MANILA – Acclaimed author and screenwriter Lualhati Bautista, known for her award-winning novels and screenplays “Gapo”, “Dekada ‘70”, “Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa?”, and “Bulaklak sa City Jail” has self-published her first poetry book “Alitaptap sa Gabing Madilim”.
As early as June, she has been thinking about self-publishing a poetry collection after digging through old poems she wrote but never released to the public. She said it was her way of keeping herself amused amid the coronavirus-related lockdowns since March.
“Noong medyo nainip na ako, kinolekta ko ang mga tula ko. Marami pala akong tula e. Mula pa nung matagal, mga ‘70s pa. Inencode ko sa computer kasi marami dun typewriter pa (When I started to get bored, I started collecting my poems. I didn’t realize I wrote many poems. I started writing them a long time ago, in the ‘70s. I encoded them on the computer because many of them were written on the typewriter),” she said in an interview aired over the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) Facebook page last Saturday.
Bautista said she got the first batch of books published between Nov. 10 and 12. The “Alitaptap sa Gabing Madilim” contains around 200 poems she wrote since the early ‘70s. She described the initial book sales as a “blockbuster”, noting that both fans and new readers were excited to see how she fared in poetry.
“Sa lahat ng libro ko, ito ang blockbuster agad. Wala pang isang buwan, kalahati ng print run ko, na-order na. Siguro dahil nga ngayon lang ako nagpublish ng tula (Among all my books, this one is the blockbuster. Half of the prints were sold in less than a month),” she told the Philippine News Agency.
Now 74-years-old, Bautista said she felt like she was on “house-arrest” during the duration of the pandemic since she was both discouraged from setting foot outside and worried about catching the virus.
However, she said knowing that her works continue to inspire young readers, particularly college students, has helped lift up her spirits. She said many readers have been messaging her through Facebook to purchase a signed copy of her works.
“Itong mga huling panahon, pansin ko ang daming mga order ng mga libro ko. At marami sa mga umuoorder kabataan, mga 18 years old, 17. Basta may autograph, masaya na sila (During the past few days, I noticed more people are placing orders for my books. And many of them are youth, aged 18 years-old, 17. As long as they get my autograph, they’re happy),” she said.
Social issues in literature
While she acknowledged that the younger generation has developed a strong desire to read books, she expressed hope that they would read more works by Filipino authors.
Likewise, Bautista, known for her exploration of women’s issues, is hopeful that young writers would write about social issues such as changing the social narrative on entrenched gender roles.
“Sana pati mga kaisipan magbago. Yung relasyong babae at lalaki laging nakatutok pa rin dun sa dati na ang babae subordinate, ang babae mas mababa, mas mababa ang katayuan sa pamilya. Dapat hindi ganun. Dapat i-angat din ang tingin natin sa kapwa babae at tingin din sa lalaki (I hope the consciousness changes. The relationship of a man and woman involves the woman being subordinate, the woman having a lower status in the family. It shouldn’t be like that. We should empower women and men),” she said.
She said young readers and writers alike should stand against rape culture and reject common beliefs that are propagated within our society to reinforce blame toward the victim.
“Magsuri. Hindi lang magbasa, kailangan suriin mo pati yung binabasa mo. Dapat bukas ang tenga mo, bukas ang mata mo sa nangyayari sa paligid mo (Learn to assess. Don’t just read, assess what you read. Your ears should be open, your eyes should be open to what’s happening around you),” she added.
Bautista also encouraged young writers to keep writing, adding that she herself has been writing at a young age. She recalled how one of her elementary teachers confiscated a comic strip she was writing and threw it in the trash.
“Mula pa nung maliit ako wala naman akong ibang pinangarap kundi maging manunulat. Nung nasa Grade 1 ako, sulat ako ng sulat ng mga salita nga sa drawing ko. Ang ginagawa ng teacher ko, kinuha yung papel ko, pinunit, nilagay sa basurahan. Sabi ko ‘Kung alam lang ng teacher na ito magiging dakilang manunulat, siguro di niya gagawin ‘yun (Ever since I was little, I didn’t dream of being anything else besides being a writer. When I was in first grade, I would keep writing on speech bubbles of drawings I’ve made. My teacher would confiscate my paper and throw it in the trash. I said, ‘If this teacher knew I’d be a writer in the future, she probably wouldn’t have done that),” she said, chuckling.
Signed copies of Bautista’s poetry collection are available from Bookay-Ukay, Bookfellas, Pandayan Bookshop, Solidaridad Bookshop, and her personal Facebook page. (PNA)