From MPG to TLG: A Journey to the Mystical Cave

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The Journey to Tarangban.
By Luis Batchoy

Tarangban is the name given to a mystical and enchanted island in the epic of Panay Hinilawod. This is an island protected by mysteries and magic that no man could reach without supernatural guidance. On this island is the cave of a million ‘binukots’ – powerful kept maiden with magic skills, headed by the powerful ‘busalian’ enchantresses Sinangkating Bulawan and Lubay Hanginon. This is where the hero Humadapnon and Dumalapdap fell trapped to the wiles of the sisters and completely enamored by them, forgetting their supposed mission.

In the early 90’s a group of writers from the University of San Agustin Iloilo formed a group named ‘Mirror Poetry Guild’. This group shared the name with the campus publication of the school – “The Augustinian Mirror.” The group was composed of budding writers and poet who were also members of the campus publication. Many years after, the group gradually fell into a hibernation due to the members graduating from the University and pursuing careers in other fields and elsewhere.

Up to the early 2000’s due to the efforts of Dr. Leoncio Deriada, known as the Father of Contemporary Hiligaynon Literature, there emerged a resurgence of the love for writing in the local languages. There emerged young writers who wrote in the native Panayanon languages, Kinaray-a, Hiligaynon, and Akeanon. The love for local literature grew even more and the flame multiplied, encouraging younger writers to write in their own native tongues. Under the able leadership and vision of 5-time Palanca Award Winner, and National Book Awardee Prof. John Iremil Teodoro, with the full support of Prof. Jigger Latoza of the University Coordinating Center for Research and Publication, the San Agustin Regional Writer’s Workshop was born. The workshop became a venue where Hiligaynon. Kinaray-a and Akeanon literary pieces were read and discussed. Out of these workshops, there came a resurrection and revitalization of the Mirror Poetry Guild. Young writers and alumni-fellows from the workshop revived the Guild. There were monthly meetings called MPG Sessions, where participants brought new poems to be read by the group and for everyone to comment on and give a critique, as a way of helping each other grow in their own crafts. As the years went by, it was inevitable for the active members to invite friends who are not from San Agustin or even those who have not been fellows of the San Agustin Workshop. The group grew and with the dedication of its members, fought for the group’s continued existence. Some group members later became award winning writers, educators, researchers and other allied professionals in the literary discipline.

With this, the present members decided to remove limitations that the name imposes upon the group. First, Mirror is identified as a publication name of the University, second, the term ‘poetry’ because some members are not only poets, but are also playwrights, fictionists, and what-nots. Finally, the group wanted to keep the cultural assertion alive and burning among its members and the future members that the group wishes to attract, hence, they decided to reorganize and rename the group. Hence, the enchanted island with the mystical cave was chosen – Tarangban Literary Guild. Like the magical voices of the million binukots, the writers will continue to echo the magic and mysticism that is truly Panayanon, and will continue to be a group where one can be proud to be a Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a or Akeanon writer. What wondrous and magical enchantments will come out of the caves of Tarangban? You will know in the next few days. And so, with the chanting of the Hinilawod by the binukots of the Panay-Sulods, and the magic weaved by Sinangkating Bulawan and her sister Lubay Hanginon, counter weaved by the powerful man-woman hangkilan Nagmalitong Yawa, and the powers of the dance of life and death of the sister of Humadapnon, Labing Anyag, the island of Tarangban beckons. Journey with us! Ooooodddddddddooooooyyyyy!

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