Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's Mondo Marcos, Yo!


Do you remember the literary anthologies titled Mondo Elvis and Mondo Barbie (stories and poems)? Snarky, arch, but also a bit nostalgic.

Well, now we've got a Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos equivalent: Mondo Marcos: Writings on Martial Law and the Marcos Babies (in English) and Mondo Marcos: Mga Panulat sa Batas Militar at ng Marcos Babies (in Filipino), both published in late 2010. These books are essentially a two-volume anthology because their contents are different — not merely translations of each other, that is — adding up to almost 400 pages! Like Mondo Barbie and Mondo Elvis, the Mondo Marcos books' takes on the subject(s) are multidimensional and complex in their emotional and intellectual approaches.

A couple of days ago — huzzah, huzzah! — my contributor's copy of the volume in English finally arrived via snailmail. Evidently administrative mishaps had held up my copy. I have three poems in the Mondo Marcos anthology, focusing on Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Marcos, and their son "Bongbong" Marcos (as announced in this blog on 26 June two years ago). Immediately below this announcement in that post, read my description of my own family's strange, opposed connections to the Marcos mondo bizarro.

Here's what the book looks like; the volume in Filipino has a contrasting red cover. It's fascinating how the book designer's choice of bright blue next to bright red for both volumes causes visual vibrations that mirror the frenzied lives and reps of the Marcos family. (It just occurred to me that some readers may not know much or, in fact, may know nothing about the Marcos saga . . . for some background, read my three blog posts on Ferdinand, Imelda, and Bongbong in full. At the very least, you'll enjoy the pictures.)

           From the back cover . . .

For the first time ever, some of the best Filipino writers
recall, cry, decry, metamorphosize, giant robotize, love
and Skylab, imagine, re-imagine, televise, sport dance,
odify, audify, analyze, saint patronize, assassinate,
colorize (orange), underwear commercialize, monsterize,
pornify, necrophilize, shadowbox and guava jam with
themselves, their friends, their generation and THE
LIFE under President Ferdinand Marcos. Mondo Marcos
features the fiction, essays, and poems of:

Paula Angeles
Alma S. Anonas-Carpio
Cesar Ruiz Aquino
Genevieve Mae Aquino
Oscar Atadero
Robert J.A. Basilio Jr.
Shubert L. Ciencia
Frank Cimatu
Johanns Fernandez
Vince Gotera
David Peter Jose J. Hontiveros
Luisa A. Igloria
Cyan Abad-Jugo
     
R. Zamora Linmark
Martin Masadao
Apol Lejano-Massebieau
Gabe Mercado
Wilfredo O. Pascual Jr.
BJ Patiño
Padmapani L. Perez
Pete Rajon
Ige Ramos
Sandra Nicole Roldan
Grace Celeste T. Subido
Eileen Tabios

A couple of names were left off because they were not writers: Rolando B. Tolentino (co-editor) and Andy Zapata (photographer). A writer, however, who was left off the back-cover listing is a poet "named" Anonymous . . . I'm not sure why this writer is published as anonymous; perhaps this poem was originally published sans name during the martial law period. Marcos summarily jailed writers and artists, most notably the poet Mila Aguilar, among many others.

The introduction to Mondo Marcos is cagey about whether or not the poem had been originally submitted to the editors without a name; the editors had some computer-virus problems during their collection of manuscripts and this poem's by-line could have been lost that way. In any case, this anonymous appearance is fitting because of the way Marcos hog-tied free speech during his rule, causing many to protest against him in secret. The Marcos regime is said to have kept a notorious "black list" of opponents and dissenters &mdash quite probably this was more than rumor.

Here is the poem published nameless in Mondo Marcos:

Requiem
—Anonymous
Memory is a mosaic of tongues licking dirt, of lies embroidered to protect the King of Martial Law.

He was born. He is risen. He will kill again. And his Kingdom will have no end.

Memory is a 1972 machine gun fired on Sunday morning. Four bodies on the edge of a dirt road. An act of suspended drowning.

This is a cup of his blood, the new and everlasting covenant.

Memory is a woman who howls past curfew. Late night dinner parties and spilled champagne.

She drinks it so that their sins may be forgiven.

Memory is a spinning bottle, a top with no base, a mad pack of white dogs eating brown tails, brown dogs, eating spotted tails.

She breaks the bread, gives it to their disciples, and says, Eat this in memory of us.

Memory is an archipelago of closed-view coffins, eaten calmly like sugared fingers of bread.

Such a marvelous poem that gets to the heart of the Marcos dynamic. Mondo Marcos editor Frank Cimatu had tried to locate and identify its author via the blogosphere some time back, without success. I hope the poet will come forward and announce her or his identity . . . are you out there reading this? Perhaps you could reveal yourself in a comment below?

I'm very glad to have my three Marcos poems appear finally in Mondo Marcos. One concern: the poems were edited into 14-line blocks rather than my intended three quatrains and a couplet. Nonetheless, I recommend Mondo Marcos highly. These books and the works they contain are crucial historical and personal comments to the ongoing Marcos story and legacy, from writers who were born during martial law or grew up during that time.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about and responses to the larger Mondo Marcos project overall or the specific poem Requiem. Would you please comment below? It's Mondo Marcos, yo! Let's talk.


Photo from Daily Mail online article "Back from the dead: Imelda Marcos plants ghoulish kiss on glass coffin of embalmed husband as she resurrects political career" (29 March 2010).


No comments:

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