To put it simply, “Fringe Manila” is a festival that celebrates culture and the arts. Its aim is “to showcase fresh, daring, and groundbreaking material highlighting the unique point of view of emerging and established artists from the Philippines and internationally, across all genres including, but not limited to, theater, poetry, music, dance and the visual arts” (source). It is also the first time this festival is happening in the country although it was incorporated with the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 10, 2013.
“Spoken word,” on the other hand, is poetry that is intended to be performed in front of an audience. Personally, I find it more interesting to watch poets perform or read their pieces as it allows for more connection between the audience and the poet. However, I have never seen any spoken word performance live. I only watch YouTube videos and this is how I got to know some of my favorite artists like Phil Kaye, Sarah Kay, Neil Hilborn, Franny Choi, Tonya Ingram, Dave McAlinden, Dylan Garity, Michael Lee, and many more.
So, because I wanted to see poets work their wonder in person, and because I wanted a different experience than what I am used to – theater, film, music, etc. – when it was time to decide how I will Fringe, I chose to attend spoken word events.
There were originally two spoken word events: White Wall Poetry’s These Spaces and Logos’ Vessel. A third one, Romancing Venus, was a pop-up event that I could not attend because it coincided with Vessel, which I already had tickets to and which was held much closer to home.
These Spaces, was a fun show. It was held at Sev’s Cafe, which is apparently a frequent venue for not only spoken word events, but concerts and other artsy stuff as well. It was my first time to be in the place. The room was filled with people who all came out to support the poets and/or maybe – just maybe – for the free beer.
The folks from White Wall Poetry and all of the guest poets were good. Each did their best to express their heart and soul to the crowd through their respective poems. There were two who particularly stood out to me: Miko Pepito  because of his unusual way of incorporating backing music in presenting his work, and Redj Francisco because of her heartfelt performance of her beautiful poem, Skin . But ultimately, the highlight of the evening for me was when Wanggo Gallaga, a brilliant writer and owner of the blog Positive/Negative, recited one of his own poems.
“I cannot fathom that this connection can be diminished into a string of codes of 1s and 0s and that all we have between us are words, and promises, and laughter, and more words. Love is more than that.” – Wanggo Gallaga, Primitive
(Video by Franz Pantaleon)
Vessel was a show that I wanted so much to watch from beginning to end – no matter how late it ended. But we ended up leaving early because we also wanted to watch Comet, a romance “dramedy” starring Justin Long and Emmy Rossum. We ended up watching the film at 1:45 AM at Resorts World Manila. I loved the film, but that is beside the point. The point is that I have only seen three spoken word performances from two poets that night – the third poem was a duet – and from what I have seen, I can at least say that the artists were good. And oh, the show was held in Victory Church inside Robinsons Galleria, a venue we had trouble finding because it was referred to as “The White Room” in the invites.
That is pretty much it for my Fringe Manila experience. It was a blast and I cannot wait for next year!
2. White Wall Poetry’s Franz Pantaleon uploaded a video of Redj Francisco’s performance of Skin.
Finally, thanks to Nica Tanjutco for accompanying me to both events. You rock!