By Juan Escandor Jr.
Hot off the press featuring 22 writers, the first anthology of Bicol fiction stories in varying dialects is making a buzz since it was launched at Ateneo de Naga University in Naga City recently.
“Hagong, Mga Osipon (Buzz, Fiction Pieces)” is the first volume ever published in the 21st century, according to Paz Verdades M. Santos, who edited the book in tandem with Francisco V. Peñones Jr.
Santos said the term osipon was adopted in reference to Bicol fiction as it is the Bikol word for “a tale, to tell, tell on, squeal, gossip, accuse and complain about.” The term was used in the early 20th century of Bicol publication.
Over the decade, she said, the resurgence of Bicol literature has been characterized by a flood of rawitdawit (Bicol poems) with many books already published, but by a dearth of osipon. “Not one volume of good short stories in Bikol had appeared,” she added.
Santos, a literature professor at De La Salle University for 10 years and currently teaches at Ateneo de Naga, has been on the forefront of collecting Bicol literature pieces and publishing them into books, such as “Hagkus (Girdle) Twentieth Century Bikol Women Writers” (2003) and “Maharang Mahamis na Literatura sa Mga Tataramon sa Bikol” (Spicy Sweet Literature in Bikol Language (2010).
In the 183-page anthology, 22 osipon chosen from more than 100 submitted, have won awards and seen publication in campus and local publications, Santos said.
“Some are definitely worth critiquing and studying, and eventually translating and submitting to national and international anthologies to represent contemporary fiction in Bikol,” she added.
Two stories in mythical forms make use of local legends and four pieces in historical fiction, but the bulk deal with harsh social realities.
Peñones said the book title was chosen because the osipon would most likely resonate among Bicol readers who will recognize their own stories in the collection.
The stories provide significant pieces of experience helpful for the new generation to understand the entire sphere of Bicol spirit, said Bernadette T. Dayan, chair of Ateneo de Naga’s literature and language studies department.
“Hagong, Mga Osipon” is published by Ateneo de Naga University Press headed by Fr. Wilmer Tria.