KULTURA Filipino Arts Festival, August 5th to 7th, in Toronto!

Kultura Festival_ImageSunflower with bees_Toronto Ontario Canada_August 2016

. . .

2016 marks the 11th year for Kultura, which emerged from the youth-led Kapisanan Phillippine Centre for Arts & Culture – a small yet ambitious initiative based out of a store-front on Augusta Avenue in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood.

The Kultura festival now celebrates the vibrant, contemporary creative expression of Filipino-Canadians. This is an important event for dialogue within the community, as well as for sharing a deeper understanding of Filipino culture and experience with the broader communities of Toronto – beyond the limiting clichés of “cultural costumes and food”. Kultura features multiple art disciplines, including culinary and fashion. Kultura aims to discuss the Filipino diaspora in Canada and to elevate Filipino-Canadian culture from the perception that it is flat and static to one that is multi-dimensional and active.


Kultura is the brainchild of the Kapisanan Centre, a charitable community organization with strong youth leadership. Kapisanan has created a safe space for Filipino-Canadian youth, both second generation and newcomers, to overcome multiple barriers that keep them from meaningful engagement in society. To explore identity, to foster pride and self-confidence – that’s Kapisanan!

. . .

Some contemporary Filipino-in-diaspora poetry…

Victor P. Gendrano (California)

Japanese Haiku

. . .

ospital silid hintayan

ang plastik na mga bulaklak

palaging bukad


waiting room

the plastic flowers

always in bloom

. . .

pinagbiling bahay

puno ng halakhak

ng maga bata


sold house

children’s laughter echoes

from its bare walls



. . .

Japanese Tanka

. . .

chopping onions

enough excuse

to shed my tears

as I cook for myself

this New Year’s eve


di lang sibuyas

sanhi ng pagluha

kundi sa pangungulila

pagluluto sa sarili

ngayong bagong taon

. . .

scent of jasmine wafts

through her open door

this sultry evening

she calls him to say

don’t be late coming


the torn jacket

and worn-out cane

lie near a trash bin

his chuckle still echoes

from the empty bed



. . .

Aloneness (a Korean Sijo)


the visiting son laments

his loss of their backyard tree


where as a teen he carved a heart

to express his very first love


his widower dad explains

twice there I tried to hang myself

. . .

Alheizmer Disease


as I brush mom’s golden hair

she keeps talking to unseen friends


she accepts me now as a friend

in the hospice where she lives


sometimes I wonder if she knows

I am her least-liked daughter



. . .

Victor P. Gendrano is a retired librarian from the Los Angeles County Public Library. He completed his Bsc in the Phillippines and his Msc at Syracuse University in New York state. From 1987 to 1999 he edited Heritage Magazine, an English-language quarterly. His website, Haiku and Tanka Harvest, focuses on his poetry in a variety of structured forms and styles, as well as free verse in English and Tagalog. Mr. Gendrano is the author of Rustle of Bamboo Leaves: selected haiku and other poems, published in 2005.

. . .

H. Francisco V. Peñones, Jr.

Homage to Frida

(On the Centennial of her Birth)


Kahlo: kaluluwa: (n). Tagalog for soul ––

O Soul of my bleeding heart pigeon-

holed in tin retablos hung in antiseptic wards

unwind your bandaged flesh and let me in

your body its plains of crumbling rocks

and howling dust is no strange country

to me. Buko kanakong estranyo ‘di.

Back home, the land cracks and opens wide

throwing up the bodies dumped at night.

Its womb refusing now any stirring of seedling

despite so much marrows in its furrows.

O Nuestra Señora de Dolores y Tristezas*

wrap me in your leafy arms as you did

Diego Rivera or yourself in infants’ bodies

yet with your lusting faces in a kind of pietà,

in a loving moment caged in the canvas.

Arog ka kanakong banwaan, (like my country)

Natusok naman ako. (I am pierced too.)

Pero en sus autoretratos por ejemplo**,


I am not pricked by the thorns of the cactus

which thrusts up like a pen against the sky

and my brows are as high and thick and black

as your brushes and your gaze –– a doll’s,

set in place and silent in a corner yet forever.

. . .

*Our Lady of Sorrows and Sadness

**But in her self-portraits, for example

. . .

Self Portents from a Crystal Ball


Between the onyx equinox

and the Martian meridian

your Saturn son is on the ascendant

towards the power clique.

