Road Map Series: 37 Years and Still Walking

DAVAO’s ART and literature communities descended upon Art Portal, Gallery for Contemporary Art at Paseo de Legaspi on Friday night, May 25, for the opening of the exhibit celebrating the 37th year of The Road Map Series.The exhibit, entitled “Road Map Series: 37 Years and Still Walking”, features a gallery of the independently published folio’s 37-year timeline. Present at the event were the Road Map Series creator, publisher, and celebrated poet and artist Tita Lacambra-Ayala, as well as some of the Road Map Series’ alumni including Phillip Somozo who read a poem from his collection Two Poets: A Bilingual Study (RMS Vol. 3, No. 5).

Road Map Series Timeline

Road Map Series Timeline

Palanca winner Jhoanna Lynn Cruz, who also graced the exhibit opening with a poem from her collection (RMS Vol. 5, No. 2) Heartwood, calls the Road Map Series experience a milestone and a coming home saying “When she [Ayala] accepted my poems in “Heartwood,” which is a memoir-of-a-kind about leaving Baguio and coming to Davao, I felt like she was welcoming me into her literary family. It was like coming home. I was officially a Davao writer.”

Angely Chi, the curator as well as the head of the planned physical and digital archiving project for the RMS, said that the exhibit was designed to be a library of sorts where visitors can read each issue on display not only to show the scope that the Road Map Series has covered since its first publication but to also generate interest and gain readership and support for its future releases.

Road Map Series creator and Publisher Tita Lacambra Ayala

Road Map Series creator and Publisher Tita Lacambra Ayala

Visitors of the exhibit can read every issue on display, mapped based on the origin of the featured writer or artist as well as its year of publication like a rare copy of the poetry of Kublai Millan (RMS Vol. 3 No. 7, Sculptor as Poet, 2004).

Community Project

For Tita Lacambra-Ayala who started it all, the Road Map Series is a community project. In a separate interview, the now 87-year old Tita recalls the humble beginnings of her passion project born out of her frustration from never finding anything to read when she first moved to Davao; its roadmap design a nifty solution to the high cost of production. Thirty-seven years and multiple issues later, she refuses to take credit for its success, longevity, or its cultural and historical significance.

Instead, she calls herself merely a ‘medium’ between the artists and the press. This, despite all the work she’s done not only in having each of RMS’ issue see print once every four months, but also in gathering and encouraging every artist and writer featured throughout the Road Map Series; that, and the power of the Road Map Series to inspire the younger generation of creatives. For young writer Reil Obinque, who had the honor of reading Jose Garcia Villa’s poem A Field of Many Dreams from RMS Vol. 3 No. 5 at the exhibit opening, the success of the Road Map Series is proof that starting small when done with persistence and passion could still produce something as worthwhile and as influential.

Tita admits that she had not predicted for the Road Map Series to last as long as it has, recalling how she thought she would only see a few issues to print given the financial challenges of producing them. But the community pulled through, delivering the provisions necessary to print the 100-copies that they produce per issue.

The first Road Map Series issue for 2018, a poetry collection from Lia Lopez-Chua entitled Elsewhere of Memory, is part of the new Road Map Series Gen. 2. The collection is a fitting homage to the very first Road Map Series issue from 1981, also a poetry collection from the same writer entitled I Am Dressed. I Am Not Going Anywhere (RMS Vol. 1 No. 1). It also ushers in the future of the Road Map Series, as the upcoming issue is expected to feature the editorial debut of Tita’s granddaughter Maria Isabel Elizaga.

The Road Map Series exhibit will run until June 8th. (Photos courtesy of Reil Benedict Obinque (Facebook, with permission)


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