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Savage Mind, Tugawe Cove Café, and the Cordero Touch

By Carlos Ojeda Aureus

When the French painter Degas complained to Mallarmé of his inability to write poems even though his head was full of ideas, “My dear Edgar,” Mallarmé replied, “a poem is not made with ideas but with words.”

In their craft and sullen art, the business of the artist is not to beautify matter but to materialize the Idea of Beauty. The poets do it with the only tool available at their disposal. They do it with words.

For Beauty which always seeks to incarnate needs a specific tool (words for the poet) and a central space (a building, a temple) in order to focus its descent lest the energy diffuses like seed scattered indiscriminately to fall on barren soil.

Beauty needs a space where artists can get together and sharpen the tools of their craft. It demands as essential a center of magnetic radiation, a vehicle, into which it can descend and emit its fragrance onto the community.

The importance of this need can hardly be overemphasized. Beauty is not a luxury but a necessity. The beautiful is experienced through its manifestations. It works itself out through persons, places, and objects in the natural world. This phenomenon is one of the unique features of the sacramental experience of the Catholic Imagination. Buildings, statues, blessed candles, rosaries, miraculous medals, scapulars are examples of the sacramental experience. A sacrament is an outward sign that gives grace.

We need such a place, a cultural storehouse to preserve the cultural richness of our region. We need a venue for artists and kindred spirits who delight in meeting authors, new friends, a special building which serves as a reservoir of art set apart only for its use and intended to draw upon to benefit not only the visitors but also the entire community.

There is such a place. It is situated right in the heart of the heart of Bicol. Savage Mind Bookstore with its upper floor the Tugawe Cove Café has become a focal point, a source of enrichment, and a common ground where kindred spirits have been converging in a bond of friendship and passion for the arts for some time now.

The person behind this enterprise is Kristian Sendon Cordero, poet, filmmaker, translator. He has just created a divine space for book-lovers and artists alike, in a specific area in Naga City, a vehicle that has fused the Idea of Beauty with the physical, revealed in a sensuous incarnation.

Not since Chaucer have I been impressed by a person like Cordero. Apart from taking most of the weight of the Bicol Literary Renaissance Movement to rest on his shoulders, he, like Chaucer, wears many hats without compromising the quality of his poetry! If he is not busy on lecture tours here and abroad, he is busy receiving major awards, also here and abroad. There is no need to enumerate his laurels. Perhaps the better question is “what else has he not won?”

But here’s what I find outstanding about him which sets him apart head and shoulders from many artists:

Instead of confronting questionable situations head-on, he builds new structures. Nor does he struggle to change problematic models. Instead, he creates a new model and sets it on a higher ground, eventually making dissenting voices superfluous.

SAVAGE MIND OPENS THE YEAR WITH FRIDAY RAWITDAWIT Naga's creative heart, Savage Mind Bookshop is set to begin the year with a new regular feature, FRIDAY RAWITDAWIT, is a poetry reading/listening event scheduled every First Friday of the Month. Like the devotion to the Sacred Heart, the first Friday poetry event aims to encourage everyone's devotion to poetry. For January 2022, the featured poet is Luis Cabalquinto, an award-winning poet from Magarao.

Savage Mind is the example. Here you can find the peace and comfort of its books and its music, and here you will find respite from a world that is so messed up. If aesthetics is indeed the mother of ethics, perhaps I might safely predict that from here will emerge the new voices, the better players, that will fulfill the Dostoevskian assurance that beauty will save the world.

This is the heritage that Savage Mind is promising to bequeath. I am excited about it, and I am quite certain that its founder has created a haven that humanity will need when the forces of materialism and greed would be too strong in the outside world. You can always visit this “clean, well-lighted place” from where you leave refreshed and to where you return for renewed inspiration.

I buttress this conviction by returning to Saul Bellow’s Nobel Prize lecture: “The intelligent public is waiting to hear from Art what it does not hear from Theology, Philosophy, Social Theory, and what it cannot hear from pure science: a broader, fuller, more coherent, more comprehensive account of what we human beings are, who we are, and what this life is for.”

Savage Mind is ready and it will deliver, as it has been delivering for some time now. Like Beauty, which is its own excuse for being, it assures us a divine space which carries a 100% customer satisfaction guaranteed, for it has the Cordero touch, a touch of class.


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