PAUTWAS: Open Heart Nights

By: Lcid Crescent Fernandez

Everybody’s fighting their own battles.

That’s how I personally try to approach each day. You may not see it. They may not give any indication, but we’re all struggling with things in our lives. That’s just the very nature of what it is to be human.

Our lives are characterized by struggle.

Even if two people were born exactly alike, they would be very different people at the end of their lives. This is because they will face very different experiences, and will value very different things. And every single one of the emotions we feel is legitimate. We may not know how to handle them. We may not know what to do with them. But what is undeniable is that they are there, and we will feel them no matter how hard we try not to.

That’s how PAUTWAS: Open Mic Nights was born. Jamar Montehermoso and I started this monthly event centered on creating a safe space for people to express themselves. We carry so much pent up emotion and frustration within ourselves that sometimes it gets to be too much.

This past week saw PAUTWAS’ debut at Horn Pub in Paseo de Angeles, Iloilo City. It was sponsored by 4th District Congressman BJ Biron, the youngest House Representative in the 18th Congress. Over 300 people showed up to watch 30 performances (which included my own). Topics were varied. We had stories about buying condoms, rappers, and pieces talking about climate change, LGBT rights, and, of course, love.

Everybody writes about love.

It didn’t matter if you were a performer or not. Many people were first timers who just wanted to express themselves to an audience that offered only support. That was the true victory. Several people showed up to perform for no other reason than to express themselves and be heard. That was all we wanted: para makapautwas ang mga tao.

We all have stories to tell. Stories born out of happiness, joy, experience, and – sometimes – pain.

Pain that we’re afraid to show because people will judge us.

Pain that leaves invisible scars on our hearts.

Pain we carry every day.

What Daily Guardian and Horn Pub did was to create a safe space for all of us to feel that pain, to express that pain, to share that pain.

So I encourage everyone here to keep telling your stories.

Keep expressing yourselves.

We are all here with you.

Because while we may not be able to actually give you any help with whatever battles you’re facing, what we can promise you are two things:

Here, at PAUTWAS: Open Mic Nights, with us, you are heard, and you are not alone.