Doc PenPen Takipsilim’s Resurgence: A Triumph of Strength and Artistry

Noel Sales Barcelona
16 min readMar 26, 2023

Dr. Epitacio “Doc PenPen” Tongohan, the Father of Visual Poetry, Emerges Victorious in Cyber-Libel Battle Against Two Poetic Adversaries: A Compelling Tale That Demands Your Attention

Doc PenPen B. Takipsilim, or Epitacio Ramos Tongohan, MD, in real life when he received his Father of Visual Poetry from his fellow poets from the People’s Republic of China (Beijing) a few years ago. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Tongohan)

Note: This story was shared with me by Doc PenPen B. Takipsilim. This a precautionary tale that freedom isn’t absolute. Therefore, we need to be careful when we wield our pen. We should always be on the side of truth.

In the realm of poetic justice, a truth rings louder than any other: a good man can never be silenced. And so, it was for the illustrious poet laureate from Tanay, Rizal, none other than the inimitable Epitacio Ramos Tongohan MD, revered by the literary and art circles under the enigmatic guise of Doc PenPen B. Takipsilim. With steadfast courage, he filed cyber libel cases against his fellow poets in 2016, unafraid of the consequences that lay ahead. And now, in a moment that shall go down in history, the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 24 has finally delivered its verdict in his favor. On February 9, 2023, the world shook as Judge Maria Victoria A. Soriano-Villadolid declared that justice had been served, and Doc PenPen emerged victorious. Truly, when it comes to the power of the pen, nothing can stand in the way of a good man’s words.

Poet vs. Poets: A Court Battle for Dignity and Integrity

As the gavel struck, the verdict was read, and a legal battle that spanned seven long years had finally come to an end. But this was not just any ordinary cyber libel case, for it involved some of the prominent names in the local poetry circle. Dr. Armeli Quezon, Danilo Diaz, Karla Sales Querubin, and Ma. Magdalene “Mylene” Quiambao were all members of PENTASI B World Friendship Poetry, a global poetry group founded by Doc PenPen.

The case was rooted in accusations made by four poets, one of whom is currently at large and with pending a warrant of arrest, Dr. Armeli Quezon, claiming that Doc PenPen befriended and exploited poets to gain fame and fortune. Doc PenPen vehemently denied these accusations, and the accused’s series of Facebook posts jumpstarted a long and tedious court battle.

Finally, after much anticipation, Judge Soriano-Villadolid issued a 26-page decision on 9th of February 2023, declaring that the accused Diaz and Quiambao had violated Section 4(c)(4) of the Republic Act №10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 beyond a reasonable doubt. However, Querubin was acquitted due to the prosecution’s failure to prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The case is unlike any other, resembling a Balagtasan, a poetic debate, but played out in a regional trial court. The central theme of this legal Balagtasan was whether Doc PenPen had used his stature to target his fellow poets or whether the accusers were lying through their teeth, spreading harmful and malicious accusations against the poet-medical doctor, Doc PenPen, using social media.

In said 26-page court decision on page 7, paragraph 4, Doc PenPen claims that the derogatory posts made by the accused caused the postponement of the auction of his visual poetry displayed in the National Museum in 2013, which was expected to sell for a whopping USD1,000,000.00. Moreover, his trip to the United States in 2017 to auction his books, which were sold at USD30,000.00 (USD10,000.00 per volume), did not push through due to the intrigues caused by the said posts. The 100 Million Dollar project for the creation/development of a poetry park/gallery also did not push through, and an investor who was supposed to invest at least USD10,000,000.00 backed out. Doc PenPen prayed for P20,000,000.00 as moral damages and P100,000,000.00 as exemplary damages. The impact of this case is not just financial but also emotional and psychological.

Ultimately, the Lakambini, in the person of Judge Soriano-Villadolid, declared Diaz and Quiambao guilty beyond reasonable doubt of cyber libel, marking the end of this legal poetic battle.

