I only have two favorite writers from our country: Nicolas Pichay and Ralph Galan. I am lucky that these two great minds are my good friends and confidant. My life in college was fun, exciting and very memorable because I shared it with my org mates (UP Tropa), Larong Bata classmates, college mates from CMC and other tropas from different UP colleges and departments. I am also lucky to have great professors who made my life in Diliman stressful, just kidding ma’ams and sirs 🙂
I am still in touch with them through FB. These are my friends that I will keep for life. Despite the long absence and distance, I am pretty sure that they remain the same.
Last night, I coerced my friend Ralph to share his poetry in my blog. Hope you enjoy his poetry as much as I do.
Ralph Semino Galán, poet, literary and cultural critic, translator and editor, is the Assistant Director of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies. He is an Associate Professor of Literature, the Humanities and Creative Writing in UST Faculty of Arts and Letters and the UST Graduate School.
He obtained his BA in English (major in Literature), magna cum laude, from the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, and MA in English Studies (major in Creative Writing) from UP Diliman. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Literature at UST Graduate School.
His poems in English and Filipino have won prizes in national poetry contests. His works, both creative and critical, have been published in numerous national and international literary anthologies and critical journals.
He is the author of the following books: The Southern Cross and Other Poems (UBOD New Authors Series, NCCA, 2005), Discernments: Literary Essays, Cultural Critiques and Book Reviews (USTP, 2013), From the Major Arcana (USTPH, 2014), and Sa mga Pagitan ng Buhay at Iba pang Pagtutulay (USTPH, 2018).
He served as a juror of the Gawad Buhay!: the Philippine Legitimate Stage (Philstage) Awards for the Performing Arts from its establishment in 2008 until 2014. He is currently working on a research project sponsored by the UST Research Center for Culture, Arts and Humanities titled “Labaw sa Bulawan: Translating 100 Mindanao Poems from Cebuano into English.”
You venture forth into the world
bearing nothing but the lily
of your innocence, no excess
baggage of bad memories,
no fur-lined overcoat of remorse.
Sure of stride and pure
of heart, you walk with confidence
the twisting, turning path
toward fulfillment, full of surprises
at every bend: a waterfall
rumbling and tumbling like thunder,
a mountain range serrated
like dragon’s teeth. And you gaze
with amazement, eyes
wide open to absorb the scene —
Beyond the hazy horizon
what do you see, infinite questions
or endless possibilities?
I wave my pen like a wand
and cast a spell to conjure images
of the past: the silk of your skin
I had touched a thousand times,
the impish smile in your eyes,
your firm thighs. Athamé in hand,
I slash the veils of illusion
one by one, and stab my devoted
heart with the dagger of art.
I let the blood spill like music,
tears flowing like the solemn lyrics
of a dirge. I let everything go.
I remove my robes and remember
that the path to wholeness
is not in safety but in vulnerability.
Star-clad, I offer my wounds
to the universe, faith transforming
pain into poetry, suffering into song.
Between the ebony and the ivory pillars,
she sits in front of the mystic temple.
Behind her, the veil covering the greatest
of mysteries, its repeating pattern
of palms and pomegranates reminding
the initiate of the everlasting cycle
of birth, death and rebirth. You ask her,
“How can I enter the inner chamber,
the sacred sanctuary beyond existence?”
Close-lipped she remains still, garbed
in her flowing cerulean gown and mantle,
on her head a horned crown, the lunar
disc of ultimate discernment, at her feet
the crescent moon of waxing intuition.
Realize, those of you who seek wisdom,
she is your truest mirror-image: the High
Priestess does not conceal any secret,
nor does she reveal, unless it comes from you!