Thursday, August 14, 2014


For convenience, here's an Index. The dates are when the articles are posted on this blog, versus date of their original publication.

February 2, 2014
Soffwana Yasmin writes paper on THE THORN ROSARY

Oct. 11, 2011:
Drew Butler writes report on Galatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement)

March 28, 2011

Nov. 1, 2010
ALFRED A. YUSON writes column "New Filipiniana Titles"

April 15, 2010
ALFRED A. YUSON writes column on the exhibition “Remix: Santiago Bose” at the Yuchengco Museum

March 16, 2009
ALFRED A. YUSON writes a feature on English, mentioning I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED

June 14, 2008

February 17, 2008

October 9, 2007

March 29, 2007

March 6, 2007


Jan. 17, 2007

Aug. 14, 2006

May 21, 2006

Feb. 6, 2006

Feb. 5, 2006



Feb. 1, 2006

Jan. 30, 2006



Jan. 29, 2006




Friday, February 14, 2014


Soffwana Yasmin, a student at CUNY NY, wrote an English paper on two poems including “Jade” from Eileen R. Tabios’ THE THORN ROSARY:SELECTED PROSE POEMS AND NEW (1998-2010).  We thank Soffwana for permission to print her paper:

Learning Experiences

Unexpected bad experiences have a way of teaching us something in the end. Both poets Eileen R. Tabios and Hayan Charara utilize this learned experience in their works “Jade” and “Job Interview” respectively. And although both poets are relatively new their works speak for themselves. The subjects of their poems have experiences that have a negative impact on them, and through their shared experience gain a new perspective on life. Both poems are very similar because of this experience yet so very different, as one ends with a wary outlook on life and the other as a closure to a bad experience.

According to Tabios: “Poems may be written in a variety of ways, and I don't privilege any one approach over others . . . . However, I have found certain advantages to letting the poem stew internally before it comes out of its own volition as fully-embodied. This method helps me to maintain the energy of that initial impetus that would birth a poem.” ("Maganda") From the very start Tabios writes without a set path in mind. Thus, it can be interpreted without censor. According to Tabios no interpretation is wrong, and it can be visibly seen in “Jade” as each stanza significantly differs from one another. Her poem seems like a schizophrenic retelling of a story, with a different ambience of each personality varying from stanza to stanza, and finally closing with a chaotic convergence with the last sentence. As for imagery, her poem can also be likened to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” The colors and moods change from each room, steadily darkening to a foreshadowing somber tone in Poe’s poem. In Tabios' poem each stanza changes and foreshadow a bitter end.

Tabios introduces her poem on a lighter romantic note in her first stanza:

“I can see how I’ve misinterpreted the fall of night. Against a Grecian Urn, shadows sunder. The clay is ageless and I ache to press my forehead against it. Once, I stopped a burn on my fingertips by peeling a grape. I forced perfection on its nakedness. (23)

While it seems like a jumbled assembly of randomly linked sentences, it is not as it appears. Tabios uses an unique technique of writing that does not make sense singularity but as an entire stanza. As a whole, what she is saying is that she misunderstood the sensuality of the night, because even shadows reflecting on the beautiful sheens on urns can be romantic and as it ”sunder[s]” it breaks apart and immerses the area like the broken pieces of a mirror. The “clay” can be a trope for earth where sensual acts taking place have been there since the dawn of time, and in the throes of passion after gaining a new found clarity she finds herself aching to be a part of what the earth represents. She then compares her clarity from intercourse to an act of peeling a grape, her warm dry fingers find relief in the wet smooth skin of the grape.

