These Spoken Word Pieces Speak What We Need to Hear
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, April 22, 2019 3:00pm
Art by Dani Elevazo
Spoken word poetry goes beyond themes of love and heartbreak. It tackles different topics, especially social issues like violence against women, mental health, and corruption. The artists do something than deliver words and phrases; their poems are avenues to express opinions and advocacies—it may be a way for people to stop turning a blind eye to serious issues.
On Rape Culture:
'Biyaheng Malandi' by Jonel Revistual
Hindi birong ipasok ng isang mama ang kanyang ari sa dalaga, hindi biro kung sampu sila. Hindi biro ang nararamdaman ng biktima. Hindi biro ang nararamdaman ko ngayong ginagawa mo itong biro, nakakasuka. Hindi biro ang molestya.
One person is raped per hour in our country, and instead of taking this seriously, sexual harassment becomes humor topics, people even make memes out of the issue. Rape culture is evident in our country; even our elected leaders make fun of this serious social matter.
Jonel Revistual’s Biyaheng Malandi talks about how we’re stuck in a culture of victim-blaming and normalization of sexual harassment—both of which should be eliminated from our society.
'Hindi Namatay si Rizal Para Lumandi Ka' by Abby Orbeta
Wala man tayo sa panahon ng pagsakop ng mga Espanyol, o sa diktadura ni ginoong Marcos, kaliwa’t kanan pa rin ang isyu sa ating bayan. Napakarami pa ng ating kailangang bunuin. Kaya kilos. Hindi namatay si Rizal para lumandi ka.
Love is a common topic in poetry, butAbby Orbeta illustrates the universal language differently in her pieces.
Love does not only mean romance or showing affection to another person. It can also pertain to nationalism—the willingness to sacrifice for the country, just like our heroes did to redeem the land.
'Invisible Scars' by Roch Lazarte
Because no one hears a cry for help if they don’t know how to listen.
In the Philippines alone, about 3.3 million people suffer from depression—a condition people often dismiss because it doesn’t have any physical symptoms. If not appropriately treated, depressive disorders could lead to self-harm and even suicide.
Roch Lazarte narrates the story of her battle with depression, giving the audience a glimpse of what’s going on in the head of a person suffering from this mental health illness.
On Toxic Masculinity:
'Boys Will be Boys' by Alfonso Manalastas
So forgive me if I refuse to be reduced into a beast, to claw my fingers at the first sight of raw meat. They always glorify us for being strong. Tell me where is the strength in preying on the defenseless?
The conversation of toxic masculinity is endless. Men are often entitled to their power, and women are reduced to trophies or playthings. Alfonso Manalastas, a spoken word artist who writes about gender and equality, opens minds about stopping this kind of stereotype—that men are the superior over women. Even he knows this kind of toxic mentality must end. This piece urges us to break free from society’s idea of masculinity and femininity.
On Domestic Violence:
'Woman Fight Back' by Michelle Manase
Your hands are not made of glass even if he is trying to break you. You are of skin and hardwood. Be sturdy enough to defend yourself.
Domestic violence is not a new issue in the Philippines, but it remains a relevant social issue—one out of four women aged 15 to 26 experience physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from their partners.
Michelle Manase’s poem reminds every lady they deserve better than fists that cause bruises physically and emotionally. Every woman should learn when to let go, hold on, or fight back. Woman, you are strong. Know your worth.
On Political Graft and Corruption:
'Pulang Dugo, Bughaw na Mata' by Henri Igna
Kung mananatiling nakagapos ang tinig, kailan natin maririnig ang "tama na" ang wag mo kong gawing tanga. Ang ipinangako mong tuwid na daan na hindi ko pa rin nakikita. Hindi ko pa rin makita.
Graft and corruption remain one of the main reasons why our country suffers from poverty. No matter how much we want to make the Philippines a better nation, it’s unachievable if we don’t have leaders with integrity and a pure intention to serve. But we have to power to elect the leaders our country deserves. The senatorial debate gives the candidates the platform to prove themselves, and it’s up to us to choose the rightful one for the position—vote wisely.
'Walang Nakakatawa sa Ligaw na Bala' by Jihad Mambuay
Walang nakakatawa sa mga sandaling magpapapakilala ka at tatanungin nila saan galing ang pangalan mo. Magpapaliwanag ka: “Muslim po ako.” At makikita mo ang pagbabago sa mukha nila.
The discrimination on Muslims intensified when the Marawi Siege erupted in 2017. The society has its definition of normal, whether it is about religion, gender preference, or social status. If one would not pass the society’s standards, they become outcasts. But if we won’t change this mentality, we won’t create a safer and more inclusive space for everyone. Let’s be inclusive—starting with ourselves.
We hope these spoken word pieces are not just made to be heard, but to spark conversations. The artists let us feel we are not alone, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to make a move.
Got any favorite spoken word pieces?