Pagsasatubuanan: Poetikang Bikolnon by Jose Jason L. Chancoco

March 21, 2010

Chancoco, Jose Jason L. Pagsasatubuanan: Poetikang Bikolnon. Naga City: National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2008.

1. As Chancoco defined Pagsasatubuaanan as “a perspective on the direction of contemporary Bikol poetic writing, deriving aesthetic value from indigenous poetic forms alongside foreign modalities” (vi), the book provides an exposition to contemporary, traditional, and indigenous rawitdawit (Bikol: poem) by examining their formalist elements including rhyme scheme and meter, forms of lines and stanza, caesura, voice, and metaphor.

2. The framework of Chancoco’s study is mainly patterned after National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario’s literary criticism. This is understandable since Chancoco studied poetry under the tutelage of Almario and other LIRA poets and was very influenced by the group’s poetics. But Chancoco had done well with the framework of Almario to analyze and bring out the character of Bikol indigenous literary forms like tigsik, ariwaga, patood, and dugsong.

3. Also, Chancoco’s study is a very significant break from the literary studies of Bikol literary scholars Paz Verdadez Santos and Ma. Lilia Realubit, among others, who mostly collected Bikol rawitdawit and osipon (short story) and provided a scant or a surface analysis of the poems by concentrating on the themes and not much on the form that is very signicant in analyzing poems. 4. Chancoco had written Pagsasatubuanan in Bikol believing that using Bikol is more sincere and appropriate in studying rawitdawit.

5. Regional literatures do not need to create its own literary framework for the sake of differentiating it with the reputed hegemonic Tagalog literary tradition. Chancoco’s study affirmed the common characteristics of Tagalog and Bikol poetry while bringing out the latter’s peculiar characteristics. Pagsasatubuanan’s articulations confirm Bikol’s place and security within the greater Filipino literature.

6. Part of Bikol literature’s security, I believe, is that Bikol language is a melting pot of Tagalog and Visayan words and its tone is not as hard as that of Visayan languages or as monotonous as that of Tagalog. In terms of consciousness, Bikol is a complex of Bikol, Tagalog, and Visayan consciousness. Based on my interaction with contemporary Bikol writers and my own experience as an aspiring poet with Bikol consciousness writing mostly in Filipino but writes also in Bikol, I believe that Bikol writers do not feel marginalized in the national scene. The establishment of Bikol’s own writing workshops, awards, and publication of anthologies and individual literary books, including Chancoco’s Pagsasatubuanan, strengthen Bikol’s identity and contibution to the national literature.

Pagsasatubuanan is Jose Jason Chancoco’s first book.

The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin

March 9, 2010

Boorstin, Daniel J. The Discoverers. New York: Random House, Inc., 1985.

1. Book One: Time. Boorstin begins his book with the exploration of the concept of time. The impulse to create order from a disorderly nature of the world was the fuel of the invention of clocks. It can be noted that clocks started with sundial, moved on to water and sand clock, and progressed to the analog and digital clocks that we know today. This invention is very important in creating order because man does not anymore depend on nature (sun and water), which is disorderly in nature, as a reference of time but in his own devices that he can very well control.

2. Another interesting point of discussion of Boorstin is the public versus private orientation of the development of clocks. The development of clocks in the West is oriented for public use while in the East. In China, especially, the clock is solely for the emperor’s use because it plays a part in forecasting his fate so it was kept from public use.

3. It is also interesting to note the contrast between having less restrictions and having rigid rules in the development of trade and guilds that facilitated the advancement of invention. Boorstin illustrated that England and Geneva’s inventors and merchants lead in the export of mechanical inventions in 17th and 18th century resulted from favorable trade and guild condition against the condition in France and other countries.

4. Book Two: The Earth and the Seas. Boorstin discussed the implication of the Great Interruption (Middle Ages) when Christian dogma stunted the growth of the seven liberal arts. This was contrasted with the religious and cultural tolerance of the Tartars of the Moghul Empire which made possible the exchange of culture between East and West for a century.

5. Fascinating is Boorstin’s exposition of great men who defied the odds to increase the knowledge of mankind. He provided a lengthy exposition on various explorers in land and sea, now and then giving some trivia in the lives and events of great men. Foremost example is Prince Henry the Navigator’s great drive to know the unknown seas. His leadership and efforts to pool the best cartographers and build the ablest ships for exploration, the caravel, culminated in the discovery of route to India through the Atlantic Ocean, the coasts of Africa, and Indian Ocean. One of the greatest effects of this is the shift of gateway of civilization and commerce from Egytian-Venetian trade to Portugal.

6. Boorstin posed a question and answer on the relationship between discoverer and the discovered which is barely hinted at in other history books. He calls this the irony of the empire without wants: Those who have the capacity to discover are the ones not compelled to discover because they have, or believe they have, everything they want as in the case of China. This is contrasted with seafaring countries like Portugal, Spain, and England which have always been out to discover something new.

7. Aside from the main aim to discover new lands or new route to known lands, Boorstin discussed in great length other purposes of discovery missions: collect information on eclipses and other celestial events and to collect flora and fauna, which are seldom given attention in other history books.

8. Book Three: Nature. Boorstin gave a sweeping discussion of fascinating efforts of great men in science from Galileo, Vesalius, Harvey, and Malpighi, pioneers in paving the way to modern science. These scientists began conducting actual observations, moving away from the method of combination of hearsay and unproven logic to the greater use of senses and devices like telescope, microscope, and thermometer. Many others refused to use these instruments believing that they show what is not present and distort what is.

9. Book Four: Society. Boorstin concluded his book with the exposition on the development of society through the efforts of great scholars from Marx, Freud, Tylor, Michael Faraday, Adam Smith, and Keynes.

Daniel J. Boorstin is also the author of the following books: America and the Image of Europe:Reflections on American Thought (1960), The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America (1962), The Decline of Radicalism: Reflections of America Today (1969), The Sociology of the Absurd: Or, the Application of Professor X (1970), The Exploring Spirit: America and the World, Then and Now (1976), The Creators (1992), and more.