On the Spot: Ipat Luna of Sev's Cafe, the local haven for spoken word poetry
She shares her own #KwentongSevs, why they had to close, and what's next for the spoken word poetry sanctuary.
(SPOT.ph) In case you haven’t heard yet, Sev’s Cafe is now a hugot story, too. Its owners earlier announced via Facebook that it will be closing its doors come January, and one of them is Ipat Luna. She’s the wife of broadcast journalist Howie Severino, who’s also the co-owner of Sev’s. A lawyer by profession, Luna counts environmental conservation and social justice among her advocacies. She practices what she preaches, not only in the court of law, but also in her own household, and even in Sev’s.
In an email interview with SPOT.ph, Ipat Luna shared with us how Sev’s started to build the creative community it’s known for, why it had to shut its doors, and why it’s not really goodbye after all.
Tell us about how Sev's Cafe started to become a community of poetry (and other forms of expression) enthusiasts.
We started with just the Wednesday Poetry Slams. At first, only three to ten of us would be there but we videotaped the performances. Then people started coming for the slam and seemed so happy that there was a place that welcomed spoken word [poetry]. Once we were sure there was an audience, I offered the third Saturday nights to Speak Philippines, until it was taken over by Words Anonymous.
When were you told that you had to vacate the building? Was it sudden?
They informed us in November that they would raise the rent but it was still negotiable. This December, they broke the news that a writ of execution [was] issued on the lot where the building has its genset and sump pump, and [these have] to be moved ASAP. [The] only place [where] it will work is at the spot occupied by Sev’s. I learned the evening of December 16, to be exact.
What is your fondest memory of Sev's?
Oh, hard to pick. One day I will write my favourites. But for now, I truly [like] it when I see young people being inspired and getting out of their funk and back into the world.
What will be sold and what can people expect in the silent auction on Sev’s last day (December 29)?
We will sell everything but the items we merely borrowed (like the 1872 map and some paintings), and we will keep most of the books, personal paintings, and mosaic.
Is there already a potential area or a specific place you're looking at to relocate Sev's to?
Lots of options opened up, in fact. Serendipitous but within a few hours of receiving the news, we heard from a friend that a large developer who is building a concept of performance spaces in Makati was interested in inviting us. We would prefer Manila and something heritage, but for now, [we’re] keeping our options open—including having some good downtime to let it all sink in and document the experience.
What is your message for people who have grown to love Sev's?
All the #KwentongSevs are very heart warming and unexpected. I tell them we were just the CPU case, homey and hip though it may be. The OS, programs and content, are all the performers, and hopefully, Sev's inspired them enough to continue long after we are gone. And to eat healthy, have a quit pact for smoking, take up biking, read, appreciate and defend the outdoors, and all the rest of the things we advocate. Salamat muli mula sa aming mga puso. Nag-iiyakan ang staff dahil sa outpouring ng #KwentongSevs.
The last two shows of Sev's will be held before the year ends. Hanggang sa Muli, Sev’s, hosted by Words Anonymous, is on December 28, 7 p.m. #KwentongSevs: Ang Huling Kabanata and the silent auction is on December 29, 3 p.m.
Sev’s Café is at the Basement of Legaspi Towers 300, Roxas Boulevard corner P. Ocampo (formerly Vito Cruz), Malate, Manila. For more information, visit Sev’s Cafe’s Facebook page.
Photos from Sev's Cafe's Facebook page; and Elise Aguilar (Ipat Luna)