Book Introduction by Eileen R. Tabios:
“Kapwa” relates to a Filipino indigenous trait on the interconnection of all beings across all time. Professor Virgilio Enriquez, founder of Sikolohiyang Filipino, describes Kapwa as “a recognition of a shared identity, an inner self, shared with others. This Filipino linguistic unity of the self and the other is unique and unlike in most modern languages. Why? Because implied in such inclusiveness is the moral obligation to treat one another as equal fellow human beings. If we can do this—even starting in our own family or our circle of friends—we are on the way to practice peace.”
While Kapwa is often interpreted for Filipino contexts, it is applicable to everyone and everything because of its disputation of an “other”—that other beings are separate from ourselves. As a philosophy, Kapwa has come to be the major underpinning to much of what I write including, most recently, the novel.
As a writer, I’ve written in multiple genres—primarily poetry but also fiction, essays, nonfiction, literary and art criticism, biographies, theater plays, among others. That I write in numerous formats reflects my basic interest in structure and forms—but specifically disrupting normative definitions or categorizations of such forms. I don’t believe in merely inheriting literary traditions as defined by others. My inclination is formed partly because I, a Filipino, am mostly fluent in English, but English became widespread in the Philippines due to U.S colonialism; thus, as a writer, I have an interest in “returning the borrowed tongue” (as other Filipino writers call it) by changing and not just accepting the language.
I’ve chosen to experiment in writing, an inclination that’s also facilitated by my primary literary identity as a Poet. Poetry is an inherently hybrid form because poetry can be on anything and everything. For over two decades, poetry encouraged me to freely experiment and come up with new poetry forms in the process (including the hay(na)ku and the flooid forms). During 2016-2021, I was able to apply all the lessons I learned through poetry into the genre of the novel.
DOVELION: A Fairy Tale for Our Times was my first novel and published by AC Books (New York) in 2021. The term “poetics” relates to one’s philosophy regarding poetry and DOVELION manifested my “Kapwa Poetics.” My second novel COLLATERAL DAMAGE (unpublished as of this writing) expands Kapwa’s possibilities for the novel form. For COLLATERAL DAMAGE, I created a “multiverse, modular structure” that reflects more seasoning by me as a novelist.
Booksby Press “Book Culture Series”:
Kapwa’s Novels is Volume III in Booksby Press’ “Book Culture Series.