|A Bb. Pilipinas International in 2008, Patricia Fernandez (right) was crowned by poet Teo Antonio as this year's "Paraluman ng Panitikan" to celebrate World Book and Copyright Day at SM Mega Mall last 23 April.|
Twenty-third of April has been witnessing how hard the National Book Development Board (NBDB) and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO)-Philippines worked just to organize World Book and Copyright Day activities via literary food walks, seminars, and book fairs.
Hermanas mayores -- Atty. Andrea Pasion Flores, NBDB Executive Director and Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz, NBDB Chair – found new partners not only in Atty. Ricardo Blancaflor, IPO-Philippines Director General but in the Department of Education, Korean Copyright Commission, Visprint Inc., Vibal Publishing Inc., Precious Pages, to name a few.
During the 52nd UP National Writers Workshop in Camp John Hay in Baguio City last month too, we took their invitation up as part of Likhaan: University of the Philippines Institute of Creative Writing’s meeting’s other matters!
Seriously, we took it though.
Yes, there was the master plan to dress up trucks in the heart of Ortigas business center, to assemble at the parking lot beside Prestige Tower where NBDB transferred, and to have a motorcade before yuppies – both young urban professionals and young urban poor -- just to prove this year’s theme “Reading Rocks, Copyright Rules.”
Of course, there was a variety show at the Events Area of SM Mega Mall A.
As expected, instead of ice skating, there were welcome remarks and all sorts of messages, acoustic performance and song number by Flying Ipis and the IPO Choir respectively, and announcement of winners and special prizes for, say, Frankie Torres and Joel Donato Jacob, who won in the NBDB-UP ICW Love Letter Writing Contest wherein we and ICW Director Jose Dalisay were urged to judge.
For sure, it would be incomplete without poetry reading.
Because it is in honor of great men of letters -- Spanish Miguel de Cervantes, British William Shakespeare and Peruvian Inca Garcilaso de la Vega – who died on 23 April way back in 1616.
By the way, it was also the date of birth or death of internationally renowned
writers like Maurice Druon, Haldor K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla, and Manuel Mejía Vallejo.
So in 1995, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's General Conference in Paris considered it perfect to pay homage to books and authors, annually, on the 23rd day of April.
Eventually, it became World Book and Copyright Day as well as UNESCO Prize for Children's and Young People's Literature in the Service of Tolerance.
When we got invited, we really remembered that word “tolerance”!
So, we extended it to filmmaker Khavn de la Cruz, sculptor Raul Funilas, and performance artist Martin de Mesa to jam with poets in English and Filipino such as Gemino Abad, Jose Lacaba and his son Kris and daughter-in-law Kit, Benilda Santos, Rebecca Anoñuevo, Roberto Añonuevo, among others.
However, National Artist Virgilio Almario tolerated it too but with a twist.
He wanted to make that red-letter day a month-long feast.
Next year, he wishes to start this Flores de Abril from the birthday of our National Poet, Francisco Balagtas, who turned 225 last April 2 also known as the Araw ni Balagtas.
That is why, being a Rio Alma that he is, plus being the newly appointed Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) chair, he tried to put certain Filipino touch to it!
With a big help from the KWF -- in cooperation with the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) and Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA) – he grabbed the very rare opportunity to avail the services of California-based Teo Antonio who happened to be in the country with his hardworking wife Sol as if they were here just to take care of business in the absence of his katalo, Mike Coroza, who was celebrating with the Thais after Bangkok was proclaimed “World Book Capital 2013.”
Informally hailed as the “King of Balagtasan,” Teo easily revived the dying art of “pagpuputong” or crowning to the amazement and amusement of every mall moll around.
Even of the Gen X, or Y, whose vocabulary is limited to Eraserhead’s famous first line in Huling El Bimbo.
The Muse during that literary, and/or literacy, fiesta was, is, and, will be known as “Paraluman ng Panitikan.”
For 2013, she is none other than – Ms. Patricia Fernandez – a bookworm who is also an actress, host, model, print and broadcast journalist, and beauty queen who was crowned Binibining Pilipinas-International in 2008!
Vim Nadera: What can you say about your Paraluman ng Panitikan experience during the World Book and Copyright Day celebration last 23 April?
Patricia Fernandez: It was an overwhelming experience. It's quite rare to find guys who'll actually praise you through poems in public.