In the mid 1990s there were car stickers saying BIKOLano ako. Some months later, a novelty shop was selling coffee mugs printed with BIKOLANO AKO. That and more types of "sightings" were discussed by a group of Bikolians (cultural masochists really) as proofs that they were not alone. The cultural masochists felt some comfort in the thought that there are other people with Bikol angst or that they are not the only intelligent mob explorers (illusionary or real) with lofty aspirations (including arty coffee mugs and T-shirts) for the region’s enlightened future (ahem).
Do I have the weight to lay down the events leading to the formation of Bikol Republika? Yes. For I am Whushi Mayupo from the WU (World of the Unknown, to most people). I’m more than a complice to Bikol Republika or BR; I am always (when not on vacation) amidst BR, its inner muse and chief counsel for eternity. However, my recollections must be treated with subjectivity.
At one of the core group meetings of letra bikol ink. (this is an association of Bikol writers and the publisher of letra magazine)in 1997, Patty or Patricia San Jose-Lacerna broached BR as a bicycle for change (hasn’t she heard of hybrid cars or magnet-powered trains?).
That day Patty learned about a “Bikol Republic” spearheaded by Mr. Nonong Trivino with seemingly similar sentiments. (Unfortunately, she never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Trivino who passed away in 2001.) Within those following weeks she was already on-the-way foggy with pobolusion—with what—base of change, Bikol specifically. To Patty, BR is one bike as letra zine is another bike.
Anyway, "bike company" was A-okay to spur change although no one has yet forwarded a clear nuts and bolts about Bikolandia’s transformation. Perhaps they were all thinking, which Patty did considered, now's not the right time. But hey, all felt jolly good (including Heneral Mendes and me) describing affairs of the land or of BR possible scenarios and simply, in being together. We’re all old souls, you know, without the humans' awareness.
After about three exploratory sessions over hot brewed coffee and ice-cold beer, the central group decided to push through with the idea of a cultural transformation "movement". The consensus was to come out with fliers or teasers introducing BR— like a new brand of green laundry soap or sneakers. Or bikes.
Some underlined factors were the "no-structure" organization and healthy-humor-activities. So far, taong-lipod Hen. Mendes of Earth was voted to head BR with spiritual commander title. Marlon Ragrario and Patty were tasked (or did they assigned themselves?) to commit the ah-oh-wha-ha-uhum-he-he probes to writing. Meaning, they’ll draw up BR’s framework. As usual, I'm delegated as observer, only active when consulted.
So the three of us decided an afternoon at Alfredo’s Café for a more plotting mood, ah, set about to make history or mere story. Patty and I prepared the draft in a question-format. When we met, Marlon did nailed down most answers to the questions (I’d say, he got the funny gene). In spite of the weak black coffee we had a riot imagining ironically comic situations of BR state of affairs with inceptions of local personalities and tsismis (gossip). The funding query for the "movement" is bleak but that did not bother them, you know,being artists.
Three weeks passed before BR Fastprimer (consists of the serious part and "unserious") hit the photocopying machine and then distributed personally. In the process, two more meetings ensued. Tootsie Jamoralin coined FastPrimer, edited murderous puns and grammar, and sprinkled a bit of his own homegrown wit. Danny Gerona nodded and shared responses coming from other masochists. Frank Penones III easily labored through the night the Bikol translation. Of course, Hen. Mendes and I, as then and now, never meddled with any one's decisions. We just offer support for their dreams to altruistic projects.
Here are a few of the Fastprimer’s initial solicited reactions: Is this a cult? Are you really serious about this? Wow, a state of mind state. Mind-breaker! I think we’ll have a Norte Republika too. We’ll have a Visaya Rep. Who’s your leader? Who’s Heneral Mendes? Let’s have an army as well! Do you have BR Tee shirts or mugs? Uhm, the military will (always) think BR is serious. Most of the anticipated questions are clarified in the Q&A ('unserious') section of the Fastprimer.
The serious and "unserious" parts of BR Fastprimer is to tickle the Bikolian mind onto the idea of change (and act on it seriously and selflessly, I hope). The time to change is NOW view may not be BR’s most indicative factor. The unstructured set up is, which is based on the ancient wisdom of impermanence and interdependence. What naturally follows is a "continuum" (Patty thinks the word "movement" leaves her with qualms). As such it has no hang up with positions or organizational functions, concrete leaders, or asphalted beliefs. These are the reasons for the inverted letter e in Republika (no show— I’m an idiot with computers) that expresses fluid change rather than mere coolness, and where, at an eye glance, intends to differentiate BR from other Republics or Republikas. The inverted e connotes every sadire’s (self) courage and creativity to face po or spirit, our transformative potential. The book Pobolusion & Bikol Republika ruminates po in relation to Bikol development. Of course, those notions are still being chewed over by the author and by BR citizens (thank you po). The Fastprimer (serious and "unserious") is also designed to start a discussion (na naman!) on Bikol development or pobolusion.
The Fastprimer (serious and "unserious") has been updated. The fat concern is on global security neurosis. Well, we don’t want conventional governments, religions, and terrorists to feel insecure or to take BR too narrowly. For the record— ideas or opinions here are exclusively those of the authors and nobody else’s, from the 1st dimension onto the 11th. The first two postings were entered by Patricia San Jose-Lacerna so that this site would not appear fictitious. Thanks Pat. (Besides, almost all of the article’s ideas were really mine, no kidding!)
Here’s a message from Patty: To some original BR earthlings, where are you guys? Just to remind that all of you will remain BR citizens forever, whether you like it or not (you know why). I haven’t heard from most of you since I moved to the Northwest of the planet. Hen. Mendes said that some of your landlines were never replaced after downed by Bikol typhoons. Perhaps most of you lost interest. Or, are masyadong very busy (copycat!). One reason is Illness. Take your time to heal well Rey! Shanti!
Whatever, Patty, I'm sure the different paths our 'missing' guys tread on are as healthy as pobolusion or BR. As they say, diversities make up the parts of the whole. To the 'orig' and new BR citizens— don't forget to shake the Iba tree so it will bear more fruit.