Lo-a, a folk tradition, mirrors the Ilonggo’s folks’ creative or poetic intuition. It encapsulates in a single form the workings of the creative mind of the Ilonggo folks or the common tao – the ordinary souls that one may meet in his daily existence; housewives, farmers, “istambays”, labourers, teachers, even students. Ordinary as they are, their lo-a is a proof of an extraordinary mind whose creativity flows spontaneously from the soul.
Sensitivity of the Ilonggo folks’ external senses to the sounds and sighs of their immediate dsurroundings, resulted to the lo-as orchestral and musical versification. It appears that sounds appeal instantaneously to the Ilonggo mind maneuvers the connection of words to words and of sounds to sounds, almost always logically, effecting meaning or pure rhythmic and melodious utterances.
The richness of the Ilonggo language also lends to the musicality of the lo-a. The concrete sense experience or images found in lo-a stand witness to the Ilonggo language’s power to evoke direct visual, auditory and tactile sense experiences or pure internal sensations. Words in the Ilonggo language, when uttered, create mental pictures of things or situations. It is said that situations, objects or circumstances are as they are spoken. Such characteristic of the language has not escaped the folk mind; thus, with cleverness and tint of genius the folk mind explores the possibility of the language by playing on words and combining sounds and images.
Rosas, rosas nga kamantigue
Soltero nga waay nobya, agi.
Bulak, bulak sang tangkong
Dalaga nga wala sang nobyo, bingkong.
Tapakan ko central, gupi
Guwa kalamay, puti.
Didto sa Bohol
May isa ka lalaki nga manol
Panawag sa kasilyas, City Hall.
Lo-a, however, is more than just words and sounds. The assemblage of words and sounds, arranged into logical directions and connections, make lo-a act and will something.
Nonoy hinugay paglabay-labay
Sa atubang sang amon nga balay
Basi malagari ka ni Tatay
Mawasi gid ang imo nga tinday.
May ara lugar ako nga ginhalinan
Sa parte Aurora, nayon sa sidlangan
Madamo nga bulak ang akon gin-agyan
Solo gid ikaw Inday ang naluyagan.
The words and sounds do not only please the ears, but they also challenge the thought processes. Lo-a speaks, relating that which have been perceived by the mind through the senses. Hence, ideas, cloaked in denotations and connotations, may be unearthed.
Tintin ka na uwak
Latay sa margoso
Margoso nga mapait
Para sa soltero nga maanghit.
Mataas nga lamesa ang akon ginlakbay
Kutsara kag tinidor ang akon kaaway
Wala ko pagbaliha ang akon kabudlay
Tubtob lamang makita larawan mo Inday.
Lo-a, also, reveals the llonggo’s closeness to nature and to the things around them. This is clearly evident in the surfeit of images or sense experiences used in lo-a. The Ilonggo mind’s knack for catching sights and sounds from his immediate world embellishes lo-a with an abundance of picturesque words and utterances. Perception and translation into image-evoking words, however, undergoes a process. The folk mind, through the external senses, perceives things or the reality around him and through his imagination and intellect, transmits the image to the soul. The image, as interpreted by the soul, is transmitted back through the intellect and imagination into a concrete meaningful form – folk poetry or lo-a.
With its meaningful form, lo-a signifies something. It is a sign, complete with tangible form, a form with sense and a form and sense with meaning. The meaning found in lo-a may be clothed in metaphorical language. It may also be disguised in symbolic representations. Hence, lo-a may be interpreted in its textual context alone. Nevertheless, as a sign, lo-a with its textual evidence, may be interpreted in tis soico-cultural context.
Kon si papel man ang lumupad-lupad
Kag humapon diri sa akon palad
Kusniton ko lang kag ipilak
Dili gid makatintar kay bulak.
Didto sa amon sa Ajuy
May nadula nga balinghoy
Duda gid ako sa imo Nonoy
Ara sa imo gataboy-taboy.
Sa idalom sang taytay
May army nga napatay
Bulag-bulag ang lawas
P’ro gatindog ang armas.
Ang buho nga mabaho
Ang buho nga manumit.
Lo-a then is an artistic or creative expression of the Ilonggo folks, such expression of which finds realization in a particular cultural practice by a group of people – the Ilonggos.
Rabuco, Amorita C. Folk Poetry: The Lo-a. Iloilo City: USA Publishing House, 2003.