Writing about Magarao always, Luis Cabalquinto, in a sense, really never left home. But if we reckon by geographical distance, then the poet has been away and will be home this March from the United States. As with any homecoming, two feasts await Cabalquinto. His book Tignarakol will be launched on March 22, 2013, 1 pm at the Arrupe Convention of the Ateneo de Naga University. This is Cabalquinto’s first collection in Bikol and his seventh book.
All of the poems gathered in this collection came from a Gode Calleja’s Burak, which is edited in Canada and Rawis, in Legaspi City. Calleja is himself a writer and a venerable supporter of Bikol writing and arts.
Most of Cabalquinto’s poems saw publication as English poetry, but the poems were written first in Bikol. The book Tignarakol is the second literary title to be published by the Ateneo de Naga University Press this 2013. Upcoming titles from the said press include poetry collections by Frank Penones and Allan Popa and a book of short fictions by Mary Anne Moll.
There is another reason for the homecoming of Cabalquinto. He is going to be honored by the Ateneo de Naga University in an academic convocation. He is this year’s recipient of the Bulawan kan Bikol Service award for his contribution to the development and growth of Bikol literature. He will be present during the book launch and he will personally receive the prestigious award from the Jesuit University in a ceremony to be held during this year’s commencement exercises.
Luis Cabalquinto has been, in the past, honored already by several respected award-giving institutions, which include the Balagtas Award from the Writers’ Union of the Philippines, Dylan Thomas Poetry Award from the New School University in New York, Academy of American Poets Poetry Award and a Writing Fellowship Award from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He is widely anthologized and writes in Bikol, Pilipino and English. He was born in Magarao and is an alumnus of Ateneo de Naga High School.
Outside of the celebration, Luis plans to visit Magarao and Caramoan during his stay in Bikol. There are plans, according to Kristian Cordero, poet and cultural worker, to do a documentary about the visit of Luis Cabalquinto. Part of his itinerary is a trip to Baao’s Café des Artes to meet up with the artists and writers of the Burikbutikan Art Collective.