Author’s brother Lem Garcellano, scriptwriter, lends support in promoting the collection

Attending book launches was a regular occurrence in my university life and a little after I graduated from university.  The whole routine vanished when I entered the working world, but the streak was broken with the book launch of Vanishing History & Other Poems by Edel Garcellano last July 12. Held at the Pulungan Claro M Recto at University of the Philippines in Diliman, friends, family, colleagues and students came to attend the two-hour book launch of my father’s latest anthology of poems.

Edel Garcellano, Choy Pangilinan, Nonilon Queano, Abet and Alex Dacanay enjoy a round of Merlot from Chile before the launch.

Compere Bugsy Nolasco (foreground) and Mark Abalos (third left) wait for their cue as does reader Boni Ilagan (middle).

The big bosses of UP Press, Gerry Los Banos (left) and Neil Garcia, deliver their welcome remarks.

A short program organised by Choy Pangilinan, senior lecturer at the College of Mass Communication and friend of the author, was compèred by Bugsy Nolasco and Mark Abalos who warmly welcomed guests to their dear Sir Edel’s book launch. It was a simple program punctuated by welcome remarks from key people led by Neil Garcia and Gerry Los Baños from UP Press and Dr. Adelaida F. Lucero, outgoing chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature. What followed next was a round of reading of selected works from the collection that filmmaker- director-actor-scriptwriter Boni Ilagan began with an enthralling interpretation of Monico M. Atienza (page 123):

“A day before Christmas

& he lies comatose

at Mary Chiles.

Is it a way of forgetting

How long he has waged

war against the empire,

or the body now refuses

what the mind perseveres?

He doesn’t even know

he’s taking a long nap –

something probably

he has dream of

after all those exhausting years.

His friends keep vigil.”

It was a poem written in honour of their – his and my father’s – common friend, the late Monico Atienza who fought tirelessly for justice and peace. Aside: He was Sir Nic to me – amiable, smiley and welcoming every time I’d see him at the faculty centre.

Boni Ilagan breathes fire and passion into the poem Monico M. Atienza.

L-R: Maricar Aspeli-Castro,Secretary of the College of Arts and Letters of UP Diliman, Gerry Los Banos,Neil Garcia and Edel Garcellano listen to one of the readers.

Next was freelance writer and former radio announcer Alex Dacanay whose deep and rich voice held guests in sway with his reading of Zero-Sum (page 1):

“It’s the Castle

All over again.

Will the trial start,

if ever?

Will victims

linger at the gates,

patiently waiting?

Will the Kingpin

stay in his air-conditioned room

As if it were an accident?

There were bodies, sure,

but nobody did them in.”

Mush is brought to life by Christine Valena while Imaginary Voice is made audibly tangible by Bugsy Nolasco.

Get your copy from Arvin of UP Press

Next was student Christine Valeña who selected Mush (page 117) to share with everyone:

“O his lost childhood’s eternal weather”

the constant threat of rain & sun

that filters through the grim, grey clouds –

Mother’s gaunt face, her religious sentiment

her soft voice calling out for a young Oping

to keep company with their meagre meal

on the wooden table that stared in the empty air…”

Finally, it was the turn of Nolasco who opted for Imaginary Voice (page 133):

Of course, I’ll commend him.

She rehearses the lines before the invisible crowd

inside her head,

repeating the words to make them real, authentic,

smooth like silk.

He’s my General. A smile breaks on her impassive face.

You can do your worse: I take it as a game.

The sudden birth of light through the thick clouds

dapples the room.

Something is rotten this side of the river?

Choy Pangilinan introduces the author

It was time to hear from the author but not before Pangilinan properly introduced him, which he rendered in fluent Filipino. Then my father took to the stage. Speaking in Filipino, he, firstly, thanked everyone for coming and those who made the publication of the anthology possible and then proceeded to regale the audience with the raison d’être for Vanishing History: the people in his lives –    “…Sino pa ang aala-la sa kanila?”; the persistent thought if he’s able to connect with the generation of today whose milieu and concerns are completely different from his; and the nature of poetry, which is not as mystical and mythical as others would have it . He then segued into dedicating his books to my grandparents who are sorely missed, shifting into a brief apology for those who might not like the collection after having bought it as “hindi nag-re-reimburse ang UP Press”.  Winding up, he again thanked everyone and the universe “dahil kahit minsan ay nagkakasama-sama tayo.”

The author takes to the stage to welcome and thank the ones who came to celebrate.

Book-buyers wait for their turn to have their copy signed

Leoncio Co (extreme left) drops by and has his copy signed by the author

It’s was a good night for a launch and a bowl of noodles after.

Although good friends Carol Hau, Neferti Tadiar, Bliss Cua Lim and Jonathan Beller were miles away, their presence were felt as they formed the group that greatly helped in making history with the putting together of Vanishing History & Other Poems.


Vanishing History & Other Poems and 11 other new titles from UP Press will be launched collectively on August 3, 5pm, at the 2nd floor of Balay Kalinaw, corner Guerrero & Dagohoy Streets, UP Diliman campus.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Thank you for this detailed post! It was the first time I attended a book launch–very memorable indeed! I really hope I gave justice to the poem I read. Wonderful poetry!


    • Posted by rgarcellano on July 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      Thanks for reading Christine and thanks for reading one of my dad’s works. Well done!


  2. hi rhissa, thanks for documenting your dad’s launch & congratulations to him, especially. i would’ve wanted to be there, if i had known. that must be weboy or tubby on the cover B-)


    • Posted by rgarcellano on July 24, 2012 at 9:12 am

      Hi, Tita B. I will tell my dad. I thought you’d see the posts I made on FB. That’s little Weboy on the cover. 😀


  3. Posted by ako_si_aoi on September 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Congrats to your pudra bru!! at yan ba yung teddy bear ni Lyra on the front ?


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