GenSan poet bags 'Makata' award on Balagtas' 231st birthday

ORION, Bataan -- A 28-year-old poet from southern Mindanao was conferred the "Makata ng Taon 2019" award by the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF) during the commemoration here of the 231st birth anniversary of the prince of Filipino poets, Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar on Tuesday.

MJ Tumamac of General Santos City bagged the award for his poem, “Mga Mungkahi ng Pagdanas ng Dahas sa Maitum”, that tackled poverty, injustice, tribal war, and killings in the countryside, among some social issues. Maitum is a municipality of Sarangani province.

Tumamac's winning piece has the sub-titles “Mag-abang ng Bangkay sa Baybay”; “Kalimutan ang kasaysayan”; “Magbuntis ng mga Butil”; “Lumanghap ng Alingasaw”; ”Payuhan ang Sipit at Sampayan”; “Mangwasak ng mga Mukha”; "Manunumpa sa Sumpa”; “Lumikha ng Tula at Bata”; “Magpalit ng Dila”, and “Magpahaloghog ng Loob”.
Tumamac, who was the second prize winner of the same competition in 2017, has already published four books and served as editor and translator of books for children.

Fr. Arnel Vitor of the Transfiguracion of Christ parish in Antipolo City, ranked second for his poem “May Nakakatawa ba Sakaling May Mamatay: At Iba pang Tula sa Panahong Eksayting ang Pagkakahimlay".

A native of Angono, Rizal, he has published a book and was a recipient of the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for his novels and Gawad Collantes for poems.

Richard Gappi, on the other hand, was third-placer for his “Dulok: Gunita ng Tubig”. Dulok is a Waray word for storm surge.

Gappi is presently editor of News Online of Angono, Rizal. He was twice Fellow for Poems of the UP National Writers Workshop and a Fellow for Poems at the De La Salle National Writers Workshop. He formed the Neo-Angono Artists Collective and Angono 3/7 Poetry Society.

Meanwhile, singer and composer Rey Valera and playwright Rody Vera were recipients of "Dangal ni Balagtas" awards.

Valera was cited for his contribution to the enrichment of the arts in the field of music and Vera, for teaching the youth on stage play and theater arts.

Valera sang a few songs, to the delight of the audience. Vera, however, did not make it to the awarding ceremony held at the Pambansang Kampong Balagtas in the Orion Elementary School.

Before the event, guests participated in a parade from the school to the Hardin ni Balagtas in Wawa, a seaside village of Orion.

Flowers were offered at the monument of Baltazar.

In both the short programs at Hardin ni Balagtas and Pambansang Kampong Balagtas, Aetas were in the center stage.

Children from the Aeta Magbukun Tribe of Barangay Bangkal in Abucay, Bataan rendered song numbers in the Ayta language and performed native dances.

KWF chair Virgilio Almario urged the audience to read “La India Elegante y El Negrito Amante”, a sonnet written by Baltazar in Orion.

He said that the place of the story was Udyong, which was how Orion used to be called, and the main character, Kapitan Tuning, was an Aeta from Magbukun.

“Ito ang dahilan kung bakit inimbitahan natin ngayon ang ating mga kapatid na Ayta ng Magbukun (This is why we invited our Aeta friends from Magbukun),” Almario said.

He announced that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Almario lamented that modernization contributes to the decline in use of local language.

“Panahon pa ng Kastila nakita na ni Balagtas na nagsa-suffer ang ating mga kapatid na Ayta sa racial discrimination at yan ang paksa ng saynete (During the Spanish time, Balagtas already saw how Aetas suffered from racial discrimination which was the subject of his sonnet),” he said.

“Ang kadakilaan ni Balagtas kung tutuusin ay may hamon sa atin na hindi lamang pumunta dito sa Hardin ni Balagtas tuwing April 2. Ang hamon sa atin ay basahin ang mga aklat niya ng mabuti at mag-umpisa tayo sa maikling La India Elegante Y El Negrito (The greatnesss of Balagtas challenges us not only to come here at the Hardin ni Balagtas every April 2nd. The challenge is for us to read his books thoroughly and start with the short La India Elegante Y El Negrito,” Almario said.

Vice Governor Crisanta Garcia and Orion Mayor Antonio Raymundo said that although Baltazar was not born in Bataan, he was well-loved in the province that he considered as home.

The poet was born in Bigaa, Bulacan on April 2, 1788. He migrated to Orion in 1840 and worked as a clerk of court.

He married local lass Juana Tiambeng in 1842 and had 11 children. He died in Orion on February 20, 1862 at the age of 74. (PNA)

photo from Angono News Online