Roilinguel Calilung

Roilinguel Calilung

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Roilinguel P. Calilung: A Biography
One of the active Kapampangan poets that we have is Mr. Roilinguel P. Calilung. Mr. Calilung, or Roi, as he prefers to be called, was born on the 31st of January 1987 at Lubao, Pampanga by his proud parents Mr. Rogelio Calilung and Mrs. Melinda Calilung. He gladly shares to us that his parents’ fruitful marriage had been a result of love-at-first-sight story, wherein they had met at a nearby river while his mother was taking a bath. The said marriage has blessed the couple with three children, namely Roimel, Roilinguel, and Micah. Roilinguel’s first name was derived from both his father and mother’s first name and the same goes for his elder brother Roimel.
Roi’s hometown had been at Bacolor, Pampanga before the disastrous volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo had forced them to relocate at Bulaon Resettlement. Some of his years had also been spent at Pulungbulu, San Jose since this had been nearer to the places where he had studied. Roi finished his primary schooling at Angeles Elementary school, while both his secondary and thirtiary years had been spent at the Holy Angel University at Angeles City, Pampanga. He had recently finished his degree in Bachelor of Library Information Science and has recently started his career as a librarian at St. Scholastica’s Academy at San Fernando, Pampanga.

On The Way to Success
As aforementioned, Roi spent some of his years with his grandfather since this had been nearer to the places where he went to school. Having lived with his grandfather, Mr. Virgilio Calilung, who is also one of our Kapampangan poets, Roi tells us that his grandfather is his main inspiration and mentor for writing and reciting poems. Apparently, his grandfather also inherited his great grandfather’s skills in reading and writing poetry. To give a brief background, it has been a part of the Kapampangan tradition to write poems and read them aloud on occasions like weddings. His great grandfather used to write poems for his grandfather to read and it was through these practices that his grandfather learned to write his own poems.
On the other hand, Roi had been fond of reading poems written by his grandfather and as well as other people’s works. Through reading them, he was inspired to write his own since he finds that the works of other people to be unconvincing while his grandfather’s poems had always been his view of the standard.

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He used to consult his grandfather regarding his own poems but apparently, his grandfather had always seen them as unsatisfactory. His grandfather’s criticisms had inspired him to do better and to make his grandfather to be proud of him someday. Sadly, the criticisms had also been a cause for him to stop consulting his grandfather about his works.
He primarily started out with reading poems and declamations and had only just begun writing his own poems when he was in high school. His first encounter with declamations was during high school when he owed his classmate some money. Coincidentally, his Alma Mater (Holy Angel University) was conducting a declamation contest entitled “Ligligan Deklamasyon Karing Deklamador king Amanung Sisuan.” Inspired by the prize money, he asked his grandfather to write a poem for him to use in the contest. Although he did not win, he regarded this experience as his stepping stone to being a Kapampangan artist since this paved way for him to be known in this kind of art.
The Poet
Presently, Roi has over 50 poems written in Filipino and 15 poems in Kapampangan. Though he had already lost count on how many poems he has written overall, he states that declamation has always been his first love since this was where he had started. Apparently, there are two types of declamation – basulto and polosa. He explains that both types have the same tone although the former is one wherein the literary piece is memorized while the latter is spontaneous in nature.
He recalls that his first Kapampangan poem was written during his class in logic that he had found to be boring on that day. It was raining during that time and he saw a bird which was soaking wet and that inspired him to write a poem about the bird. The bird was wandering around and looking for a dry tree for shelter and a big leaf where he could dry himself but could not find any. The poem was only a few lines since the class was dismissed and he was then unable to finish the poem. Later on, the poet had been able to finish his first poem in the Kapampangan language.
His first poem is as follows:

Itang Ayop

King metung mangga
Ing ayop ikit ke
Apilit yang Titikdo
King maipis a tangke.

At ne king kabasa
Alang makimale
Makabalot kaya
Ing lungkot at lumbe.

Ditak kapinandit
Ing angin kinablas
Ing maimpis a tangke
King gabun mebalag.
The Bird

On a mango tree
The bird that I saw
Forced himself to stand
On a thin branch.

Soaking wet
And nobody knowing
He was filled
With sadness and sorrow.

A little later on
The wind came
And the thin branch
Fell onto the sand.

King tangke meko ya
Sinulapong kikikyak
Menintong aliwa
Tangke no ya dapat.

Malagwa neng ikit
Mayabong tanaman
Bigla nang a isip
Ing karin n tuknang.

Anya itang ayop
King bulong migpampan
Migdulap yang lunas
At migpakasikan.

He left the branch
Flew while he was crying
Looked for another
Branch where he should be.

He saw at once
A taller tree
Suddenly he thought
That was where he’d stop for shelter.

And so the bird
Seeked refuge on the leaf
It gave him comfort
And gained him strength.

