What places inspired your literary pieces?

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Compiled by Raychel Ria C. Agramon and Jenny Lynne G. Aguilar

Like us this sun’s regress
Sliding slowly into the
River’s rim does not have
A history. We begin
The day newly born
And shriven, and end it
Wisened with age and life
Lived blood-red full

Literary goddess Ophelia A. Dimalanta, while on board M.S. Egilika, praised the longest river in the world—Nile—in her poem “Beginnings,” which is featured in her book The Ophelia Dimalanta Reader Volume 1 (UST Publishing House, 2004).

I have waited for the years to melt down
Your overgrown nettles, sweet dew, magic
Flowers stretching to a hundred leagues
On paddies and green mountains.

It was during Jose Wendell Capili’s stay as a Korea Foundation fellow at Seoul National University and Yonsei University in 1995 when he was to write the poem, “Resentment,” inspired by South Korea’s Secret Garden. Built in 1405 when Korea was annexed to Japan, the Secret Garden is actually the rear garden of Changdeokgung Palace. Members of Korean royalty usually studied, performed martial arts, and worshipped their deities in the garden.

Walang pagsidlan ang walang kahulilip kong tuwa
Kaya nang biglang umulan, ako ay napaluha.
Kinagisnan kong pagtawa ay hindi ko magawa
Dahil baka bahaghari sa akin maghinala.

The towns of Aurora, Infanta, and Nakar in Quezon were devastated when typhoon Winnie ravaged hundreds of homes and farms, rendering thousands homeless, injured, orphaned—and dead. The towns, which ended under mud after a landslide in December 2004, became Quezon-born poet Victor Emmanuel Carmelo Nadera Jr.’s inspiration in his poem “Panahon.”

The Wei Ming is a teacher of the soul
Restless in perpetual perturbulence.
Even the Buddha would have envied her.

In his stay in Beijing, China in 1993, UST Graduate School professor Florentino Hornedo crooned over the Wei Ming lake in his poem, “Meditation on the Wei Ming.” The largest manmade lake inside the Peking University, Wei Ming literally means “No Name Lake.”

Ages later, the Beguines
are gone, even as their haven bravely stands,
cradling the same bright Presence. Meantime,
this city now teems with its myriad flesh,
pinks and yellows and auburns, old and new,
desiring and desired, speaking all in tongues.

Despite the infamous Red Light District being in his immediate neighborhood, poet J. Neil Garcia took comfort in writing poems about churches, specifically the Beguinage, which he frequented while in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2004. The Beguinage, the site of a famous Eucharistic miracle in the sixteenth century, is the soul of poem “XXX,” one of 61 in “Poems from Amsterdam: A Cycle,” which was featured in his book Misterios and Other Poems (UP Press, 2005).

Looking back, I realized everything of it
was perfect— your eyes shy at the briefest
touching with mine the way we avoided
this love which was meant to be bigger
than us, following us towards the daylight
blessing the corridors of a beautiful world—
in a way not one of us could ever predict.

Tagged as the most saccharine poem as it is, former Varsitarian Associate Editor Carlomar Daona found the persona of his poem, “Negros Museum, June 13” as a ghostly figure trapped in the cage of his soliloquy.  It is the airlessness and the uncomfortable heat in the Negros Museum that led him to frame the poem in expression of his affection and longing for someone whom at this point was already left in the pedestal of his memory.

Montage Vol. 11 • September 2008