Susog Salog: Creative Critical Empathy Towards Re-thinking River Response and Governance, a special collaborative project which aims to revitalize the Naga City River through various sectors, was launched at the Ateneo de Naga University (IMC) last 1 February 2014, with Dr Merlinda Bobis, an award-winning Bikolano writer and teacher, as the guest lecturer.
The program started with a warm welcome by Dr Noel Volante, Director of the AdNU Center for Arts and Culture. Kristian cordero, multi-awarded writer and head of CAC`s Creative Writing and Literature Division, then introduced Hon. Gabby Bordado Jr, Naga City`s Councilor and Mayor John Bongat`s representative for the event. Hon. Bordado provided a brief background and history of the city`s previous projects to rehabilitate the Naga River. After his talk, Tito Valiente, Director of AdNU`s Institute of Bikol Culture, introduced the guest speaker, Dr Merlinda Bobis.
Dr Bobis`s lecture showed how the arts could help in the rehabilitation of the river by sharing with the audience a part of her poetics using excerpts of her latest novel Fish-Hair Woman to illustrate her points. Dr Bobis cited three important concepts: Kapwa (Fellow), Pagtawo (Presence), and Pagtabi-apo (a local term used to show respect or reverence). Dr Bobis then suggested some projects which highly encourage community involvement such as storytelling and the “Hardin ni Maria.”
The launch, however, didn`t end in the lecture. In the afternoon, a number of volunteers attended a special creative workshop and sharing at the James O`Brien Library where the participants drew memory maps which they could use as starting points for their poems, stories, or artworks. A mini-tour and storytelling (which serves as a pilot for the project) was also held on the following day.
The special launch was made possible thanks the joint effort of AdNU`s Institute of Bikol Culture, the Center for Arts and Culture, and the City Government of Naga.