Noting that queer identity in the Philippine literature in Binisaya remains underrepresented and almost invisible, LGBTQI writers from the Visayas and Mindanao are slated to release an anthology called Libulan.
According to Alton Melvar Dapanas, one of the people behind Libulan, local literature (sometimes branded as ‘regional’ by those who subscribe to the center-periphery orientations in what is supposed to be a necessarily plural ‘national’ literatures) is part of the “critical and creative interests” of VisMin writers who write poetry, fiction, essay/creative nonfiction, and drama in the Binisaya language.
However, even if there are already numerous literary masters from these parts of the country, including the likes of “Vicente Vivencio Bandillo, Junne Canizares, Austrelgena Espina-Moore, Marcel Navarra, Arturo Peñaserada, Ester Tapia, Macario Tiu, Don Pagusara, and Gardiopatra Quijano whose aesthetics is now seen through the works of Cora Almerino, Richel Dorotan, Cindy Velasquez, CD Borden, Ton Daposala, and many others”, Dapanas said that “the queer identity in the Philippine literature in Binisaya remains underrepresented and almost invisible.”
This is, therefore, the intent of Libulan: “To offer writers (queer and straight allies alike) from Visayas and Mindanao a platform where being queer and being different is celebrated,” Dapanas said. “Through our literary anthology, we offer a venue for queer writers and queer characters and queer sensibilities. We queer a space where writers and their writings can experiment and test the limits of the genres and the language.”
The editors of the anthology are poet-essayist Dapanas from Cagayan de Oro and fictionist-playwright R Joseph Dazo from Cebu. The two co-founded the Libulan Queer Collective, a queer writers’ bloc of poets, essayists, fictionists and playwrights from the southern Philippines who is behind “Payag Habagatan: New Writings from the South”, a digital literary journal of new Visayan and Mindanaoan literatures; the Cebu Young Writers’ Studio, a regional creative writing workshop in Central Visayas; and the Cagayan de Oro Young Writers’ Studio, its counterpart in Northern Mindanao.
Queer studies scholar Miguel Antonio N. Lizada from Davao and a professor at the Ateneo de Manila University-Department of English will write the anthology’s introduction. While visual artist Armand Jake Dayoha is the layout editor.
Writers whose works will appear in the anthology include: Jaime An Lim, John Iremil Teodoro, Jerry B. Gracio, Jhoanna Lynn Cruz, Omad Khalid, Ian Rosales Casocot, Charlie Samuya Veric, Jack Alvarez, and Arnie Q. Mejia. Emerging voices like Jondy Arpilleda, Jessrel Gilbuena, Arian Tejano, Kei V Bughaw, EJ Villena, Christian S. Baldomero, Jae Mari Magdadaro, Richellet Chan, Romeo Bonsocan, Wilfreda V Cabusas, Efmer E Agustin, Elvin Ruiz, and Genory Vanz Alfasain will also be included.
All of the writers are born and/or based in the southern Philippines.
“We do not claim for this work to be the definitive or to be the perfect representation of queer voices in the south. As seen in the fewer contributions from our lesbian, bisexual, and transgender brethren, more work still has to be done in reaching out to accommodate more voices in future collections. We hope that this will be a start,” Dapanas said.