Islander in the City by Pablo A. Tariman:


It wasn’t a big surprise.

Five National Artists on Valentine’s Day  declared their support for the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo, who was described as the “only hope of our country.”

VP Leni Robredo with her copy of Pink book; Pablo Tariman in his living room with copy of 100 Pink Poems Para Kay Leni.

In a Valentine’s day celebration dubbed as “Pusuan ang Sining at Kultura: State of the HeART,” the National Artists cited the reasons why they would vote for Robredo.

“She’s my candidate for president. She’s honest, she’s incorruptible, she’s hardworking, she’s intelligent, she’s dignified, she has integrity. She shows up, she gets things done, she knows what she’s doing,” Benedicto Cabrera, National Artist for Visual Arts, said in a taped video message.

Other National Artists who expressed support for Robredo include Ramon Santos and Ryan Cayabyab, National Artists for Music, as well as Virgilio Almario, National Artist for Literature, and National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes.

Reyes lamented the state of the country and cited the rising prices of basic commodities.

She took a swipe at politicians who just “want to stay in power.”

“Nasa kamay natin ang future ng ating bayan. So kaming mga artista, alam namin na meron sa mga political leaders, mabibilang namin sa mga kamay namin yung nagmamahal sa kanilang citizens, inaalagaan ang health, education, artistic programs, pero bihirang bihira ‘yon, so enough of politicians who only think of themselves,” she said.

(The future of our country is in our hands. So we, the artists, know that there are a few handful of political leaders who are indeed have genuine love for our fellow citizen, who have health, education, artistic program, but they are few.)

Reyes then recalled how Robredo won the vice presidency in 2016 “against all odds.”

For his part, Cayabyab said he sees that only Robredo is capable of steering the country in a direction that would uplift the lives of the Filipino people.

“Hindi pa siya presidente, tapat na magsilbi, ang tono at gawa niya ay walang pagkukunwari. Matapang, hindi umuurong pero hindi bully, compassion sa kahit sinong tao,” he said.

(She’s not yet a president but she is already serving, and the tone of her works are not pretentious. Courageous, not backing out of anything but not a bully, compassionate to any people.)

Santos also pushed for Robredo’s victory in the May 9 polls.

Almario, meanwhile, lamented what he said is the lack of cultural platforms of previous officials that led the country in the past decades.

“Kulang tayo sa pag-ibig sa bayan, bulok ang ating mga social values. ‘Di natin alam ang ating kasaysayan at kaya kulang na kulang tayo sa dangal ng isang mamamayang Pilipino,” Almario said.

For her part, Robredo committed to push for programs to boost the country’s creative industry and bring more awareness to the Philippines’ arts and culture.

“Hindi po natatapos sa hapon na ‘to yung pagpapangako. Magiging malaking bahagi siya ng agenda ng aming administrasyon kapag kami’y nabigyan ng pagkakataon,” she said.

What can I say about that Valentines get-together?

That was the first time I saw the vice-president in person.

Suddenly I have a new title (poet) in the company of 66 other writers in the book 100 Pink Poems Para Kay Leni Robredo.

Indeed, I am happy to see a presidential candidate with a clear cultural agenda.


(Editor’s Note: For copies of Pablo Tariman’s Love, Life and Loss: Poems During the Pandemic and 100 Pink Poems Para Kay Leni, text 09065104270. The island poet said he will autograph all ordered copies.)



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