Sunday, March 7, 2010

Happy Mondays: A Tradition at mag:net café

By Paul Lee

Three years seemed like a pretty short time for a simple biweekly gathering to become a tradition. Nonetheless mag:net café’s Happy Mondays has grown from what is simply a gathering of poets and writers as well as prose and verse enthusiasts to a literary tradition eagerly followed by many from near and far along the Katipunan to Diliman stretch.

Every other Monday as in the first and third Monday of the month; writers and poets both established and first-timers regale listeners from all walks of life to their works amidst the warm ambiance and good food of the mag:net cafe and under the eye of master of ceremonies Palanca-award winning poet and Miriam College Professor Joel Toledo who handles the occasion from seven to ten in the evening. This has continued for the past 71 Mondays since April 2, 2007 and what was to be the Happy Mondays tradition started out with an idea for a poetry venue by mag:net café owner Rock Drilon together with poet Andrea Teran.

However, the Happy Mondays finally took of when Joel Toledo signed in as host. Describing it as an "exhausting labour of love," Toledo has welcomed veteran and first time poets alike as well as authors to enunciate both their original works as well as their own respective interpretation of works from other poets. Of course, Happy Mondays has gone beyond merely poets disseminating their works in verse to a favourite venue for works in prose as well as book and band launches.

March 1st, 2010 marked the third year since Happy Mondays first became a biweekly event at mag: net café. Among the guests gracing the milestone occasion were National Artist Virgilio Almario and University of the Philippines Professor Emeritus in poetry Jimmy Abad as well as poets Pete Lacaba and Vim Nadera and Alfred Yuson to name a few. Other guests gracing the occasion included filmmaker Khavn de la Cruz who was accompanied by Icelandic actor-poet Frosti Runolfsson and Filipino filmmaker John Torres while Happy Mondays regulars the Batutes never failed to bring down the house with their distinct brand of irreverent humour and international writer Tom Sykes capped this milestone.

As always the veteran poets congregated to enjoy each others’ company accompanied by loud laughter fuelled by copious amounts of San Mig Lite and red wine. Both Professor Abad and Alfred Yuson kicked off the occasion with their own unique approach to the proceedings of the night and to the amusement of the audiences; for while Professor Abad remained true to form with his acerbic wit highlighting his verses, Alfred Yuson carried on with his own sublime complement to Abad’s sharp mastery of verse. Ironically and speaking of sharpness, Professor Abad did his rendition of Krip Yuson’s "Dreams of Knives." Another highlight came when another poet laureate; Vim Nadera did his take on "Tulaan sa Tren" as he chanted mantra-like the name of the otherwise reliable mode of public transportation.

As the night carried on; almost thirty other poets delivered and disseminated their respective works to a standing-room crowd much to their entertainment. Being a Monday, some had to take their leave as the rest of the week loomed on. Nevertheless and on its third year, the Happy Mondays tradition continues to bring the beauty of verse to listeners facing an otherwise mundane week and may it continue for a long time to come.

(Paul Lee is a freelance writer based in Loyola Heights, Q.C. An Ateneo graduate, he is currently finishing his master's in creative writing at U.P. Diliman).

mag:net café
Katipunan Avenue:
In front of Miriam College, beside Rustan’s Supermarket
Quezon City , Philippines
For reservations call: 929-3191
Contact: Mr. Rock Drilon

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