Poetry Reading for the First Time

I did something for the first time — poetry reading. I did declamation, extemporaneous speaking, and public speaking when I was student, and I have delivered speeches, hosted, danced, and even sang onstage (despite my being tone deaf) but I have never read poetry in front of an audience. Never. Ever. Until a couple of days before Philippine independence day.

I received a Whatsapp message from the Philippine embassy’s cultural attache asking a favor to read a poem, and record it on video, for the Sentro Rizal (Rizal Center) Jakarta. I almost begged off just by the thought of it, and after reading the forwarded guidelines and learning that the video has to be submitted the next day. But the challenge of doing something new and something I have never done before got me hooked, so I said “Yes.”

I read the Filipino translation of Philippine hero Dr. Jose Rizal’s Canto del Viajero, Awit ng Biyahero (Song of the Traveller), by National Artists for Literature Virgilio Almario and Nick Joaquin. The poem was written by Dr. Rizal while in exile in Dapitan, Mindanao. The poetry reading is a project of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Sentro Rizal, and the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta in commemoration of the 159th birth anniversary of Dr. Rizal.

On June 19, the video, a montage of 19 poetry readers representing the different Sentro Rizal in major cities of the world, was launched by the NCCA on their social media platforms — Facebook and Instagram. I was among the 19 and the second to be featured in the video (watch below). The Philippine Embassy in Jakarta also uploaded my full video in their official Facebook page (watch here).

[This is also the first blog in more than a year.]

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