Savage Mind inaugurates Rumdom Talk Series

The only independent bookshop in Naga City has recently inaugurated a new series of talk dedicated to local histories and the importance of memory both in our personal and collective memories. Bridging literature and history, the series is called Rumdom (the Bikol word for memory), and for its first public presentation, Atty. Luis Ruben General was invited to talk about the old streets of Naga last January 10, 2020. The presentation was based from one of his essays entitled, Naga Streets: The Politics of Street Naming which appeared in the anthology Kinunot, Kinalas, Kinamot: A Collection of Essays, which Atty. General co-authored with film critic and anthropologist, Tito Genova Valiente and journalist, now Naga City Councilor Jose Perez. All three writers are members of the Ateneo de Naga Batch 72.

In his presentation, Atty. General showed several vintage and contemporary photos of Naga City particularly the old San Francisco Church and the Metropolitan Cathedral which according to Atty. General has been desacralized by its current restoration project turning it into a “black cathedral”. In a previous article that appeared in this paper, Atty. General wrote about the need to be culturally sensitive specially in terms of our heritage structures including our churches and the streets. Atty. General writes, “Some may not be bothered by these disappearances. They are the usual suspects. Those who really do not care or who take for granted heritage places or structures for not knowing any better, or simply for the reason that they do not share any connection of these places to their own past. They are strangers to the place; hence, do not appreciate the value in conserving it. Understandably, they might not feel any sense of loss if an old building was torn down or a cherished tradition had ceased.”

Students and teachers of history who attended the first Rumdom Series benefited from the many important information Atty. General shared including previous names of the streets in Naga and why there should be at least a monument or a way of remembrance to our local heroes, the brothers Tomas and Ludovico Arejola who are both Nagueños. He also briefly talked about the Heritage Conservation Law which according to the good lawyer should be discussed in history and humanities courses.

For its second presentation, Savage Mind has invited De La Salle University professor and award-winning poet Dinah Roma to lead the conversation for the second Rumdom Series last January 17, 2020. Dr. Roma who has written three collections of poetry namely, A Feast of Origins and Geographies of Light both published by University of Santo Tomas Publishing House and Naming the Ruins published by Vagabond Press in Australia is now preparing for her new book project which was awarded a writing and research grant by the National Book Development Board. Entitled, Weaving Basey: A Poet’s History of Home, the manuscript will be published by the Ateneo de Naga University Press this coming November, 2020.

Her presentation was based on this current project that weaves the memoir and the local histories as a new template for writing our histories. While many would still subscribe to the masters’ narratives, Dr. Roma challenged her audience, composed mostly of young students, to start intimating and interrogating our history that are usually told and written from the perspective of the dominant, the victors, the colonizers. Briefly, she also shared how the massive destruction and the countless loss of human lives left by Typhoon Yolanda that hit her home province has changed the way she locates herself in the history of Basey, her birthplace. She admitted that with such a powerful natural force she was compelled to embark on a new writing project that will require a keen sense of listening and feeling the stories and recollections she can gather in relations to her hometown Basey, something that has always been with her in writing her poems. “But what about when one tries to write history?”, Dr. Roma asks.

With these two conversations led by Atty. General and Prof. Roma, Savage Mind will continue to provide an alternative learning experience for the students and teachers and the public in general. For its third and fourth series, Ateneo de Naga lecturer, Leo Paulo Imperial will lead the conversation on The Camineros of Camarines (1905-1930) on February 21, 2020 at 6:30 in the evening. The fourth series will feature the writer, Abdon Balde, Jr. who will talk about the folktales of the Bikol region and its importance in imagining our communities. The event will be on February 29. These events are open to public. No registration fees.