Bersong Euro-Pinoy goes to Zamboanga

THE ANNUAL festival of European culture, Viva Europa, couples European verses with Chavacano and other languages from Southern Philippines as it brings the poery festival Bersong Euro-Pinoy to Zamboanga on May 21.

European Union Ambassador Luc Veron, a patron and lover of literature himself, said that Bersong Euro-Pinoy will provide a platform for European and Filipino poets and literary enthusiasts to better understand and appreciate each other’s culture and to strengthen people-to-people links between and among Europeans and Filipinos.

The European Union (EU) Delegation to the Philippines has worked in tandem with the Embassies of Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Spain and Instituto Cervantes Manila, France, the Philippine-Italian Association, Austria, Poland, Finland, and with Ateneo de Zamboanga University for this festival.

A brainchild of Instituto Cervantes, Bersong Euro-Pinoy used to be held under the framework of Dia del Libro, gathering all diplomats and literary enthusiasts from among the members of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, EU member states’ embassies and cultural institutes.

As part of the festival, a poetry recital — Verses Versus the Virus — will be streamed live at the FB page of the EU Delegation to the Philippines (

In a partnership between the EU and Ateneo de Zamboanga University, literary luminaries from Zamboanga and Mindanao will read their pieces in their mother tongue: M.J. Cagumbay Tumamac, a poet in Hiligaynon, Southern Mindanao, Awardee of Makata ng Taon 2019; Sigrid Gayangos, a poet in Chabacano, Zamboanga City/Dumaguete City, Awardee of Palanca Award 2018; and Errol Merquita, a recipient of Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards (2011, 2015, 2017) and the Satur Apoyon Writing Contest (2010) for fiction in Cebuano and poetry for children in Filipino.

These poets were mobilized by the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, this year’s academic partner along with De La Salle University.

“The Ateneo de Zamboanga University is very grateful to be part of the European Union Delegation to the Philippines’ Poetry Recital this year. In these trying times, we need words that build, words that bring comfort, words that heal, and this literary event provides that. Let us continue to seek inspiration from friendships that flourish, and celebrate our freedom to collectively rise above difficulties,” said Fr. Karel San Juan, President of Ateneo de Zamboanga University.

Mr. Merquita will read his original poem Pangamuyo sa Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga (sa padayong pagbakwit ug kagubot)” with English translation by Ralph Semino Galan, (Entreaty from Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga [On the continuing evacuation and chaos]; Mr. Gayangos will read his poem Cuando ya busca yo con el maga palabra, with English translation by Floraime Oliveros Pantaleta (When I was searching for the words); while Mr. Tumamac will read his poem Pabay-an nga magbalhas sang nana ang ginasugba nga indangan which Eric Nebran translated into English (Let pus drip from the surgeonfish sweating on the grill).

Aside from the Filipino poets, members of the EU community will also be reading poetry.

Carl Norac, Belgium’s fourth National Poet and a prize-winning poet and author of children’s books, will join this year’s festival. He will recite his original works: Pour Marcel Moreau and Pour Mustafa, pour Mustafa Kor.

Dora Sediva, daughter of Czech Ambassador Jana Sediva, and her friend Marika Stepkova, daughter of Czech Deputy Ambassador Jana Peterkova, will read Fortune (Stesti) by Adolf Heyduk, both in Czech and in English. Hans Christian Andersen’s Det er Liv et Reise or To Travel is to Live will be read by Danish Ambassador Grete Sillasen.

German actress Luisa Katharina Davids will recite the German translation of Mi Ultimo Adios as 2021 is the year when the German Embassy also unveils an exhibition with Jose Rizal’s former furniture from Heidelberg, Germany, and an official marker with the German translation of Mi Ultimo Adios at the Museo ni Jose Rizal in Intramuros.

Luis Garcia Montero, poet and director of Instituto Cervantes in Madrid, will recite his original work Magallanes for Bersong Euro-Pinoy. Victor Hugo’s poem Amis, Un Dernier Mot (Friends, one last word) will be read by French actress Anne Gauther Das Neves. Rima LII, a sonnet on friendship by Dante Alighieri, will be read by Alessandro Milani, General Manager of the Philippine-Italian Association, in celebration of Dante Alighieri’s 700th death anniversary.

Austrian poem Love by Erich Fried will be read by Tajna Platzer of the Embassy of Austria, while Labirynt or Labyrinth by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wistawa Szymborska will be rendered by Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Poland Jaroslav Roman Szczepankiewicz. Nocturne, a Finnish poem by Eino Leino and translated by Keith Bosley, will be read by Finnish Ambassador Juha Pyykko.

After Zamboanga, the Bersong Euro-Pinoy will head to Manila through the De La Salle University on May 28. The festival will be hosted by journalist and EHEF goodwill ambassador Danie Laurel, PhD, and Floraime Oliveros Pantaleta of the Western Mindanao — National Committee on Literary Arts at National Commission for Culture and the Arts.