On the Weariness of Time: El Niño in the Philippines

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As a rehearsal of a “tropical imaginary” that attempts to accentuate the entanglement of literature with the material world, this essay ‘coincides’ Jose F. Lacaba’s 1965 poem “Ang Kapaguran ng Panahon” (“The Weariness of Time”) with the 2015 El Niño phenomenon in the Philippines­ and its violent culmination the following year in Kidapawan City, Cotabato Province, Mindanao. While time or panahon in the Philippine tropics is usually intuited as generative, this essay outlines the possibility of its being worn down, not simply as a “natural” consequence of the present climate emergency, but as a critical outcome of the predominant political infrastructures that practically prohibit the phenomenon of time from unfolding. As such, it becomes imperative to recognize that beyond the current conditions banally imposed as “arog talaga kayan” or “how things really are” is the urgent need for social reform—daring tropical imaginings through which Philippine time can possibly become anew.