In conclusion, this case highlights the power of social media in shaping public opinion and the importance of responsible online behavior. It also showcases the potential of the legal system to resolve disputes in a fair and just manner, even when the subject matter is poetry. Let us all be mindful of our actions and words, whether online or offline, and strive for harmony and mutual respect in all our interactions.

Poetry as a Poisonous Weapon Against the Integrity and Dignity of a Human Person

In July 2016, Diaz — a master Tagalog poet who became a fellow in different national literary workshops in the Philippines — decided to use his poetic prowess against Doc PenPen — Dr. Epitacio Ramos Tongohan in real life — trying to impugn his poetic aptitude and personal character.

While poetry has often served as a vehicle for social and political commentary or critique, the court deemed this poetic piece “malicious and harmful” to the integrity of a living, breathing human being, Doc PenPen.

Judge Soriano-Villadolid, in her wisdom as a court magistrate, made clear that the power of poetry, while considerable, must not be wielded in a manner that inflicts harm upon an individual’s reputation and dignity. The Court Decision included Diaz’s poem “In Shades,” which reads:

Shaded

With his shades,

He shades

Shaded

In his face,

He faces without shades,

In his shades.

Shaded,

He walks in fame,

With shades in his face,

Shameless.

His shame in shade.

Shaded

In shades,

He shades with shades,

Without shame.

His face in shade,

Shaded with shades.

Although the poem does not explicitly name the founder of Pentasi B as the subject, some readers know that the poet is referring to Doc PenPen as the latter always wears dark shades as part of his get-up. This poem appeared on pages 4–5 of the judge’s decision.

Aside from the poem, Diaz also posted a “blind item” on his Facebook wall, suggesting that “he or they” were promoting an event and soliciting donations while accusing their navigator of spreading negative information about their organization. While Diaz did not name any individuals, it is obvious to people close to the poet-doctor that Diaz was referring to Doc PenPen. Here are the exact words of the said cryptic message, as mentioned in Judge Soriano-Villadolid’s decision:

“siya o sila siguro yun friend lang kapag may event ha gustong i-promote at gustong manghingi ng donasyon at magaakusasyon na sinsiraan daw ang kaniyang organisasyon na ang kanyang navigator ang nagsisirkulasyon ng mga imbitasyon at akusasyon para sa promosyon.”

When the case was filed, Diaz made an alibi that his poem was a “work of fiction” and never meant to malign anyone, particularly Doc PenPen. He even said that the lawsuit against him by Tongohan (Doc PenPen) was a suppression of his freedom and expression, as enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. However, as the old Latin maxim stated: Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus (false in one thing, false in everything), Diaz’s alibi was not accepted by the Court as the legal system knew that he was untruthful in his statements ever since.

The issue was different in the case of another Doc PenPen’s detractor, Dr. Quezon, who still evaded her pending arrest.

Based on the screenshot of the private conversation between Quezon and Quiambao, which served as part of Doc PenPen’s evidence against them, Quezon said that the Pentasi B founder has begun soliciting donations from other places, using a certificate issued by the Government of Ghana.

Regarding the verdict, the Court ordered the accused (Diaz and Quiambao) to pay the plaintiff moral damages and undergo jail time. Here is the summary of the conviction and damages issued by Judge Soriano-Villadolid:

For Danilo C. Diaz: Imprisonment of six (6) months and one (1) day in minimum, up to six (6) years, maximum, and to pay the total of Php. 400,000 (US$7,318.70 based on the prevailing exchange rate on March 17, 2023) for moral and exemplary damages.

For Ma. Magdalene “Mylene” Quiambao: Six months and one day of imprisonment as a minimum, up to six (6) years maximum, and to pay the plaintiff the total amount of Php. 500,000 (US$9,146.37) for moral and exemplary damages.

