The Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) joined the February 2023 National Arts Month celebration with a book launch. Four ADDU offices teamed up to launch a set of “multigeneric, multilingual, and multisubcultural” books on 27 February 2023 at the Bapa Benny Tudtud Auditorium in the Jacinto Campus.

The two-volume work is entitled Kalandrakas: Stories and Storytellers of/on Regions in Mindanao, 1890–1990. A Preliminary and Continuing Survey and Literary Mapping. Nestling within its 2,048  pages are poems, stories, plays, and essays of 249 writers in eleven languages, most of which have translations in English. While Kalandrakas is mainly literary, it also embraces texts that are historical, sociological, cosmological, spiritual, and anthropological.

The editor is Ricardo M. de Ungria, a poet, educator, winner of thirteen National Book Awards for his poetry and anthologies, and Davao resident since 1999. His Critical Introduction provides “a historical background to the development of literature and writers in the island. The whole anthology is an ongoing recuperative archival project intended to be picked up, continued, corrected, and enriched by writers, researchers, and educators in the island’s six regions for the initialization and sustenance of their own archives, literary and historical awareness, and development of distinctive artistic practices independent of Western influences.”

Among the Davao contributors present at the launch were Yasmin Arquiza, Bro. Karl M. Gaspar, CSsR, Don Pagusara, Aurelio Peña, Josefina C. Tejada, and Dr. Macario D. Tiu. Tiu, Gaspar, and Pagusara served as ADDU faculty members in recent years.

Tiu gave the Welcome Remarks, and Gaspar read excerpts from his book review. Pagusara, Tejada, and Arquiza read their own works that are in Volume 2 of Kalandrakas. ADDU Senior High School faculty member Erika Navaja read one of Rita Tuban’s poems.

These contributors were presented with copies of Kalandrakas. Copies were also presented to family members of the following writers: Jose P. Angliongto, Saturnino P. Apoyon, Papias P. Apoyon, Vicenta Lacsamana, Isidro Marfori, Carlota de Pio, and Lia Lopez-Chua.

Kalandrakas publisher, Ateneo de Manila University Press, was represented by its Director, Karina Africa Bolasco. In her video message, she described Kalandrakas as a “pioneering and landmark work” and “a library, an archive, a literary map, a community of storytellers, a history of the islands.”

The book launch was a joint project of the University Libraries, the Department of Languages, Literature and Arts (DLLA), the Institutional Communications and Promotions Office (ICOMMP) and the Ateneo Bookstore. The activity is aligned with the University’s Strategic Plan, specifically the intervention: The University continues to support Mindanao culture and arts by promoting Mindanawon artists, conducting different fora, educating the students about the beauty and history of Mindanao arts and culture.

Hosted by DLLA Chair Stella Marie G. Arcenas, the book launch was a hybrid event. The face-to-face program was also on Zoom and Facebook Live.

Kalandrakas editor de Ungria and Davao contributors signed the copies of book buyers at the American Corner of the University Libraries.

Article by Ms. Pamela Castrillo

Photos by Mr. Abraham A. Garcia, Jr.