A poet in the service of the people

Book Review: Pandayan ng Paninindigan: Pagbisita at mga Tula ng Pakikibaka ni Benito Concio Quilloy


The poems of Benito Concio Quilloy are a major contribution to poetry created in prison in the tradition of Amado V. Hernandez’ ”Isang Dipang Langit.”

The harsh conditions of prison serve to strengthen the revolutionary conviction of the political prisoner. He hankers not only for personal freedom but also for the freedom of the people, especially the exploited toiling masses, who are in the larger prison of the semicolonial and semifeudal system.

The alternating avalanche of thoughts and feelings and the aridity of boredom drive the revolutionary political prisoner to write poems in order to keep sanity and purpose and to assert his freedom, his creative role and his relations not only with family and friends but also the people he is sworn to serve.

Quilloy succeeds in becoming a poet from being a scientist, agricultural technologist and community development worker and in creating poems based on his personal and the people’s experiences, needs, demands and aspirations in order to overcome the harsh conditions of imprisonment.

In writing this review, I have been tempted to choose what I consider the best five or ten poems in terms of theme and poetic style. But I prefer to come up with the general view that all his poems are paid for by the rigors of imprisonment and are worthy of serious reading and each one deserves to be read, appreciated and evaluated by every reader.

The poems are significant because they take up the issues that are carried by the program of the people’s democratic revolution. In various poems, the reader can discern the author’s scientific knowledge, his closeness to the farm workers and peasants and the anguish of separation from his loved ones. Most of the poems can pass the muster of literary criticism and can be appreciated as excellent works of art.

I am proud to be in the company of Quilloy and other poets driven by imprisonment to write poems not only to assert their freedom and creativity but more importantly to continue serving the people in their struggle for national freedom, democracy, social justice, economic development, cultural progress and a just peace.

May the subjective freedom of Quilloy become an objective fact through his release from prison. The charges against him are trumped up, on the basis of outright lies, planted evidence and false witnesses. May he gain the utmost freedom to continue working as a development worker and writing poems in the service of the people. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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