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May 12, 2014

Literature From the Cordilleras’ Premiere City

Baguio CalligraphyThere is something about Baguio that gets the creative juices going. According to Dr. Cirilo Bautista in his foreword to “Baguio Calligraphy”, “Baguio continues to be a working retreat for the creative imagination. There is always some serene spot where writers can pursue the thread of a metaphor or simply unravel the knotted webbings of their unproductive mind.”

This can be seen in the city’s contributions to the history of national literature: Bautista’s “Cave and Other Poems” was the first book of poetry launched in Baguio; Nick Joaquin would show up at the Dainty Cafe in a cab he hired in Manila to take him there and back; Emmanuel Lacaba would discourse on Philippine poetry; and Cecile Afable established the Ato Bookshop and Art Gallery and set up regular literary teas. And out of these fertile times grew a community of writers that gave voice to their role as the city’s unofficial memory keepers. That group became known as the Baguio Writers Group, with Bautista as the founding chairman and Napoleon Javier, Francis Macansantos, Gabriel Baban Keith and Frank Cimatu as the core members.

In keeping with the group’s statement—“We exist to celebrate Cordilleran literature and nurture the souls of Cordilleran writers. We write to live and we live in Baguio”—the release of “Baguio Calligraphy” shows the many facets of the city’s unique images (pine trees, sunflowers, fog), as well as the indigenous people’s culture. The anthology, edited by Francis C. Macansantos and Luchie B. Maranan, showcases the poetry and fiction of writers Tita Lacambra Ayala, Janice Bagawi, Desiree Caluza, Jennifer Patricia A. Carino, Frank Cimatu, Jhoanna Lyn Cruz, Merci Javier Dulawan, Ralph Semino Galan, Rommel de Guzman, Luisa A. Igloria, Edgar B. Maranan, Babeth Lolarga, Junley Lazaga, Monica Macansantos, Priscilla Supnet Macansantos, Baboo Mondonedo, Chinee Palatino, Corazon Patricio, Padmapani L. Perez, Solana Perez, Rachel Pitlongay, Scott Magkachi Saboy and Roger “Rishab” Tibon.

Inside these pages you’ll find what it’s like living the Baguio life: its views, weather, clan and family relations, food and drink. From Lolarga’s “Give me Benguet coffee or euthanize me!” line in her poem “Day in a Life in Baguio”, to de Guzman’s thoughts on Chickenjoy, all the way to landmarks such as the Diplomat hotel and Rumours bar, no subject is too mundane for the poet’s or fictionist’s eye.

“Baguio Calligraphy” is published by Anvil Publishing, Inc. and is available in their online store or in bookstores.

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