We are immersed at the present time in a world we no longer understand. We find no logic in the senseless carnage that took the lives of thousands. No logic. No comfort. Paradoxically, within that which we cannot understand, we will discover the necessary path that will lead us to the point of transformationbut only in the quiet of reflection, in the poetry of slow processing.
We bring to you at this juncture a retrospective issue. We do so with a bit of trepidation. After all, a retrospective to pay homage to writers who have passed away is not unlike treading on holy ground.
There is also the matter of securing permission from the estate of the artist, the family who now owns the rights to the artist's works. Quite a number of estates or families did not respond. So at the last minute, we had to consider their non-response as something to be respected. We reiterate that ownership of an artistic work belongs solely to the artist and when that artist dies, the work belongs to the next of kin. The best one can do, as publisher, is to secure reprint permission or in the alternativeif the work is already publishedrequest permission from the publisher of that medium to reprint the piece.
All of the above hopefully serves as a preface to our intent and desire to honor every artist who dreams of seeing their work in print, to make others aware of what they are expressing, to reach out to you, dear reader, in whatever way possible without "stealing" their work. Too many buried works in attics and trunks are reduced to dust, if not oblivion. Or are kept and hoarded away by relatives as mementos. Sometimes we discover works and we stop short of sharing them for lack of venue. Sometimes an artist is unknown merely because his art form is not "fitting" to be called art. Or not quite polished enough to merit a public forum"art" that may still be in the stage of formation when an artist's life is snuffed out.
P.C. Morantte wrote seemingly all his life to the ripe old age of 90. His works have been preserved in newspaper feature articles and in fledgling literary magazines. Jose Garcia Villa enjoyed the attention of publishers and literary pundits. His place in literary history is assured. But a female poet in the 1930s with as much brash as she was perceived to have in her submission of poetry deemed controversial by an all-male jury in a literary competition ought not be exiled to oblivion or remain unknown to future readers. We have Edna Zapanta Manlapaz to thank for bringing Angela Manalang Gloria's poetry to light. Today this Bicolana poet's works have survived and are available in various anthologies.
What happens to sapling artists cut down in the prime of their art form? Are their modes of expression now relegated to mere "potential" forever lost? There is value in their promising but aborted attempts for those of us who procrastinate in our artistic expressions because more pragmatic pursuits have priority in our lives and we will have time "to be artistic" later. Or so, we think.
I pay homage on this page to Joseph Lauron who at 30 passed away. This street artist left his early artistic expression on spray-painted subway cars: giant graffiti art in colors more brilliant than those of a Renaissance artist. Whose growing-up rage was funneled into being a stand-up comedian and later having found his niche, became a consummate artist as interpreter of hip hop culture. He leaves behind, for his widow and his son, portfolios of art pieces. I do not mourn his lost potential. I pay homage to that "single necessity" that drove him during his short life to choose and live his Art. He packed those few years with the signature of a true artista passion and joy for living.
I would like to thank Jean Gier for cyberspace conversations that pointed me in the direction of Emily Angelo, a taxi dancer who wrote for The Philippine Advocate. Jean was instrumental in our pursuit of P.C. Morantte's works. And to Victor Gendrano, editor of Heritage Magazine, who plied me with information on P.C. Morantte. It was in e-mail exchanges with Estela Manila of the San Francisco Library that I reached Michael Gonzalez for rare photographs of N.V.M.
I am indebted to the family of Margarita Francia Villaluz for honoring my friendship with The Lady by granting me reprint permission to feature her work in this issue.
We are a people with a growing body of literature. We are all heirs to a legacy of artistic expressions, but only if we allow them a space in our lives.
September 23, 2001