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Takatak is the NewBikol Fiction

There is a new writer in town. He writes about a Sunday he has always anticipated. He is with his beloved: Saro sana an gusto mo – sya. Mayo nang iba. Sa ngunyan, an oras, panahon, pati, an bilog na uniberso, yaon lang saiya. Siya an pinakamagayon na hinaman kan satuyang kagurangnan, sabi mo pa ngani sa sadiri mo. Alpa Umiga na ining baralgágan…

Let the writer continue: Ngunyan, nagtaid na kamong duwa. Kinapotan mo sa abága. Dai naghirô. Dángan hinigda mo sya.

Stop there and jump to what happens next: Alagad an problema, sa kakalitong nindo, naligidan nindo an sarong harong nin hantik. Luminakop an mga lintian pasiring sa saindong mga hawak. Nagkuragrit si ilusyon mo, nagduru-dalagán. Kinagat sa yukyók, daghan, sa lubot…Asin ika? Ay, ta. Nagkakapirang “Bur-y ni ina nya” an saimong piglitanya…Kinaragat ka sa liog, tabay…Malas mo ta naka shorts ka, pati bunay-búnay mong nangistom na, dai pinaligtas kan mga hantik…

How does the love story end? The writer narrates: Pwerte an sindong pangarot. An pamagpag. Mantang si dara nindong radio nakatútok sa istasyong syete-onse, DWRN, na an tinutugtog na kansyon, “Love Hurts.”

The storyteller is Osmond Despacio and the short, short fiction is, Love Hurts. Despacio is also the first First Prize Winner of the first Takatak competition, the Bikol version of flash fiction.

There are more stories in this collection called Takatak. Mga Haraliputonon na Usipon. The vibrancy, originality, and wonderment in the stories must have made the task of jurors difficult and exciting.

Or try the Second-Prize winner in the person of Anthony Diaz of San Marcos, Camaligan. In his account, Kinse Martires, Kuwatro Kantos, the fifteen martyrs, from where they are, converse with each other over a bottle of Ginebra. They quote from George Bernard Shaw and notice the architectural changes in the church of San Francisco. They almost run out of drink until Tomas Prieto notices a convenience store nearby.

The storytelling in the collection is naturally daring that boundaries between the supernatural and the natural are taken for granted. In Warang Masakayan, the problem of transportation is solved by women who fly and men who are mga lalaking nakahubà na an mga payó ay sa kabayò. The storyteller is Ares M. Medalla from Pilar, Sorsogon. His short fiction wins Third Prize.

There is also the story called Kalayo by Mark Rey Ortega Aguila, about a priest who conspires with his Sacristan to perform miracles that would benefit the church. As the Mass takes place during Sundays, the same day devoted to cockfighting, the priest notices how the limos or donation to the church gets affected by the fact that the men who are attending the church also have obligations to bet in the cockpit arena. What the priest does is one for the bible: he summons all the “forces” around him so he could shower the faithful with rains of fire. Read the piece and marvel at how art can subvert a duplicitous religion.

The collection can be described as festive, free and open. One does not sense any gatekeeping (two pieces are not for the weak of stomach!).

No themes are propped up; no language is ever made dominant over other languages. To the scholar of Bikol literature, the collection is nothing short of a liberation and a quick revolution. Orthographies are set aside, or are questioned by not being followed. Anything that can be printed is printed.

Indeed, who sets the orthography for Bikol, the CamSur scholar? What about the old traditions in other places, in island provinces, for example whose geographical isolations engender their own singularities?

In the same way, the collection eschews any critical parameter. The critic after all do not dictate what the direction of a literature shall follow. The path happens and we, critics and observers, document the journeys or directions.

Literary canons are never created by critics; canons and standards are developed as the writings continue and grow. It follows of course that writers themselves deny, ignore or negate any label created and imposed on them and their writings.

According to Kristian Sendon Cordero, who shares the editorship, with New York-based Luis Cabalquinto, there were some 500 entries, trimmed down sadly to a hundred. From what appears to be a long short list, 15 were posted online. These were judged by a jury composed of Cabalquinto, who is also the main patron of Takatak; filmmaker/animator, visual artist Rox Lee; physician-novelist Dr Mary Jane Guazon-Uy; filmmaker Maje Papin; and, broadcast journalist Mylce Milla.

As with all fiestas, stellar presences ( call it gravitas) are provided by writers of national and international renown like Abdon Balde, Jr., Frank Peñones, Kristian Sendon Cordero, Luis Cabalquinto, Mary Jane Guazon-Uy, RoxLee, and Luis Cabalquinto. They submitted their own Takatak and rawit-dawit. Their writings, in a way, validate the contribution of this collection that is expected to be a moralist’s nightmare or a bonfire of ingenuity setting aflame an already combustible stack of creative, subversive energies

Takatak. Mga Haraliputonon na Usipon is a project of Savage Mind Bookshop and VC Igarta Foundation. The book is available in Savage Mind Publishing House, 5 Kalye Peninsula, Abenida Mayon, Tinago, Syudad kan Naga.


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