When I heard about Harinawa, a spoken poetry event headlined by Juan Miguel Severo, I immediately reserved tickets without second thoughts. I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. As a writer, I’ve written my own share of poems. As a public speaker, I’ve performed countless poetry pieces when I was young.
Way before spoken poetry was a thing, I’ve been in several summer speech classes which trained grade school students in public speaking. These classes included poetry recitals, so one could say that I was “trained” when I was young.
I first heard about slam poetry (spoken poetry) in Colleen Hoover’s Slammed. I’m also a fan of Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye. Then, a random video-surfing on Youtube led to a seemingly harmless video of Juan Miguel Severo, pouring his heart out in his piece called “Ang Huling Tula na Isusulat Ko Para Sa’Yo”. The piece was heart-breaking and gut-wrenching, and yes, beautiful even.
As an Ilonggo, my native language is Karay-a. The dominant language in Iloilo is Hiligaynon. And the medium of instruction is English. I'm fluent in all three languages. There was very little need to learn Filipino, except for passing the Filipino subject in grade school. Sad to say, while I can understand Tagalog or Filipino, I suck at speaking it.
When I saw Juan Miguel Severo perform his Tagalog poem, I realized how beautiful Tagalog is. This made me want to be better at speaking and writing Filipino. Marami kasing mga salita sa Tagalog na hindi ko pa alam at hindi ko pa napapaglaruan. Hindi kagaya sa Ingles na gamay na gamay ko na at kaya kong gamitin at paglaruan kahit ako ay nakapikit pa.
Nang natuklasan ko ang ganda ng Filipino bilang isang wika, para akong isang batang nabigyan ng panibagong laruan. Nakamamanghang isipin na isang tula lang pala ang makapagpapakita sa akin ng ganda nga wikang Filipino na dati ay hindi ko masyadong pinapansin.
Maraming salamat, Juan Miguel Severo. Hayaan mo, magsisimula ako sa pagsusulat ng mga tulang Filipino. Malay natin, baka sa susunod, kaya ko na rin ulit umakyat sa entablado bilang isang panibagong makata kagaya mo.