By Nicolo Nasol
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.” — John Keating, Dead Poets Society
MARKING a year since it started breaking ground into the city’s literary landscape, Tinta of the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu hosted its largest crowd yet with its 13th monthly poetry reading or “basa balak” last Feb. 27 at Handuraw Pizza, Gorordo Ave.
In attendance were established Cebuano writers Karla Quimsing, Anthony Kintanar, Larry Ypil, Denver Torres and Jona Bering, along with various members of the Nomads and Bathalad, two of the literary circles in Cebu. Joining them were Tinta poets Jae Magdadaro, Monica Manluluyo, Reyna Cadiz, Astrid Ilano, and Tara Angela Prieto, as well as Cebu-based start-up Suwh(a)t, whose soulfully handcrafted notebooks served as prizes for the trivia and “tigmo” session.
The mostly young audience brought their own poems, songs, and anecdotes into the open mike segment of the full house event handsomely titled “Kasumaran: Pisik sa mga Tinagsip” (Anniversary: A Splatter of Fragments).
Overwhelmed by the growing number of participants appreciating the monthly poetry nights, Tinta’s incumbent chairperson Tara Angela Prieto, a graduating psychology student, envisions “stronger patronage to these literary events.”
A Rorschach test
When the first verses were penned by its founding chairperson, Romeo Nicolas Bonsocan, on June 16, 2011, Tinta no sooner became UP Cebu’s official — and only — creative writing organization. With the guidance and support of Lilia Tio, Januar Yap, and Shane Carreon and the commitment of the group’s members, Tinta, which was initially born of the idea of having an essential creative outlet and “interest-based organization” for students, assumed the form of an inkblot smeared not just in the school walls but also in the walls of contemporary Cebuano literature.
Outside the school’s wrought iron gates, Tinta conducted its own love letter writing contest with an awards ceremony held at La Belle Aurore (a bookshop that’s being missed) in 2013, as well as a literary awards night at UP Cebu in 2014 that drew student participants from different universities.
Going in for the quill
The organization was formerly named “Mga Alagad sa Dagang” (The Order of the Quill). Now, other than being the Cebuano translation for “ink,” Tinta also stands for “Tunob” (footprint), “Iwag” (light), “Nasod” (country), “Talento” (talent) and “Alampat” (art) —five components that serve as the organization’s cornerstones.
Tinta’s groundwork activities are to “read, write, and inspire.” They practice their craft through sharing, engaging in discussion, and getting involved in the development of national literature. They also hold several workshops, where they are mentored by Cebu’s literary heroes.
Now stepping into their fifth year, Tinta continues to influence a generation of young writers to move toward a renewal — or a revolution, if you will — of Cebuano literature.