8 Powerful Spoken Word Performances for Women

First of all, let me take this opportunity to greet every woman out here for International Women’s Day 🙂

Happy International Women's Day! | Graphic by Niña Terol-Zialcita, created using Canva.com
Happy International Women’s Day! | Graphic by Niña Terol-Zialcita, created using Canva.com

As some of you may already have gathered from reading some of my previous posts, I’m a fan of spoken word poetry and have dabbled in a bit of spoken word myself. So, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2014, I share here a curated list of eight powerful spoken word performances that I believe every empowered woman must watch in order to remind her of her true worth in this world.

(Be warned: some of them are pretty intense stuff; I’ve cried watching them!)

If you love what you see here, please feel free to pass it on 🙂

1. Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter (I’m obviously a Sarah Kay fan!)

2. Lily Myers: Shrinking Women (a great counterpoint performance to #1)

3. Sonya Renee:  The Body is Not an Apology

4. Katie Makkai: Pretty

5. Alicia Keys: P.O.W. (from her book, Tears for Water)

6. Becca Khalil and Nayo Jones: Ambiguous (for anyone who’s had to deal with rude questions on race)

7. Thea Monyee: Woman to Woman (for anyone who’s ever had to deal with ‘that girl’)

8. Najia Muhammad-Jaaber: Live Before You Die and Beat the Drum (An awesome spoken word performance by a female Muslim spoken word artist–what a revelation!)

Believe me, there is sooo much more good stuff where those came from, so I’ll be sure to post more spoken word performances in this blog. (To all Pinoys looking for more Filipino spoken word performances, stay tuned for material from Speak Philippines in Niña’s Notebook!)

Poetry: “You are not Broken”

First Wednesdays of the month are Poetry Slam nights for my favorite hangout, Sev’s Café (which I affectionately call my “unofficial living and dining room”). The “slam” consists of a competition for amateur spoken word artists and poets, while the open mic portion–as the name suggests–welcomes anyone and everyone who wishes to share a piece (or more!).

Here is a piece I’ve done for both the slam and our open mic sessions. I wrote it shortly after supertyphoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) flattened many coastal towns in the Visayas region in the Philippines. It was meant to encourage the typhoon’s survivors, but as I was writing it I also realized that I needed to write it in order to deal with my own brokenness. (And who among us isn’t broken in some way, right?)

I unfortunately don’t have a clear-enough video recording of me performing the piece, but once I do I’ll also post it here.

"Self-Portrait #2" by Niña Terol-Zialcita | Correction ink on board (2012)
“Self-Portrait #2” by Niña Terol-Zialcita | Correction ink on board (2012)


by Niña Terol-Zialcita


Repeat after me:




I know that, right now,
It’s pretty hard to believe.
After all,
Didn’t a storm just
Wash away
Everything you had?
Left you with
Absolutely nothing
Except what’s standing
On your feet?


Didn’t a
Global catastrophe
Crush you–
Shatter you
Rip apart your
Hopes and dreams, and
Bring you to your knees?


You feel broken,
All right.
Pretty damn
And bruised
And pounded
To bits.
And abso-fuckin’-lutely




What you
Need to know
Is that the very same
That you fear
Is the very same world
That is cheering–
Pushing you
To go on,
In everything you’ve got–
Even when you think
You’ve got
Nothing left.


You’ve got heart
You’ve got soul
You’ve got strength
You’ve got
The fucking courage
To stand back up
On your feet
And the resilience
To tell the
Whole wide
Fucking World








I am bruised, yes–
Scarred, forever–
I am writhing
In pain
And screaming
For redemption
But I remain
As sure as
My soul
Still sings
As sure as
My body feels
The stings–




I have fears
But I, too,
Have hope


And I


Take a step back
Look at yourself
And know
That you are whole
You are loved
Whether you see it
Or not
Whether you know it
Or not








If you liked this piece and would like to share it, feel free to post a comment here or tweet me at @ninaterol. I’d be happy to share it, given the proper attribution. 🙂


Want to see more spoken word pieces from the Philippines, check out the YouTube channel of SPEAK PHILIPPINES (SPEAK Phils). You can also click on their Facebook page. You can also catch us TONIGHT at SEV’s CAFE, at the basement of Legaspi Towers 300, Vito Cruz corner Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila. Visit the Facebook page to view the map and other event and reservation details. 🙂
Speak Phils

Calling all Ateneo alumni! You can still submit creative work to Heights!

