The First to Love
By Simeon Dumdum, Jr.
Always she is a step ahead.
Each time I think of giving flowers,
She would surprise me with the swift
Appearance of roses. And if
I get up in the morning, pulled
Out of bed by the idea of
A walk across the fields, she would
Be lacing her shoes, and the coffee,
Which was on my mind, would fill up
The room with its delightful presence.
But one day, when there was a downpour,
I made sure I would be the first
To suggest that we have a race
In the rain, but she turned me down,
And I saw in her smile that we
Were too old for such recklessness.
But that afternoon, the sun blazed,
And she asked what just then had crossed
My mind, that we both go outside.
The road was a patchwork of water.
I wanted to help her across
A shimmering puddle, forgetting
That her legs were longer than mine.
I was invited to host and read at the very first Cebu LitFest, a festival of the love for everything literary, and local, by Little Boy Productions and the Cebuano Studies Center. Kenneth Cobonpue provided the furniture for the stage set and at the guests and participants lounge where we were treated to refreshments from Circa 1900 and East West Cafe.
The morning started strong and took on some weight towards noon. The primarily student crowd got revved up when local rock celebrity, Cattski Espina took the stage for her interactive talk on songwriting, getting everyone to sing along and excited for the LitFest Jam scheduled in the evening. Breaks allowed photo ops with the featured guests and the “Children and Kings” chair/sculpture out of hundreds of plastic toys in a form inspired by the Game of Thrones’ Iron Throne.
At the lounge, Chef Christian Tan served Open-Faced Chorizo Sandwiches with Mangoes and Caramelized Onions. These came in a seemingly endless supply. I don’t like to eat when I’m doing events but these came in perfectly-sized bites, enough to hold back hunger pangs while keeping light in my belly. The spicy chorizo was minced and lay on a toasted baguette round, balanced by the pungent sweetness of the caramelized onions and the mango coulis. Coarse ground black pepper over everything tied in the pop of sweetness to the heat of the spiced meat. I hardly noticed the Cobonpue Manolo buffet table it was displayed on.
A tower on a separate table held liquor-laced cupcakes by Lorraine Dytian in three flavors: Chocolate Baileys, Lemon Tequila and Banana Rum. Those were lightweight and with only a hint of the liquor flavors. I would have preferred a definite kick in them but it was held back, wisely so or I would have slurred through my reading after my nth piece.
I had my go-to Nutty Oaty from Fruit Magic for lunch. Quick, easy to down, filling and packed with protein and fiber. I needed to be on my feet most of the time and a visit to the throne room was one I’d like to avoid until the show was over.
Literary greats flooded the stage in the afternoon building up to the evening finale of poetry readings by select Cebuano personalities interspersed with musical sets from featured artists under the 22 Tango Records label. Finishing my piece, the rest of the readings and sets went on autopilot until closing. I can’t wait for next years’. Yes, I’m even more excited about what they would serve then. I’d be the first to eat and…the first to love.