Saturday, November 24, 2012

Aklan Poetry During Wakes

Hambae Inakeanon in its original form
Poetry in Aklan is old, and the 16th century poem "Hambae Inakeanon" was one of the earliest documented proof. Among the great literary minds from Panay Island is an Aklanon known as Dominador Ilio. As a poet, he wrote several books, which may have been coming from the practice of poetry in the traditions of Aklan.

The author of the article entitled "Luwa in Aklan," Melchor Cichon, recounts that at the funeral of his grandmother, people honored her with Luwa in her wake. His grandmother before, recites Luwa on the wakes of friends or relatives who passed away. Read more of how Luwa is being done.

Luwa in Aklan
ni Melchor F. Cichon

A luwa is a form of poetry that is usually written in four lines. It used to be the first stanza of corrido, that kind of poetry that relates the exploits of kings and princess. There are also luwa that are longer ones. There are also luwa  that are used to get the hands of a lady. This is known as enamoracion.

It is said that it is not advisable to recite luwa if one is not in the wake, because it is believed that a member of the family will die if this is done not in its proper place.

Because luwa were recited in wakes as part of a punishment to whoever is the loser in a game like konggit, truth or consequence, bordon, it is very much appreciated if the lines have rhymes, rhythms, and humor. This is one reason why there are nonsense luwa. The rhythms are not consistent though, but there are a lot of luwa that have rhymes. These include luwa with aaaa, aabb, abab patterns.

There are also some luwa that have abcd endings.

Here are examples:

Example of a luwa with an aaaa rhyme:
Pag-agto ko sa Ibajay,
May hakita ako nga patay;
Ginbagting ko ra eagay,
Mas mabaskog pa sa lingganay.

Here you will notice that the endings of all lines are in ay.

For the aabb example:

Pag-agto ko sa bukid
Nakakita ako it ibid;
Paglingot ko sa waea
Gatueok kakon rang nobya.—Melchor F. Cichon (MFC)

Here the first and second lines end in id, while the third and fourth lines end in a.

Here is another ending. The abab:

Igto sa bukid,
May busay nga naga-ilig;
Kon magpaligos igto si Ismid,
May daeang butong nga binulig. --MFC

There are luwa with Spanish and English words.

Paris it navagante
Sa tunga it travisya
Kinueabos rang suwerte
Hay gulpi nga nagisgrasya.

Igto sa bukid
May kwarta nga nagaligid
Nagaligid-naga roll
Dumiretso sa waterfall.

There are other luwa that are bawdy, but full of imagery. Here is an example:

Pag-agto ni Inday sa Boracay
Napusa ro anang tuway;
Pagkasayod ka anang nanay,
Ana imaw nga ginminueay.-- MFC

For a nonsense luwa here is a classic example:

Secut erat en principio
Bisan libat basta gwapo;
En principio secut erat
Gwapo pero libat.

Secut erat is a Latin word that means Glory be, a Catholic prayer.

Here are other nonsense luwas:

Nag-agto ako sa Navas
May hakita ako nga bayawas;
Akon nga ginpaeas,
May nahueog nga sibuyas.

There are luwa that have double meanings. These are the luwa that belong to the adults, if they can decipher the meaning. Here is an example:

Maligos ako kunta
Sa maisot mo nga sapa
Ugaling ro kinasaea
May guardia civil sa tunga.--MFC

There are luwas that are really metaphysical. Here is one:

Ako mangunguma nga taga-Lezo
Maagto sa eanas agod mag-arado
Rang saeaburan puno’t bungot-bungot
Rang mabuot nga arado, indi magdueot kon indi magtindog.-- MFC

Ako si Haring Marikudo
Manugtanum it amamakoe
Pero ro gusto-gusto gid ni Inday kuno
Amamakoe nga sukoe.-- MFC

Kon gusto mo gid man ako
Nga mangin nobya mo;
Ro adlaw imo nga tukuran
Agud indi kita madueman.

Some of the topics being touched in luwa are love, death, courtship, sorrows, happiness, desires. disasters, anything and everything under and above the sun.

What is the difference between the old and the new luwa? In terms of subject matter, number of lines, number of syllables per line, the same.

Perhaps, until proven otherwise, the contemporary luwa have wider scopes like tsunami, and politics, and snows since some of the poets are college trained and have gone to different countries like Canada, America, Switzerland and Germany.

From the luwa that I heard and gathered, I noticed that politics is not given so much importance.

This is one aspect of luwa that should be looked into. I know that luwa like any other poetry can be used to dissect our society, including our politics.

Luwa is dying in Aklan. In fact many of our martial law babies have not heard of luwa.

But luwa is not only confined in Aklan. This was also common in Iloilo, Capiz, Antique, and Guimaras.

Because of this, I wrote luwa. These can now be read in my website:

Luwa writing is easy. Just remember this:
  1. Focus on one subject.
  2. If possible, inject humor in your luwa.
  3. Try to use rhyme and meter if possible.
  4. Maximize the use of the various figures of speech. But avoid using mixed metaphor.
  5. Be careful with your spelling. Prefixes should be attached to the root words, like pagbakae, ginsueat, etc. Remember the rule on the use ko and ku.
  6. Read and write luwa. There is no other way to learn how to write luwa but to write it yourself.

About the Author

Melchor F. Cichon is a poet and Library Head of St. Therese-MTC Colleges La Fiesta Site in Molo, Iloilo City. He was Head of the Readers Services Section of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas, Miag-ao, Iloilo until his retirement at 2010. He maintains several blogs where he shares his works.