Calling all Ateneo alumni! Do you have creative pieces that have been locked up in your drawers and hidden hard drive folders, waiting to be dusted off and shared with the world? Heights has an open call for submissions until January 4, 2014–and we can still be part of it!

2nd WAVE. HEIGHTS WANTS YOUR WORK. Click on the image to visit the Heights website for details
2nd WAVE. HEIGHTS WANTS YOUR WORK. Click on the image to visit the Heights website for details

Here are the mechanics, taken from the Heights website:


You need not be a Heights member to contribute.

Heights accepts contributions year-round; however, there are deadlines for special issues (e.g. Seniors Folio).

You may contribute more than once.

All submitted and solicited works undergo staff deliberations. Works are published based on merit. The author’s identity is kept confidential.


Write SUBMISSION as the subject of your e-mail.

Attach your work to the message. For written works, there are no limitations for the number of pages. Artworks should be in CMYK format with a resolution of 300 dpi. If you feel the need to include an artist’s statement, please do so.

Include a short bio-note or write-up, and your contact details.


[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

Disclaimer: I am neither a member nor an alumna of Heights, but I’ve been a fan of their work through the decades and just want to share the message. Please direct your queries to the email addresses above. Thanks!

Picket Lines: 100 Women and the Healing Power of Poetry

At today’s Backdoor Arts and Music Festival, I performed onstage with the spoken word group Romancing Venus and was reminded of how much more beautiful life can be with poetry in it.

I discovered poetry early on in life, using it as a means of expressing the pain and confusion that I often felt during my growing up years. I was a “child of a broken family” at a time when talking about parental separation was taboo, and back then I always felt that I had to either prove myself to the world or protect myself from it. Words were my form of escape, and poetry became a source of comfort. I never really immersed myself in the technical aspects of writing quatrains or in measuring rhythm and rhyme, but I let the words and images flow.

Decades later, poetry continues to be an active element in my life, and I have made a conscious decision to make it my primary medium of self-expression outside of work. I started “performing” poetry when I was invited to read some poems back in December of 2007, and when my husband and I discovered that we could actually fuse his percussive instruments and my voice, the dam broke wide open in a very rhythmic way, and we’ve been experimenting onstage ever since.

* * *

This is why I am truly honored to be part of the book Picket Lines: Dialogues Between Eves, Among Eves, and For Eves. It is a beautiful collection of images and words of 100 women from contemporary Philippine life, and it reflects how words have become our source of empowerment, strength, courage, and even emancipation.

Picket Lines: Dialogues Between Eves, Among Eves, and For Eves

Here, the reader will see women as they wish to be seen and remembered: sometimes completely naked, sometimes upside down, sometimes serious, sometimes quirky–but always, always with their words on their bodies.

My own photo was taken at a time when I wasn’t quite ready to put myself out there, when I felt that I was less than worthy to appear with my words. But Nikkorlai Tapan, the photographer who shot me, reminded me that my words screamed, “Break free!”, and I did my best to feel as unencumbered as possible. (I’ll let you be the judge of the outcome.)

In the end, I told myself that this project should be a reminder to always strive to overcome the challenges and the boundaries placed in front of and around us. I may not have looked and felt my best during this shoot, but, as always, my words never left me and they continued to be a source of comfort and strength.

* * *

The 100 women featured in this book are inspirations in their own right, and I am thrilled to be in the same compendium as the likes of Risa Hontiveros (one of my personal idols), Cynthia Alexander, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, Gloria Diaz, Sonia Roco, Sari and Aba Dalena, Carol Bello, and many more amazing women (including one of Philippine cinema’s iconic actresses, Lilia Cuntapay). My most heartfelt congratulations go to the uber-creative and hard-working pair of Kooky Tuason and Marty Tengco and all of their collaborators (a full list appears below). This book is the product of pure love and passion, and I hope that more Filipino women in and outside the country will support the book.

The book comes in hardbound, coffee-table format, and is still in production. If you wish to help bring the book out into the market, here are some simple ways by which you can be part of this groundbreaking endeavor. As with most of Romancing Venus’ endeavors, proceeds will go to the Women’s Crisis Center.

