U2 is set to feature Fil-Am artist’s poem in PH concert

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 11) – Irish rock band U2 will be collaborating with a Filipino-American writer for its first ever concert in the Philippines.

The 1970s band, which has been including poems of local artists from countries they play in since 2017, is set to continue its tradition by featuring a poem of novelist, poet and essayist Bino Realuyo in their December 11 concert at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

Titled "Filipineza," the piece, which comes from Realuyo’s acclaimed first poetry collection "The Gods We Worship Live Next Door," is about the plight of Filipino maids in Europe.

Manila-born Realuyo said U2 had asked for his permission to flash his work on screen to "give the audience something to reflect upon while waiting for the show to begin." U2's latest world tour "The Joshua Tree" features poetry in their pre-show audiovisual program. In their U.S. tour in 2017, the concerts included the works of poets Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Rita Dove, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Robert Pinsky.

Realuyo also expressed hopes that Filipineza’s message – which warns about the "dark side and perils of the Filipino diaspora" – would come across clearly.

The New York-based artist said U2’s songs and lyrics played a part in his teenage immigrant life as they were his "light in the dark and nameless streets in America."

He also said his work’s inclusion in the U2’s historic concert in the Philippines feels like a reward as he expressed gratitude and humility for the opportunity. "There is ultimately poetic justice in being included in U2’s concert not in the U.S but in their first ever concert in Manila, the city of my birth. I am humbled and moved."

Realuyo’s written work has appeared in international literary journals and anthologies including The Nation, The Kenyon Review, North American Review, The Missouri Review, and ZYZZYVA.

He went to Harvard University for graduate studies with a full fellowship from the Kennedy School of Government. He is also a recipient of numerous literary awards such as the 2009 Philippine National Book Award and 2005 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry for the The Gods We Worship Live Next Door.