Performance in the Time of Pandemic

This year’s Performatura (aptly subtitled the Performatura: Pandemic Edition) brought the best of our nation’s literature, history, and culture closer to a broader, more interconnected audience. The theme of the event was “Aking Adhika Makita Kang Sakdal Laya.”

As part of the Rebo Press Book Publishing’s contemporary youth literature imprint, Vox Populi PH and Rebo Press collaborated in preparing a one-hour online presentation as part of the Performatura: Claiming Indie Spaces in Challenging Times last November 23.

Indie publishing house Rebo Press featured various performances from its gallery of experienced and young authors, performance artists, and musicians. Vox Populi PH, one of its imprints, also featured readings from its breed of future writing pillars. Arguably the most interesting performance of the afternoon, Rebo not only made its set fun, but also meaningful.

Official event poster for “Live Among the Feral: The Virtual Booklaunch” (PHOTO | REBO PRESS)

Among the main events was the book launch of journalist and writer Karl de Mesa’s “Calling Out the Destruction: Collected Non-Fiction Meditations on Violence and Transcendence”, a collection of essays that will be available on Rebo Press in December 2021. Helping to make the well-rounded performance was Rica Aquino, who masterfully played the violin to Astor Piazzola’s “Etude No. 4.” Performance artist Ceej Gomera also performed the piece “Entire History.” Finally, the author played his acoustic rendition of Iron and Wine’s “Claim Your Ghost.”

Official event poster for “Sa Umpisa ay Dilim at Liwanag: Isang Pagbasa” (PHOTO | REBO PRESS)

In addition, educator Jan Aldous O. Virina also read a chapter off of Frank G. Rivera’s “Si Jose Rizal sa (Loob at Labas ng Kagila-gilalas na) Daigdig ni Atô.” The chapter, titled “Sa Umpisa ay Dilim at Liwanag,” explores the world of protagonist Atô, an Agta, who eventually meets with the young Jose Rizal. The historical fantasy novel is the latest work and magnum opus of Rivera’s long and fruitful career.

Official event poster for “Salamin: Isang Pagbasa” (PHOTO | REBO PRESS)

Rebo Press’s founder Maria Kristelle Jimenez also graced the audience with a reading from her work “Salamin: Mga Personal na Prosa.” This book is a collection of personal essays about coping with depression through writing. The reading was superimposed with a short clip directed and edited by Reynand Manaois, featuring indie actress Rizza Dulay.

Official event poster for “Nag-umpisa ang Lahat sa isang Tinig: Isang Pagtatanghal” (PHOTO | REBO PRESS)

Youth digital writing publication Vox Populi PH is a neophyte in Performatura, but the group of young writers held their own. Featuring a set of essay, story, and poetry readings, Vox Populi’s contribution to the event was threaded together by a spoken word poem,  “Nag-umpisa ang Lahat sa Isang Tinig,” written and edited by founder Maria Kristelle Jimenez and performed by Rebo Press’ resident graphic artist, Gwynette Ivory Marbella.

The participants include Marius Carlos, Jr., who read an excerpt from his collection of essays, “Incarnations”; Maria Kristelle Jimenez, who read her short story “Muning” from her award-winning zine, “Anatomiya ng Pandemiya”; Annalyn Biagtan, who read a chapter from her novel “Eclipse”; Karl Patrick Wilfred Suyat who read an excerpt from his collection of political essays, “Karl, Not Marx”; Jay-ar Paloma,  who read his poem “Diglossia” from his zine “postmodern musings”; and Julienne Maui Mangawang, who read her poem “In the Garden” from her collection of poems, “Aftermath: Drawn Out.” Aidan Reuel Bernales, also performed his original spoken word piece “Your Poetry Sucks.”

The books that authors presented have also been exhibited at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. The said book titles from the Vox Populi PH lineup were included on the National Book Development Board’s Frankfurt Portal.

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