OF WORDS AND MEANING: THE REALITY BEHIND EROS ATALIA’S FICTION
A lot of things happened in the past year: a major volcanic eruption, the spread of COVID-19 which changed everyone’s lives, floods from super typhoons, other natural calamities, and amidst all of that — the unending issue of human rights violation against freedom of expression. In this anniversary issue of The Feed, we rediscover how we can reclaim our voices by passing through the mist of reality and entering the realm of fiction with The POST’s Executive Director, Eros Atalia.
Filipinos are in a constant battle to free themselves from the shackles that silence their voices — shackles that prevent them from writing their stories and speaking their truth. It has been a struggle for the Filipino. However, each generation has its own significant shift.
During the Spanish colonization, a young man from Calamba, Laguna harnessed the magical power of pen and paper and awoke the nationalism in slumber among his countrymen. These patriots launched a revolution and overthrew the rule of colonizers.
Later, the Philippines faced a repression of freedom of speech during the rule of Ferdinand Marcos. No historical revisionist can overlook the fact that Marcos authorized the military to take over privately-owned media companies. Under his regime, several journalists and media owners, including The Manila Times’ Chino Roces and ABS-CBN’s Eugenio Lopez Jr., were arrested.
Justice has not yet been served for several other nameless journalists who went missing during one of the darkest times for Filipino journalists. Then, novelist Lualhati Bautista pulled out her pen and wrote her own spell, which later became a legacy to remember the nameless victims of martial law in her novel, “Dekada 70”.
Today, we are yet again facing a similar situation experienced by our predecessors. This time, the repression comes in the form of a law articulated and passed by legislators who fail to recognize the true value of the press and carelessly believe the false narratives attributed to it.
Can the present Filipino youth still see past the smoke and mirrors?
Eros Atalia may not be a hero, but he is today’s wizard who uses words to conjure a mirror that unveils the reality.
Eros Atalia, the Writer
Known by many today for his literary works that define modern Philippine literature, Eros Atalia grew up in what he calls an “economically challenged” environment. At a young age, he had met with life’s harsh realities, but the deficiencies in his early life gained him an abundance of wisdom pushing him to write powerful stories that can move hearts and minds.
To date, Atalia has received four Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for his works, “Si Etot” (2019) and “Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino” (2006) under the Maikling Kwento category, and “Ang Ikatlong Anti-Kristo” (2017) and “Tatlong Gabi, Tatlong Araw” (2013) under the Nobela category.
A multi-awarded writer, Atalia is also the author of several literary masterpieces, including “Peksman (Mamatay Ka Man) Nagsisinungaling Ako” (2007), “Wag Lang Di Makaraos” (2011), and “Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me” (2009), which was adapted into film in 2011 as the official entry to the 7th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. This was followed by the film adaptation of Atalia’s “Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, which became an official entry to the 8th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival in 2012.
Atalia’s book, “Tatlong Gabi, Tatlong Araw” is set to launch its E-book version on July 31, 2021, in partnership with Precious Pages Books.
Eros Atalia, the Wizard of Words
In his novel, “Tatlong Gabi, Tatlong Araw”, Mong, a journalist from Manila is set to visit Barangay Magapok to fulfill his dead mother’s wish. Incidentally, he covers a story about an upcoming super typhoon in an area near Barangay Magapok. However, things get a bit hazy for Mong when people and animals start to mysteriously disappear. Mong, a skeptic, could no longer find explanation and starts to believe in conspiracy theories of bandits and soldiers, and even…alien abduction.
Written almost a decade ago, “Tatlong Gabi, Tatlong Araw” subsumes issues that remain socially relevant up to date. While hinting on political and social obfuscation, Atalia’s writing, though unembellished, is straightforward and unapologetic. The details are too honest it can hardly be a figment of imagination.
Just like any piece of good literature, Atalia’s stories tell something without saying anything. Beneath those words lie scattered sentiments, demanding to be felt. As the saying goes, the power of the pen is not in the ink it spills, but the impact of the word it spells. Atalia, one of the most renowned Filipino authors today proved that indeed, one can change something by writing, and this is one of his advocacies.
Eros Atalia and The POST, an alternative space for the youth
Atalia, an educator, believes in empowering the youth – build their confidence, have a strong sense of self-efficacy, and have the ability to engage and be involved in issues occurring around them. He shares the same vision with The Philippine Online Student Tambayan (The POST).
As The POST’s Executive Director, Atalia aims to reach the widest audience possible and form the biggest community of students to create positive change in society. Atalia, together with The POST, believe that the youth should possess the power of information, that they should take the initiative and realize the impact of their involvement in societal issues.
With The POST’s mission to deliver objective news stories, start an elevated discussion on socially relevant issues that raise the youth’s awareness, and provide a free and colorless platform where students can freely express themselves, Atalia now passes the torch to this generation, for the youth to speak out and write their own stories, stretch the limits of creativity, and effect change in society.
As Atalia said, “hangga’t kayang papasukin ang iba’t-ibang opinyon, katotohanan, bersyon ng katotohanan sa isang disente at makataong pamamamaraan, nandito ang The POST.”
Watch Eros Atalia’s full interview, available soon on The POST TV.