            In her second stanza she seems to foreshadow her bitter ending:

It is so difficult to find innocence in accomplished men. There is always something to be paid. Once, someone asked for my views on fidelity. Upon confirming the questioner was not discussing radio waves, I nodded and proclaimed with gusto, “Sexual fidelity is an admirable trait. I believe all my lovers should possess it.” (23)

The very first sentence has an odd tone to it, especially when the word “innocence” is introduced. There is nothing innocent in the cutthroat world of a businessman, even less so in a successful one’s. This idea is further proven in the second sentence where the word “paid” is mentioned, meaning there is nothing free in life. She then moves onto the strange topic of fidelity after an odd joking off topic, then states the obvious “with gusto”. She makes a hypocritical statement that she strongly supports it in others while alluding to having multiple partners.

            Tabios steadily adopts a darker tone in the third stanza:

I never show my scars, though allow an occasional easing of the pressure with a flushed countenance. My favorite stone is jade for the impassivity of its face. Perhaps I will meet an optical illusion that is solid. That would surprise me like a boulder sporting a black, bowler hat. (23)

She reveals her deep insecurities about herself, which is only rarely able to elevate. She then confesses her favorite stone, jade, which comes in many colors that seem to have cracks in them. Here she’s both comparing how broken she feels inside because of her “scars” and at the same time admitting to wanting to feel better because jade has healing properties in them. She further alludes to her depression in the last two lines in the stanza when she states that she can’t picture ever feeling better because like an optical illusion is a mirage and might look just out of reach but in reality was never truly there and can never be “solid.”

            Finally in the last stanza she brings it all together into a setting:

My friends are astounded at my naivete. I met a man attending a party without his wife. I was the only one who believed there was no foretelling. But I remember when I, too, paid attention to symbols. I can’t recall the beginning of when I stopped. And I no longer believe in the humility of monks.” (23)

The first sentence represents the “misinterpretation”, the second one represents infidelity of “accomplished men”, and the third one represents the fruition brought on by her insecurities. All three sentences bring forth something from each of the first three stanzas, which then all come together to form the “symbol” in the following sentence. Because of the flaws presented in each of the previous stanzas she comes to realize that somewhere along the way she has forgotten to be wary of certain aspects of life. Thus she is now jaded and no longer trusts in simple fidelity. Such is implied when one is a “monk”, and everything that falls under its banner.

            Similarly Charara also utilizes Tabios’ schizophrenic non-linear tone, and while seeming a bit more indifferent and no definitive stanzas, still has an outcome with a jaded view caused by a bad experience. Critic Arden Eli Hill describes Charara’s work as: “an intensely personal collection in which the poet intimately relates to the ‘others’ through examining grief and joy in himself and his family members.” (Sadness of Others) “Job Interview” is a heavily semi-impassive pessimistic recalling of the male subject’s life in the past five years. But unlike Tabios’s poem Charara’s involves a series of unfortunate events surrounding a man.

            The poem begins through the setting of an informal interview, and a vital question being asked:

He drew a line across the page
and asked where I expected to be
five years from here. Honestly,
I had no clue. And I can admit now,
without shame or remorse, that it’s always been easier
for me to go back. (26)

‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ Just from this simple yet life altering question the man finds himself stumped. Then reveals one of his flaws, that he prefers to relive the past. What does say about a man in an interview, no matter how informal, who when asked a very important question goes into a dream-like state reliving the past in his mind? Rather than move forward, he finds himself frozen in time not knowing how to move forward.

            Then in a series of scattered flashbacks going chronologically, he reveals certain major events in the past five years:

I was still young five years ago,
drank more, smoked less,
had significantly more teeth.
Yes my first wife had left me
for a man with a thin nose,
and there was also my mother.
Could I admit that when she stopped
visiting my dreams, I gave up
on the future and because of this
was sleeping much better? (26)

He mentions three major events. The first was about his health and physical body, it seems he traded in drinking for smoking and lost more than a few teeth along the way. The second major event was his wife leaving him. He tries to console himself by criticizing the physical flaws of the man she left him for. And the final event was his mother finally passing away, and long with her it seems so went his aspiration for the future. She had a negative impact on his self esteem and after her death a great burden was lifted and afterwards he could sleep better He wonders if there is a connection between the two.

