On this gracious occasion wherein we fifteen Awardees are showered with tribute and praises as Creators of Cebuano Literature, no greater feeling cradles us than this surge of grateful joy overflowing from the core of our interiority. Our hearts sing.

Indeed, every one of us cannot but feel humbled and a bit awkward with this sense of pride and glory that swamp our soul. No word suffices to match this unspeakable sentiment—a rare kind of happiness which, if feigned with a stutter of the tongue or mumbling of the lips, the entire extent of its pleasant implications could easily be missed. The doorway of the soul is too narrow for the full expression of our grateful joy.

But, this exuberance is intertwined with a lot of neighboring impressions not just in the heart itself but also in the mind where ideas are formulated and artistic creations are crafted. Our respective histories as creators of Cebuano literature, as well as our decisive adoption and nurturing of the Cebuano language have an intimate bearing on this manifest stirring in our subjectivity.

Ah, let it be noted that we hail from different beginnings in diverse climes and circumstances. Diverse rhymes and rhythms cradle our childhood years and our youth. Diverse environments clothe the ground whereon we sprouted and grew. Our lives thrive in diverse lifeways, diverse vocations, and professions, diverse strivings for economic uplift. And of course diverse experiences in romantic pursuits and love adventures.

And so, we happen to belong to different social strata and groups. Some happen to share a good life with the well-to-do, others have yet to scramble for a better quality of life. Some have become friends of the privileged and power-wielders, others have preferred to commune with the downtrodden.

But amidst all these, an awesome power binds us into one single family. A powerful force that has veritably enslaved each one of us. And that — is our irresistible fascination with the Cebuano language and abiding love for literary writing. Whatever the color of our respective lives, the exciting charm of Cebuano literature has lured us to trek on the road less traveled by.

On this road, we walk singly onward along our each own solitary lane passing through the manifold and varied experiences—joys and pains, cheers and desolation, victories and defeats, successes and failures. But we have plodded on untiringly, enduring all hardships, overcoming all hindrances, in a determined quest for that proverbial “pot of gold at the rainbow’s end.”

It is as if God himself whisked “tongues of fire” into the immense realm of the Arts, his fingertips looking like fruit stems from which the flaming seeds flew to fall on the hearts of lovers of literature and art. No doubt, each one of the fifteen literary artists has caught one of these tongues of fire which have served as torches that lighted their separate ways in their avowed tasks as creators of literature. In the course of time, the flaming tongues grew to burn intensity, sharpened their creative skills and catapulted them to prominence in the world of literary arts. The varicolored prints and traces of their quills witnessed a new flowering of Cebuano literature. And with it, the Cebuano language gained refreshing radiance.

Unmistakably, the unwavering enthusiasm and unquenchable passion with which these fifteen creators of literature found their indelible marks in Cebuano literature’s hall of fame would be the compelling sway for their success in achieving artistic excellence.

There is a parallel thrust of this utter determination with the humanist ideal and nationalist pursuit that aim to transform to pleasant design the ordering of our society. The essence of this idea is mirrored in the song of Joey Ayala which I translated into Cebuano, entitled Awit sa Mortal. Allow me to display the melodic virtue that entwines with the rhyme and rhythm of the song’s message. Here it is –

Unsay sukdanan sa bili sa kinabuhi

Bahandi ba, o di kaha, pangalan

Unsay motimbang sa husto o kulang

Sa katumanan sa tingusbawan ug baruganan

May ganting balos bang angayng laoman

Aron molihok sa husto’g makatarunganon

Daklit lamang ang kinabuhi

Pinisik sa gamhanang kayo

Ang ugmang buot natong masud-ong

Mahimo nang sugdan ta karon

Lawas ug pangisip mahunlak

Sa yuta sab mapulak

Apan ang bunga sa iyang pangalan

Labaw pa sa iyang punoan

My friends,

Our society is speckled with historical facts and social realities that have been picturized in the songs, poetry, stories and other literary creations of writers. From the crafts of the literary artists can be appreciated the color of their worldview and standpoint which, molded out of the quality of their contextual reality, is flavored with their cherished ideals and beliefs. But then again, there is parallelism in the direction of the artists’ efforts, whether from the Left or from the Right, because on this road they travel by they are all impelled by the quest for artistic excellence.

Historically, this quest falls in step with the task of fashioning a society that is inspired and propped up by the humanizing ideal of social justice and equality. Needless to say, it is in the realization of this idea that a just and sustainable peace would prevail as an offshoot of a truly democratic society whose emergence would be hailed like the crack of dawn of a new morning.

And here, my song composition – Awit ni Inangbayan – would find its birth to celebrate the ideal of social justice and equality as a framework for a just and sustainable peace and development.

Katam-is gyud unta sa kinabuhi

Kon katarungan ug kalinaw naghari

Ug kaangayan maoy nagpatigbabaw

Ug gitagamtam sa tanan ang katagbaw

Ug ginahimaya mithing makinasudnon

Nga sa paglambo maoy binhing bililhon

Kanindot gyud unta sa pagabation

Kon way nag-antos sa tumang kawad-on

Ang kayutaan tanang katigayonan

Angay-angayng gisaluhan sa tanang katawhan

Way nagpasulabi ug way hinikawan

Sa mga bahandi sa Kinaiyahan

Angay gyud unta nga ipatunhay

Ang katilingbang sa kaangayan gisapnay

Makalingkawas na ang tanan sa kawad-on

Ug motunhay na Kalinawng malungtaron

We fervently hope that the commitment and unwavering zeal of creators of literature would be matched by a prolific branching of their quill to enable them to structuralize in artistic imagery a society of splendid form because it glories the ideals of justice, peace, and equality.

A million thanks to BATHALAD, the sweet asylum of the dreams and aspirations of Sugbuanon writers—veritable oasis whose living water has endlessly energized the strivings of Cebuano creators of literature in face of manifold adversities in their contextual milieu.

Long live Cebuano Literature!

Long live Literary Writers of the Cebuano Tongue!

Long live all Creators of Literature and Art!

Long live BATHALAD!

comments powered by Disqus