I had not written anything for over a month, and I’m going mad.
The hot summer of 2009 was so cruel a season it didn’t give me a respite, mentally and physically, from the whirlwind of activities that landed on my plate that before I even knew it, the rains have come, rendering me exhausted and drained, but also hopeful.
Writers are humans, too, who need rest. I disappeared; did not answer phone calls; slept; and earned a little money. I am here now, ready to do battle, again, with words as my weapon and shield. There might be some who rejoiced over my absence—those who had been in my regular menu, the nincompoops, the ill-mannered, and the corrupt in government. They must have thought I was dead, so I can’t write about them anymore. Good riddance, they must have muttered.
Well, the bad and good news is that I am alive, still writing, and will write some more. So let’s begin.
Let’s begin with the 1622: Unang Usbor, Romblon’s first and only performing band. The group, whose repertoire is completely in Asi, performed SRO at the CAP auditorium in Lipa City in February and the Romblomanons who have watched and listened, including Rep. Budoy Madrona and Gov. Jojo Beltran, were mesmerized by the audacity and excellence of the Banton band’s members.
So awed were they that after the concert, Gov. Jojo Beltran asked me to bring the band to Odiongan. He was probably thinking I was the band’s manager. I told him it was expensive to mount such a concert, and asked him if he could help. Yes, he said.
A week after, I tried to call him about his desire to see the band perform for the Odionganons, but his phone was dead. I tried again after a time, but he “cannot be reached”. In short, he lied. He must probably be thinking I had forgotten what he said. So, the plan for an Odiongan concert of 1622: Unang Usbor was shelved. Lesson learned: Don’t trust Jojo Beltran in his word. He is a politician, but so unlike his father.
In late March, I left Manila for Sibale for the 6th RDL-CLEAR Writing Workshop on the Three Romblon Languages, which Kusog Sibalenhon and the Concepcion National High School jointly hosted. Twenty-five student writers from all over the province endured the rigors of a three-day workshop under the tutelage of Vim Nadera, Ryan Machado, Ish Fabicon and myself. I will write more about the writeshop later.
Also during the summer, I was occupied with the alumni homecoming activities of my former high school, the Sibale Academy, which this year is celebrating its 45th Foundation Anniversary. The homecoming was a huge success.
Then on April 14, I brought 1622: Unang Usbor to Sibale. It was historic. It was the first time that a live band performed before the Sibalenhons. The audience was ecstatic and stayed glued to their seats throughout the night. 1622: Unang Usbor sang a total of 40 songs in Sibale, five or six of which were my compositions. The band, I noticed, has vastly improved that I thought I need to work in the coming months to bring the band finally to Odiongan—without, of course, the politicians. Anyway, most of them are culture illiterates.
The Sibale concert of Unang Usbor, which I dubbed “Usang Pusa, Kanta ka Rana”, highlighted our tribal unity in the language that we speak, the Asi, which is ancient and rich.
I greatly appreciate Mayor Boyet Cipriano, Vice Mayor Pepe Ferriol, SB Members Rey Feudo, Diosing Atillano, Neil Falculan, Luz Fabunan, Jazz Familaran, and the other members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Sibale for raising money for the concert. I would also like to thank Oriental Mindoro provincial board member Cora Agarap, and his son, Sherwin, for letting me use their sound system for free. Of the private citizens who supported the concert, I must mention Engr. Flos Famarin, Merwin Mosquerra and Engr. Ramon Famarin, all fellow alumni, for their support. I reserve my thanks lastly to my Pare, Mike Faderogao who fed and sheltered the band members.
These are some of the reasons I was absent in this column for a while. I didn’t write, not because I didn’t want to, but because there simply was no means to deliver my pieces to the Romblon Sun from Sibale, where internet connectivity is still new. I didn’t want to blame the absence of modern information technology in my hometown for a blank space. If there were only pigeon carriers in the island, then I would have delivered my weekly columns through this tested mode.
But there are also benefits from not writing for a month. One was that it enabled me to reflect. Another was that it allowed me to bank stories which could be subject of future columns.
And it was also the height of summer, when the heat numbed the mind and rendered the body and your senses lazy, wanting only to stay still and savor the smell of the sun and sea, which is Sibale.
So, how did you spend your summer? Tell me.