            In the next few lines he appears to be closer to the waking world:

I wondered if it mattered whether
the downpour would come,
which it did, or that we sat
with our hands folded at a table
that would outlast us both. (26)

He is more somber and melancholy when he question the weather outside. The “whether” could be a pun on “weather” and also a trope for a foreshadowing of his future. As he describes his setting in more detail, it seems like him and daydreams, so is he and his interviewer a part and at the same time separate from the outside world.

            He is finally brought back to reality in the final few lines:

He asked me once more.
As he stared past me, I breathed
deeply and tried not to blink.
And a grin broke across his face,
like a crack in the sidewalk
patiently waiting for someone
to stumble and fall. (26)

The poem ends with the very question it began with: ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’. And still he is left stumped, not knowing the answer and left to flounder. Worse it seems like he is the butt of the universe’s joke when even the interviewer grins knowingly, as if he already knows he is going to fail and just waiting for the last fall.

            Both poems speak of learning from bad experiences, or more specifically being forced to. Both poems have a somber tone and steadily grow darker as the poem progresses. And both poems have an ending where the subjects of the poems are left jaded. However, while Tabios’s poem simply has the issue of fidelity over love, Charara’s poem has so many issues that on the only way cover them all is to banner them under life in general. Another key difference is that while in “Jade” the subject is left jaded she still found closure, while in “Job Interview” the man also jaded is left to flounder lost unknowing of the future.

Works Cited

Tabios, Eileen. "Maganda: thoughts on poetic form (a hermetic perspective)." MELUS 29.1 (2004): 137+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
Document URL

            Hill, Arden Eli. "The Sadness of Others." Hollins Critic 44.1
           : 21. Artemis Literary Sources. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.

            Charara, Hayan. “Job Interview.” The Sadness of Others.
            Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon UP, 2006. 26. Print.

            Tabios, Eileen R. “Jade” Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole.
           23. New York: Marsh Hawk, 2002. Print.

Saturday, October 08, 2011


Drew Butler reports on Galatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement) for one of his classes classes at the University of Colorado. Here's an excerpt:

The Journal: Galatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement)
Founded in 2006
Editor and Founder: Eileen Tabios

Her visions for the journal: “GALATEA RESURRECTS (GR) synthesizes some thoughts as regards poetry, the internet, poetry publishing, and cultural activism. I was interested in GR being specifically an online publication because online readership is often higher than for many poetry print publications. Relatedly, I wanted to add to the internet data base as regards poetry, given the widespread use of the internet for researching a variety of topics. Moreover, GR's addition to e-data would be accessible long after each issue's release date (I still get queries involving articles that were published in the internet many years ago). Thus, in addition to new reviews, GR is open to publishing commentary previously published in a print publication but unavailable within the internet.

“As regards cultural activism, I go back to the nature of the internet. My intent with GR is partly inspired by the existence of founded by Perla Daly and others. These Filipinas founded the site to offset how internet searches for "Filipina" usually comes up with negative myths, mail order bride sites which may be unsafe, porn sites, among other things. Similarly, I and other Filipina poets and scholars recently set up -- via Blogger -- Your Filipina Pen Pal to disrupt internet search results for various phrases related to Filipinas and/or pen pals. In this sense, I consider that boosting data content gratis for profit-making corporations is an acceptable price for longer-term benefits: in GR's case, more attention to poetry in all its forms, schools, approaches and other variety.”

Editing is open to anyone. Works are listed and there is an open call for submissions.

Total of 16 issues ever. Between 2 and 4 come out each year.

The Editor:
Writing for 16 years, in which she has created 18 print poetry collections, four online collections, one CD poetry collection, a book of short stories, a novel, a collection of essays on art, and a collection of essays on poetry. Before her writing career, she worked in International finance using her MBA in economics.

Invented the poetic form of hay(na)ku [1 word, 2 words, 3 words]

Born in Philippines, moved to America at age ten. Filipina heritage is still very important to her work in the Journal.

