wild spirit | The Manila Times
SAVAGE Mind Bookshop was founded in 2018 by Ateneo de Naga University Press Deputy Director Kristian Sendon Cordero to address the lack of a cultural center in Naga City, Camarines Sur, Bicol region.
The region is rich in natural resources but often visited by tropical cyclones. It has a high literacy rate of 90%, but no space where art and culture are discussed and exhibited. Since 2018, Savage Mind has become both a bookstore and a cultural space, the only one in the region.
Writer Kristian Sendon Cordero is the creative force behind Savage Mind Bookshop, a new cultural oasis in the Bicol region. Photo from Wikimedia Commons
It pioneered the works of Filipino writers and artists. He also highlighted the diversity of culture and production in the Bicol region.
There were good reasons to set up such an independent bookstore there. “Naga is known to be the center of education and culture in the Bicol region,” Cordero explained. “The capital of the Catholic Church in this part of the world is here and lately we have entered the national political imagination. But unfortunately, in our recent history, there is no independent bookstore and cultural hub that works our way. was considering it, so we decided to set up Savage Mind with the hope that people will have a new experience in relation to the books.”
One of its strategies was to work with local government units, which have funds allocated to culture and the arts. Another is to exploit the embassies of foreign governments, particularly the Czech Embassy, which has funded eight books of translations of European masterpieces into Filipino.
A third strategy is to exploit Bicolanos who live abroad, who have donated funds, sent books, and adopted communities for Savage Mind’s arts and culture projects. Finally, it has collaborated with schools, colleges and universities in the region, as well as with village and community leaders for a wider dissemination and reach of their artistic and cultural projects. He also helped the Agta indigenous people in Camarines Sur by encouraging them in their carving work and selling the works of the IPs in the art gallery.
Savage Mind has also invited writers to give talks on the art of writing, spoken word and performative poetry to high school and college students. The writers also gave workshops and masterclasses to students and teachers, and gave interviews in Savage Mind that were covered by television and radio stations. He also donated more than 30 boxes of books to local libraries and village communities, to increase the literacy and love of learning of local people.
Despite the pandemic and the confinements, Cordero and his team have initiated several artistic projects, including the production of two short films (“An Kapadagusan kan Agi-Agi kan Gamgam na Adarna” and “Anima Sola”) as director, screenwriter and co-producer, which were screened at the last two ECQ film festivals.
With the Czech Embassy in Manila, Cordero has also published translations of European masterpieces into Filipino. They highlight these translation projects carried out in partnership with the Czech Embassy by devoting a shelf to all these projects. Eight books translated into 10 different languages in the Philippines have been published as part of this cultural collaboration.
Savage Mind believes that translation will be the future of literature, especially in a country like the Philippines where English writing has dominated for over 100 years. No regional or national literature will develop if it only cares about its own agenda. But if we continue to fertilize ideas through our literary resources, we will ensure that people will respect other cultures and also increase their literacy rate.
Additionally, Savage Mind collaborated with other bands for the Susog project. One of his projects was the 2022 Nakabuhi Short Film Festival whose awards night was held on May 27. The Susog project was made in collaboration with Savage Mind: Arts Books Cinema, Kamarin Art Gallery, Fundacion Luis Cabalquinto and the local government unit of Buhi, led by Mayor Margie Moran-Aguinillo. This project is an extension of Savage Mind’s mission to develop not only writers, but also filmmakers and documentarians in the Bicol region.
Savage Mind also held a series of video lectures called “Himati” which were uploaded to YouTube. “Himati” (meaning “feeling”) is a series of readings conceptualized by Cordero and film critic Tito Valiente. Originally, it was planned that poems by Bikol writers would be read by Bikol actor Jaime Fabregas along with the uploaded videos. The first three writers featured were Cabalquinto, Luis Dato, and Marne Kilates. Originally intended to be just a three-episode thing, “Himati” has expanded to non-Bikol readers and non-Bikol writers, including an Argentine actor reading Borges in the original Spanish.
They even had the chance to bring great Filipino actors, Piolo Pascual and Christian Bables, to read the work of Filipino writers Michael Coroza, Alwyn Javier and Mesandel Arguelles to commemorate Pambansang Buwan ng Wika (National Language Month). The Pascual and Bables videos have gone viral and helped make poetry reading a trendy activity during the pandemic. Beyond “Himati,” Savage Mind also has ongoing writing contests and publishing projects.
Savage Mind now operates with the Tugawe Cove Cafe on the second floor and an art space and movie bar called Kamarin. Years ago, the movie “Field of Dreams” said, “If you build it, they will come.” Cordero and company have built a field of dreams, and the Bicolanos are all the better for this cultural oasis.
E-mail: [email protected]
Twitter: Danton Remoto