Friday, July 13, 2007



Kinah said...

Good day Sir. I am a Junior student studying at University of Asia and the Pacific, Pasig. I would just like to ask if there was a way I could get some information regarding 2 of the poems you wrote. Whichever is most convinient for you (ex. Email correspondence)would be highly appreciated. Thank you very much. -Kinah S. (

Sonny San Juan said...


Kinah said...

Hi again sir, I apologize for the late reply as I was unable to check your blog for a while.

I was referring to BUMABAHANG LUHA ANG SHABU NG MADLA as well as

One the first one, were you referring to the Philippines as "Inday"? May I inquire upon the meaning behind the title? Does the poem have any relation to your personal life, and/or career perhaps?

On the second one, is the poem about OFWs who leave their loved ones behind? What were your thoughts as you wrote the poem?

Lastly, did you use any formalistic style on both poems?

Thank you for your time Sir, I sincerly appreciate your taking time out to share some thoughts. - Kinah S. (

Sonny San Juan said...

Dear Kinah:

Sorry that I was away for two weeks.

"Inday" in BUMABAHANG LUHA is a general term for the presumed singer of the lyrics from the popular song by AEGIS--the group's song is entitled "Sinta." (You can google AEGIS in YOU TUBE and listen to their singing. Very moving rendition.) 'Inday" stands for the soft-headed dreamy-eyed consumer of Filipino mass-manufactured culture. The whole poem is a satirical comment on the sentimental, cliche-ridden kind of song that somehow has captured the Filipino mass audience eager for an escape from the painful realities of the daily struggle to survive. A cheap escape, refusing to confront the roots of their problem. So the title points to the "drug" or opium of the crowd as this habit of evoking a "flood of tears" that the ordinary movies and bar/club singers seek to reinforce as an illusory solution, really an escape, from the sordid wasteland of ordinary life.

No reference to my personal life. I am just wondering how or why AEGIS and other rock-bands are that popular, despite their shallow trite sugary songs. Can you explain why?

Yes, you are correct about the second poem which deals with the sorrows and travails of OFWs, mostly women domestics, who leave their husbands and children to seek jobs abroad and then send most of their earnings to their loved ones. This is a tragic and painful situation for our country, unprecedented in our history--ten million Filipinos now scattered around the planet. The last two lines refer, among other things, to the myth of Osiris--the Egyptian mythological hero who was cut up or dismembered, the parts of his body scattered in order to fertilize the land. The dispersal or scattering of women/men, their separation from their loved ones, is indeed painful--a major social and political problem due to our neocolonial, oligarchy-ruled society--but it can be the source of renewal, if OFWs struggle to analyze their situation and make it a source of strength and insight to transform their plight into a means of changing society.

There is no set formulas for writing poems. In the first one, I alternate quotes from the AEGIS song and then give my mocking comment. In the second poem, I repeat the line "Lumipad ka na...." to various places so as to emphasize the repeated pattern of going abroad, this repetition establishing the sense of compulsion, obsession, an inescapable destiny that afflicts Filipinos today, but the third line to the last changes the repetion and poses the question: "saang kandungan ka lalapag?" The central image or metaphor is that of flying, travel via airplane, which evokes all the other poetic resonances that include Icarus, phoenix, the bird of "Bayan Ko," Ninoy Aquino's killing at the airport, etc.

So the structure of the poem, its tone and rhythm, derive from the experience explored in the poem as well as the intention of the poet to stir up, provoke, disturb--not to put to sleep or drug the listener/reader, in contrast to the narcotic or sentimentalist style of AEGIS and other really infantile songs that Regine Velasquez, Sharon Cuneta, and other TV mass media singers repeat to the delight of millions.

Ok, let me know if this makes sense. Are you a literature student? Tell me something about yourself. How did you stumble on my WEBsite? For a recent interview, etc., check two recent items about me in GMA NEWS.TV--google the article by Luis Gorgonio entitled "E. San Juan Jr: Bantog na intellectual" of June 26, 2007; and also in the section PINOY ABROAD in GMANews.TV, dated June 16, 2007.

Sige, warmest regards,

Kinah said...

Good day Sir,

First off, I would like to thank you again for being so kind as to assist me in my study. Your response has been quite a help. This is actually for my Filipino literature class in which we were asked to analyze 2 poems composed by a Filipino writer.

I was browsing through the archives of the library when i spotted your book, ALAY SA PAGLIKHA NG BUKANG-LIWAYWAY, and accordingly read a few of your works. I found it very interesting, added that I also searched about your life and works which I saw to be quite exceptional and intriguing being both a Filipino who is a fan of good poetry and a Political Economy student.

I found your blog by typing your name in google, you're also in wikipedia as well as in numerous other websites. :)

I hope to work in the field of diplomacy someday or probably take a teaching post, if given the opportunity.

As for why people enjoy Aegis or other seemingly mindless music, its possibly just the feeling of comfort they get out of it or maybe because they can relate. I myself, am admittedly a moderate fan of punk. I guess it has something to do with emotions and how one is able to use that sort of music as a release/escape from the complexity of their own life.

All for now.

Hope to hear from you again Sir,
Kinah S.

Kinah said...

Good day sir,

I'm unsure as to whether you recived my reply to your most recent comment. In any case, I would like to thank you again for your assistance towards my assignment. You've been a great help, Sir.

All the best.

Kinah S. (