‘Naging manhid na tayo’: Dicta License frontman, Jesuit poet lament culture of impunity through poetry

April 29, 2021 - 2:36 PM
This composite photo shows Dicta License frontman Pochoy Labog and Jesuit poet Fr. Albert Alejo. (Facebook/Dicta License, Screenshot via Facebook/Albert Alejo)

A musician-lawyer and a Jesuit priest poet voiced out their dismay over the culture of violence and impunity in the country in a recent spoken word performance on a local podcast.

Dicta License frontman Pochoy Labog and Fr. Albert Alejo, both personalities who are vocal critics of the current administration, were featured in one of the latest episodes of “Tula Somebody” podcast series.

The Linya-Linya Show in partnership with Quezon City-based PumaPodcast/PumaPublic Production launched this literature-based series in 2019 in streaming platforms Spotify and Apple Podcast.

PumaPodcast is also behind the podcast projects “Tokhang sa Tokhang” and the “COVID Diaries” that became the first podcast series in Asia to be archived at the US Library of Congress.

In the 126th episode of the series released on April 16, Labog and Alejo performed two poetry pieces about the culture of violence and impunity in the Philippines.

Alejo, also called Paring Bert, performed his hard-hitting 2016 poem “Sanayan Lang Ang Pagpatay” and 2020 poem “Salot.”

The former poem talked about how pervasive the bloody drug war is in local communities.

“Naging manhid na tayo. We have suffered from the routinization of violence, the trivialization of violence,” the priest said.

“Pero sabi ko sana hindi tayo masanay. Dapat hindi tayo masanay sa pagpatay,” he added.

Alejo’s poem was also featured in Dicta License’s new album called “Pagbigkas,” which was released on April 9 or Araw ng Kagitingan this year.

“Ito ba yung gusto natin? Ito ba? Seryosong tanong sa Pilipino, ‘di ba?” Labog said, referring to the current crisis in the country.

“Pero may mga iba na nakinig sa amin at hindi natutuwa sa sinasabi namin. And alam mo okay lang ‘yun ‘di ba? Baka ibang landas naman na kami ng tinatahak at iba yung perspective namin sa buhay. Pero siguro yung silver lining lang doon eh nakikinig pa rin sila. At sana nakikiliti namin yung utak nila at siguro sana mapaisip din,” he added.

Fr. Alejo is a poet and a writer who previously worked with indigenous peoples and labor groups assert their rights. He started his regency at the Ateneo de Davao in 1985.

Dicta License, where Labog is a member of, had been releasing music involving socio-political commentaries since 1999.

International music magazine NME likened the band’s outspokenness to rock band Rage against the Machine and hip hop group Public Enemy.

Meanwhile, “Tula Somebody” previously featured other authors and personalities such as Lualhati Bautista, Etta Rosales, Tony Perez and Bodjie Pascua in its previous episodes.

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