Roi does not usually write about nature. His poems’ subjects or topics are mainly about friendship, loneliness, and the universal topic of love. His poems about friendship are those which he dedicates to his friends while loneliness is the topic he usually writes about when he is alone. When asked if he also writes about history, he said that he has also thought of doing so but this would be a challenge since writing about a certain topic requires broad knowledge to be able to express more about it.
It has been his habit to compile all the poems that he has written since he learned during a creative writing workshop that compiling your literary pieces and continuously keeping them and reading them after a month or so would help to make it better. He says that one should not stop keeping his work for a while and checking back on it again until one feels that his work has been perfected. Only then should one be able to feel confident to show his work to others. Good poems are those that are able to defend its’ self from criticisms, so one should always aim for perfection.
His style in writing poems in the Filipino language is usually free-verse while those in Kapampangan language are usually versed. He also uses symbolism in his work and capitalizes words with significant value to distinguish the symbolism that he has used in it. He gave us this example to emphasize on his writing style, saying that the word father means a more knowledgeable person compared to the child in the poem:
Anak: Itay masdan mo ang mga ulap Child: Father, look at the sky
Bakit tuwid ang kanilang paggalaw Why do they move in a straight direction?
Alam na ba nila ang kanilang pupuntahan Do they know where they are heading to?
Saan naman sila tutungo, alam mo ba Itay? And Father, do you know where are they going?
As stated earlier, Roilinguel has first started out with reading poems before he wrote his own. He says that up to now, he still reads poems frequently during occasions such as weddings and whenever he is invited to read poems aloud. In fact he is again invited to read poems on the 17th of May for the Aldo Ning Amanung Sisuan. He even used to be a part of a radio segment entitled Oras ng Poeta’t Dagadalit (Hour of the speaker and Writer) of the local radio channel which is GV AM 792. This used to be aired on Saturday afternoons but had ceased to be broadcasted once the announcer went abroad.
He is also actively participating in organizations like Aguman Buklod Kapampangan, an organization dominated by older poets and which has inspired Roilinguel to create a junior chapter at Holy Angel University. Roilinguel has also proved that he is not only capable of writing poems and reading them in public. He has been awarded Kapampangan Writer of the Year in 2004, Kapampangan Fictionist of the Year in October 2006, champion for essay writing on December 2007, and Angelite Poet of the Year on January of this year. All the awards that he had received had been at the Holy Angel University. Aside from the awards that he received from Holy Angel University, a recent addition to those was one where he won as the champion for Essay Writing at The Assumption College on Pampanga Day.
Calilung’s Choice
Roi’s favorite writer is Jose M. Gallardo. Compared to Crisostomo Sotto and other poets during his time, Roi says that the reason why Gallardo has been his favorite is because he is the only one who is able to make “magic poems.” He informs us that magic poems are which that can be separated into different poems but still bearing the same subject. These magic poems are apparently also interchangeable wherein if for example the poem has 16 syllables and if they are divided into two (that having 8 syllables each), the poem will still be able to rhyme with the same subject. Unfortunately, examples of such “magic poems” did not come in handy, leaving us members of the group quite unable to figure out to the said trivial information. He states that these magic poems cannot be made even by celebrated poets such as Shakespeare.
The poem “Tatang” and the poem about a lady who was about to celebrate her birthday are two of his favorite poems that are written by Gallardo. We asked him if these two poems are examples of what he had referred to as “magic poems” but apparently they are not.
Aside from declamations and poems, Roi is also fond of hobbies like chess, surfing the net, and also being a part of the theatre in his college. He has been a part of a zarzuela entitled Ing Minagpe (The Patcher) by Mariano Proceso Pabalan Byron wherein he played the character of Fermin. He says that his talent in acting for zarzuelas was influenced by his liking in poetry and declamation and that being a part of the production for Ing Minagpe is one of the most memorable experience for him since this has greatly contributed to his fame during college. He recalls that a lot of people congratulated him for his performance and that his parents had been so proud of him that his mother and grandfather even had tears in their eyes. But the most unforgettable experience that Roi has had was when he first read his own poem at the Holy Angel University. He regarded the experience as the most unforgettable since this was what paved his way to fame in this kind of expertise. The poem he read is entitled Pusong Malamarine, and will be the same poem that he will be reading to us during the poetry reading section.

The Poet’s Stand on Kapampangan Literature
Presently, very few people write and speak using the Kapampangan language. Sometimes even Kapampangan families use the English or Filipino language as their vernacular especially when talking to their kids. With this, Roi thinks that the Kapampangan language is gradually being forgotten by the natives of Pampanga.
He also feels that it is not only the language that is being forgotten but as well as the literature. Crissotan during town fiestas, polosa and bulaklakan during wakes, and the like do not exist in our culture anymore. He says that it is sad to note that gambling has taken place during wakes. Roi believes that the reason why the Kapampangan literature and practices are dying is due to modernization and globalization. But he says that the Kapampangan literature would take a very long time to cease to exist because as long as there is one person who speaks the language, it will not completely die out. But in terms of literature, he says that this will be forgotten if people will take it for granted.
For Roi, the best way to revive and propagate Kapampangan literature is to start within one’s self. For instance, he personally reads, writes, and practices writing in Kapampangan. He confesses that it tends to be really challenging at first and that is something that is learned and that needs to be enhanced. And if one is able to do so, he must share his skill to others for them to be able to learn.
On the other hand, being aware that some people find poets boring and weird, he states that he is unaffected by these bandwagons and he just takes them as a challenge. It is all about getting used to it and not letting it get to you, he says. He tries to change people’s negative views about poets and about the Kapampangan language through writing his poems.
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