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why do Colonials write


One my more approachable and less avant-garde of poems is a question I dedicate to fellow Filipino (and colonial) bloggers, if that word is allowable. The incarnation of this piece was a nagging question of mine as well, in as much as I know from history that Rizal wrote in a language not his own; in as much as other Illustrados followed suit. In a way bloggers and Filipino writers, poets etc., are New Illustrados, although perhaps in a lesser luminance as the originals of Rizal's time. The intention however to bring light remains there. However, the same social question remains - who will listen, and will the message get across?

This piece is the second of poems I wrote on the i-colonial series. A literary criticism by Gracia Perdeguerra, published here with permission, follows:

why do Colonials write

filipino writers, bloggers and poets in english, this is for all of us

why do colonials write
in a language not their own

is it but compulsion
to reconquer enslaved souls

or trickery of tongues
desiring the master's scrolls

is it acting out plays
that we were told to be grandiose

or - affiliation
to the master's gourmet choice

is it altruism
that we share this enclave

do we but compensate
for a freedom we don't have

or more to elevate
dissociate us from slaves

perhaps we do amuse
ourselves with our new grace

we acquire mastery
by swearing a different name

professing that ourselves
are apostles of new face

we create the symbols
undoing mistakes years past

suppressing the anguish
of being a conquered land

is this reparation
from guilt of lost of old fights

or do we write because
yes, the war was never gone

in this final bastion
do we consider the words

do we colonials write
and claim this language our own?

Copyright (2005) Jardine Davies
Published in The Philippine Graphic, May 14, 2005.

Gracia Perdeguerra critiques this poem:

"While reading this poem, I felt the compulsion to say something about colonialism and the question on colonial writing. Why do colonials write is like asking, why do humans breathe? Or, why does the sun set in the West?

First, the question is valid; or, the statement is radical-whichever come first in one's mind.

Second, the question seeks redress from the alienation, but what it turns out is that, the Filipino writer is against itself, allowing the colonizer to embody the colonized ideals and sentiments, passive.

Third, the question inhabits a body, a topography which positions itself in the margin of the language.

The persona succumbs to utility, to a practical solution to dead freedom. A freedom that can never be won, a freedom that was lost a long time ago ...

Is it the only the style of the persona to write in small caps or is it a reflection of the individual's subjection to the dominant language? Is the reason for it not punctuated is that, the one asks for a period (meaning a pause or stop) or a comma, or a continuance in the antithesis of it not being final, for colonization is invisible yet working under the master's hands?

Fourth, the question is the moral decadence of the persona, capitulating to the sweet tongue of the colonizer, for it converts the Indio to a sophisticated citizen of the world, civilized.

Fifth, the persona speaks of liberation as an obsequious response to enslavement, the honor in being clothed with the master's robe rather than be trampled upon in the border.

Sixth, the persona succumbs to utility, to a practical solution to dead freedom. A freedom that can never be won, a freedom that was lost a long time ago, a freedom that was sold, a freedom that was bought back at the expense of pride and honor, a freedom that has no name, only an idea, since, the Filipinos was never really freed and still remain as a colonial.

And with all these answers, the question remains, why do colonials write?

For lack of nothing better? No matter who we are or what we do, we will write. Being colonial is a word injected to Filipinos by the master. To utter it is to pronounce its existence. To ignore it is to diminish its power. To ask is futile, to answer is the same."


posted by Jdavies @ 2/19/2005,


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The Author


Jdavies lives in Quezon City, Philippines and has been blogging since 2002. A brand manager in a leading technology company and a freelance new media/web strategy consultant, he has refocused his blogging from personal, political & sociological observations, to marketing-related efforts and Internet trends that are relevant to his career and branding advocacies.

About This Blog

This blog is a depot of thoughts and observations on marketing trends which remain personally relevant to the Author as far as his marketing career is concerned. Having evolved from the personal blog of Jdavies, much of the earlier work contained herein are laced with personal speculation, political views, and similar advocacies. These posts are being kept for posterity's sake and for no other reason. No effort is being made to claim that the author will not contradict himself from his previous positions or that such advocacies are absolute.


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