To usher in the New Year, 2020, the Ateneo de Naga University Press has recently released a new poetry book written by Palanca award-winning poet, Dr. Benilda S. Santos.
Composed of new and selected poems, Ruta: Mga Bago at Piling Tula is Dr. Santos fourth book of poetry in Filipino. Her two previous collections, Kuwadro Numero 1 and Pali-palitong Posporo were published and republished by Anvil, the University of the Philippines Press and High Chair respectively. Alipato, her third collection was published with the funding support of the poet Jim Pascual San Agustin. The Filipino poems in Alipato are included in this new book of Dr. Santos whose poetry is described by Dr. Michael Coroza as “isang mapagbagong landas ng pagdanas, pagdama, at pagdalumat …may galak at sindak, pananabik at hindik sa matalik at matalisik na paglirip sa mga penomenon mula sa aakalaing simpleng pagmanipula ng manibela, pagharap sa mga multo ng modernong panahon, pagsalubong sa tanong hinggil sa nagunita o nawaglit na pamalit sa nawawalang ulo ng manika, hanggang sa pagtanaw sa araw na nakapiit sa ulap at may tanda ng paparating na bagyo. Binabasbasan táyo ng mga bagong talinghagang handog ni Santos sa pagtahak natin sa masalimuot na ruta ng taimtim na pagdiriwang at matimyas na pagbubulay sa kabuoan at kabuluhan ng búhay.”
A conversation with Dr. Benilda Santos was held at the Savage Mind Bookshop on January 22, 2020, while the formal launching was held at the Instructional Media Center of Ateneo de Naga University last January 23, 2020. Fr. Robert Rivera, SJ, a former student of Dr. Santos together with Prof. Tito Genova Valiente, and Prof. Kristian Sendon Cordero briefly introduced Dr. Santos as a teacher (Fr. Robert), as a critic (Valiente and Dr. Santos are members of the oldest and most respected film critics’ group in the country, the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Filipino) and as poet (Cordero, a fellow poet). Students and members of the Ateneo academic community read selected poems from the collection. Among the readers include Professors Rico Raquitico, Dr. Malu Barcillano and senior high school faculty members, Ms. Tess Consulta, Ms. Rizalyn Sahagun and Mr. Ryan Cuatrona.
In his closing remarks, university press director, Fr, Wilmer Tria, promised to continue to support the publication of poetry books despite the limited sales it can generate. But Fr. Tria believes that the press is not market-driven but values its advocacy more than the profit.
Dr. Benilda Santos is one of the founding directors of Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices. She has also served as the Dean of the School of Humanities in the Ateneo de Manila University. She also received the Outstanding Teacher Awards from the Metrobank Foundation Inc.
The cover and book designed was executed by award-winning poet Paolo Tiausas and the artwork is by entitled Skin by Carla Gamalinda. Copies of the book are now available at Ateneo de Naga University Bookshop and Savage Mind in Naga City and in Solidaridad and Ateneo de Manila Bookshop in Manila.