Rorschach stains

whirl nebulous as violet capes

worn in Salamanca:

Beware of men in ties,

they shake your hands while

coming out straight from the john.

Swirling lights tie up

the head and the tail, a circular

tale and mandala of survival and decency

you may well just be

heading for St. Francis Alley.


Acid rain dust leaks out

slimy green in brain drain canals:

invest in futures, better still

the dioroxine fuel yet to be found

and named.


Some silicone spilled semen

unearth Buddy Holly, a boozed

night out in Malate

and the apparition in the 7th Virgo

of one claiming paternity.

Raspy grains the pores of skin

up close your nose oooom

a hint of civet in heat:

go pick a lady in the primary

though you keep a red card

in your wallet for lemme see…

. . .

H. Francisco V. Peñones, Jr., has studied in the MFA Creative Writing program at San Jose State University, and is acknowledged as a pioneer in the renaissance of writing literature in the Bikol language of his native Phillippines. Peñones’ first poetry collection, entitled Ragang Rinaranga (Belovéd Land) was published in 2006.

. . .

Rhodora V. Peñaranda

Great Expectation


The light goes off in this town of rationed power.

Brief dark shadows up and down the road.


A village dog picks up her scent and begins to bark.

Out of the sky, a flood of darkness with invisible beasts


bounding over the street and wedging into the heart.

She comes home, and out of the steaming dark,


her little brother, the boy like a cat waiting all night

purring for a rubbing on his back, leaps to his feet,


begging her to stay. She flicks her fan to spread the coolness,

and he gropes for the arts of her comfort, the tucking


into the soft bed, rocking him to the wind’s mothering.

But she is hurrying. She does not feel the present under her feet.


She does not know the future. She does not have the past.

She passes through the rooms and gathers only tedium’s grief,


the unwashed growth of things crowded with details, details

accelerating with the pressure of wars around her, so she leaves


in the veiled cold of the room,

the soft gestures curled inside the glass of a burning lamp.

Leaves him instead the words that order him


to face it like a man leaving him alone on a night like this

where only the dead walk, to conjure the man he has yet to be.



. . .

Rhodora V. Peñaranda lives in New York state. Two of her published volumes of poetry include Touchstone (2007) and Unmasking Medusa (2008).

. . .

Edwin A. Lozada


(in the Ilocano language)




Nga kalapati

Ti rimwar

Diay nabanglo

Nga sabong

Purao ken kiaw

Kiay nakaturog

Nga kalachuchi




Nga kalapati

Diay puso na


Ti kansion

Kolor ti rosas

Ken gumamela

Nga awan pay

Ti nakangeg


Papanam ngay


Nga naulimek,


Ti makapagtalna

Diay langit?

Sinno ngay

Ti makangeg

Dagita regalo

Nga rumrumwar

Diay pusum?



Idiay karayan

Ket inungwanna

Idi kuan nagpukawen


Didiay karayan


Napunpunno ti sampaga

Rosal, rosas

Ken gumamela

. . .



volando va

la paloma


que salió

de la flor


alba y ámbar

de la plumeria



va volando

la paloma


su corazón desbordado



color de rosas

e hibisco

que todavía no

se han oído


¿adónde vas

ave callada

y mansa

que apaciguas

el cielo?

¿quién sino tú


los obsequios


de tu corazón?


a la faz del río

llegó y se acercó

dejándole un beso

y entonces desapareció


el río


colmado de sampaguitas

gardenias, rosas

e hibiscos

. . .



in the midst

of flight

a white dove


from the perfumed

amber and ivory


of the plumeria

lost in slumber


watch it fly

as white as the clouds

the dove

with a heart


with song

colour of roses

and hibiscus

none yet

has heard


where do you go


so quiet and meek

you who can


the heavens?

who but you

can hear

the gifts

coming forth

from your heart?


towards the river

the dove drew near

kissed its water and then



the river

singing and flowing

with gardenias

jazmine, roses

and hibiscus

. . .

Edwin A. Lozada is a poet and translator. He also edited the volume Field of Mirrors: an Anthology of Philippine American Writers, published in 2008 by Philippine American Writers & Artists, Inc.

. . .

