Sometimes love doesn’t last, but ‘Stupid Love’ is 4ever

Sometimes love doesn’t last, but ‘Stupid Love’ is 4ever

Making a case for the unapologetic love poem at an eponymous poetry night.

Photos by Ralph Fonte

 

The original lyrics to Salbakuta’s Stupid Love didn’t have the Love, soft as an easy chair / Love, fresh as the morning air bit from Barbra Streisand’s Evergreen mixed in. When I found out about this, it was a turn-your-head revelation. Like love, the song is instantly familiar yet surprising. 

The Art Fair Philippines exhibit entitled “Love Not Love” provided a perfect backdrop for a poetry night with a warning label: not your usual post-Valentine’s hugot gig. S2pid Lüv is the brainchild and showcase of emerging artists Ralph Fonte, Regine Cabato, and Alfonso Manalastas. Part of Fringe Manila’s Fringe 2020 festival and Art Fair PH’s 10 Days of Art, the event promised a showcase of daring material from some of the best in Philippine contemporary art. 

The setting is a character on its own with co-presenter KONDWI providing a space that’s equal parts hallowed ground and studio lounge eccentric. The show started like a Shakespearean play with a rousing Rico Abelardo piece as a prologue. The opening line “Mangyari lamang ay tumayo ang mga nagmamahal” echoed off the walls. It assured the audience that S2pid Lüv is both a declaration of how falling in love is nothing to be ashamed of and a collection of pusong-sawi sentiments.

The first from the guest lineup of poets was Chesca Hurtado, who waxed melancholic about hurricane love and the price of owning stars. Juan Ekis and Deirdre Camba’s sets sizzled with catholic imagery, latent guilt, and hunger for the flesh. Jeivi Nicdao and Kid Orit both navigated the intimacies in shared spaces, an infantilized generation playing house, and resurfacing memories of why/but/instead. Patricia Ramos and Jam Pascual borrowed from and deconstructed works of romance with the former’s demythologized Alunsina and the latter’s tapestry of culturati references.

Each main act delivered a five-piece set interspersed with easy-going banter. Ralph Fonte’s commanding tone, lyrical style, and musical conductor gestures gave him the air of a Tagalog maestro of Romanticism. But don’t let the performance fool you, he’s every bit a sweet hopeless romantic. Alfonso Manalastas joked that he’s the only one who got the memo because everyone else brought the big guns. With a repertoire that’s not exactly brimming with love poems, his set was a deviation from his usuals and showed a softer side to his artistry. Regine Cabato has a fierce voice and it shows in her poetry. Her collection is as adventurous as her women protagonists. 

Ralph Fonte shares that the three of them started their friendship when Regine and Alfonso participated in an Ang Sabi Nila poetry night which Ralph organizes. Last BLTX, they released poetry chapbooks and found that they have love poems that were similar in tone. This got them started on S2pid Lüv.

People have been writing about love since the beginning of human history and yet there is always something new to say about it. There’s so many ways to write about love. “There is a certain tradition that you’re following and it will never die,” Ralph sums up. “So if we are going to follow it, we might as well do our best and write a great love poem.”

Tags:
#art #events #poetry

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