[Header image, entitled “Kasuy”, is by Ricardo M. de Ungria.]
File by genre file, they pulled into the computer station almost relentlessly. It was like being hemmed in skin to skin inside an MRT coach during the morning rush hour, and the doors are not closing ever. It felt that way, at least at first blush. Sooner than soon, the wonders and pleasures of reading outweighed the number of submissions read. Every new piece was a fresh start. Reading blind does that. No familiar names on the first pages to signal old expectations or apprehensions, or any occasional initial resistances. Poetry, as usual, topped the list for most submissions, followed by fiction, with the essay a far third. A planned feature on young southern writers was later streamed into the general pool.
The topics covered a wide range, and the techniques were as varied as the settings. Many authors turned out to be writing from elsewhere in the world, though at times the works did not reflect their immediate environments. Not that such a connection matters; but we were plainly and thankfully happy to get positive responses from all over this planet and to have new names to reckon with and unwashed imaginations to cheer on. Perhaps this is testament to the fact that at this day and age, to edit an anthology of Filipino writing is to wonderfully come to terms with a multiplicity of identities and a porous sense of place. Many of the pieces reckon with a Philippines that is seen from a distance and in retrospect, but entirely alive in the mind in the way every nomad pitches her tent of the imaginarium near even the most shifting of tides. We are most glad that a good number of the contributions came from writers attuned to their localities across different parts of the country. Wherever they may be, it seems that the Pinoy sensorium remains alive not only to the many kinds of violence—their nearness and imminence—within and around it, but also to the depths of human connections plumbed in spite of and in response to such conditions. Whatever the response may be—serious, ironic, comic—it is mostly delivered with the coolness of a bottle of local beer.
This issue is a kaleidoscope of holograms of Filipino inventiveness with the written word. We had hoped to include more selections, but like perfume and wine vessels with wide rounded bodies and narrow necks and pinched lips, a dab or a sip for the nonce suffices for the savouring, leaving enough emptiness to ache for the next one. The founding co-editors of this journal both think that “the writing is very strong,” and that “writings from the Philippines should be more visible globally!” Such is the flavour and aroma of our cup today.
Our heartfelt thanks to all who submitted, and to Tammy Ho Lai-Ming and Jeff Zroback for this opportunity to offer a toast to Philippine writing today. Cheers! Tagay!