Mindanao Literatures got a much needed shot in the arm with the recent launching of 3 anthologies covering over a century of its writings.

TAGBO 3 From Places to Pages: Writing, Publishing, Teaching, and Studying Mindanao Literatures was hosted by the  Department of English Language and Literature, and Xavier University Press at the Xavier Ateneo Little Theater on March 23-24, 2023.

The two-day literary event was highlighted by the launch of  Kalandrakas by Ricardo de Ungria, Coming Home to the Island by Arlene Yandug, and Tinubdan: New Voices from Mindanao.

Kalandrakas Parts I & II: Stories and Storytellers of/on Regions in Mindanao, 1890 – 1990: A Preliminary and Continuing Survey and Literary Mapping compiled and edited by Ricardo de Ungria is published by Ateneo de Manila University Press (2022).

In his keynote address, de Ungria said the compilation was meant to hurry along decoloniality, or the process of shunning or eliminating the vestiges of  colonial ideologies of the superiority, universality, hegemony, and privileges of Western imperial thought, values, and methodologies.

Poet Ricky de Ungria stresses a point during his Keynote Address at TAGBO 3 (RMB).

“This means, in terms of the Philippines and, especially Mindanao,  a restoration of the people’s belief and self-pride in their own names,  languages, wisdom traditions, & literatures and arts; equal opportunity for regional languages to be used and intellectualized in their respective regions as basic means of communication, especially in education and public discourse; encouraging the regions to read, write, and/or rewrite their local histories from their own points of view; motivating the regions to discover their own ways of appreciating, discussing, evaluating, publishing, and teaching their own arts and crafts; and tapping the wisdom of their elders for whatever use they may find for it.”

He posits how Kalandrakas is his idea as a way for the regions to develop their own archives and start publishing books about things distinctive to their culture and the like.

“This is my advocacy. It will be a revaluation of, and taking pride in, things and thoughts local that we have been taught by colonialism to devalue and forget.”

Kalandrakas Book Launch (RMB)

De Ungria is a multi-awarded poet and recipient of fellowships including Fulbright, Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, Bellagio Study & Conference Center, and Washington University; and awards from the Academy of American Poets Prize, the Saint Louis Poetry Annual Contest, Florida State University’s State Street Poetry Contest, Manila Critics’ Circle, Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, CCP Verse-Writing Contest, and the Philippine Free Press.

For his achievements in literature and writing, he has been awarded the Gawad Balagtas by the UMPIL in 1999, and the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan (Literature) by the City of Manila in 2007. He was also UP Artist 1 from 2009 to 2011 and 2012 to the present time and the recipient of seven National Book Awards. He teaches creative writing and literature in the Humanities Department of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences of U.P. Mindanao.

Coming Home To The Island: Poems by Arlene Yandug, PhD recollects experience of the self in connection to place.

Coming Home to the Island – Poems by Arlene J. Yandug PhD

In fifty poems, Yandug weaves strands of past and present, space and time, as she shows how the self is grasped in the larger narrative of Mindanao, her home island. Speculating not just on personal history, but also on the island’s distant past, Yandug magnifies for the reader details that re-present the invisible, remote layers of the self. In this meaning-making process of remembering, the poet is re-contextualizing conversations, interpolating facts, rearranging events, turning them into meaningful pieces that hopefully bring readers to a sense of home.

Yandug teaches literature and writing at Xavier Ateneo. She earned her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines Diliman. A poet writing in English and Cebuano, her poems have appeared in Bisaya Magasin, Mindanao Harvest 4, Under the Storm, Kitaab, Red River Review, Future Lovecraft, The Philippine Free Press, Philippine Graphic, Kinaadman, and Cha: An Asian Literary Journal where her poem about Camiguin won a prize.

Aside from writing, her interests include Mindanao-orientated literatures, translation, the creative process, and mobilities—topics of interests she explored in papers, some of which were presented in international conferences in Manila, Indonesia and Korea.

In 2021, she co-edited Tinubdan, a literary anthology, where she proposes the ‘region’ as a paradigm in viewing emerging voices from Northern Mindanao. She currently serves as the editor-in-chief of the 44 year-old Kinaadman Journal. Her first poetry collection, Coming Home to the Island: Poems, has been awarded a publication grant from the National Book Development Board (NBDB).

Multi-awarded writer and scholar Merlie Alunan says of Yandug’s anthology: “Diachrony, is not an accident of language, Yandug shows us. It is the poet’s choice—we live the past in our living blood. It is the only way to come home to our Islands. Never losing our way, always self-possessed, knowing our sources of comfort and strength—the way we find in our kitchen the cup of comfort, the way a lover whistles a love song “for no—or for all reasons.”

Notes Shane Carreon: “In these poems that are “deeply awake,” Yandug discerns and writes the actual world, seeing and feeling through the vantage of a certain distance, taking us into the island that is our selves, and making us remember the archipelago that is our relation to one another across the waters of time. A most quietly stunning book.”

Carreon is the author of travelbook (2013) andThen, Beast (2017). He received an Academy of American Poets College Prize, Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards Honorable Mention, as well as the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature, and the Nick Joaquin Literary Award.

Tinubdan: New Voices From Northern Mindanao (XU Press 2021), edited by Arlene Yandug, Maria Elena Paulma, and Lilia Cotejar, is a literary anthology featuring emerging and established writers in Northern Mindanao, which comes with a critical survey and groundbreaking perspective in anthology studies in its introduction. The book was funded thru the CHED Center of Development Grant to the literature program of Xavier University.

Tinubdan : New Voices from Northern Mindanao (A Literary Anthology)

Besides the book launches, the participants were also treated to sharings on The Craft of Fiction by

Maria Elena L. Paulma, PhD, author of Southern Stories and Strays (2017, University of the Philippines Press); The Craft of Poetry by Dr. Yandug; The Craft of Non-Fiction by Elio F. Garcia, PhD, XU Press Director, who also taught nonfiction at Johns Hopkins University; and, The Craft of Drama by Hobart Savior, PhD, Founding Artistic Director of The Xavier Stage, and  Former Director, Xavier Center for Culture & the Arts (XCCA).

Roundtable Discussion with (L-R) Ricky de Ungria, Ma. Elena Paulma, Lilia Cotejar, Arlene Yandug & Elio Garcia (RMB).

Other featured topics included Academic Research and Writing as Conversation by Gabriel Jose Gonzalez, SJ, PhD; Vexation in Telesforo Sungkit’s and Gratian Tidor’s Poetry by Carthelyn Adajar, PhD; Teaching 21st Century Literature in Senior High School by April Jade Ramayan, MA; Interlink of Socio-Political and Environmental Justice in Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People by Allen Blessie Tedlos; and, The Joys and Challenges in Producing an Academic Paper by Alessandro Kenz Nioda, among others.

Over 120 guests and participants from 17 universities, schools, LGUs and other institutions coming from as far as Balingasag, Misamis Oriental; Don Carlos and Maramag in Bukidnon; Iligan City, Marawi City, Davao City, and Tacloban City joined the two-day TAGBO 3.

TAGBO 3 was funded by a grant for Xavier Ateneo’s Literature Program by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Center for Development in Literature.

Participants queue up to have their books signed by the authors and editors during TAGBO 3. (RMB)


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