Monday, January 12, 2009


Unforgettable was March 18, 2008 not only it was our Mama's 79th birthday.
But also it was our first meeting with the National Book Development Board's Mommie Dearest -- Atty. Andrea Pasion Flores – who sealed the deal, formally, in her newly- inaugurated queendom.
Figuratively and otherwise, we met halfway -- within the National Printing Office Building at the corner of Edsa and NIA Northside Road in Diliman -- when Mike Coroza arrived not-so early from Ateneo de Manila University and Beverly Siy from University of Santo Tomas, both Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas Board members, to witnesss how the former's dream showed vital signs for our UMPIL Education Committee commited to educate, entertain, and enlighten youngsters about Philippine literature via a campus tour of Filipino authors.
Thus, UNLAK -- or UMPIL-NBDB Lakbay-Awtor para sa Kabataan -- was born.
Again, actually.
Yes, because already there was a test drive of sorts, when we brought National Artist -- Virgilio Almario -- to Taguig City last March 7, two days before his birthday, at the Maria Asuncion Tiñga High School, where Mike's wife, Jeanette, is the incumbent principal!
Well, to some extent, that was sure-fire formula.
A month before that, during the Philippine Arts Festival, our National Commission for Culture and the Arts and University of the Philippines Likhaan's Pagpupugay sa mga Pambansang Alagad ng Sining team took Rio Alma to a jampacked UP-Iloilo campus crowd who listened to his lecture and watched young ones perform his poetry.
For UNLAK, we added another component: an exhibit of the featured author's photos, books, trophies, and others in every school library.
However, what we considered to be the first leg of UNLAK was last June 27 when the former AdMU School of Humanities dean -- Prof. Benilda Santos -- visited Maria Concepcion Cruz High School in Pateros.
Memorable were her talk and the intermission number when male students gave their interpretations of her female personae in her poems to the delight of a gymful of newfound fans led by Mr. Gil Teodoro.Another feminine, or feminist perspective, was explored when our beloved jet-set poet -- Dr. Marjorie Evasco -- former De La Salle University's Bienvenido Santos Creative Writing Center director, agreed to enchant – through her powerful presence and her powerpoint presentation -- her kababayans like Mr. Job Zape Jr. and the rest of Mandaluyong City Science High School last July 25.
August saw us so preoccupied with 34th UMPIL Congress.
September was for Pistang Panitik.
And October was both for semestral end and break.
UNLAK got lucky once more for having another National Artist the following semester, when -- Francisco Sionil Jose -- came to Makati City, saw his kaapelyido in Ms. Corazon Jose, and conquered Bangkal High School last November 7.
Right then and there, we admitted, before his avid admirers, his wife Tess included, that his case was the rationale behind all these efforts to popularize Filipino writers and writings.As early as 2007, during the aforementioned tribute to the five living National Artists for Literature, we re-visited Rosales, Pangasinan with him and we realized that he himself was a famous unknown in his own birthplace – which he tried to immortalize in his novels -- which were translated into more than 30 languages all over the world.
In other words, we extended UNLAK, literally “to give chance” in Filipino, to future National Artists!
The juniors and seniors of San Joaquin High School in Pasig City was fortunate, too, for they had last November 28 the Critic at large not the Justice -- Dr. Isagani Cruz -- president of Wika ng Kultura at Agham Inc. -- who in his stand-up dramedy act related his angry and hungry years before he became a versatile man of letters and numbers that he is.
Two Mondays from now, on January 26, at 3 p.m. as usual, Pateros National High School will get to know more, maybe by singing some of his Salin-awit songs, about its long lost son in poet/journalist/scriptwriter/translator -- Jose Lacaba -- whose grandmother was a Pateros Elementary School teacher like his mom who used to teach at the Pasig Catholic School where he graduated.
Next month, will be the turn of UP's University Professor Emeritus – Dr. Gemino Abad -- probably to promote his two-volume anthology Upon Our Own Ground: Filipino Short Stories in English 1956-1972, among others, at the San Juan National High School, care of Mrs. Paz Depaudhon and Councilor Dante Santiago of San Juan City.
March expects another National Artist – Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera -- to share himself and his Compact Disc recording of his poetry Poetika/Politika: Tinipong Mga Tula, initially, in Metro Manila.
Perhaps, by then, we can get more support from publishers by way of booksales affordable to public high school students?
Or from public officials via donations, in cash or in kind?
NBDB's Dianne Mendoza and Glen Malimban, to name a few, had been very instrumental in making everything possible while Samuel “Bong” Versoza was influential in venue-hunting, ceaselessly, an extra effort exerted by an Executive Assistant to the NBDB Chair – Dr. Dennis Gonzalez -- like him.
Thankless job, nevertheless, we have no reason to lock UNLAK.
Especially, now that one great thing is leading to another.
In fact, Councilor Rica Tiñga, for instance, promised to sponsor a series of creative writing workshops for teachers and students from the city of Taguig within 2009.
Who says Year of Ox is unlucky for UNLAK?
So if want to invite UMPIL into your school, kindly contact our controversial webmaster Philip Kimpo Jr. at
Keep our communication lines open, feel free to email us at
SINNER: Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I often send dirty jokes and sex videos through my cell phone.
FATHER: My child, please forward your sins to me.
Do not ask the Lord to guide your steps if you are not willing to move your feet.

No comments:

Post a Comment