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[Throwback Posts | Poet’s Sanctum] A Brief Conversation with Tita Agcaoili Lacambra Ayala

Road Map Series of Tita Agcaoili Lacambra Ayala


Myra here.

I am happy to share with you a brief conversation (by email or thru Facebook Private Messaging to be precise) that I had with Tita Lacambra Ayala. Her “voice in the wilderness” publication called Road Map Series celebrated its 30th Anniversary, 21st of July 2011, and I thought that it would be good to share our correspondence with all of you.

I was very intrigued by Road Map Series when I visited her several years back, and also amazed at her tenacity and dedication in showcasing young talents through this series of publication. And so, here are some of the questions I asked Madam Tita or TALA as she is known to most.

Could you share with us the birthing process of the Road Map Series 30 years ago? What was the inspiration behind all this? 

I started Road Map Series in May 1981. Volume #1 ‘I am dressed I am not going anywhere’ was printed because I thought that the poetry of Lia Lopez-Chua should be shared with the world. This became an addiction for me.

Is there any story behind the name “Road Map”?

The road map is an open hand. Your life is in your hands
Like reading the lines of a hand, one reads one’s fortune and love line, life line, fate line.
I grew up during the war, the Japanese inspired origami, the art of paper folding and paper sculptures, bonsai, everything miniaturized.

Is the Road Map Series restricted to artists based/born in Davao? 

Davao and its environs, as far as Cebu. I had one issue which had Spanish poems.

Approximately how many artists/writers/authors have been featured for the past 30 years? 

There are 83 titles.

What is it about Road Map that has contributed to its longevity and its constant publication despite limited resources? Could you share with us the life-force and energy behind all this?

The publication owes its longevity to the production of the artists. Every issue belongs to the artist. I encourage artists to Do it Yourself! Without the artist there is no Road Map. Taga-salo lang ako (I am just a conduit). When you give the artist printed matter, they can gauge where they are seeing their work in print. It makes them objective, and makes them assess their own value.

What is in store for us in the next 30 years?

It’s up to you. What you can make happen is going to happen. It’s how you flow with or against or create your own current.

Thank you Tita for sharing your Road Map journeys. I’d also like to share one of my favorite Tita Lacambra Ayala poem, entitled Love Poem Macabre.

Love Poem Macabre by Tita Lacambra Ayala, 2008
The chico brown feel and
scent and taste of you
keep me shamelessly honeyed
honeyed for hours after and
I can taste you even more
in my midmorning coffee,
even when you have been gone a week.
I taste you everywhere.
When are you returning from the
restlessness of our travels?
Will you also omit to tell me about
the drive you took to the sea to watch
the moonrise, the cocktails served
under dim lights and tender music
as you sipped your martini.
I long for the note of command in
your voice
when you call
from the stairs.
My veins spring into motion and gush
at the sound of my name
from your lips, straight
and stern, even then,
tweaking my ear as you pass
by my chair.
Strange for me who’s been gone
so long.
Strange to be so alive. And
loving even then.
I feel your hands on my knees
as if it were true.
Why are your shoes so muddy,
where have you been?

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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