New York has the New Yorker, and Paris has its famous café culture, but When in Manila, you’ll never have to be starved for the arts, especially the written ones. For the urbanite on-the-go who still wants to get a dose of the literate life, never fear: Metro Serye is here!
Lit-in-transit: Me reading Metro Serye.
The brainchild of poet Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, Metro Serye is no ordinary literary magazine. Featuring bite-sized doses of poetry and prose wrapped up in a unique (and pocket-sized)“chapbook” format, and highlighted with art by graphic artist and komikero Manuel “Manix” Abrera, the anthology is put forward as a map for the common man to the world of loving the written word. Marketed as “lit in transit,” Metro Serye aims to make literature accessible to the metropolitan masses–commuters, office workers on their coffeebreak, students in-between classes, etcetera–as proof positive that creative writing need not be highbrow.
Stories unfold: Metro Serye‘s unique chapbook format can be unfolded to reveal more poems and stories inside.
Up and running since October 2011, Metro Serye has had two issues out so far, with plans for a new edition every three months, meaning the next issue is to be expected sometime in April. However, barely a week ago, the commuter-chic admittedly “indie” publication decided to pre-empt its summer deadline by a month and assemble a one-night anthology of the Philippines’ best (and budding) poets. In celebration of World Poetry Day (March 21), Metro Serye, together with the Filipinas Heritage Library, put together a live poetry reading dubbed A Walk Through Words at The Gardens, the event promised performances from big names in the literary scene such as Krip Yuson, Jimmy Abad, Vim Nadera, Mike Coroza, Kael Co, Carlomar Daoana, Nerissa del Carmen Guevarra, Heights, and even writer-cum-media personality RJ Ledesma, alongside musical talents such as Arya Herrera and Reb Atadero, and Pinoy rap superstar Gloc-9.
In spite of the fact I was running late, I still took a minute to snap a photo of the poster.
A little night music: Arya Herrera and Reb Atadero perform soulful acoustic covers over the roar of the Makati traffic. Personal favorite? Their rendition of “Falling Slowly” from Once.
Despite the fact that I’m a confessed poetry-lover (with valiant attempts plastered all over my Blogger blog), I only found out about A Walk Through Words–and the fact March 21 was World Poetry Day–via a friend’s Instagram post on Facebook. Still, with such an all-star cast of writers and readers, I had to go, so I put off my plans to cram for my Ethics final (said finals to blame for the delay in posting this) and headed to the Ayala Triangle Gardens.
Playing to the crowds: Metro Serye‘s World Poetry Day event “A Walk Through Words at The Gardens” drew urbanites from all over the Metro.
Arriving a little after the 6:30 opening time, I managed to make it at the precise moment that poet Vim Nadera was performing his piece, dressed as a clown, and in cooperation with magician Richard Buligan. He moved around far too fast for me to snap a photo, but his energy was infectious. It was a dramatic sea change, then, to hear Metro Serye’s Editor-in-Chief, Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, read, standing still and calmly, the second poem of the night: an erotic piece dedicated to her husband, Sarge Lacuesta, and entitled “Coming Home.” It was enough to put me under a spell that would last the entire night.
Seduced by verses: Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, Editor-in-Chief of Metro Serye, reads her poem “Coming Home,” dedicated to her husband, Sarge Lacuesta.
A Walk Through Words had a mixed bag of poems in a variety of languages: there was Filipino, English, and even Chinese poetry. While I admit I didn’t understand everything (I confess that poetry in the vernacular has never been my strong point), understanding didn’t really matter. A bit like listening to K-pop and J-pop songs even when you don’t understand either language, poetry can hook you just on the sound of the words alone. And, like those K-pop and J-pop songs, somehow the sound and the melody carries the meaning.
While I loved every second of the program, I admit I had a few favorites. Here’s my rogue’s gallery of the poets whose poems had me Googling on my iPhone for online copies while I listened.
Media personality and author RJ Ledesma reads Eric Gamalinda’s Shrödinger’s Cat and The Last Eclipse of The Millenium. It’s the sort of poem you’d probably drink to, and given that it’s 2012 and the “end of the world” approaches, I think it’s extremely apropos.
Anina Abola, marketing manager of Metro Serye, reads her original poem, March, which she affectionately called her “pop song.” Favorite line: “Love, baby, is all the technicolor and high-def we’re ever going to need.” I’d probably fall for a guy if he used that as a pick-up line.
Reader Krissa Celestino the classic poem Bonsai, by the late National Artist Edith Tiempo. Read it here to find out why it’s a classic.
Palanca-awardee and Eliza Victoria reads two of her poems, both entitled Maps, from the first issue of Metro Serye. Of the two, the second has to be my favorite. Written for her grandmother suffering Alzheimer’s Disease, it spins a story (at least for me) of how, when you’re young and in love, you feel as if you’d live forever and remember everything.
Nerisa del Carmen Guevara performs her first piece, Shanghai Love. Translated from the original English into Chinese, it was played over the speakers, accompanied by an original erhu (the Chinese equivalent of the violin) score that gave me goosebumps.
As a definite crowd-pleaser of a finale, rapper Gloc-9 performed two songs, one of them being his single “Walang Natira.” I’ve never really understood rap, but in this setting, I realized it was poetry, and really cool poetry to boot.
The new Balagtasan: Pinoy rapper Gloc-9 does rhymes with substance.
All in all, Metro Serye managed to put together an amazing assortment of poetic talent for A Walk Through Words at The Gardens. The best part is–this isn’t their last event. In a quick chat with Marketing Manager Anina Abola, she mentioned to me that they would be planning more (if a bit smaller) events in the months to follow. I’m definitely looking forward to them.
So When in Manila, and on the hunt for some “food for the soul,” why not try it “take-out?” Grab a copy of Metro Serye, and fall in love with the written word. Your daily commute will never be the same.
Metro Serye retails for Php. 80.00, and can be bought at the Filipinas Heritage Library in the Ayala Triangle Gardens, at the UST Press, and Sputnik in Cubao X. Also, check out their Facebook and Twitter.
Metro Serye Celebrates World Poetry Day with A Walk Through Words at The Gardens, featuring Gloc-9, RJ Ledesma.