Sunday, January 11, 2009

FAREWELL TALK (July 14, 2008)

June 30 was our last day as the Likhaan: University of the Philippines Institute of Creative Writing director and yet we only felt our term’s closure during the awarding ceremonies of Gawad Likhaan or The U.P. Centennial Literary Prize last July 8. We, our project director Dr. Gemino Abad, and our angels Eva Garcia-Cadiz and Amy Colanta would be forever grateful to the UP Centennial Commission chaired by Sen. Edgardo Angara, Pres. Emerlinda Roman, Chancellor Sergio Cao, Vice President for Public Affairs Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, UP Press Director Ma. Luisa T. Camagay and our major sponsors like Mr. Lirio Sandoval of the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP), Mr. Wilson of Tanduay, Mrs. Sylvia Palanca-Quirino and her daughter Atty. Christine Pacheco of the Don Carlos Palanca Foundation, Mr. Jon Hernandez III of San Miguel Corporations, Mrs. Socorro Ramos of the National Bookstore, Ms. Karina Bolasco of Anvil Publishing, Atty. Andrea Pasion-Flores of the National Book Development Board (NBDB), and Ms. Kristine Mandigma of Read or Die (ROD) who created the pre-event lecture series in malls.
Gawad Likhaan made poets Jerry Gracio and Jose Marte Abueg as well as storytellers Luwalhati Abreu, Jose Rey Munsayac and Criselda Yabes (who won both in the fiction and nonfiction categories) P200,000 richer, minus the tax, but what really did it was the fact that there’s a huge concern from the academe for the writers, even before when they funded the Likhaan Journal of Contemporary Philippine Literature, the UP ICW Centennial Panayam Series, and even ever after, courtesy of Atty. Gizela Gonzalez-Montinola and her family, through the Gonzalo Gonzalez Reading Room and the Madrigal Gonzalez Best First Book Award right before the much-awaited annual Writers Night! The assistance, financial or otherwise, was always there during our Kuwentuhan Series that climaxed with our PASKOM: Pasko ng Komiks last December 11; during our Panayam (for ICW Associates, Resident Fellows, National Fellows, and guests like American fictionist Tim Tomlinson, Israeli poet Rommy Somneck, Singaporean poet Edwin Thumboo, Singaporean novelist Suchen Christine Lim, and executive director Peter Gordon of Man Asian Award; and during our partnership, say, with the British Council that sent us performance poet Francesca Beard and reading specialist Alan Pulverness or with Ortigas Foundation’s Literary Nights or with Adarna House’s Barlaya Writing for Children Workshop almost coinciding with Kumustahan Writers Seminar Workshop in October of 2003 that eventually became the 45th National Writers Workshop in April of 2006 – or our first advance edition – now on its third year as NCCA-recognized national writers workshop with The Dumaguete National Summer Writers Workshop and The Iligan National Writers Workshop.
Because of such support, Likhaan was able to bag the 2006 Francisco Balagtas Award from the National Language Commission five years after we got the Gawad Alab ng Haraya from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. which has been there to materialize such pioneering dreams as text-a-poem contests Textanaga (2003), Dalitext (2003), Dionatext (2004), and Textsawikain (2005), plus the publication of all the winning works! Together with our conduits in Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (Umpil), Filipinas Institute of Translation, Pambansang Samahan sa Wika, Inc., and the Likhaan Foundation -- NCCA serves as our nurturer in coming up with a lot of firsts, for instance, in powering the portal to Philippine literature (which has a record of more than 3 million hits since 2006), and in empowering further our National Artists for Literature by introducing them and their works to the public via Pagpupugay sa mga Pambansang Alagad ng Sining since 2007. As booklovers, we developed for the Manila International Book Fair since 2006 an evolving literary fiesta called Pistang Panitik with such winds beneath our wings as ROD, BDAP, and the Primetrade Asia, Inc.
