For a book that covers the long and enduring story of Cebuano literature, Bisayangdako is an easy and pleasurable read.
Perhaps, we can attribute it to the fact that I’m a homegrown Bisdak (Cebu City-bred). Some words (gugma), places (Parian), and events (Sinulog) are familiar to me. And then the rest is a whole, new world —and yes, I had to accept that horrible truth that I don’t know a lot about Cebu, its history, culture, and literature —which is why this book is for me. Maybe, it’s for you, too. 🙂
A VERY LONG DISCLAIMER
I know. It’s absurd that I don’t know much about my own culture and literature even though I’m certainly on it, through it. It’s childish to blame it to some invisible things or people or institution (haha), but… I think it boils down to your own “personal culture.” My father’s Tagalog while my mother’s Bisaya (taga-Badian). And while my siblings and I were raised here, I can’t really say that our values are purely Bisaya (if “pure” really exists). My father who closely monitored our activities (and own ideologies) had been quite influential in the development of my personal culture. For instance, when we were young, his Bisaya vocabulary was so limited, he’d often speak to us in Tagalog. Naturally, I got confused —why do kids at school laugh when I say it’s “bubuyog” (Tagalog for bee)? For them, it’s just “buyog.” Speaking in English was also stressed more at school, especially during university.
I’ve gained my interest in reading and writing in Bisaya at Cebu Normal University and went to attend local poetry sessions with fellow grad students. Still, I saw myself at a disadvantage to others who had deeper foundation in the Cebuano/Bisaya language. I’ve noticed that those people who hailed from neighboring provinces or islands had a wider stack of Bisaya vocabulary. I also have this friend whose writing voice she hypothesized to have been lifted from her childhood — times she had spent listening to the local AM radio with her lola.
Now, how can I top that? I can’t. And I guess, I don’t really have to. My own personal culture, mixed with another regional culture, may actually benefit my never-too-late attempts at learning or re-learning our own culture, our literature.
Books like Bisayangdako has showed me the progress others before me had had. Perhaps, one day I could do my part, too (cross-fingers).
Top book image from Mary Martin Booksellers