Why do I write? I have asked myself this question often and most of the time I get a low humming sound from the back of my brain. How lovely.
I write maybe because I want to or maybe because I need to? I write because I have something that I believe in? I write for the people who cannot read and who cannot write, for the people who can’t speak and understand Bisaya, for the people who can’t even spell their names, for the people who go to sleep hungry, for the babies who are not even born yet? I torment my mind with questions that even I cannot answer clearly regarding my being a writer.
Residing in Davao City gives me a lot of things to write about, from the usually uneventful jeepney rides from Boulevard to Mintal to the (maybe) interesting lives of the people that I see with their palms open burning under the heat of the sun, begging on the streets, or the people who frequent the malls some of them indifferent to the problems that plague our society and some of them wanting to forget their own problems even just for a short while, or the people who are living under Bolton bridge. It seems to me that they have a lot of stories to tell under their ordinary, unassuming guises. They only need someone who would listen to their unspoken chronicles and tell it for them. I don’t know if I would be that person, but I want to be that person someday, somehow. I want their stories to be told and not lost in the fleeting current that is life.
I am of the opinion that these stories if written in Bisaya or maybe even in Filipino would be able to reach out to the people who are supposed to read these in the first place: the people who are the reasons behind these tales. Writing in English is not a bad idea. One could enable more people to understand what one is saying, but I am not afraid of the fact that not a lot of people would be able to understand my works. I am afraid of the probability that the people who are supposed to read these stories—the street children who could only understand Bisaya or the ancient farmer who was not able to finish his studies because of poverty—would not be able to understand them. These stories would make sense to them. Writing in Bisaya would also enable me to contribute to the development of the Mindanawon literary scene. I don’t really get to read a lot of Bisaya poems, essays, and stories. The ones that I have read were either a part of my reading assignment or I came across them in a Bisaya newspaper. If there were more writings in Bisaya, I would like to think that our culture, our literature not only as Davaoenos or Bisayas but Mindanawons as a whole would be able to thrive despite the fact that the very culture that we are trying to preserve is slowly dying out because of reasons like Westernization or the peoples’ adoption of, well, English. Or maybe because one is ashamed of the Bisaya language itself for reasons known only to him.
I would like to see myself as one of the writers who would bring about change in Mindanawon literature someday. I will write in Bisaya for the Bisaya people, young and old. I would write about their lives, their stories, and dreams and I would hope for the better that these would touch their lives and instil in them pride in being Bisayas, in being Mindanawons. Someday soon, I hope, people would be able to read more literary works in their own language, like Chavacano, Bisaya, and Maguindanawon.
It would be better for the Mindanawons to regain their voices, the voices that speak of their own culture through legends, myths, folk tales, and their lives as Mindanawons. This would be a good time as any to give life to the dying voice that is the ordinary Mindanawon’s. By Mindanawon, I mean everyone really, who is living here in Mindanao, especially in Davao City, where I am writing this piece.
I don’t have to wait for years to write write. I’m doing it now. Having a reason as to why I write and having a person to write for or to write about are just some of the reasons why I chose to write in the first place. I may not know the exact answers as who to write for or why I write but these would be better than not having a reason as to why I write at all.
Christine Salazar is a sophomore writing student in UPMin.