Poets and Patriots: A Challenge of The Forms — February 28, 2019

Poets and Patriots: A Challenge of The Forms

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Throughout the course of history and media, the concept of patriotism often brings to mind the image of upraised bolos in the hands of rebels and filibusters, frozen in a collective outcry of grief and fury. It is a scene that makes the promise of war and violence, a scene that reminds us that love for the country is a fierce, and often bloody, thing.

Poetry, too, brings to mind certain images along with it. The picture of a solemn scholar hunched over his desk in the light of the candle or the moon, quill scratching away on parchment is often painted whenever one conjures up the thought of poetry.

Poets and patriots: two vivid depictions of the mind’s eye.
Today, we take these stereotypes, these forms that have been established by centuries of precedent, and we challenge them. How, you may ask? Read on and see.


Bayanihan, a term that literally means “being in a town” refers to the essence of communal cooperation. It is an admirable Filipino value that showcases the compassion inherent within a group of people, particularly one’s countrymen. Typically displayed through the traditional act of helping neighbors move personal belongings and even houses, the bayanihan spirit is the essence of a challenge on the form of violence-based patriotism.

There have been numerous notable examples of bayanihan throughout Philippine history, such as volunteerism during natural calamities and emergencies. However, there is one major example that fully emphasizes bayanihan as an antithesis to bloody patriotism.

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Having celebrated its anniversary quite recently, the EDSA People Power Revolution continues to hold a special place in collective memory as one of the most peaceful protestations held in the world, without a drop of blood spilled. Because of this, not only is it a perfect example of bayanihan, it is also the perfect challenge to the form of patriotism, reshaping what it means to love the country not by dying for it, but by preserving its lives.


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Reminiscent of the Japanese haiku, the Bicolano tigsik is said to be a brief piece of poetry, usually in celebration of a subject rather than the observation of nature. Typically, poetry stems from profound origins, welling from deep sentiment and thought and blossoming into words and verses.

Interestingly enough though, the modern tigsik originated from the drinking games of men in their cups. According to an article by Bicol Standard, the word actually means “toast”. It refers to the subjects that people used to dedicate their shots to before they drank, evolving into a sort of wit-matching contest in these drinking sessions. Sharpening the mind and tongue, the tigsik has become a part of culture and tradition, now more formally considered as a literary format today, despite the way it challenges the form of traditional poetry, not only in style but also in content.

Here are some original examples of tigsik :

Tigsik ko pilipino
Mga makatang tao
Hararom kung gumibo
Baltazar ang idolo

Tigsik ko inin mga bikolano
Pusog an saindang pagkatao
Tunay na mga ehemplo
Panalmingan man kan mga Pilipino

Tigsik ko ining tigsik na sakong ginibo
An mga letra nagkakasararo
Ladawan nin sakong pagiging Bikolano
Sakuya ining tig-uorgulyo

Tigsik ko inin samuyang tirigsikan
Nakakawara nin samuyang kapagalan
Nagpapararom nin kaaraman
Paagi manongod sa pagkaburunyogan

Tigsik ko an lambang bikolano
Maogmahon kun sinda mabisto mo
Sinda samuyang orgulyo
Tataong magsalingoy asin magrespeto

Tigsik ko ‘pag may bagyo
Nagtatarabangan ang mga tawo
Sakuya ining tig-uorgulyo
An sakong pagiging-Pilipino

For more examples of tigsik, check out the video below.

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