TIRED of reading all those lengthy short stories and poems? Then listen to the first ever CD anthology of critically acclaimed writers reading their selected works.

Dubbed as USTinig—Thomasian Writers Read, the CD is the most recent project of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Studies (UST-CCWS). It consists of studio readings of distinguished Thomasian alumni Rebecca Anonuevo, Cirilo Bautista, F. Sionil Jose, Michael Coroza, J. Neil Garcia, Nerisa Guevara, Jose Victor Torres, Lourd de Veyra, Ophelia Dimalanta, Joselito Zulueta, Ramil Gulle and Vim Nadera. Most of the readers are associates of the UST-CCWS.

“Literature has always been initially an oral tradition, communicated primarily through the human voice,” UST-CCWS Director Ophelia Dimalanta writes, in the album jacket. Through the CD, the Center attempts to revive this tradition by employing the “varying degrees and intensities of passion, pitch and fervor” of Thomasian voices, Dimalanta adds.

Junior associate and poet Rebecca Anonuevo starts off with “Pagkatapos ng Aksidente,” a poem about her view of an accident as courageous love and gratitude: “Ngayon tignak ang aking mga kamay ng lubos na pasasalamat at pag-aabang pa sa mga aksidenteng ihahayag ng alapaap, ng ambon, pinakamalupit na unos at payapang altar.” Her second track, “Bago ang Babae,” speaks about a modern woman’s assertion of independence: “Hindi ko kailangang magsalita kung nais kong manahimik…Hindi ko kailangang burahin na isa akong tao bago ang isang babae.”

Meanwhile, senior UST-CCWS associate Cirilo Bautista paints a distinct picture of a poor Philippines in his poem, “Third World Geography.” With the lines “You kneel on the parched earth and pray for the rice. Only the wind hears your useless words,” he sums up how miracles have abandoned the country, with only the blatant injustices prevailing. “The Intensity of Things,” which was read with a soft background of sax and violin, “reveals the cynicism rampant in the heart of people long tyrannized and abused:” “Though the soul darkens the sky, we walk the fields of silence to gain that silence against the fear in our heart, against the vast nothingness pressing on our soul.”

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National Artist and senior UST-CCWS associate F. Sionil Jose reads an excerpt from “Poon,” the first novel of his well-known Rosales saga. He gives life to the small voice of the novel’s protagonist, Istak, and plows through the hero’s questions about justice and moral order.

A soft crooning introduces Michael Coroza’s poem “Alak,” where he recounts his love-hate relationship with the potent magic of alcohol—how a drunkard’s attempts to forget a shattered love only makes him remember it more. Coroza dramatically sums up the fervid desire to forget: ”Ay, sana kagabi ng ako’y mapasuka, napatapon na rin ang iyong alaala.” In a very somber tone, he reflects on the poignant finality of farewells in the poem “Palaging May Ulan”: “Palaging may ulan ang pamamaalam. Kaya binabaha ng lungkot ang lungsod.”

J. Neil Garcia reads “Poem 57” from the latest collection, Kaluluwa. Garcia speaks of the mortally aggrieved body accomplishing its life’s work by abandoning its selfishness through dying. The body implores the soul to “…go now, lift and billow softly into the day, lightening, sipping the sky’s colors. Think not, think never of me, my dear.”

Palanca winner Nerisa Guevara reads “Closing The Sky,” her mantra of sadness and leaving through the use of the most basic elements of sky and stone. She also reads “Chime House” and “The Last Rite.”

Nationalist playwright Aurelio Tolentino is the dominant figure in Jose Victor Torres’ dramatic monologue, “Tagailog.” Torres relives the Tolentino’s bitter tirade against the Americans. In prison for writing and producing “Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas,” a patriotic agitprop against the Americans, Tolentino reaffirms his faith in the struggle—“Nakakahilo rin ang humilo sa kanila.”

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Junior associate Lourd de Veyra struts his stuff in his poem, “The Room Was Hot And The World Was Blue.” The trombone slowly builds up the heat that is “…like the jazzman’s longing…and the listener forgets that he is in a room where there is no air and therefore nothing exists. Not the trombone, not the stereo, not the heat, not even the room.”

The country’s foremost poetess in English Ophelia Dimalanta-Alcantara reads her popular poem “A Kind Of Burning,” a love poem about “how love is bound to suffer through closeness,” which “…will tug us apart in many directions in absolute din.”

Joselito Zulueta, CCWS assistant director, reads “The Atelier of Journalism,” a poem that exposes his conflicting interests—journalism and creative writing.

Junior associate Ramil Gulle reflects on the big vacuum left by the absence of his father in the poem “Big.” He asks in the end, “How could someone my size leave an absence as big as the world?” And in the last track, the father of performance poetry Vim Nadera shows his typical explosive style in “Kabaka” and “Xoce’s Slam Song.”

USTinig reaffirms the power of literature. By keeping up with current technology and trends, the written word is made much more exciting and pleasing to the senses, especially the ears.

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