As the beloved cultural icon writes 30
Just minutes after news of cultural icon Gilda Cordero-Fernando‘s passing broke. Rio Alma, National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario, released a heartstirring piece of work in her memory.
“Yes, we were very close,” said Almario when I asked him about his friendship with Fernando, writer, visual artist, producer, publisher, and fashion designer. “Mahirap ipaliwanag. Pero dalawa sila, si Odette Alcantara, na naging mas kaibigan sa panahong nag-iisa ako (It’s hard to explain, but there were two of them, including Odette Alacantara, who were dear friends to me when I was alone).”
Almario’s poem is at once a celebration of Fernando’s life and a lamentation of her loss, a life that long and short at 90 years, has left an indelible mark on Philippine culture. The poem is also an intensely private remembrance of a great friendship, replete with laughter that would pierce the lonely silence, and her positive spin on the bleakness of life.
“Hanga ako kay Gilda dahil masigasig siya sa pagtuklas ng kulturang Filipino (I admire Gilda for her relentless work exploring and discovering the culture of the Filipinos),” Almario said. “Marami siyang pioneering projects ukol dito (She pioneered many projects on culture).”
Here is the poem.
Kung pagsaulan kong basáhin sa isip—Rio Alma
Ang nangakaraang araw ng ligalig,
Walang mahagilap na lungtiang titik
Liban na kay Gildang namugad sa dibdib.
Yaong Gildang lagìng ginugunamgunam
Na bitwing marikit at di mapaparam,
Minsang naging tanglaw niring kapalaran
Sa mundong madilim at tigib sa panglaw.
Makaligtaan ko kayâng di bigkasin
Ang kaniyang payo at masayáng bilin?
Huwag ikalungkot ang gabing madilim,
Kung nabubúhay pa at diwa ay gisíng.
Lumipas ang araw naming matatamis
Kahit nagdidilim ang buong paligid;
Ang halakhak niya’y mahimalang tinig
Pantaboy sa taksil at itim na bagwis.
Ngayong nawala na at nangungulila,
Ano ang gagawin pag muling nagdusa?
Ay! May tatamis pang dapat maalala?
Wala nang tatamis, wala na nga, Gilda!