Youngsters are in our hearts and minds when we initiated the first student literary conference called Panitikabataan with the UP Writers Club in 2004. Through the Likhaan Creative Writing Foundation and the Francisco Arcellana Scholarship in Creative Writing, we’re able to send some outstanding young writers in Filipino and English to college. They, too, are the ones who keep fanning the flame of our weekly Conspiwriters’ Tuesdays since 2006 at the Conspiracy Garden Café owned by poets Cynthia Alexander, Joey Ayala, and Gary Granada, to name a few.
Greatly, indeed, we are indebted to National Artists Virgilio Almario and Bienvenido Lumbera, University Professors Emeriti Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio and Dr. Abad, Associates Dr. Jose Neil Garcia, Dr. Hidalgo, Prof. Jun Cruz Reyes, Dr. Roland Tolentino, and former UP Mindanao Chancellor Ricardo de Ungria as well as Resident Fellow Prof. Charlson Ong. Also, wallless thanks to our former Deputy Directors namely Dr. Ruby Gamboa Alcantara and Prof. Marie Aubrey J. Villaceran who added glam in our gloomy days. Including poets Donato Mejia Alvarez (who designed the Likhaan logo and brochures) and Romulo Baquiran Jr. – who was with us, for two days, as though numbered being the last Deputy Director of ours, from the first UNLAK or Umpil-NBDB Lakbay-Awtor para sa Kabataan featured poet Benilda S. Santos at the Ma. Concepcion Cruz High School in Pateros with the Coroza Couple! to the first Palihang DFPP or Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas in Dr. Ligaya Tiamson-Rubin’s Angono mansion where we had the chance to dissect the works of fellow poets Erick D. Aguilar (UP), Mailan Ann Yancy T. Falculan (UP Los Baños), Kristian Mamforte (Atene De Manila University), Michael Rey S. Orlino (ADMU), Ronald R. Ramos (UP), and Cara C.Eriguel (UP); fellow fictionists Adam Cornelius B. Asin (UP), Neil V. Dalanon (UP), Melanie Magpantay (University of Santo Tomas), Geraldine V. Paguibitan (UST), Micaela Papa (UP), and Marianne Mixkaela Villalon (UP); and fellow playwrights Herlyn Gail Alegre (UP), Jose Lorenzo V. De Jesus (UP), and Roby Roxas (UP). We comprised the Teaching Staff with Dean Almario, Efren R. Abueg, Dr, Glecy Atienza, Dr. Eugene Evasco, Dr. Luna Sicat-Cleto, and Prof. Cruz Reyes. Dr. Jimmuel Naval (with Prof. Reuel Aguila being this year’s workshop directors) conceptualized this when we focused the UP National Writers Workshop on those in mid-career level. Other ICW bigwigs who inspired us, by the way, were on leave (permanently as in the case of playwright/fictionist/essayist Rene Villanueva who will be given tribute by former colleague Indiana-based Dr. Anton Juan via his play Hinabing Pakpak Ng Ating Mga Anak slated on July 16 - August 10 for Dulaang UP’s Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater at the Palma Hall) such as Hawaii-based Dr. Lilia Quindoza Santiago and Boston-based Josephine Barrios Leblanc who edited the book Savage Stage: Plays by Ma-yi Theater Company which was launched at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino last July 3.
Founded in 1978, Likhaan (known then as UP Creative Writing Center before it became an Institute in 2002) will turn 30 this coming December 7 so Juan can expect a different celebration under two different Butches -- its new director in Dr. Jose Dalisay Jr. and his deputy Prof. Jose Guerrero. Hopefully, it would happen during our annual Writers Night in our Likhaan office inside the UP Writers Museum!
Keep our communication lines open, feel free to email us at

TEACHER: What is the similarity of Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio,
Apolinario Mabini and Ninoy Aquino?
STUDENT: Ma'am, correct me if I’m wrong, but what I know is that they’re
all born on a holiday!
Measuring life by what others do to you may disappoint you.
But measuring life by what you do to others will add meaning to your life.

No comments:

Post a Comment