Interview   |   Rebecca T. Añonuevo

Rebecca T. Añonuevo

Rebecca T. Añonuevo is a poet, translator, essayist, and critic. She teaches literature and writing subjects in Miriam College , where she is also chair of the Department of Filipino, and in the University of Santo Tomas. She is the author of six books of poetry (the latest being Isa Lang ang Pangalan, published in 2012 by the UST Publishing House), and has received numerous awards from the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature for poetry, essay, and short story in Filipino. She has a PhD in Literature from the De La Salle University, which granted her the Gold Medal for Outstanding Dissertation for her study that later became a book titled, Talinghaga ng Gana: Ang Banal sa mga Piling Tulang Tagalog ng Ika-20 Siglo, which won the National Book Award for Literary Criticism from the Manila Critics Circle.  She has also written  children’s  books. She gives teacher trainings on skills upgrading and is a constant panelist in writing workshops in the country.​​​​

What was your process like?

 

My writing does not start with actual writing. In this encounter with Onib’s, the initial delight was crucial, I think, not unlike the physical attraction you experience with someone who will play an important role later in your life. Not everyone we meet in this world becomes a lover or a friend, and sometimes, with total strangers or people who only happen by, a connection may take place.

Click on "Still Life With Flowers and a Violin" (above) to see Onib Olmedo's painting read "Orihen" by Rebecca T. Añonuevo.

Perhaps, I am referring to my own intuitive response. I gaze at the work, and let it be. I value the silent space between me and the artist’s work. Writing about the artist’s work is like reading a poet from another culture and time, perhaps even from another language--we don’t know each other personally, but we have spoken to each other in a most intimate way, by the images and possible meanings in the work.

 

You say, "lovers know their fate," they know that their tangible physical presence of the lover/beloved does not last forever, but in the poem, the lovers love, anyway. What is their fate? And why is it courageous of them to face their fate? What is it about love that you wanted to show that is not for the timid?

 

Mortality, finiteness, all good things must come to an end--that is what renders something profoundly beautiful. That lovers still choose to love in spite of the fragility of love is not only brave, it is also heroic. The easy way is the safe way--no mounds, no depths, no towers, no cracks. That is not love’s way. That love ends, and causes beginnings, makes all the loving worth it, isn’t it, whether what has come to life is the name of a place, a

fruit, a flower, or the whole universe.