The Dance with the Devil and the Insane

Diving deep into the court documents, you’ll find the tale of misconduct and embezzlement the parties involved charged against Doc PenPen. The accusations stated that Doc PenPen called members of the Baras Meet-Up Poetry Group snakes and Judases/traitors and embezzled a staggering US$15,000 from a fellow poet, Romeo Della Valle. These charges were publicly posted on their Facebook walls and referenced on page 6 of the Soriano-Villadolid decision. Doc PenPen vehemently denied these accusations during an interview in his home in Tanay, Rizal.

As if her allegations aren’t enough to taint Doc PenPen’s reputation, Quiambao even called Doc PenPen “Doc Demon Order” and “insane.” She even warned other people to beware of Doc PenPen as he uses the members of Pentasi B as cash cows.

There are still secrets lurking in the shadows as this epic tale continues to unfold.

In a twisted turn of events, Quiambao tried to evade her guilt by blaming Quezon for pushing her to issue defamatory statements against the plaintiff, utilizing the art of poetry. Quiambao also said she is willing to testify against Quezon, who is still at large, evading arrest.

The plot further thickens as Quiambao plays the victim card to avoid possible conviction. In her statements submitted to the court, she said her Facebook account was hacked, and someone else was responsible for posting derogatory remarks against Doc PenPen. Sadly, the court finds her alibi “incredible” and her story “doubtful.”

Dr. PenPen B. Takipsilim: Insane, Devil, or Genius?

Doc PenPen is a man of science who has a fascination with genetic engineering. However, fate has led him down a different path, and he has become a controversial poet. His training as a Medical Technologist, a Physician, and later a Pathologist has given him a deep understanding of the world and the human condition, allowing him to go beyond scientism and material knowledge in his poetry.

Doc PenPen’s poetry is a marvel, a fusion of mundane knowledge and the unseen world’s wisdom. His verses are an alchemical marriage between the tangible and intangible, between the material and spiritual planes.

Despite his talent, Doc PenPen’s unconventional poetry has been misunderstood, and he has been labeled as insane or a buffoon. However, such controversy is the hallmark of genius, and history is rife with examples of great minds who were initially rejected and ridiculed for their unconventional ideas.

Doc PenPen, as we talked away, that hot afternoon of March 13th, 2023, has been proven to possess such wild imagination and genius ideas that, at first, you will not fully comprehend unless you dive into the rabbit hole.

Imagination and genius are like twins born to defy the status quo. Throughout history, great minds have been called insane by the masses for their unconventional ideas and works of art. From Van Gogh’s swirling masterpieces to Einstein’s revolutionary theories, they were ridiculed and rejected by those who cling to old ways of thinking. Yet, as time passes, their lunacy becomes genius, and their names are etched in the annals of history as the pioneers who dared to challenge the norm.

As I navigated more in the vastness of Doc PenPen’s poetry and art, I realized Doc PenPen’s poetry is a reflection of the madman mystic William Blake, who was once shunned by society for his unorthodox views. Yet, like Blake, those who truly understand the power of his words see him as a philosopher and transcendental poet. His works embody the essence of creative liberation, challenging the boundaries of language and meaning to reveal the deepest truths of the human experience.

The spirit of liberation runs deep in Doc PenPen’s poetry, weaving a tapestry of words that sets the soul free. His words are not merely letters on a page, but a gateway to a new realm of understanding. The symbols and images he employs are like keys that unlock the door to our hidden desires, fears, and hopes. Through his works, we are free to explore the depths of our own souls and embrace the beauty of our unique existence.

Doc PenPen’s poetry is not just about breaking free from the constraints of language; it is about breaking free from the constraints of the self. His words urge us to defy the conventions that bind us and seek the truth that lies within. His verses can heal the wounded and inspire the hopeless, for they remind us that we are more than the sum of our parts. We are free to dream, create, and become whoever we choose to be.

Doc PenPen is more than a poet; he is the Father of Visual Poetry. His genius has been recognized by individuals, institutions, and groups alike, as his works continue to captivate and inspire audiences around the world. Through his mastery of form and content, he has created a new language of poetry that transcends the traditional boundaries of literature. His legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.

