Ilokano Poetics and the Petty Political Calisthenics of Ilokano Writers

Let us mark this day: today inaugurates another one of those petty calisthenics of Ilokano writers, some of whom are not truly creative except when they devise ways to decapitate other people, rise on the shoulders of those whom they have beheaded, and there, span the horizon for their calculated self-advertisement and self-promotion in the effort to win the approval of the adoring Ilokano public, writers and pretenders and those who only use the name to advance their own personal causes.

Ilokano creative writing today is a bundle of contradictions.

There is so much hope — and this hope is largely from the young, those who were not stained with the vestiges of cooptation and collaboration in regimes that were beholden to the illusory ideas of greatness of the Ilokano race and, thus, the Filipino people.

And yet there is so much despair as well.

This despair is largely contributed by those people  who can afford to wash our dirty linen before the public because, well, they (a) are moneyed, and they have the proofs to show and display before writers, the authentic ones, who keep on writing because they believe that they have something good to say, and (b) have the awards to nail on their house walls so people would not forget that, hey, they have gotten the ultimate recognition from their award-giving bodies who are their friends.

Between these two groups of Ilokano writers, I give my full trust to the young.

And to them I take my hats off, even if in saying that, I have to admit that many of the writers of the older generations do really make sense and they have shown us the way to articulating our voices as a people.

But the younger writers are to whom we will see the redemption of Ilokano creative writing from the boring and rehashed claims of the old generation who have yet to prove that they have been able to make a difference in advancing the cause of Ilokano poetics in the full sense of the word.

One young leader I wish to mention is Djuna Alcantara. In her own ways, she translated the delusions of the old leaders, make those delusions SMART, and lo and behold, we have such a decent program at the Don Mariano Marcos State University Open University. We wonder, of course, how she pulled it off, and to her our gratitude and recognition.

The other younger writers continue to write, some of them tired of the useless tirades of the elders to whom we look up to for guidance but that guidance is neither here nor there.

And write they do, these younger ones, using all the means available to them and creating some kind of an underground and clandestine form of writing the older generations do not even bother to look into.

Their commitment is with clarity.

They make their craft and art as instruments of Ilokano reflexivity, one virtue we have lost and we have not been able to find in a long while.

And for as long as we continue to encourage our young people, Ilokano writing is not going to be relegated to the archives nor to the dustbin of Philippine writing, whether in the Philippines or in the diaspora. Not yet.

The older generations have given us something to read, thank you. But many of these are plain and simple crap.

We only have to read what the critics are saying.

The problem in Ilokano creative writing is that so few read criticism. Some even do not know what it is.

And the uninformed writers have the temerity to tell us how to look at the world through their own eyes?#