Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Old Stone House by Cid R Real Jr., Ilocano Poet Laureate (San Vicente IS Series)

"The old stone house is the haven of abiding mutual devotion, affection and filial bond."
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
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There are few poets we can find a bit of Robert Browning, the romanticist; Alexander Pope, the moralist; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the idealist; and Walt Whitman, the realist, reflected in one person. One of them is Placido R Real Jr., whose untimely death left a great potential that could have earned more honors to his literary fame.

Among Cid Real's books: Life and Works of Ilocana Poetess Leona Florentino (in Ilocano); Biography of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, also in Ilocano, and "Loving you much, much more and other poems."  
A Poem Unborn, challenges the literary world to give deeper poetry, so with Glimpses of an Old Town, a historical retrospective in impressionism. Love Throbs in a Lifetime, is about the ephemeral nature yet indelible imprimatur of true love. A Pebble in the Sand, may reign but briefly, so with power and wealth - these and many more make Cid Real one of the great Ilocano writers.
Greatness indeed is a spark, so ephemeral, so elusive - that greatness itself is in ones ability to capture those fleeting moments in a special language - the language of artists - that permeates through the mind and heart, and into the soul.

And it matters little, if at all, if the artist didn't finish the task he set in life. Often, greatness is discovered in unfinished works, like Beethoven's Unfinished Symphony and Mozart's Requiem, or just one work, that of Joyce Kilmer's Only God Can Make a Tree, an all time popular poem. Or that, posthumously, greatness is revealed like Mendel and Bach and Van Gogh.

I know Cid - I called him Manong Cid for respect and seniority - and I have high respect to his family. I grew up in the same town, San Vicente, west of Vigan, capital of Ilocos Sur, now a city.

How could I write in a capsule the richness of our town - not of its modest economic status - but the diversity of talents and achievements of its citizens? Perhaps, there's no need at all, if only I can cite models like Cid Real Jr.

Often, I ask, " where have all the flowers gone?" symbolic of a song that is almost a dirge in times of war. When the able-bodied citizens leave the old ones and younger siblings behind. And they may never come back, a syndrome similarly affecting our town.

"Where have all the young men and women gone, the professionals, the adventurous, the family-loving, the dreamer?" I am one of them, and therefore I have sought to find the real answer from one more detached, more independent and more aspiring.

I find compliment in Cid's The Old Stone House. To wit:

An old stone house
continues to cradle
in the warmth
of this tender bosom
an unaging love
sown and nurtured
by a couple of almost
fifty golden years.

One I am of two sons,
and the oldest
of a brood
of two more girls
born to Love
in the old stone house
ever since the haven
of abiding mutual
devotion and affection
and filial bond.

It has been many years
since I left
the old stone house,
but my spirit
remains there
because it is to me
as one big attic
of the past
where I have kept
unwritten volumes
about youth
In moments
of sullen loneliness,
it i in this attic
where I seek refuge
and pick golden seeds
of happy memories.

The truth is, no one really leaves the place of his birth. Like a good seed nurtured by sun and rain - the seedling and the child - are challenged, he of his dreams, more afraid of mediocrity than setting for the unknown world, for adventure golden in the horizon in sunrise or sunset. Only then that he who conquers the inertia of good life can succeed. Cid undoubtedly did.

And what does Cid say about man losing not only his identity but his rationality? One can find it in another work, Acacia.
One would think
it was a lonely tree.
It stood alone
by its massive self
in the navel of the lea.

But no other tree
could probably happier be,
It had a fresh green gait
as fresh and green
as the surrounding shrubbery.

It was center stage of a choir
of birds playing a concert
in a May morning sunlight.
It wore a crown of fireflies
to light a starless night.

Where has my tree gone?
Could it have possibly died
or dried up in the heat of the sun?
Or, chopped down
by the axe of an insane one?

My acacia tree, I'll never forget.
It was the silent witness
to my growing up into a man...
but for all of thirty summers,
it has kept that a secret.

Ahead of time Cid saw the ghost of Malthus, hovering on a dead acacia tree, foretelling of Armageddon, but how subtle and discreet he said it. He saw the degradation - in fact, desecration - of the environment, and with it thunders, though distant, four horsemen of doom.

There is a tone of pathos, a stern word for the misdeed, with a message of advocacy. In the poem, no evil shall prevail over goodness, over the loss of a miniature ecosystem - the tree itself, host of happy birds and fireflies, chronicler, umbrella, continuum of the unspoiled landscape. The death of the tree is the death of our world - something dies in each and every one of us as members of humanity. And if there is an inamendable violation against human right, it is the intrusion into the secret of memories, by permanently destroying its living monument.

Bringing honors through the lips of his town mates, on the pages of Bannawag, in the halls of the corporate world, carry the multiplier effect of Cid's dedication to a life highly worthy to emulate. Yet, he was the least to notice, and this is what greatness is; it is barely perceived by the senses. And not at a time when that greatness - like an idea - has not come.

And as the world in postmodernism continues to fall freely, adrift in the sea of change, greatness is in looking back at that old stone house, on some strong foundations of faith and hope, in the exemplars of truth, simple truth about life. It is in reflecting upon the stump of a tree - the tree of one's childhood - trying to reconnect the past and the future.

Greatness after all is the smallness of man, yet deep is his humility and reverence, and all he can give in an abbreviated lifetime is just a single drop - and the sea will never be the same again. ~

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