June 23, 2007 · Posted in: Podcasts

For the one who left: A Cebuano poem

SUGBUANON or Cebuano literature encompasses the “oral and written literature of speakers of Cebuano, the mother tongue of a quarter of the country’s population who live in Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Negros Oriental, and parts of Leyte and Mindanao.”

Cebuanos boast of a rich oral tradition, with written accounts dating back as early as 1600s. But it is not until the latter part of the 19th century when verses were given birth through writing and written literature became prevalent.

Today, Cebuano literature is alive and well, with regular writing workshops sponsored by groups like Lubas sa Dagang Bisaya (Ludabi), Bathalan-ong Halad sa Dagang (Bathalad), and the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos in Cebu. These writers’ groups make sure that the Sugbuanon tradition thrives well into the 21st century.

Haidee Palapar is a product of such writing workshops. A member of the Women in Literary Arts Inc. (WILA) and Bathalad, she teaches Literature, Humanities, and writing courses at the University of San Carlos.

In this balak or poem, Palapar writes about longing for the “one who left.” The writer expresses a gamut of emotions, while starting out hopeful, turns wistful and ends up critical, but always, always poignant.

Listen to the Sugbuanon balak.
Length: 00:02:24
File size: 1.2 MB
Language: Sugbuanon

Read the poem and its translation below.

Read by Didin Docoy, poetry enthusiast and post-graduate student at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, this is the third of the poetry series, a multimedia supplement to PCIJ’s Literature and Literacy issue.

Alang sa Ninglangyaw,
Gikan sa Naghuwat

by Hi-D Palapar

Samtang ako gapabuhagay
niining tinta
sa mahamis nga papel
dinhi sulod sa akong pahuwayan

ikaw gapugos pagbuklad
sa maitom ug gunsongong
yuta nga ang kasing-kasing

Ang agi niining dagang
nga ang banikang
gasawo sa imong singot
sa imong mga damgo
alang kanato
og kaugmaon diin
imong mga palad
nga wala naanad sa kahago
nagusbat karon sa kobal ug samad
mopuyo unya dinhi
sa akong kamot
nga gapaabot.

Ug sa akong pagtukaw
dili mohunong
kining mga pulong
og pagguna
sa kasabutan:

nganong dili
sa imong nasud
ang imong garbo?

For the one who left,
From the one left behind

by Hi-D Palapar

While my pen
on this smooth paper
here inside my room

you are breaking open
the dark and coarse
earth whose heart
is a desert.

The course of my pen
is a prayer
that the land
that caught your sweat
is welcoming
of your dreams
for us
will yield
a future where
your palms
not used to hard labor
now marred by calluses and wounds
might someday rest
in my waiting

And during my wake
these words
refuse to stop
my understanding

why can’t you
your pride
in your country?

Comment Form