Voltaire said,“Let us read and let us dance—two amusements that will never do any harm to this world.” What he might have failed to consider is if you’re dancing capoeira while reading Lourd De Veyra’s Little Book of Speeches, which is harmful to tyrants, like the incumbents and their adored dictator, and to what Amanda Bernice Esteban called “ignorance is bliss”.
Known for his television interviews and programs on history, literature, media, music, and other industries, Lourd also plays with in their band, Radioactive Sago Project (which was once introduced by the former NCCA Director, Cecile Guidote Alvarez, as “Sago Project Electric” in a Cinemanila opening). He won the first NCCA Writers’ Prize for poetry and several awards from the Palanca Foundation and the Free Press, has published several books of essays and poetry which includes this collection of speeches by Summit Books.
Gang Badoy, Founder of Rock Ed Philippines, wrote in the foreword: “I imagine this consistent Palanca Award-winning guy is consumed by the ‘what to says’ before he takes on the podium. As a writer he knows the drill of writing so well—but to take it one step further, to read it before a crowd takes an extra muscle. These are his thought-out thoughts. Firm, crisp, and mostly lucid, Lourd de Veyra’s Little Book of Speeches asks you to sit down and, in your mind, listen to commencement speeches of someone who didn’t attend his own graduation.”
Lourd’s introduction gives a warning to anyone who assumes that he loves drinking from souvenir mugs after delivering lectures or speeches, and this had stood through time—not to mention that his name is sometimes misspelled in the certificates of appreciation, that if it is to be read might reveal his messianic tendency. He further posits that plagiarism is fine, but don’t misquote this one—check his book first.
When W.H. Auden expressed that “No song, poem has ever stopped a tank,” Lourd affirms Auden by saying “No poem will bring down a government, in spite of the sharpness and power of its metaphors.” This leads to the rhetorical question, what are the poets of now?
From the first speech of the compilation, The Poets of Now (A very pretentious manifesto of sorts), it is bewildering how Lourd juxtaposed great philosophical, historical, and literary personalities beside the Teletubbies. He even prompted the poets of now to take responsibility for the events happening in the nation and in the cognitive realm.
“The poet of now knows the rules before he breaks them. And he knows why he is breaking the rules. He breaks them so that the same rules may live on. So that art can survive, and the newer rules would soon emerge.” Then he relates the poet’s task to a gameshow question “When Kris Aquino asks ‘Game Ka Na Ba?’, his reply should be: LECHE KA, MALANDI KA! HINDI KA NA NAHIYA SA TATAY MO!”
This must not be taken seriously, for everything might possibly be a product of Lourd’s boredom. “There is no greater motivation in the world than boredom… Boredom, as much as necessity, is the mother of invention. Boredom makes you change the colors, the sounds, the textures, and the scent of your immediate surroundings. Boredom demands you fill the howling vacuum.” he attests in the second speech titled Vanity Fair.
The third speech is something that everyone needs to read, listen to, and takes with utmost seriousness. It evaluates the situation and tries to foresee the future of the nation. This is the task at hand today, especially when some of the mainstream media are being tagged as fabricators of fake news whenever it unravels the ad hominem, oppressive undertakings, and misleading statements from the most reliable source of “genuine new,” Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson—who released the latest jingle of their Federalist campaign together with Drew Olivar. Just to make things clear, there is no intention here to strip anyone of their rights to write and be read, even though you are an expert with the G-spot.
Moving on—but it must be clear that this is not what the descendants of the dictator wants the people to do—with the next speech where Lourd is drawn as a reporter wearing a bearskin while holding a mic. He addresses the PEN Conference, a gathering of the country’s Alpha thinkers and writers, and speaks of the situation of the Philippine media—which he might want to reevaluate after experiencing turbulent moments under an oppressive rule.
The illustration appears and is an intentional “carnivalization,” as to how Bakhtin would call it, of a broadcaster. Though multiple facets of the industry have been scrutinized and magnified using the eye of an insider, there is only one valid question to ask after all of these that, “what happens when you turn off the TV?” This goes parallel to the question after reading this article. Now that you have savored the parts of Lourd De Veyra’s non-esoteric words of fire and farce, will you just stay there and not take a copy of his book? There are still more speeches to read and listen to. Grab your copies now!
To conclude, though Lourd’s book is not a novel, it still contains two imaginary or undelivered speeches, thus making Mario Vargas Llosa an appropriate guest to deliver the closing remarks. Escribir novelases un acto de rebelión contra la realidad, contra Dios, contra la creación de Dios que es la realidad.