September 21—starting at four in the afternoon and passing excitingly towards seven in the evening at the Auditorium of Ateneo de Davao University.
It was a Sunday event of extraordinary verb and meaningfulness—an event replete with artistic renditions of poetry and songs by the Society of Ateneo Literature and English Majors (SALEM), together with English 122 Creative Writing Class and the Ateneo de Davao University Carillon Glee Club. The literary-musical spectacle dabbed CORPUS: Mga Tula at Awit, is at once a composite expression in metaphor.
Corpus, Latin word for body. . .katawan. . .lawas intrigues our curious sensibility even as it delights us with an imaginative insight. Aha! this katawan has its skin covered with tattoos!—yes, tattoos in different genre-designs of poetic compositions and musical/song scorings in varying timbre and tones and scales all over the naked human body! One can imagine the tattoos as verses and stanzas intertwining with G-clefs and notes on the staff, not unlike a collage of rhythmic lines and colors and patterns of shapes and figures in an abstract-expressionist painting. All in all, the tattoos serve as a wondrous covering garment of the body.
But the human body is as varied as the individual obsessions and desires and persuasions in the minds and hearts of the artists-performers, rendering their pieces with such rare passion and pitch as the subjects of their poetry and music. There’s the Katawan that offers its totality and claims its right to truth and knowledge in an act of oblation; the Katawan as the vessel of one’s Faith; the Katawan that wiggles and sways with one’s exhibition of gender and sexuality; the Katawan that tries to chart the fate of a people’s destiny, as creator of history; the Katawan as an asylum of a people’s sentiments and society’s messenger of tidings; the Katawan as celebratory images of one’s culture; the Katawan as harbinger of peace; and the Katawan as portal of Life and Death.
All these different representations of the multifarious desires, aspirations, aspects, callings, endeavors and undertakings of one’s lifeworld and rationale of existence were aesthetic objectifications of the stirrings of the soul held captive in the human corpus. They come with the dimming and lighting up of the auditorium as playhouse. They engaged the audience with the alternating theatrical sounds from the choral voices of the Glee Club and the dramatic utterances of the artists of the spoken word—the poets themselves, both students and alumni. The over-all performance—the poetry renditions in shifting occurrences with the songs— created a make-believe world that transported the spectators to the then-and- here-and-now chronology and contexts of the Filipino historical art experience.
What an evening!
The performers exceedingly did give justice to the art crafts in both literary genres. But more than the sensory experience was the sense—the meanings and significances inherent in the figurative title of the show. The flow of the poetic and musical outpourings matches the movements that correspond to the human body’s engagement with his subjective status from his emergence to life until his realization of his own mortality.
And if there was one remarkable happenstance within that marvelous spectacle of artistic performances in poetry and songs, it was the splendid act of a the Glee club Maestro Arjay Viray. His was not a superfluous display of hand movements and gestures as Conductor of the Glee Club singers. But he demonstrated his talent with extraordinary ease and graciousness. His own corpus was a receptacle of rare virtuosity and simplicity rolled up into a model of quiet excellence.
Together with Hazel Meghan Hamile, the host of the afternoon affair, Maestro Viray introduced each of the musical numbers in lighthearted anecdotes , you’d think he is an artist from the entrails of society— somewhat like a man of the world.
Of course, Hazel was the heart of the evening’s ‘corporeal’ celebration. She was herself an “artist of the spoken word”. And the sound of her voice and the import of her words reechoed in the theatre-auditorium as it did in the aesthetic realm of the spectators’ inner selves.
She delivered her lines not so much like the iambic cadence of the traditional English poets, but like hazel gems of wisdom in effective verso libre.
The entire presentation so engaged the audience that they did not want to disengage themselves from their seats, clamoring for more….more! And the good-natured Maestro Viray obliged with a couple of musical marvels from the admirable lovable singers of the Ateneo de Davao Carillon Glee Club.