An Interview with Eileen Tabios:

How do you choose which books of poetry to put up on GR for review? Is there a particular style you look for? Do you feel these pieces reflect your initial goal of cultural activism?

My cultural activism is for Poetry -- not a particular style of poetry. Therefore, all types of poetry are welcomed to be reviewed on GR. Although I have a list of available review copies (at ), I tell folks out there that they can review any poetry project including books on their personal bookshelves. Each Editor's Intro provides a breakdown of the number of books reviewed from review copies sent to me, versus those chosen elsewhere by the reviewer (e.g., But GR doesn't just review books (though, most reviews are of books) -- they can be reviews of poetry readings, poetry performances, etc. I even allow the review of books in other genre (e.g. fiction) if the author is a poet. The latter reflects my belief that everything inevitably affects one's poetry; for example, if a person writes in more than one genre, that could affect that person's use of poetic form.

Having said that, while I publish reviews of all sorts of poetry styles, it is true that GR has come to be known in some circles are being empathetic towards the "innovative" strain in poetry. That has arisen organically, though, as people who write for GR as often also poets. In most cases, I do not assign poetry reviews but let the reviewers choose which publications they wish to review. If poets tend to review those works with which they themselves empathize as practitioners of the art, then I suppose a lot of poet-reviewers who write for GR may come from a camp described as innovative or experimental poets.

Publishers of many styles of poetry do send review copies. I personally have reviewed many different styles of poetry. So I lean towards poetry being a huge tent but if the actual issue or issues reflect an emphasis on a particular style, that is caused as much by those who volunteer to write for GR and not because of any intent on my part.

What editorial process do the reviews go through before publication? Are the guidelines relatively lenient or do you receive quite a few more submissions than get put up on the blog?

Any poetry project, or any project by a poet, is eligible for review in GR. I don't publish all reviews that are sent for my consideration. But I do publish the majority of submissions for at least a couple of reasons:

1) reflecting my initial editorial introduction to the GR project, I was invested in just generating volumes of poetry-related information in the BIG net of the internet; and

2) as part of my cultural activism on behalf of poetry, I wanted to encourage others to start writing critically about poetry as I believe the art could stand more critics. As with anything else, we all improve with practice but I was willing for GR to be the host of many newbie critics' efforts. It has turned out over time, as I had hoped, that some critics have persevered as a result of GR's encouragement and gotten better. GR has enough professional, brilliant critics lending their names to the effort that I'm not at all worried that the occasional less-than-brilliant review would dilute GR's reputation.

Having said the above, if there is one editorial standard that I try to make sure exists in all reviews (and I'm not sure I succeed all the time, but I try), it's that the reviewer always includes an excerpt from the reviewed work to exemplify whatever opinion that reviewer is offering.

I noticed that sections of the blog have a lot of references to your children and your personal life. Do you view GR as a primarily personal blog with some poetry reviewing aspects or a more professional review journal with personal sections?

My poetics reflect that I don't believe in the separation of "life" from "poetry-writing", and so I reference my personal life. This approach should be contextualized, though, in that it reflects generally my approach to blogs. I was, I believe, among the initial group of poet-bloggers who began blogging before it really took off. I appreciate the blog for its informality due in part to how its (internet) medium allows for almost-immediate publication of something one has written. That informality, of course, does not necessarily mean lack of rigor...but I think the blog-space is obviously very different from other contexts, for example, a peer-reviewed journal. Anyway, I do view GR as primarily what I reference it in its subtitle: An Engagement with Poetry (with such "engagements" often manifesting themselves as reviews).

My views on the form of the poetry review probably has bearing on this question. You may notice that when I write "reviews" for GR, I don't say I "review" but say I "engage." That's because I think there's value to the non-traditional way of reviewing poetry, including the very emotional, the very personal, the fragmented outlooks which may not be the norm in more traditional criticism. I mean, as a poet, when I receive a fumbling, at times inarticulate response to some of my own poems, I often glean some value to that type of response -- as much as the more well-written, well-wrought critical review. So I allow a space for all styles of poetry reviewing.

