A rich structure of Filipino beliefs about animals inspires this paper to compare them with poetry, particularly, the poetry of the contemporary Cebuano writer, Simeon Dumdum Jr., which, in a very unusual discourse, suggests an extraordinary level of perception into the nature of the relationships between people and animals. Dumdum’s recent poetry collection, If I Write You This Poem, Will You Make It Fly (2010), embodies a practice of the artistic incorporation of birds, and this praxis offers a measure against which to assess the abundant list of birds in the Philippines. Dumdum, being one of the most attentive artistic “employer” of birds – and his use of the winged creatures, epitomizes an ideal point on the range of an animal-centered aesthetic. In describing my study of Dumdum, I will also attempt to approach the broad questions of why and how poets use animals: what it means when we write about animals, and what implications (positive or negative), rendered from an ecocritical lens, attend the production and understanding of such poetry.
Hope Yu, University of San Carlos, Philippines