EVERYDAY since February, a Hiligaynon tabloid, Hublas nga Kamatuoran (Naked Truth), publishes an erotic sonnet, a move that has earned it mixed reviews and more readers.
Sales of the newspaper in Iloilo City have improved, boosted by the popularity of the erotic sonnets among its low-income readers, said publisher Danny Fajardo.
But readership is not confined to those who peruse for prurient reasons because the poems speak to anyone who celebrates life, love, and language.
The sonnets were written by Peter Solis Nery, a multi-awarded poet who was also a teacher, monk, politician, Dervish dancer, journalist, to name a few.
Before writing the 100 erotic sonnets, he tried to mount a nude protest when President Macapagal-Arroyo delivered her State of the Nation Address in 2005. He relented when he failed to get a permit to bare in front of the city’s Arroyo Fountain.
Nery is a self-styled avant-garde columnist, comparing his notoriety with that of Andy Warhol and pop star Madonna, the mother diva of reinvention.
Nery’s sonnets take liberties at the literary form, something that some critics chaff at. While these have 14 lines, the poems do away with rhyme scheme or meter. Noticeable are the eight-line octaves broken in two stanzas that present an attitude, question or proposition that the next six lines (sextets) comment on or resolve.
The sonnets in Hiligaynon are melodious and sensual despite the unrestrained use of language to express desire, longing and excitement. Sometimes, their power lies at the concluding couplet or in the abstract comment delivered at the end.
Pila ka bulan, pila ka tuig bag-o nalibot ni Magellan
Ang bug-os nga kalibutan? Ano nga mga baraghal nga kagamitan
Ang iya ginlalang agud lamang masalapuan ang mga isla
Nga nagalutaw-lutaw sa sadto wala-pa-namapa ng kadagatan,
Ginteleskopyo bala niya ang berde nga pukatod
Nga daw mga dughan sang higante gikan sa iya sakayan-dagat.
Nahikap bala niya ang mga ulutngan kag ang mga pilas
Nga nagaangkon sang mga likum sang bituon nga Polaris?
Ano ang mga bagyo nga iya ginsugata, kag diin sia nagpalipud
Sang ang misteryo daw kweba nga nagbuka para sa dumuluaw?
Wala bala sia nalumos sa mga haluk, o nayanggaw sang talon
Sa gintabuan sang mga hita? Natilawan bala ni Magellan
Ang kamulagko sang nawala nga tiil, o ang damil sang dulunggan?
Ang paglutahit sang bug-os nga lawas, paglibot sang kalibutan.
[How many months, how many years, did it take Magellan
To sail around the world? What crude instruments
Did he use to find those islands and continents
Floating, drifting in the still unmapped seas?
Did he peep at the telescope for the lush verdant hills
Shaped like giant breasts out from his ship?
Did he touch, feel, the nipples, and cuts
That possessed the secrets of the North Star?
What typhoons did he meet, and where did he hide
When mystery caved open to welcome strangers?
Did he not drown in kisses, or get enchanted by the forest
At the point where the thighs converge? Did Magellan try
The big toe of the left foot, or the taste of an earlobe?
To travel the length of the body is to circumnavigate the world.]
Nery said the erotic sonnets sought to break convention in Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a writing, “where sex is always replaced by metaphors and such literary devices as the full moon cowering behind the clouds.” “What is there to fear in sex?” he added. While some sonnets celebrate homoeroticism, Nery said he has also reclaimed heterosexual sex. The speaker or the persona is maybe a she or a he; sometimes he is a voyeur, sometimes she is a participant.
Luyag ko hikapon ka sa liwat, halukan, kag palanggaon;
Labaw pa sa akon pagdihon sining binalaybay sang kaulag,
Labaw pa sa pagpakighirup sang mapalaron nga tinta sa papel.
[I want to touch you again, kiss you, and make love to you;
More than me lustfully composing this poem of desire,
More than lucky ink making crazy love to paper.]
The sonnets are awaiting a book publisher but, meanwhile, they are enclosed in a plastic binding folder and assigned numbers like songs in a karaoke bar. And so, to recite them is to call out the numbers first, to mark out the sonnets, and remember that they are part of a body of work.
© Ma. Diosa Labiste & Philippine Daily Inquirer: March 25, 2006