You mentioned on the blog that you chose the medium of the Internet in order to increase readership and because of its low cost. How do you feel about the fears some have voiced concerning the Internet weakening the strength of writing in poetry reviews?

That has always been an artificial debate to me. First, take a look at who's providing such criticism. Does that person, for example, have a vested interest in narrowing the gate through which others learn about a multitude of poetry publications or projects? Secondly, it always amazes me when those interested in poetry, be they poets or not but surely people of some intelligence (?), fail to scratch deeper into their questions -- doesn't their complaint reflect an undeserved reliance on wealth as a controlling factor on what will create cultural capital and isn't it true that efforts that push the edges of the art form of poetry often start out on low-cost bases because of the general lack of support of poetry and specifically even more constrained support for innovative poetry? Thirdly, the question assumes that a way to assess poetry reviews is to assess them as a group (e.g., it's from the group of "online" reviews versus "printed" reviews). That doesn't make sense. Read a poetry review, and assess that individual poetry review. You don't assess the merits of a single poetry review based on the overall outlook of whether poetry reviews have increased in number and venues. (This ridiculous conflation of the macro with the micro is a point that's both irritating and amusing to me, btw, who's been trained as an economist,...) I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at this type of group-think, though. If you take a look at various discussions about poems, you can tell that poems are often read based on what category folks fit them into, versus based on the individual poems' merits....(which is not to say a poem's generative source, including its context, may not be relevant...)

Last but not least, the beauty of the internet and, specifically the blog, is that if there's nothing worth reading in your project, people will not read it. It seems to me that a blog's success -- or even redeeming value -- can be judged in a very bottom-line way for a blog like GR. Are people reading it? The answer is YES. Are publishers sending review copies? The answer is not just YES but even long-standing publishers (vs. indie publishers looking for rare marketing venues) are sending books. Are people continuing to volunteer to write for it for almost zero compensation? Absolutely and I am so grateful to answer this question, too, as YES (I offer books as compensation and while some reviewers pass on those offers as what I have may not be of interest to them as readers, they nonetheless continue to write for GR...). Believe me--if and when GR ceases to be of interest, I will be the first to pull the plug on it. I'm not looking to spend a lot of effort on something that is of zero interest to internet readers out there... in fact, GR takes up so much effort that I've thought a lot about ending it but haven't done so yet specifically because there is such interest in it as a project....

A significant portion of your original intention statment concerns cultural activism in relation to Filipinas and in particular the website Do you feel GR has continued to reflect this goal through its work? How so?

Really? Because I went back to re-read the Introduction to Issue NO. 1 where I inaugurated GR and this factor was just one of four factors cited, isn't it? I wouldn't say it's more significant than the other three factors. But it is a factor, and I would say about this that GR has probably achieved just 60% of the goals related to this factor. That is, the two goals related to BagongPinay would be (1) just increasing poetry content on the internet, and (2) increasing the content of reviews of Filipino poetry (and because I happen to be Filipino with contacts in the Filipino literary community I was hopeful of GR being used to promote Filipino English-language poetry which, in my opinion, doesn't get as much attention as it deserves). Anyway, I would say that we've achieved No. 1. But in terms of No. 2, the distinct majority of poetry reviews have to do with non-Filipino poetry so I would say that GR has helped draw attention to Filipino poetry but not as much as I hoped it would do.