In the Pentasi B Historical Forum held at the National Library of the Philippines in 2013, Dr. Lily Rose R. Tope of the University of the Philippines-Diliman’s Department of English and Comparative Literature, in her response to the question of Prof. Sixer A. Sitjar of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (regarding who has the authority to christen Tongohan as the Father of Visual Poetry), said that it was the people — and not the traditional literary institutions — who have the power to decide whom to give this prestigious title.

Sasagutin din kita sa Pilipino. Sa ating kultura kasi, sa kultura ng panitikan meron kasi tayong tinatawag na CANON, yung CANON sila yung nagtatakda kung sino ang importante at kung sino ang hindi. Ngayon ang problema sa CANON hindi nila kinokonsulta yung masa, yung mga bumabasa, kung sino yung gusto nila, kung sino sila, kung sino yung napagdesisyunan nila na magaling yun na yun. Ang kagandahan sa PENTASI B ay wala dito yung CANON, kung titingnan ko yung audience ngayon wala yung dati kong nakikita na mga makata except si Rogelio Ordoñez, siya talaga ay isang kilalang makata, pero yung nakikita ko na mga manunula na mga grupo ng panitikan dito sa Pilipinas, wala dito, hindi ito ang CANON, hindi CANON ang magtatakda dun sa term na yun kay Doc PenPen, ang magtatakda nun kayo. Kayo! Kung sino yung bumabasa sa kanya, kayo ang magtatakda nun. Ang kagandahan dito hindi natin kailangang hintayin yung CANON. Hindi kailangang manalo ng ‘sang damakmak na award si Doc PenPen para sya maging “Dakilang Manunulat” kung sa inyo, ay nagagandahan kayo sa sinusulat nya at talaga namang siya ang unang gumagawa nitong kung ano ang ginagawa niya. So sa akin, hindi tayo kailangang maghintay ng basbas ng mga authorities ika nga, o yung mga manunula na nasa CANON, hindi natin sila kailangan, bahala sila magtayo ng kanilang opinion kung sino sa atin ang magaling, so itong term na “AMA” para kay Doc PenPen, I think hindi ito galing sa NCCA, hindi ito galing sa CCP, hindi ito galing sa Palanca , ito ay galing sa inyo. So sa akin, mas makahulugan, bilang scholar, bilang guro ng literatura sa akin mas mahalaga yun. Kung ang mambabasa mismo nung akda na yun ang magbibigay sa kanya ng term na “AMA” mas makahulugan yun kaysa Palanca or NCCA or CCP.

Bards from foreign lands also recognized Doc PenPen as such, the Father of Visual Poetry:

· Conferred in the Philippines as “The Father of Philippine Visual Poetry”, 2011;

· Awarded as the Father of Philippine Visual Poetry at Otusa Foundation in Los Angeles, California, USA in 2012;

· Known and recognized in British Columbia, Canada, as “The Father of Visual Poetry,” 2013;

· Proclaimed as Visionary Poet in 2013 by poets and scholars from Vancouver, Canada, also in 2013;

· Adjudged and conferred as “Father of Visual Poetry” by The National Library of The Philippines at The National Museum of The Filipino People, 2013;

· Honored in Turkey as “Görsel Şiir Babası”(Father of Visual Poetry) in 2014;

· Honored and recognized in Italy as “IL PADRE DELLA POESIA VISUALE” (Father of Visual Poetry), 2016;

· Honored and recognized at Century Park Hotel by FILIPINO MOVIE ARTS and SCIENCE (FAMAS AWARDS) as Father of Visual Poetry, 2016;

· Honored and recognized Ghana, Africa, as “ANYUINSEM AGYA” (Father of Modern Visual Poetry), 2016;

· Received international recognition in India as DRIISYA KAVITA CHAKRAVARTY or (King of Visual Poetry) on the 14th of October 2017

· Revered and awarded in the Kingdom of Morocco as Innovative and Spiritual Father of Poetry, 2017;

· Revered and recognized in the Republic of Ghana with three-lifetime achievement awards: Father of Humanitarian Poetry; Father of Visionary Poetry; and King of Kings of Visionary Poetry on 29th of September 2018 at the University of Ghana;

· Revered and acknowledged in the Republic of Tunisia as the Father of Visual Poetry, 2018; and

· Honored and acknowledged in the People’s Republic of CHINA as SHÌJUÉ SHĪ ZHĪ FÙ (The Father of Visual Poetry), 2019.

