Dates: Between 19 January - 10 February, 2004

Reviewer: Ed Farolan


Paulina Constancia with Editor Ed Farolan in Cebu City

During my three-week visit to the Philippines (January 19-February 10, 2004), I had the pleasure of meeting Paulina Constancia, a poet and artist who presently resides in the island of Cebu. She published her bilingual book of poems (English-Spanish) Open Arms/Brazos abiertos in Vancouver in 2003, designing the cover herself based on a painting with the same title. Paulina is a professional artist. She has had exhibitions around the world, and in 1997,studied on a grant at the Vermont Studio Center where her interest in poetry was sparked. In 1999, she went to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to study ceramics, and according to her, this was the beginning of her "sentimental adventure with the Spanish language".

Her poems in this collection written between 1997-2002 are as joyful as her paintings, and admits that most of her poems are inspired from her paintings. Before returning to Cebu, she gave poetry readings at the Vancouver Main Library with the World Poetry Reading Series, in a radio program with the same title on Co-op Radio, and together
with Evelyn Lau and other international poets, at the Guildford Library in Surrey in May 2003 in celebration of Asian Heritage Month. During the few days I was in Cebu, I found a very energetic personality, a woman full of possibilities, someone baring her soul to me, as poets do when they share the same sensibilities. We laughed, we sang, we shared thoughts, dreams and travels as she showed me around Cebu City and Mactan.

Her book contains 4 parts:

I- Alegrías Sencillas/Simple Joys, II- Sobre la Naturaleza/On Nature, III-Vida y muerte/Life and Death and IV-Cosas de Amor/All About Love

In the Introduction to her book, she sings:

Abraza la vida y el amor dulcemente
pero no demasiado fuerte;
para que los vientos de cambio y crecimiento
puedan soplar
en la dulce distancia.
Hold life and love dear
but never too near-
that the winds of change and growth
may still breeze
within the sweet distance. 

A poem which expresses her artistry and the basic themes of her paintings is the poem On Life's Colors/Sobre los colores de la vida:

La vida es como un lienzo
y con pintura y pincel,
las posibilidades -¡interminables!
Guarda esta imagen, verdadera y sencilla
porque la alegría solamente necesita colores pocos…

Life is a canvas
and with paint and brush,
the possibilities - endless!
Keep the image simple and true,
for JOY requires but colors few!

Cover designed by author

Copies of her book are available 
World Poetry Publishing 702-31 Elliot Street,
New Westminster BC V3L 5C9 Canada. Tel: 604-526-4729

. 2004, Ed Farolan