As an artist, he painted and wrote about the revolution and its people. Despite the dreariness of the the political and socio-economic situations, he still found these inspiring to paint with all the possible colors the advancement of the people’s war, and turned his life and those of the masses into a colorful, vibrant, exuberant subjects of depictions.
By TOMAS T. TALLEDO*
In 1979, Felix Salditos, popularly known as the poet Mayamor decided to fully embrace the national democratic struggle and pursued bolder tasks for the liberation of the masses that he faithfully loved. As a cadre, he accepted to be deployed in the countrysides of Panay island.
At the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front during the dispensation of Cory Aquino, Mayamor took on a rather risky above-ground tasks in documentation of the negotiations. Another underground poet, Servando Magbanua, did not escape death by assassination as consequence of surfacing.
It was also that time Mayamor met and courted Ruth. Ruth recalled that fateful moment as it was during one of the largest Lakbayan (Peasants’ Journey) events in the island. There they were cordoned inside Sta. Teresita Church and the lakbayanistas were bringing in food and needed supplies. Mayamor approached her and asked if he could borrow her guitar; that was their first conversation.
Ruth lovingly remembered he played the guitar while she sang. After sometime, Ruth received a letter from him expressing his intention to court her. Finally she accepted him and they were married in 1997. Early on, they had accepted that they cannot live together as standard couples do. Their married life went on even as Mayamor fulfilled his propaganda work far away from Ruth.
As an artist, he painted and wrote about the revolution and its people. Despite the dreariness of the the political and socio-economic situations, he still found these inspiring to paint with all the possible colors the advancement of the people’s war, and turned his life and those of the masses into colorful, vibrant, exuberant subjects of depictions.
Mayamor’s corpus of poems remain dispersed. These are posted in his Facebook, e-mailed to friends, personally printed in limited copies as gifts to comrades. Changing from hand-to-hand, a chapbook was passed on to me, in English titled “Our songs will never die down the valley and other poems”. He had not fully grasped the diction of this foreign tongue as his lines read blandly prosaic: “I am hearing/the soothing and sonorous song -/I will continue to play our music/our song will never die/down the valley./”
In Hiligaynon, he is the unsurpassed master of poetic form, sound and imageries among underground poets of Panay. He wrote a five-part long elegy for the three martyrs in Capiz, “Pasidungog Kanday Ka Val, Ka Bong, Ka Remy”. In this poem, he effectively harnessed poetic techniques of catalogue, rhetorical queries and tone of supplication. Readers who claim they like his poems should therefore seriously learn Hiligaynon language rather than rely on translations than can only approximate meaning and felicity.
Mayamor was viewed as one of the brightest and diligent cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front. He took on the tasks assigned to him without any hesitation, and was hardworking in challenging situations. Such was his resolve to liberate the people, such was his dedication, such was his love for the masses.
Though his life was abruptly ended, Mayamor is not wholly gone. Physically he is now at rest in the bosom of the earth, yet he lives through his poetry and his paintings, held in trust by friends, families and comrades all over Panay.
The examples of his life will continue to surge through the raised fists of the people, and through the tactical maneuvers of his comrades. His name ever resounding entwined in the many slogans, speeches and tributes in his honor. His spirit goes with the wind that blows over the revolutionary banners and flags. Mayamor’s joyful nature, bravery, commitment, perseverance, and dreams will be with us all, a light of hope that shall guide us in the darkness . His sacrifice and that of his comrades will not be be in vain, rather they shall be of the people’s National Democratic struggle will advance, bringing forth a new society sans oppression, sans exploitation, a society that Mayamor painted on his canvass and celebrated in his poems.
Our socialist future will be his most beautiful artwork, and our people’s history, his greatest exhibition.
*The author is faculty member of the Division of Social Sciences, UP Visayas, Miag-ao, Iloilo Campus. He teaches Political Science and Sociology courses. He published his collection of poems, “Songs of War Patriots and other poems” in 2011.
Listen to the poems.
“August Poem” was read by JayP Paala. Jayp is an alumnus and former editor of The Accounts, the student publication of University of the Philippines Iloilo City. He is now based in Makati.
It is one of the poems posted by Maya Daniel on his Facebook account on August 14, a few hours before he died in an encounter in San Jose, Antique. Ever time JayP reads the poem, he imagines Maya’s happiest days with his extended family in the countryside. It’s like going back to his complicated but meaningful journey as Ka Maya: poet, artist, revolutionary, human.
“Flick to his dick” was read by Jang Monte-Hernandez.
Jang is the secretary general of Gabriela Women’s Party. The GWP has been consistent in defending women’s rights and denouncing the misogynistic pronouncements of Duterte. Her sister, Recca Monte, was a New People’s Army guerrilla who was tortured and killed by state security forces in Lacub, Abra in September 2014.
“The Forest is Pregnant” is read by Luchie Maranan. Luchie is the vice chairperson of Cordillera cultural group Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera (DKK). Maranan has authored books about the Cordillera people’s heroism and struggles, including “The Pangat, the Mountains and the River,” “Lakay Billy: Defender of Indigenous People” and “Cordillera Heroes,” which she co-edited. She also writes poems.
“A Blast, At Any Time of the Day” was read by Ron Lopez. Ron is a journalist for ABS-CBN and one of the directors of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines. Prowling the streets of Metro Manila from night until dawn, Lopez has witnessed not a few cases of drug-related killings.
“Package of Bones” was read by Rebecca Lawson. Becca volunteers with Rise Up for Life and for Rights, a network of advocates and families affected by Duterte’s bloody war on drugs. She is also with the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines.
“Puff the Bloom” and “Reply” were read by Ariel Sebellino. Ariel is the executive director of the Philippine Press Institute. He is a staunch advocate of press freedom and supporter of civic journalism.
“Pag-Asa” was read By Gladys Regalado. Gladys advocates ICT for the people as a volunteer of the Computer Professionals’ Union.
“Morning Star” was read by Lorie Angco-Beyer.
Lorie is a registered social worker, has been an indigenous peoples’ rights advocate for more than two decades. She is the administrative officer of the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (TFIP).
She chose “Morning Star” to pay tribute to the selflessness of Maya Daniel and other revolutionaries who struggle for social justice. She included the Filipino version written by Rhoda Tajon, seeing it as “heartfelt translation of the poem.”
“Poem Written One Night” was read by Audrey Beltran. Audrey is the vice chairperson of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance. She is drawn to Maya Daniel’s works because she she also loves poetry and nature photography.
“My Poems Aren’t Gentle” was read by Gladys Regalado.
“A Timely Poem,” “My Free Verse,” “Ang Hilwaylaybay Ko” and “May Binalaybay Ang Panahon” were read by Jethro Seth J. Dumapit. Jethro is the chairperson of the League of Filipino Students-West Visayas State University. He is human rights activist.
“May Bagwis” and “Provincial Capitol Grounds Iloilo City” were read by Jayp Paala. JayP describes May Bagwis, “Isang tanikala buhat ng pagtitiis at pagsasamo upang makamit ang rurok na pag-ibig.” He considers the second poem as one of his favorite poems written by Maya Daniel. It throws him back to the days when he first joined rallies against budget UP cuts and how he was exposed to the realities of ordinary people from the countryside.
“Rising Like Freedom Birds” was read by Bastin Adrias. Bastin is a writer, videographer, editor, and host for the Altermidya Network.
“Untitled (I Listen)” and “Untitled (In the Vast Forest)” were read by Gladys Regalado.