The late literary giant and nationalist educator, Prof. Rogelio Lunasco Ordoñez, also recognized the genius and innovativeness of Doc PenPen as a literary artist. He said in 2013:

May gusto lang po ako na idadag, ano. Sa isang panahon ng panulaang Pilipino, nakakalungkot noon na ayaw nilang tanggaping tula kung walang sukat at tugma, or rhyme and meter, pero nung mag-rebelde si Alejandro Abadilla, na kinilala na “Ama ng Makabagong Panulaang Pilipino,” sa pamamagitan ng kanyang tulang “ Ako ang Daigdig”, na tinutulan ng maraming kritiko at sinasabing hindi tula na tinanggap ng tinatawag nating circulo ng mga alagad ng malikhaing pagsulat, unti-unting nabago yung porma ng panulaang Pilipino, hanggang tanggapin na nga yung tinatawag nating berslibre …

siguro maiaambag ng PENTASI B dahil naniniwala ako na kagaya ng wika, ang anumang likhang sining ay dadaan sa mga ebolusyon o pagbabago ….at siguro nasimulan ng PENTASI B ang isang makabagong anyo sa panulaan, tama ang sabi ni mam, nakakaimpluwensya sa mga bagong kabataang manunulat ng ating bansa, siguro panahon lamang ang hahatol kung hanggang kailan tatanggapin ang ganitong pagtingin o paglubog sa gayong porma ng panulaan, pero sa kasalukuyan hindi natin maikakaila … at dapat nating tanggapin nagawa ng PENTASI B ang isang bagong yugto sa balangkas ng panulaang Pilipino. Salamat po….” (Underscoring provided by the author)

Ordoñez also said that he was astonished by the depth of Doc PenPen’s poetry. In the same forum, he stated:

“…Ano man po ang naging pakahulugan sa mga tula ni Doc PenPen gusto ko lamang na ipahayag na “sumasaludo dahil ng dalawin nya ako sa aming kubo sa Imus kasama si Ceri Naz nagulat ako ng buksan ko yung isang tono ng kanyang tula at talagang nagmukha akong bobo dahil hindi ko agad naintindihan kung hindi pa nya pinatay yung ilaw at kumuha sya ng isang lente at sabi nya lentehin ko kaya lamang medyo nagkaroon ng hugis sa aking kaisipan ang nais iparating ng kanyang tula sabi ko nga ang tula ay hindi dapat na binibigyan ng literal na kahulugan kundi ito ay depende sa tumitingin depende sa umuunawa at ang naging batayan ko ng tingnan ko si Doc PenPen sabi ko nga dapat na maramdaman muna ng manunulat na sya’y nasiyahan sa kanyang ginawabago sya magkaroon ng karapatang iparating yan sa madla…”

Aside from being a visionary poet, Doc PenPen is also a philanthropist, attested by his colleagues from Tanay, Rizal — painter Ismael Q. Mataverde, writer-editor Gerardo D.T. Catolos, and poet-painter Ka Erik Gomez. He has no interest about running for public office. All he wants to do is to continue his late father’s legacy of helping the needy in Tanay and elsewhere.

PENTASI B Grand Assembly of World Poets Is Coming

Prepare to be inspired, Philippines!

Attention All Poetry Enthusiasts!

