Victor P. Gendrano was born and raised in the Republic of The
Philippines. During World War II, the Japanese military invaded his homeland.
The enemy was ruthless, forcing women into prostitution, bayoneting babies,
confiscating property, and imprisoning people regardless of their age
or health. The occupation and mistreatment of the Filipino people left
an air of animosity towards things Japanese that still lingers in some
parts of the Philippines. Haiku and related genres are of Japanese
origin and have not taken the country by storm as they have in North
America and Europe. The tide, however, is changing.
Online forums and printed journals are entering the Japanese short form
poetry arena, showcasing haiku and related genres penned by Filipino poets.
A leader in this movement is Victor P. Gendrano. During the dictatorship of
General Ferdinand Marcos, Gendrano migrated with his family to the United
States. There he earned a Master's Degree from Syracuse University in
New York and soon after, moved to Southern California to become a
librarian for the Los Angeles County Public Library system. Like most
Filipinos, Gendrano was introduced to poetry at an early age, studying
in school poetry written by the father of the Philippine Nation, Jose
Rizal. Gendrano took to poetry like a carabao to a rice field.
Although adept in Occidental style poetry, it is Asian short form
poetry that Gendrano feels most comfortable with.
Victor Gendrano dedicated Rustle of Bamboo Leaves to his wife, Lucy,
who died in 2003. Particularly poignant are the poems about his wife,
her illness, her passing away, and how he deals with her death.
The series reminds me of the tanka Fumiko Nakajo wrote prior to her
death in 1954 that addressed her having terminal breast cancer and how
she dealt with her illness. It is refreshing to read poetry that is
unafraid to reveal one's inner feelings and truths.
Here are some excerpts:
I wait til dawn
for her footsteps
misty cold night
the wail of a mate-less loon
pierces the darkness
the nights get longer
this time last year
we watched a romantic show
for the last time together
sa maraming namimili
bibili ako ng regalong
para sa akin
i'll buy myself
a christmas present
ospital silid hintayan
ang plastik na bulaklak
the plastic flowers
always in bloom
palaki nang palaki
sa tungga ng alak
one that got away
the fish grows bigger
with every sip of beer
A lot of books published today by contemporary
Asian short form poets are uneven and lack
sincere emotion. Gendrano's book is a good read.
Many of his poems are indelible, and he is unafraid
of sharing with his readers via his poetry the "is" of who