Remarks on Mayamor’s collection of 50 poems/binalaybay

Translated by Kerima Tariman (2020). Expanded.

By TOMAS TALLEDO

Bulatlat.com

Let me just focus my comments on the 2 Parts of the collection: the first part, Tumandok/Katutubo and the second part, Inaway Banwa/Digmaang Bayan as these parts are keys in comprehending Mayamor’s life as he located it within the Revolution. The third part are mostly memorial poems he wrote for fellow revolutionaries who laid down their lives early on.

I am familiar with Mayamor’s poetry because he constantly submits in our students’ poetry journal (UPV-CAS) — BUSAY for years that I served as faculty adviser. Some of his poems were published in BUSAY first time he claimed. Myself wrote a teasing riposte of poem titled, Mayamor in Bulatlat online (11 June 2012).

Cover of Mayamor (Felix Salditos) collection of poems translated by Kerima Lorena TarimanThe central image of 1st Part revolves around the land, the flora and fauna associated with it and the celestial cosmology wrapping around Nature. Mayamor is more steeped on these themes compared with, say, Servando Magbanua/Jose Percival Estocada, Jr., another revolutionary poet who was assassinated during the precedency of Cory Aquino. Mayamor had successfully entered into the worldview of the Tumandok and wrote his poems therein after staying longer and had covered wider areas in performance of his revolutionary tasks.

Mayamor’s poems understand Tumandok identity as marker that distinguishes them from lowland poor peasants pushed upland. In writing about Tumandok’s ecological niche, organization of production and their revolutionary organization including genealogical stories, the poet was defining them as indigenous people.

Read:  Felix Salditos (1958-2018), the poet Mayamor Daniel of Panay Island

Alchemical transformation of what’s enchanted into revolutionary energies was achieved by the first part of the collection.

In the second part, in Inaway Banwa/Digmaang Bayan, Mayamor directly plunged into forces at war: the Tumandok revolutionary army, its friends and allies and the target enemy of State armed forces. One can read in the poems those positions taken in a classic guerrilla war. It can be recalled that Mao Zedong in 1938 produced a series of speeches later textualized as “On Protracted War” where he called effective means for small revolutionary groups to fight the power of the State. The spirit in the poems was animated by Mao’s words yet enriched by recognition of local specificities.

The revolutionary army blends with the natural elements like flora and fauna, it shifts temporal aims conscious of the seasons, moving fluidly outside mechanical clock-time in whatever geographical terrain. And like heroes of Tumandok epic, Nature is a reliable ally in Inaway Banwa/Digmaang Bayan.

I recall fight scenes in the Balanakon epic (Balanakon: Sugidanon (Epics) of Panay Book 7, UP Press 2017). In the clash, heroes harnessed their respective spirit guide and forces of Nature they controlled (insects, weather, waxing-and-waning of night-and-day) against each other. This time though the revolutionary Tumandok have the advantage by their superior knowledge of the locale. They occupy the ascendant position. Meanwhile, the forces of the State are strangers, are the trying hard copycats Pangayaw.

Lest I be charged with embellishments, I confess my cautious reading without romanticising, nor weaving a new mythic narrative of war in Panay island. The war now is too starking, too real, too brutal that it ended the life of Mayamor. Yet, the armed forces of the State are not invulnerable, finally they can be defeated. The epic dimension of the current war can emerge at the victory of People’s Protracted War, the war that Mayamor offered his life. (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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