Get ready for an exhilarating historic event to launch the Grand Assembly of World Poets in the Philippines, initiated by Doc PenPen, the former KWF Chair Jose L. Santos, and Press Undersecretary Edwin M. Cordevilla of the Philippines who are determined to take the world of poetry to new heights, along with the support of esteemed founders of world poetry organizations:

· Dr. Lanka Siva Rama Prasad, Founder of Writers’ Corner, India;

· Retired Senator, James Pasqual Bettio, Founder of the Park Labrea Arts Council, USA;

· Ariadne Sawyer, Founder of World Poetry Canada and International, Canada;

· Ashok K. Bhargava, Founder Writers International Network, Canada;

· Sophy Chen, Founder of Sophy Chen Awards and Translation, China;

· Hasan Xolmırza Goyib, Russian Academy of Writers (ARL), Tajikistan, Russia;

· Abdukahkor Kosim, Founder of “Vorisoni Tursunzade”, Tajikistan, Russia

· Dr. Maria Miraglia and Saverio Sinapoli, Founders of Neruda, Italy;

· Leyla Isik, Director of Kibatek, Turkey;

· Roula Pollard, Admin, Pentasi B, Greece;

· Dr Sir Ian C E Hale BA(Hons). PGCE. M A. PhD. FCIS. ARAS. KCWL, United Kingdom

· Former Minister of State and Current Member of Ghanian Parliament, Hon. Rashid Pelpuo;

· Dr. Waheed Musah, Founder International Humanity Conference, Ghana; and

· Monsif Beroual, Youth Artistic Coordinating Director, La Vague Culturelle, Morocco

But the above are only a few of the biggest names in global poetry who are expected to attend the grandest assembly of poets in the 21st century.

This groundbreaking event will be a glorious celebration of the written and spoken word, showcasing the immense talent and passion of poets from across the globe. With plans to expand membership and programs worldwide, the International Assembly of Poets will be a beacon of peace, prosperity, and hope for poetry lovers everywhere.

In this light, as a fellow poet and critic, I invite you to take a moment to appreciate the honor that Doc PenPen has brought to our nation through his visual poetry. His work is a source of inspiration for all of us, and we should strive to emulate his passion and dedication to the arts.

We are indeed fortunate to have a Father of Visual Poetry who has paved the way for future generations to showcase their artistic talents. Let us continue to inspire the world through our poetry and prove that the Philippines is the Poetry Heart of the World.

You are ready to witness the most electrifying poetry event of the year as we unite to craft a poetic masterpiece that will transcend time. This is your chance to be part of something extraordinary, where your creativity can take center stage and inspire generations to come. Are you ready to be part of history? Then, mark your calendars because this year, 2023, we will unveil the most anticipated announcement yet — the specific date of this epic event that will take place in the Philippines.

But that’s not all, my friends. Brace yourselves for the pièce de résistance: the conferment of Honorary Poet of the Year to none other than His Excellency President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. This is a monumental moment, recognizing the power of poetry to unite nations and inspire greatness.

Do not miss out on this unforgettable experience that will leave you breathless and inspired!

Quo Vadis: Doc PenPen

As the dust settles on his landmark case, Doc PenPen is ready to embrace the future with a renewed sense of purpose. Pentasi B World Friendship Poetry, his brainchild, will continue “to inspire, heal, and awaken” people all over the world with its mission of inclusivity and diversity.

Despite the cyber libel case that he filed against those libelers, Doc PenPen remains a beacon of forgiveness and inclusivity. He extends an open invitation to his former detractors and adversaries to join him in his future projects and continue to champion his vision of “No Colors, No Races, All Colors, All Races, All Loves, Embrace.”

In a world riddled with wars, distrust, division, and hate, Doc PenPen’s unwavering commitment to healing and uniting through poetry is nothing short of inspiring. With Pentasi B World Friendship Poetry, he continues to push boundaries, break down barriers, and spread the message of love and acceptance far and wide.

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Noel Sales Barcelona

A former freelance journalist, art and cultural critic, and an intuitive from the Philippines. I am the new species of weirdness.