensibility.  But for now, I share with you as student and reader, what touched me most:

“I forgot there are no metaphors for genocide.”

And the only Cebuano translation I can muster is another pain:

Nakalimot ko nga walay pasumbingay kining pátay.

I am grateful for (: “I forgot flamenco red”, Spain, the toilet and the wine…  [in I FORGOT LIGHT BURNS]. 

More so, “The erotic life of art: A séance with William Carlos Williams” [in The Awakening]… Hilarious and I believe you.

So, while I am touching your books, smelling them, hugging them—they are like beads in a single strand—I scan the pages, speed-read a few so I get to know Eileen T.  Indeed, you are a genius.  Thank you for this transparency. 

Truly yours,

Malou Alorro
Cebu, Philippines


Korina Christiene “KC” Reyes,  Hubert Victorino, Frances Anne Guevarra, Nancy Jane Victorino and Bianca Elorde Nagac on Bards From the Far East with primary authors Carolyn Gutierrez-Abanggan, Danny Gallardo, Felix Fojas, Aine M. Losauro, and Jose Rizal M. Reyes

"A heady brew. More than 20 poets put in various ingredients to a boiling pot. I'm drunk with poetry! It's incredible how a three-line poetry form can discuss myriad topics, including some of the biggest themes that ever fascinated the human race."

Korina Christiene “KC” Reyes
Commercial Model/ Entrepreneur


“The book is a great literary piece. It has immersive feel that will keep you on reading, may you be a serious or a casual reader. I’m not much of a critic but I’m pretty sure that the content can be defined as great poetry. It shows some wise and very witty perspectives towards certain things in life. And as a bonus, it helps me gain new knowledge about poetry, specifically haiku. The authors explain Haiku in a way that is full of clarity. They show brilliant points and opinions that will give epiphanies about your own beliefs. Overall, the book is great because it shows brevity towards its ideas. I look forward to reading more books from these authors in the future.”

Hubert Victorino
Student, Zambales National High School

I wrote poems, stories, and essays when I was in high school. Most young writers now treat writing as a casual form of entertainment; not as an art.  When I read Bards from the Far East, my desire to write was once again ignited. The book is exciting, enticing and catchy for us Millennials. The cover itself also caught my attention. It is trendy because people nowadays are inclined into art, calligraphy and watercolor painting. I congratulate the authors of the book. Bards from the Far East is indeed a must-read and highly recommended book.

Frances Anne Guevarra
Videographer and student, Mass Communications at Systems Plus College Foundation Inc.


Bards from the Far East is a compilation of wonderfully crafted words by different poets and authors. The book is unique and has a sense of unity at the same time. Even the shortest lines give you a sense of completeness. It feels as if you are reading an entire story. The authors brought their souls into writing which are reflected in every word written. It is an orchestra of poets -- each one with a distinctive voice, pitch and tone.

Nancy Jane Victorino
Guidance Counselor, Polytechnic College of Botolan


I am quite frustrated with the kind of poetry our generation has. Most that I read are slovenly written and lost our own profundity. To add, I am quite disappointed that I always hear about "hugot" poetries. Not that I am bitter, but I am sure we could do more than that. In this collection of haikus and kindred verses, I never thought that my soul could travel to places I have never been through words. There is so much to tell about this book and I do not know where to begin. Perhaps future readers could better understand the phenomenon I am going through-before, during and after reading this book, once their eyes meet these poetries. I am so delighted how it liberated all my senses and took on a different view on many things. It is amazing how each poet has turned ordinary to extraordinaire. And no, this is not a compliment for the poets but honest words for them.

Bianca Elorde Nagac
Blogger/ Website Developer

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