A LETTER FROM GILBERT TO ROGER

___________________________________________

My most precious friend Roger,
God loves you. He really does.
Thank you so much for the very beautiful poem you wrote addressed to me.
It is awesome. I told the friars in Canada while I was there that you could have been THE real poet have you been given the support by the friars. But surely we live in an imperfect world, although in the fullness of God’s time everything is revealed.
I can never forget you. You were the one who really gave me the ímpetus to write poetry. I entered the seminary supposedly dead to the world. I just had suffered my traumatic experience then with our school in La Carlota. Me against the whole faculty. I was then the original rebel before all those activists came out to defy the system. I tore my report card in defiance because I expected to graduate at the top of the ranks but my teachers favored someone else. They could not flank me anymore because I topped all the siubjects in the division test, except for physics. But they gave me a grade of 75 in character. I did not join the graduation march. Years later, as their “most outstanding alumnus in the field of journalism,” I was asked to speak to the graduates. In my speech I exhorted the students to believe in their God-given gifts because all of them are outstanding. I entered the seminary against the wishes of my clan. My grandfather had then lost all his fortune and we suddenly became very poor. There is no greater tragedy in this world than to be a poor relation! The first poem you dedicated to me made me pursue my gift as a poet and it sort of spurred me to “touch to ecstasy the living lyre.” When you were back from Tanzania I intended it to be the preface of the deluxe edition of Glass of Liquid Truths together with the poems of Ricaredo Demetillo, Federico Licsi Espino Jr. and Fr. Andres R. Arboleda Jr., SSP. But I was shocked because they were not used and instead the introduction written by Rolando L. Espina was the one used by the publisher. If you still have it please send it to me. Not that I do not like this recent one which is magnificent but because I need it to inspire me to write poems along the same depth and breadth as “Genuflection” which Nick Joaquin told me, during dinner in the house of Federico Licsi Espino Jr., is my best poem and the most religious poem ever written by a Filipino. That poem was inspired by your poem dedicated to me, written while we were still pre-Vatican II aspirants.
The poem I wrote with you in mind, titled “Rogelio Obja-an del Rosario,” will be included in my forthcoming book, Getxo and Other Poems, a collection of 200 poems
written here in Neguri within a period of two months. The Siervas de Jesús nuns will launch it quietly in their convent, with me of course in attendance, once it is published. Along with my poem about you, the poem I wrote about their foundress,
Saint Josefa Corazón de Jesús, will also be in that collection.
Okay, my most dear friend, I wish you and your family the best of everything.
You are always in my prayers. Please pray for me, too, and may I hear from you soon.
Un abrazo tan largo como la distancia que nos separa…

regards,
Gilbert

My latest poetry books Triptych and Collected Poems and Somewhen and my latest novel Rubrics and Runes are now available on Amazon.com.

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