TILA ahas na nagmula
sa himpilang kanyang lungga,
ang galamay at palikpik, pawang bakal, tanso, tingga,
ang kaliskis, lapitan mo’t mga bukas na bintana!
(Like a snake from
its claws and fins like metal, bronze and lead
approach its scales and they’re windows!)
Commuters jammed shoulder to shoulder on Light Rail Transit (LRT) trains may at least derive some small pleasure from hearing these verses by renowned Filipino poet Jose Corazon de Jesus during their daily journey.
Other poems by Jose Garcia Villa, Rio Alma, Jose F. Lacaba and many other Filipino poets have been played over the trains’ public announcement system since August 9, when the National Book Development Board (NBDB)‘s Tulaan sa Tren project was launched in partnership with the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and the Optical Media Board (OMB).
Listen to selected poems from Tulaan sa Tren:
- “Ang Tren” by Jose Corazon de Jesus
read by Romnick Sarmenta
(Music: Bahay Kubo/Init sa Magdamag arranged by Gilopez Kabayao)
- “Awit sa Ilog Pateros” by Jose F. Lacaba
read by Matt Evans
(Music: Introduction and Pandanggo, traditional, arranged by Gilopez and Corazon Kabayao)
- “Munting Inday” by Winton Lou Ynion
read by Chin-chin Gutierrez
(Music: Ili-Ili Tulog Anay, traditional, arranged by Robert Delgado; Manila Flute Choir from Bravo Filipino)
- “Dark Road” by Isabelita Orlina Reyes
read by Nikki Gil
(Music: Sa Kabukiran by Manuel Velez, arranged by Gilopez and Corazon Kabayao; Gilopez and Corazon Kabayao from The Folk Songs)
The poems are read by celebrities such as OMB chairperson Edu Manzano, Miriam Quiambao, and Chin-chin Gutierrez. These are also accompanied by music.
Snippets of the poems can also be read inside the trains alongside illustrations by Mikke Gallardo and photographs by Jay Alonzo.
Lacaba’s Awit sa Ilog Pateros, deals not with trains, but a river.
taga-ilog ay hindi natutong lumangoy
sa hiya’y matinis itong aking taghoy
o ilog pateros, agos na marahan
ang paliwanag ko ay iyong pakinggan
(from the river, but i did not learn to swim
from shame, this is my shrill lamentation
o ilog pateros, slow current
listen to my explanation)
Isabelita Orlina Reyes’s Dark Road tackles the trepidation of traversing through a relationship:
I didn’t think I’d want to travel this road.
You asked me a year ago to walk with you
and in answer, I spoke of cruising
the simple path of our friendship.
The celebrities read the poems with verve and vibrancy, while the music provides a pleasing accompaniment. The NBDB hopes that reading and listening to these poems will make riding the LRT “an enriching experience.”
So next time you step on board an LRT train, take a moment to read and listen. Even the the daily grind of a commute can be enlivened by a piece of poetry.