Now I know: the courage that I know in life is the courage that I have discovered because I have not stopped looking for the wings that make me journey to every where.
It is the same boldness and daring that I see in my works, the derring-do of a stuntman of ideas and concepts and the vast promise of possibilities in that terra firma of the imagination.
Or so I believe.
I am convinced that in art as in life, such daring, such boldness, such courage are necessary to make us embark on that journey even if the terrain is rugged and rough.
Or even if we know for certain that the hike in such a terrain is slower, more difficult.
As artists, we are journeymen and in this journey we create a world
We reside in this world as well, this world of our own making, a world that is an other--another.
This is why we are a bit out of this world, we artists, with some of us preferring to starve rather than possess all the wealth of the world if the tradeoff is our art.
That is why we are crazy and we want that term so much as it applies to us and to no other. The nutty ones are not crazy: they just do not know how to make art out of their being in an other world. Quick, somebody has to teach them, the nuts so that they will become one like us.
We admit this lunacy in its rational and artistic form, and the term is worn as if it were a badge of recognition among kindred spirits, as if each one is saying to the other, Artist ka rin? Writer ka rin? Bakit di ka nagugutom? Siguro nagkakalakal ka ng dangal at utak, ano?
There are those whom I have seen to have remained faithful to art and its demands.
Never mind if the world goes hang, they could not care less. For them, their art is what gives them integrity, self-respect, self-realization.
At the University of the Philippines, for instance, where there is the heaviest concentration of artists of all kinds, you meet these people.
One poet was refuted to have talked to the wall or to the ceiling while explaining the merits and demerits of a work.
One dramatist can be heard with his picturesque cusswords from the basement of a building to the third floor especially in the early evenings that the small graduate classes are held in the offices of faculty instead of the classroom.
Another one cannot part with his Olympia with the ta-ka-tak-tak-tak, in repeat mode every few seconds, breaking the silence of a late afternoon ritual with your reading and grading of students' essays instead of writing your own essay.
You reflect about art and the blessings it has given you for the many years that you tried to be faithful to its demands.
You went home with some awards that added some accidents to your name.
But the recognition that you can do something more than what the man on the street can do means a lot.
Never mind that sometimes there is much politics in art, that there is much clique in the judging that happens in the contests that you sometimes see yourself joining.
Never mind that art has betrayed you in some instances because of the poverty that you have known even as you try to pursue its promises.
Never mind that you have come to know like no other the pains of being a writer, the pains you never invented but are just there.
In all these years, your art has given you wings, you earthbound.
Your art has given you wings, one pair of good wings, you earthling.
Your art has given you wings, you earth creature, also heavenbound.
With your wings you fly: flee that which is worth fleeing to account truths some place else.
Your wings, oh, they make you cover distances by embracing the wind.
A. S. Agcaoili
Began June 14, finished June 15, 2006