List of Available Works for Review:

Blog Main Page:

Monday, March 28, 2011


[First published in Yellow Field, Spring 2011]

Received & Noted
The Secret Lives of Punctuations, Vol. I

Eileen Tabios             xPress(ed), 2006)

By Edric Mesmer

Ever slow to catch-up, new to me is Tabios's first volume of Punctuations. (Was there ever a second?) Rife with the stuff of Language Poetry, disseminated here in the investigatory practices of a secular grammarian, Tabios takes for her organizing principle the diacritically punctual gesture--thus a poem like "; No Music in His Voice" may begin "; when accomplishing a portrait ends the relationship". Too Dorian for you? Supporting such columnar effects rids us of the indices of affectation; serials, editorial drafts, and asides open and flex here in the full catalog of our representational enquiring. Epigraphix and a healthy amount of notes at back lead the reader to consider the functional afterthoughts of "?"; the parenthetical series may dilate the eye, but these queries are most bountiful when considering the colon and double-colon: "pauperism: owlish symptom / mulatto: wineglass emphysema / concrete: argue requisite / ulna: weary median". I'm awaiting Volume II.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


[First published in The Philippine Star, Nov. 1, 2010]

New Filipiniana titles (Part One)
The following titles are all worthy additions to everyone’s Filipiniana shelves.


Mondo Marcos: Writings on Martial Law and the Marcos Babies, edited by Frank Cimatu and Rolando B. Tolentino (also published by Anvil), collects short fiction, personal essays, and poetry — mostly from “Martial law babies” — that theme up on the Marcos world.

Contributors for fiction are R. Zamora Linmark, Paula Angeles, Cyan Abad-Jugo, David Hontiveros, Robert J.A. Basilio Jr., and Cesar Ruiz Aquino, whose meta-fiction piece titled “The Diaries of Mojud Remontado: 55 Days in Dumaguete” is certainly worth more than the price of this volume alone.

Essays are by Wilfredo Pascual, Jr. (who has two), Ige Ramos (three), Sandra Roldan, Apol Lejano-Massebieu, Oscar Atadero, Grace Celeste T. Subido, Johanns Fernandez, Gabe Mercado, Pete Rajon, and Shubert Lazaro Ciencia.

Poetry is contributed by US-based Pinoy poets Eileen Tabios, Luisa A. Igloria, Vince Gotera, and R. Zamora Linmark, as well as co-editor Frank Cimatu, Alma Anonas-Carpio, Padmapani L. Perez, BJ Patiño, G. Mae Aquino, and one bashful Anonymous.

It seems Mondo Marcos is a two-volume collection, with one in Filipino, also of essays, poetry and fiction — but I don’t have that copy.

In his Epilog, co-editor Tolentino writes: “The writers are from the generation of young people who have grown up, lived through, and generated their consciousness and being primarily during the martial law period. Forced into singing the New Society theme song, gardening vegetable patches, and deprived of a chunk of the Voltes V series, these ‘martial law’ babies had little choice than to involve themselves in materially and symbolically slaying the Marcos-father....

“...There was no language outside the Marcos dictatorship. On the other hand, the world given unto them, the officialdom of the conjugal dictatorship’s nation-building is engaged, critiqued and re-worlded. Even as there can be no language other than those uttered by the Marcoses, the idioms for rearticulating the language are retransformed by this generation of writers....

“... The Mondo Marcos volumes seek to memorialize the generation’s coming of age with the legacy of the Marcos era, whose utmost legacy may be surmised in the slogan, ‘never again.’”

Thursday, April 15, 2010


[First published in The Philippine Star, March 1, 2010]

Santi's spectacle of influence

I found it quite spectacular, and I’m sorry I can only write about it now. But one of the strongest art shows I’ve seen recently just has to be “Remix: Santiago Bose” at the Yuchengco Museum.

While going through the virtual maze of splendid visual offerings themed to an eclectic mix yet partaking of one central influence, I kept muttering to myself that no way would any verdict coming from me be taken at its word.

Santi Bose had been a close buddy, after all. His dear wife Peggy still bakes unparalleled cakes and cookies for me and my family, while his daughters, son, girlfriends, and all former co-conspirators and common friends still take of my time, attention and care as tight kindred, even beyond spirit/s.

And there they all were now, at the Feb. 11 opening of a tribute to Santi’s phenomenal influence — with everyone apparently having pasted on a goofy smile that went well with the Xeroxed Bose facemasks some participating performers had donned.