How to help:

  • Pre-order your own copy from me (Php850.00 per copy; please email [email protected] for details)
  • Pre-order at least five (5) copies from Kooky Tuason and get a bulk price of just Php800 per copy or Php4,000 for the set of five. (Email Kooky at [email protected])
  • Encourage friends and corporate partners to buy their own copies or sets, and give them away as gifts. (The retail price will be at least Php1,000, so it’s best to order copies now.)
  • Like the Picket Lines Facebook page, and please help spread the word to more empowered women out there!
If you have other ideas for corporate or institutional partnerships, please let us know. 🙂
* * *
 A roll-call of collaborators
Models in the book:

1. Aganinta, Chung
2. Aguilar, Maegan
3. Alagao, Nina Ricci
4. Alcoriza, Judy
5. Alexander, Cynthia
6. Andrada, Viva
7. Añover-Lianko, Love
8. Apaling, PS1 Leonie Ann D.
9. Asistio, Abby
10. Aves, Tao
11. Barcelo, Roxanne
12. Barrios, Bayang
13. Bello, Maria Carolina Rodriguez aka Carol Bello
14. Beltran, Myra
15. Bordon, Jay
16. Buendia Ed.D, Lydia
17. Calma-Alcazaren, Beng
18. Calumpang, Ida Noelle
19. Canlas, Gee
20. Chanco, Reema
21. Collins, Nancy
22. Cortina, Joie
23. Cruz, Honey
24. Cruz, Marinel R.
25. Cuntapay, Lilia
26. Cuyugan-Asensio, Fides
27. Dalena, Aba
28. Dalena-Sicat, Sari
29. David, Triccia
30. De Borja, Julie
31. De Guzman, Nikoy
32. De Leon, Aia
33. De Villa, Henrietta “Tita”
34. Del Rosario, Andrea
35. Dela Cruz-Gaston, Ramona
36. Dela Merced, Gaby
37. Diaz, Gloria
38. Dolonius, Annicka
39. Duarte, Angie
40. Estrevillo-Tupas, Jana
41. Faraon, Hanah
42. Feanne
43. Ferraren, Twinkle
44. Grane, Lee
45. Guidote-Alvarez, Cecile
46. Hipos-Supan, Dr. Stephanie Cherryl
47. Hontiveros, Risa
48. Hoyumpa, Ging
49. Ibay, Angela Consuelo “Gia” S.
50. Ilic, Tara “Vedrina”
51. Jones-Dayupay, Angel
52. Jorge, Jing
53. Kunawicz, Karen
54. Lapid, Gigi
55. Ledesma, Cecile
56. Limpin, Vivan N.
57. Linda, Anita
58. Litton, Issa
59. Lobangco, Rachel
60. Maca, Nyko
61. Macatuno, Connie S.A.
62. Magnaye, Inka
63. Marcos, Aimee
64. Mata, Ginny
65. Maya
66. Moran, Natalia
67. Obligacion, Monique
68. Ocol, AK
69. Padile, Venus F.
70. Pallon, Katrina
71. Puyot, Marnelli
72. Quiambao, Miriam
73. Rallonza, Phd, Vene
74. Regala, Roma
75. Roco, Sonia
76. Sabal-Ventura, Dinah
77. Sanchez, Giselle
78. Santos, Opaline
79. Siy, Bebang
80. Skarlet
81. Smith, Sanya
82. Sta. Maria, Jodi
83. Syjuco, Beatrix
84. Syjuco, Maxine
85. Syjuco, Michelline
86. Tan-Arcenas, Llena
87. Tengco, Marty
88. Terol-Zialcita, Nina
89. Tevanny, Caren
90. Tianzon, Charms
91. Tionloc-Mendoza, Diana
92. Toledo, Drei
93. Torralba, Kate
94. Torres, Babzi
95. Tuason, Kooky
96. Uson, Mocha
97. Yao, Shawn
98. Sisters
Delmo, Toni
Santos, Patricia
100. Yoga Instructors

1. Cosme, Niccolo
2. Fernan, Tabitha
3. Mauricio, Mitch
4. Pallon, Katrina
5. Tapan, Nikkorlai

Make-up artists:
1. Bartolome, Boombee
2. Esmeralda, Eula
3. Lim, Kaycee
4. Lopez, Gab
5. Lorenzana, Trina
6. Maglaya, Abby
7. Silva, Krista
8. Tan, Charm