When Spoken Poets Gather & Cebu Sits to Listen


You’re supposed to get up the stage. You fumble over the microphone stand, or with the help of a crew, set the microphone at a height that’s able to capture your night’s chosen expression:  spoken poetry.

It was the first Cebu Literary Festival Open Mic + Music — one down and two more to come for this weather-beaten July. Pockets of crowd gathered around an intimate yet open garden at The Walk Cebu IT Park. You’ve seen some familiar faces, the ones you’ve met in both formal and informal poetry reading sessions. The rest were a blur of university students, armed with backpacks, snapbacks, eye-glasses, and Converse shoes. And before the view of heads, legs, arms and faces assault you with awe — that yes, at such time, they’re gathered to hear your stuff, your poetry, your almost unspoken story — you had to clear your throat, offer a brief intro of what that poem is about, and start.



These straining necks and ears were waiting. And as much as you want to capture their undivided attention, it’s hard. A new batch of people would come in and add to the existing chatter. There’s food, drinks, and merchandise on the side. In other words, there’s always going to be something to fill in the time-lapse you were making.

Yet, there’s hope for the likes of you, dear aspiring spoken poet. Otherwise, the Little Boy Productions wouldn’t take interest in coming up with something as awesome as this, right?


The free event was set to keep your feet planted and readied for the launching of the spoken word in English, Filipino, and the region’s dialect, Cebuano-Visayan (or Bisdak). It’s uncanny how the open-mic event seemed to do more than just showcase. It revealed more.

In your nervous stupor, you might’ve failed to notice these. Some people found it easy to be entranced by certain lines. Others just don’t. Some find themselves in your poem because your imagery fits their experience, from the last time you two met, to the last goodbye. Love was (and probably, is) the most popular theme for this open-mic poetry reading; yet, adding through the layers of personal and straightforward confessions were the ever-present humor in Bisdak poems, which are locally referred to as “balak.”


The night wasn’t very long, but the words certainly poured out. You’ve made it now; yet you’re wondering if you can write more, read more.

Want to find out? Register for the next two open-mic sessions because yes, as Dustin Farivar puts it, “courage is a muscle.”

~All photos by Dorothy Dalisay (@voiddorothy)




Binigay ko sa’yo ang lahat

Sige, simulan natin sa mga lobo,

sa placard na bitbit ko, sa sorpresa

dahil nais ko’ng gawing espesyal

ang araw ng kapanganakan mo

dahil sa pagdating mo sa mundo

nasilayan ka

ng puso ko.


Balikan natin ang mga kuwento-kuwento,

mga detalyeng naririnig ko,

mga lihim na may kalakip na patalim

na makailang ulit na tumarak sa akin

at kung bakit,

diosko bakit

mas pinili pa’ring ngumiti sa harap mo?


Binigay ko sa’yo ang lahat

kaya natutunan ko’ng hindi lahat ng “lahat”

ay sasapat

minsan pala kahit ituun ko ang aking mga mata,

aking tinig, aking kamay at puso,

wala at wala kang masasalat

ang paglalambing na iaalay ko sa’yo

ay magbabalot lang ng init sa gabi

na unti-unti ring maglalaho

gaya ng dilim sa pagdating ng liwanag.

Oo alam ko

—kaya sa paglisan ng gabi

ang text ko, “Good morning, bi”

nagpapaalala na kahit wala na ang init

eto ako

handang i-refill yang salawahan mo’ng puso

ng ako, ako, ako, ako

kasi eto lang ang alam ko,

ang ibigay sa’yo ang lahat

ng ako.


~image by Jacob Chen