In one hall were Santi’s Anting-anting illustrations, below which were tacked poetry and prose written by an all-too-willing coterie of poets, writers, historians and cultural purveyors from New York and San Francisco to Pasig and Cubao.

Luis Francia, Jessica Hagedorn, Bino Realuyo and Eileen Tabios of the USA had penned and sent over their literary takes on a particular, selected image among the 60 that made up Bose’s “Confessions of a Talisman.” These literary reactions to Santi’s amulets collection were joined by those of John Silva, Victor Peñaranda, Howie Severino, Ed Geronia and Lilledeshan Bose, among others.

As Santi’s daughter Lille had envisioned, each writer drew literary inspiration from her dad’s anting-anting drawings to “bridge visual and literary art forms, while breaking cultural barriers.”

The next halls showcased a splendid array of distinctive art works by eight relatively young artists who also “took off” from Bose’s talisman collection.

And I tell you, the sets of canvases, multi-media works, and sculpture that each artist created were superlative delights to behold — from Kawayan de Guia’s ethnic/electric chair to Alwin Reamillo’s piano-part dragonflies as bas relief, John Frank Sabado’s geometric excellence to Mark Justiniani’s striking sovereignties, Arnel Agawin’s elegant output to Jordan Mangosan’s solar art, and Bose mentees Leonard Aguinaldo’s and Ged Alangui’s equally creative alarums that wailed in the wake of a shaman’s aesthetic skullduggery.

In the main hall, where Bose’s auto-portraits dwelled on a narrative utterly his own as well as ours, the eight young immortals also collaborated on Santi’s version of Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” — endowing the 12-by-12-foot canvas that the artist was working on when he died in 2002 with a picaresque, personalized life of its own.

There too was a prized set of photo collages by Wig Tysman, inclusive of secret narratives that had not a few of the guests at the opening — National Artist BenCab, filmmaker Butch Perez and grand chef Louie Llamado among them — going giddy with recognition.

Australian artist and writer Pat Hoffie and her daughter Visaya Bose also sent in superlative contributions. It was Pat who had best encapsulated the scope of territorial imperative Santiago Bose had mapped out in the international art scene as early as the 1980s.

In a 2003 critique titled “Santiago Bose: Magic, Humor and Cultural Resistance,” Hoffie wrote:

“The extent to which Santiago Bose’s art has influenced the development of contemporary art in the Philippines has yet to be fully fathomed. His introduction of indigenous materials, his mining of Filipino iconography, his re-writing of Filipino history, his commitment to indigenous forms and practices, his bringing together of new media — such as performance, video and installation — with older forms such as rituals, festival paraphernalia and altarpieces — have made a rich and deep contribution to contemporary art practice not only in the Philippines but also abroad. ... Santi’s work wove past histories into the present, and then on into probable and improbable futures. In the face of what often looked like insurmountable odds, he always continued to make art that breathed with the potential for new imaginings.”

Indeed, we all breathed a universally tribal sigh of a wow as we took in the exhibit’s collective interpretation of a singular legacy. Bose’s apprentice Perry Mamaril pitched in, too, as did percussionists and dancers, so that the music that soon enveloped the venue became another medium of transport into Santi’s world: a heritage of endless beginnings.

Days later, his buddy Boy Yuchengco applied yet another piece to add to the 3-D puzzle (read: cosmic conundrum) that Santi’s effect on everyone had, very much like his maniacal guffaw. As if redux and reload were not enough (and with Santi nothing was ever enough), an incendiary altar now enhances the Grand Guignol remix.

Poet-rocker-daughter Lille says it best:

“Art critics lamented that when Santiago Bose died, his influence on the development of contemporary art was impossible to recognize completely. Seven years later, artists have co-opted (and) reinterpreted... Bose’s ideas, forms, and ideology in various mediums.”

You should all catch this exhibit born out of the vestiges of a legacy that has stayed luminous, like lovely lunacy.