An organization in school is holding an open mic event tonight somewhere in Quezon City and two of my closest friends who are part of this org were pushing me to buy tickets and watch the affair. I really wanted to go but it’s difficult to set aside some money – even for the love of spoken word poetry – when you just finished paying school fees and you know that you’ll have to buy books in the days to come. While I don’t share a cent over these expenses, my conscience tells me that I should at least try not to keep asking money from my benefactors (i.e. parents) so I guess Youtube will do for now.
Perhaps it is safe to say that while poetry and I go way back in elementary, I was never really good at writing it much less performing it on stage. But I learned one good lesson in life through poetry and for the lack of better idea on what to write about today – I thought why not share it instead.
Those who personally know me may remember that I transferred from Pasig to Eastern Samar during the latter half of my third grade in elementary school. As expected from a small, far-flung elementary school, and I am in no way being condescending here, they expected so much from this new-in-town/city-raised kid. They threw me into different contests, mostly English and Sciences with Mathematics out of the question, and one of which was a poetry writing contest which I happily joined. Bibo kid, I know. Pagbigyan nyo na. bata eh. Haha.
It was around this time of the year as well so the theme of the poem we were asked to write was obviously about Christmas. I remember coming unprepared because I was not supposed to be the one joining the contest but I came through and won first prize. It was a proud moment for me having defeated the other kids who apparently already memorized the pieces they were to submit to the judges. In other words, they cheated but I somehow still managed to win.
But that was only the pre-division level.
Came in the qualifying rounds for the regional level, I ended up submitting only half the length of stanzas that we were supposed to comply with. I was frustrated and ended up crying because I really wanted to win the contest so bad and I felt that my first piece was a call for me into poetry but boy, was I wrong. After the contest, a teacher from the school I was attending at approached me and my coach who was another teacher at the same school, and said: “Kunta gin-utro nala ni Tanya an iya una nga ginpasa, bangin nagdaog pa hiya” [Tanya should have submitted the first piece that she wrote, maybe she would have won if she did]. They wanted me to cheat my way into winning just as how the other kids wanted to as well during the first rounds. I was astonished.
Long story short, as a kid I thought that not submitting the same piece which won me through the pre-division level was a huge mistake on my part. Growing up gave me opportunities to contemplate about this event though and of course the lesson that this sad story should leave to anyone is that a win is never truly a win if you cheated your way to it. It sounds simple – basic, as the millenials would say – until you find yourself caught at the same situation or something quite similar. I still suck at writing poetry today but it’s not something that frustrates me because I was able to keep the respect over the craft which might not have existed if I took the advice of that teacher and cheated every time an opportunity to do so comes. Hats off to all the poets in the world!
Also sharing links to some of my favorite spoken word performances/videos:
- If I should have a daughter by Sarah Kay
- For women who are difficult to love by Warsan Shire
- To the boys who may one day date my daughter by Jesse Parent
- Repetition by Phil Kaye
P.S. Last night my friends and I went to Beech for a couple of drinks because none of our professors showed up again for what was supposed to be the second day of this semester. It always is refreshing to spend time with them over few bottles of beers (and nachos) because of how spontaneous topics can be – like we talked about semen, ovaries and menstrual periods at some point, as if we weren’t in the middle of a crowded bar on a Friday night, and then shifted to that dreary chat about exams, grades and our common fear of not making the cut. I know that this has nothing to do with everything that I wrote about today but I just want to write about last night a little to remind myself in the future how fortunate I am to have met such good people who make law school tolerable. Okay, enough feels for today.