Cebuana poet Ma. Milagros Dumdum tackles life’s depths through haibuns

John Sitchon

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Cebuana poet Ma. Milagros Dumdum tackles life’s depths through haibuns

HAIBUN. Cebuana poet Ma. Milagros “Gingging” Dumdum has written over a thousand haikus and still believes that the road to master haikuist is far.

John Sitchon/Rappler

In her latest book, 'Moving with Moonrise,' Ma. Milagros 'Gingging' Dumdum recollects precious moments in her life through a collection of 56 haibuns

CEBU, Philippines – For Ma. Milagros “Gingging” Dumdum, a day is only half-full if one haiku is not written.

The author of Falling on Quiet Water and The Feel of Light Rain launched her fourth book, Moving with Moonrise, on Saturday, May 25, at the Casino Español de Cebu in Cebu City. 

It was on this day, that Dumdum’s daughter Diddy and six other family members were taken from this world due to a freak boat accident in 1997. Her launch date marked their 27th death anniversary.

Though the pain of the traumatic event still lingers, the Dumdum wished to honor her daughter’s legacy through a collection of 56 haibuns that speak of the intricacies of life and the value of having lived it.

“Here, one finds the persona dancing, writing a haiku for the first time, praying to the Santo Niño (Child Jesus). In a precision of language and form, a universal experience emerges, arising from the itineraries of a life as a wife, daughter, mother – a poet,” a portion of the book reads.

Form and mastery

A haibun is a combination of prose and haiku. According to the Poetry Foundation, 17th-century Japanese haiku master Matsuo Basho created the poetry form in 1684 after a months-long journey on foot.

Quoting a Japanese haiku teacher, Dumdum said that mastering the art form is easy if one manages to write 10,000 haikus. The poet shared that she has only written a little more than a thousand.

“The truth is I feel I am not even a tenth or a twentieth of the number of haiku the master haikuists have done,” the poet said.

Inspiration, however, is not a problem for Dumdum. The poet explained that lines can be written from the seemingly ordinary moments in one’s everyday life.

“A dog looking out the window, a falling leaf, or a sudden wind – I will pursue that and may succeed in writing just the first line of a haiku, and pursue it some more until I am able to weave my thoughts in two images and an insight for a third line,” Dumdum said.

It’s a journey

In the book, Dumdum recounts her days in Leyte as the only girl in her family, growing up with three brothers, and other childhood activities, among others.

“I was both sociable and solitary.  I just enjoyed playing games with cousins and neighbors, playing the piano – essentially being alone,” she said.

Dumdum told Rappler that prior to getting hooked on haiku writing, she enjoyed dancing and being paired with her then-future husband, fellow poet Simeon Dumdum Jr., on the dance floor. They met in the 1970s.

In a previous interview, the poet shared how she fell for her husband’s poetry, while he fell for her graceful movements. In 2019, the couple published a book together, The Sigh of a Hundred Leaves, a collection of collaborative poetry or renga.

“I am blessed with a good husband,” Dumdum said.

With her fourth book, the poet hoped to spark a desire to write haibun among readers and to encourage the use of her work as source material for teaching poetry.

“I look forward to the publication of my fifth book, which will be a homage to the greatest haiku writer in Japanese history, Basho. Here, I shall be journeying with Basho. Beyond the fifth book, perhaps, I shall dwell on both the spiritual and the earthly, my twin loves,” the poet concluded. 

Copies of the book are available for purchase at the Palm Grass The Cebu Heritage Hotel bookshop. –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!