Birds of the Philippines, and Simeon Dumdum, Jr.

The maids packed for self.  That suitcase was pretty heavy.  After self lugged it into her hotel room last night, she found out why:  gorgeous tunics and silk blouses, courtesy of Dearest Mum, enough to keep self in soignee look for at least a month.

The writing conference is only two days.

Self greatly admires the sheer, feminine blouses of a Vietnamese writer she met last night, at the dinner.

Today, she is hard put to keep her eyes open.  The last thing she did before going to bed (2 am again, aaargh) was read a student piece about grandparents.    The piece was so wrenching, so absolutely moving and well written,  that it kept her awake half the night.

So she presented at the conference registration this morning with tremendous eyebags (She will never be able to go a day in the Philippines without tremendous eyebags.  But self knew this, even before she left)

Here’s the thing:  The keynote address this morning was delivered by a courtly judge named Simeon Dumdum, Jr.  Self had never heard him read before.  Now, listening to him in the Celebrity Ballroom of the Montebello Vista Hotel, she fell in love with his graceful cadences. Quite a spellbinder he was (Yesterday, the spellbinder was Marjorie Evasco)

Suffice it to say, Dumdum’s address was such that not even a minute after he had uttered his last sentence, self rose and went to the book table to buy his newest collection, If I Write You This Poem, Will You Make It Fly.  There were less than 10 copies on the table.  Self was perhaps second to buy one.  In less than ten minutes, all were gone.

Let’s see if self can summarize a little of what he said (She wishes the address had been taped).

It seemed the judge had hoped to keep his schedule clear so that he could devote sufficient time to prepare his speech.  Reality, in the form of a murder case, intervened.  And so went the speech, which wound seductively around the topics of writing as healing, a man who beat his wife, wholeness, thoughts, writing two bird poems a day until he had exhausted the entire list of Philippine birds (of the 600 bird species in the Philippines, 400 are migratory, according to Dumdum).  And he then began to name the birds of the Philippines —  not, of course, all 600 species, but:  egrets, sandpipers, terns, plovers, spot-billed pelicans and blue-back parrots.

Self can never forget this address, dear blog readers.  Never.

Stay tuned.


  1. Elliot said,

    August 16, 2011 at 7:44 am

    i actually love, sana, to see overviews/ analysis of his “Third World Opera.” can you suggest me some sites or printed analysis of this poem?

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