Irish rock band U2 is set to play their first show in the Philippines on December 11. Known for going beyond simple performances, U2 moves to make each concert a work of art in every sense. Their employing of visual, auditory, and emotional tools of storytelling results in a wholly different experience.
One part of that is integrating poetry into their shows. The band has often included works from local poets in the countries they play in, flashing it across the screen as the audience waits for the show to begin.
For the Philippines, U2 has chosen to feature the work of the Filipino-American poet and novelist Bino A. Realuyo. They asked permission to use his poem “Filipineza” as a way to “express the experience” of our country.
“Filipineza” is a poem that talks about the plight of Filipino domestic workers in Europe. It is part of Realuyo’s first collection of poetry, The Gods We Worship Live Next Door. The said collection was awarded the Agha Shahid Ali Prize for Poetry in 2005 and the Philippine National Book Award for poetry in 2009.
“U2’s songs and lyrics were light in the dark and nameless streets of my early years in America. Thirty-two years of Joshua Tree is equivalent to the 3 decades of my immigrant American life,” Realuyo said in reaction to U2’s recognition of his work.
“There is ultimately poetic justice in being included in U2’s concert not in the US but in their first-ever concert in Manila, the city of my birth. I am humbled and moved. I hope the poems do serve their purpose for inclusion – as points of reflection for those who attend the concert, and in the case of my poem ‘Filipineza’ to warn us about the dark side and perils of the Filipino diaspora,” he finished.
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