Wednesday, February 15, 2017

HLF 2017: A Tamil - Filipino Juxtaposition

The 2017 edition of the Hyderabad Lit Fest which happened in Hyderabad from January 27 to 29, witnessed a good crowd of literary enthusiasts from the city and outside. I could attend just the last day this time but I enjoyed it just as much as I did the last three times that I attended. 

Here's a little sneak peek into the event and the insights I gained, all in a nutshell.

The guest nation at the HLF this year was Philippines and there was a wide array of events showcasing the Filipino art and literature. If you don't know yet, the HLF has a guest nation and an Indian language in focus every year, and the three day fest is packed with events that offer great insights into both.

The Filipino writers and artistes who were present participated in the panel discussions, stage talks, workshops and cultural programmes which included a Pangalay performance as well. Kooky Tuason, Christine F. Godinez-Ortega, Hope Sabanpan-Yu and Vim Nadera were some of the writers who were part of the delegation from the Philippines and they presented some interesting events such as Karmic Harvest: Published and Performed Poetry in the Philippines and Filipino Folk Literature: Then and Now.

The Filipino lit fare offered much insight into the contemporary literary scene in the Philippines as well as their history of literature. Performance poetry is something that has been becoming increasingly popular everywhere. But did you know that it was there in the Philippines even a decade ago?

Kooky Tuason, who was one of the Filipino writers at the HLF, is the founder of Bigkas Pilipinas, which started as an informal group of artists who regularly performed poetry on stage across cafes and bars. The poetry they perform is mostly themed around the Filipino identity and social experiences in the Filipino context.

The Filipino context isn't very familiar to me but I'm sure I would be able to relate to many aspects of it, as would any other South Asian. I have had discussions about the Filipino culture and Indian culture, with my friend Czarina from the Philippines, and we learnt that there are many words in Tagalog which have been borrowed from or derived from Sanskrit and Tamil.

Here are a few Tagalog words borrowed from Tamil:
Manggá - மாங்காய் (Māngāi) - Mango
Malunggáy - முருங்கை (Murungai) - Moringa
Tatay - தந்தை (Tantai) - Daddy
The Indian language in focus at the HLF this year was Tamil and this made me wonder about the small Tamil diaspora in the Philippines. Do they speak Tamil? Do they identify themselves as Filipino or as Tamil? If you know the answers to these questions or know someone who would, please drop a line in the comments below.

Did you attend the HLF 2017? Or have you attended any of the earlier editions? I'd love to know your stories around the HLF. Share them all in the comments! 

[All images courtesy Hyderabad Literary Fest unless otherwise mentioned. Photograph in post feature image: personal photography.]