Patrick Rosal / Aracelis Girmay

Lamento del Gallo


querida gallina caída

cuéntame la historia de una semilla

que contenía

todo el universo en una espina

que picó el ojo

de la noche

me das sed y seda


y no te vas

y no te vas


y si me enseñas

la ventana de tu boca

te sequiré

por las multitudes de mentirosos

que dicen

no iré

no iré


ay gallina

dime algo de tu vestida tan amable

y como robaste la voz de otra ave


animal tú eres

animal tú eres

tan bravona


se cree que las estrellas fueron hechas

por una sola clave


y me haces buscar

por las ruinas del corazón

robándolas de los dientes de esa tierra


y aún escucho las susurraciones p’arriba

y no te vas en seguida


y no te vas

no te vas


querida gallina caída

sueñas sin ignorar el frío

ni el agua ni cuchillo

los lobos aúllan los versos más secretos

no hay nombre que niegue ese sonido completo


rompe los cristales con tus lamentos

las torres de arena y de cemento


manda a los gobernadores que bajen

entre las alas y tu penúltimo viento

te prometen una bala o una canción

te las prometen

te prometen


y no te vas

. . .

Rooster’s Lament

by Aracelis Girmay and Patrick Rosal

(English translation)


beloved fallen hen

tell me the story of a seed

that held

the whole universe in a thorn

that pricked the eye

of evening


you give me thirst and silk


and you don’t go

and you don’t go


and if you show me

the window of your mouth

i’ll follow you

through the multitudes of liars

that say

i won’t go

i won’t go


oh hen

tell me something about your delightful costume

and how you robbed the voice of another bird


animal you are

animal you are

so brave


it’s believed that the stars were made

by a single key


and you make me search

through the ruins of the heart

robbing them of the teeth of that land


and still i listen to the whispers above

and you don’t go


lovely fallen hen

you dream without ignoring the cold

nor the water nor the knife


the wolves howl their most secret verses

there is no name that denies that complete sound


smash the mirrors with your laments

the towers of sand and of cement

order the governors to descend

among the wings and your penultimate wind

they promise you a bullet or a song

they promise them to you

they promise


and you don’t go

. . .

Patrick Rosal has authored My American Kundiman, and Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive, which won the Global Filipino Literary Award and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Members’ Choice Award – respectively.


Aracelis Girmay is of Eritrean, Puerto Rican, and African-American descent. A writer of poetry, essays, and fiction, she earned an MFA from New York University.

. . .

Eileen R. Tabios

Die We Do



we do

as much as


we live. Then

we write: right



we lived

when we write.

. . .

Morir Hacemos



lo hacemos

tanto como vivir.



nosotros escribimos:

corregimos aquello que



cuando, así,

nosotros lo escribimos.

. . .

Tabios’ poem originally appeared in The Light Sang As It Left Your Eyes (Marsh Hawk Press, 2007).

Translation into Spanish / Traducción del inglés al español:

Rebeka Lembo

. . .

Jon Pineda



One summer in Pensacola,

I held an orange this way,

flesh hiding beneath

the texture of the rind,

then slipped my thumbs

into its core & folded it

open, like a book.


When I held out the halves,

the juice seemed to trace

the veins in my arms

as it dripped down to my elbows

& darkened spots of sand.

We were sitting on the beach then,

the sun, spheres of light within each piece.

I remember thinking, in Tagalog,

the word matamis is sweet in English,

though I did not say it for fear

of mispronouncing the language.


Instead, I finished the fruit & offered

nothing except my silence, & my father,

who pried apart another piece, breaking

the globe in two, offered me half.

Meaning everything.

. . .



After they make love, he slides down so his face rests near her waist.

The light by the bed casts its nets that turn into shadows. They both

fall asleep. When he wakes, he finds a small patch of birthmarks on

her thigh, runs his finger over each island, a spec of light brown

bundled with others to form an archipelago on her skin. For him, whose

father is from the Philippines, it is the place he has never been, filled

with hillsides of rice & fish, different dialects, a family he wants to

touch, though something about it all is untouchable, like love,

balanced between desire & longing, the way he reaches for her now, his

hand pressed near this place that seems so foreign, so much a part of

him that for a moment, he cannot help it, he feels whole.

. . .

The two poems above are from Jon Pineda’s 2004 collection Birthmark, winner of the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry.

. . .

Bienvenido C. Gonzalez

I Quit





………………A BIT





. . .








. . .

Bienvenido C. Gonzalez is a wordsmith!

He creates neo-words and logos as a hobby.

The poems above are from his PARA-PRAISES

tributes to old and original sayings.

. . . . .

All the poems selected here are contained in the 2008 anthology Field of Mirrors, edited by Edwin A. Lozada, © Philippine American Writers & Artists, Inc.

. . . . .