The Beauty of Filipino Spoken Word Poetry According to Spoken Word Artists

Words by Jerika Danielle Clemente

Last August, Words Anonymous held an open mic event entitled “Tambuli: Isang Pagdiriwang ng Wikang Pambansa”. Apart from Spoken Word Artists of Words Anonymous, various spoken word enthusiasts and performers themselves also took part in this night full of poetry and love for our language, Filipino.

WATCH: This Spoken Word Poetry About OCD is so Beautiful We’re Crying

I, myself, even took part and it was a fulfilling experience! Yet as I sat there, listening to these artists and their verses, I couldn’t help but wonder a few things: What makes Filipino poetry different (of course, aside from the language) from English poems, from a poet’s point-of-view? What makes spoken word poetry so special?

And so, I interviewed four of the many talented and inspiring spoken word artists present during the event and these are the answers I got:

Serge Gabriel (from Words Anonymous)

Photo from the artist’s page

Why Spoken Word?

“Well, it’s strange, because for me I really just loved writing poetry since I was a kid. I don’t know, when everyone wanted to play basketball, I was a writer. 

[And] I didn’t know that Spoken Word actually existed till I was in third year or fourth-year high school. All I knew was when I liked a girl, I would write a poem about her and when I was brave enough, I would talk to her on the phone and read the poem to her, and yun, wala lang. I realized some poems are better off written and read, [while] some are better read out loud and so I decided to try it [spoken word poetry] out.”

What do you think is the leverage of Filipino poetry to us Filipinos compared to English poems?

“When you translate something into Filipino – not necessarily Tagalog – I don’t know, I think there really is something about our language in general – cause when you look at the syllabication, its full of ba-e-i-o-u, so it’s really appealing. I think rather than trying to understand the language as is, sometimes the experience of just hearing it and enjoying what you’re hearing is a good experience.”

Here’s a video of one of Serge’s performances:

Bess Gonzales (from Titig Poetry)

Photo from the artist’s page

Why Spoken Word?

“Dito kasi malaya, parang naging ito yung way ng [aking] paghinga.”

What do you think is the leverage of Filipino poetry to us Filipinos compared to English poems?

“Well, to be honest, pag Filipino, mas dama ng tao, mas ramdam nila kung ano yung gusto mong maramdaman [nila].”

Here’s a video of one of Bess’ spoken word poetries:

More artists on the next page

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