Wednesday, November 3, 2010

OF FIRSTS AND LASTS (August 23, 2010)

The 36th Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas Congress this coming Saturday is a first.

With a big help from our Board Member, Dr. Mario Miclat, we won't hosted at the GT Toyota Asian Center Auditorium within the University of the Philippines Diliman. campus

On August 28, the 1s tAdrian Cristobal Lecture will be delivered courtesy of University Professor Emeritus, Dr. Gemino Abad, who will talk about The Future Is First Shaped By Words. After the first decade in this new millennium, we will have our election which is why, according to our Articles of Incorporation, we ought to use Congress instead of Convention. It will be the first time Prof. Charlson Ong and Dr. Rebecca Anonuevo will serve as Masters of Ceremonies. As part of the Cristobal Lecture Series, Amb. Antonio Cabangon Chua will host our lunch for the very first time. For our panel discussion, which we will host with Ms. Karina Bolasco, about our theme Literature and Change -- Chris Martinez will share the secret of his success in Cinemalaya then and Here Comes The Bride and his other box-office hits now; Ms. Nida Ramirez Gatus of Visprint Publishing will represent Bob Ong whose books are selling far better thanNoli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo; Writers' Bloc's Rody Vera will update us on the recent triumph last Virgin Labfest and Juana Change; and journalist and novelist Criselda Yabes will give us tips on how to draw out the best from both worlds. Even for our intermission number we move that we will not settle for less and SPIT or Silly People's Improv Theater second the motion.

This year's Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Francisco Balagtas, it is only now that we do not have a poet but, who cares if we have Amando Doronila (Essay in English), Bonifacio Ilagan (Drama in Filipino), Gremer Chan Reyes (Fiction in Cebuano), Go Bon Juan (Essay in Chinese), and Ricarte Agnes (Drama/Essay/Fiction in Iluko) whose flying all the way from Hawaii is another first. Our Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez awardee, Dr. Thelma Kintanar, will her first public appearance since her husband passed away while our Gawad Pedro Bucaneg recipient -- Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA) – will at last harvest the first and finest fruit after 25 years! And Mike Coroza, will act as our emcee with a Ph.D. for the first time.

However, this will be our last as Chair of UMPIL.

At least, for the last time, please allow us to cherish the memories of our first and planning session on 27 and 28 October 2007 at Soka Gakkai in Tagaytay which was followed by our presentation of programs and projects on 30 November 2007 at the Anvil Conference Room in Pasig City where we approved the digital enhancing of UMPIL logo.

On 22 December 2008, our Chairman Emeritus Adrian E. Cristobal met his Maker and, together with Samahang Plaridel, UMPIL paid to him 20 February 2009 at Hotel Sofitel.

Another Chairman Emeritus – National Artist Virgilio S. Almario – celebrated his birthday with us by delivering his lecture on 9 March 2008 at Maria Asuncion Tiñga High School in Upper Bicutan in Taguig City.

This spurred our committee on Education and Training head, Mike Coroza, into action, with his wife Jeanette Coroza, and our partner -- National Book Development Board (NBDB) – to come up with UNLAK or UMPIL-NBDB Lakbay-Awtor para sa Kabataan – so formally it began with Dr. Benilda Santos' talk on 27 June 2008 at Concepcion Cruz High School in Pateros City.

Another feminist poet, this writing in English and Cebuano, Prof. Marjorie Evasco, showed her wares on 25 July at Mandaluyong Science High School. Francisco Sionil Jose, another National Artist, fulfilled his dream of being with youngers at Bangkal High School in Makati City on November 7. We ended the year early with Dr. Isagani Cruz speaking before San Joaquin High School's students and teachers in Pasig City on 28 November 2008.

New year witnessed Jose Lacaba had his homecoming at Pateros National High School, his alma mater, during that National Arts Month, which was then renamed Philippine International Arts Festival.

Dr. Abad was supposedly our last UNLAK speaker – when we took him to North Fairview High School in Quezon City where donated his books to its library on March – it did not stop there.

NBDB invited Pete Lacaba to the medium security section of the New Bilibid Prison or National Penitenciary in Muntinlupa City during the Ides of May.

More, we with Abdon Balde Jr. were tasked to take the learning from school to mall, at SM Fairview specifically to teach Boy Scouts of the Philippines how to write poems and stories on July 30 and 31 2009.

For our 35th UMPIL Convention, we had Literacy From Literature for our theme with the support of the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education. Billed as Pambansang Seminar sa Pagtuturong Batay sa Panitikan, we were lucky to have Ms.Cristina Chioco, Dr. Theresa de Villa, Dr. Isagani Cruz, and Prof. Dennis Marasigan as our motivation gurus!

Earlier this year, on 2 April, during the 222nd birthday of Francisco Balagtas, all roads led by UMPIL to Plaza Balagtas in Pandacan, Manila. It was a Good Friday , too, so our rally seemed to be a penitencia of sorts as a protest against the scandals in the arts. National Artists, Dean Almario and Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, Gemma Cruz-Araneta and Joey Ayala spearheaded the mass action.

Then, we UMPILAN or our General Membership Meeting on 30 April at the University of Santo Tomas' Tomas Aquinas Research Center. With no less than Father Rector, Roland de la Rosa O.P. as our sponsor. Entitled Karapatang-ari Ipapahawak Mo Ba Sa Iba?, the discussion about intellectual property rights strenghtened our partnership with FilipinasCopyright Licensing Society, Inc. (FILCOLS). It resulted into our talks with the officers and members Gunglo dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano iti Filipinas (GUMIL), Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting (KUTING), Bathalad, Akademyang Bisaya, among others, just like what we had last Saturday in Cebu City at the Bambi Beltran's Turtle's Nest Bar.

After three years, there are a lot of dreams that we still need to fulfill:

(1) opening Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas' doors to unknown or underrated but qualified writers from the regions; (2) creating UMPIL Associate or Junior Members (or whatchamacallit) for young writers, enrolled and out-of-school; (3) coordinating with, say, Commission on Information and Communication Technology regardingWriters' Blog or the project to a more correct, creative, and critical blogging; (4) digitizing all the works of our National Artists for Literature through DNA (Digital National Artists); (5) digitizing all our classics via e-lathala; (6) pursuing our proposal to the revitalized Philippine National Railways care of our PNR Panitikan ng Riles – in collaboration with KUTING, Alitaptap Storytellers Philippines, at Railways and Industrial Heritage Society of the Philippines Inc.; (7) publishing UMPIL textbook on literature and creative writing, to name a few; and (8) and the passing of our Writers Welfare Act drafted by our legal adviser, Atty. Bernardita Fortuno; (9) revising the UMPIL Directory of Filipino Writers (1990); (10) honoring Manuel Baldemor for donating the Gawad Pambansang Alagad trophies.

Thanks to our family and friends who taught us that for love they will give everything without asking for anything.

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