UP ICW offers Likhaan Foundation Creative Writing Scholarship

LIKHAAN: The UP Institute of Creative Writing through the generous support of the Likhaan Foundation is offering the Likhaan Foundation Creative Writing Scholarship to a deserving student this coming school year, 2017-18.

The scholarship is open to all students of MA Creative Writing who are in good standing. The applicant must be at least in his/her second year of studies. The qualified applicant needs to submit a referral letter from one of his/her former professors, verifying his/her abilities in the field, and, most of all, his/her determination to finish the degree.

Each applicant will be evaluated on the basis of his/her literary merit and financial need. The Likhaan Foundation Scholarship will grant to the successful applicant Php100,000 worth of tuition and combined allowances, covering two full years of schooling.

The scholarship should ideally sustain the student until the completion of his/her studies. Each semester, the student scholar must submit a report that contains the grades he/she has gotten from the courses taken. Each semester must at least earn for the student nine (9) units towards the completion of the degree. No underloading is allowed, nor incomplete grades and dropping of subjects.

If the student fails to attain the 9-unit requirement per semester, he/she must write a letter of explanation to the donor (the Likhaan Foundation) and the Director of the UP Institute of Creative Writing, Dr. Roland B. Tolentino. The request to renew the scholarship shall be deliberated upon by both parties.

The applicant cannot re-apply for the scholarship once the UP ICW and the Likhaan Foundation has found his/her situation not on a par with the qualities of a scholar. The Likhaan Foundation can revoke the support once the student fails to meet the standards set by the scholarship policy.

Interested students should submit their applications to the Institute of Creative Writing, Room 3200, Pavilion III, Palma Hall, UP Diliman. Look for Glo or Anna.

Remembering Dr. Thelma B. Kintanar

by Dr. Sylvia Claudio

Goodbye, Ma’am Thelma.

I got to know Professor Emeritus Thelma Lorna B. Kintanar in the last 10 years of her life when I became Director of the UP Center for Women’s Studies (now UP Center for Gender and Women’s Studies) in 2008.

By that time she was already Professor Emeritus.

She was at that time a board member of the UPCWS Foundation. At the time of her passing she was its Vice President for External Affairs.

I knew she had been one of the founders of UPCGWS.

But I learned quickly how fundamental her role to the Center had been. A role that continued until her death on July 7, 2017.

She was one of its founding Deputy Directors, working until her retirement on all aspects of its work whether that be training or research or publications.

But for me, her biggest contribution was the regular publication of the journal Review of Women’s Studies. It did not just come out on time: its articles were of high academic quality. Editing was second nature to her and in these last years; I would consider it a victory if she found only one or two mistakes in any document we ran by her.

I got to know her well because long after her retirement, Ma’am Thelma would come to office every day at the UPCWS.

To some, giving office space to her, who could have demanded this elsewhere as Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature, might seem strange.

But for myself and the four Directors who provided this space, it was an honor that she chose us to be her home. It is really a matter of respect that was inspired rather than demanded.

I remember how, as I came to her with an ethical dilemma as a new Director, her response was supportive and immediate. She helped me implement the work, too, which rationalized system procedures and democratized UPCWS governance. Typical Ma’am Thelma. She would not impose but her moral standards never failed her, so that when I finally asked, she had long understood and was ready to help.

She was instrumental in setting up our library space when I was Director. And one of the best decisions I ever convinced her to abide by was to put her computer and nook in the library she had helped raise funds to build.

She did so partly by holding art exhibitions. For Dr. Kintanar kept us in touch with the world of art and literature with an eye to the impeccable and the feminist.

To her nook she would go every day while I was Director and long after. And that discipline was not for show. From that nook she continued to write and publish, bringing honor to the Center and the University.

It is a testament to that discipline that when we asked her to revise her best-selling book on gender fair language to include LGBT concerns, she not only said yes readily; she delivered and on schedule.

Long after I had realized that this was one woman who truly deserved the honor of being Emeritus, I sat in an apartment with colleagues from the University of Hawaii in Manoa, to hear idols like Resil Mojares pay her homage. The woman had a right to do comparative studies, they said, because she took the time to learn Bahasa or Thai and did not rely on translations.

I knew her when she lost her husband. And she despaired and became frail after. I was not witness to that great love story, but I recognized it because of what his loss meant to her. Yet still, she labored on.

Good bye, Professor Emeritus Thelma B. Kintanar! I am very glad and honored to have met you, great intellect and great soul.

And though I said this often, over riding your lack of sentimentality, I will say it one more time:

I love you, Ma’am Thelma.


*image from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzwA8Ibh-dg

On The Importance of Folklore and National Community in Anim na Dulang Pilipino Para sa mga Bata by Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio

by Luna Sicat Cleto

Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio is the founder of Teatrong Mulat, a theater organization that produces and tours various puppet productions all over the country and the world. It was established in 1977, at a time when there was an upsurge of theater productions that are distinctly Filipino in character and temperament. It co-existed with the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), Dulaang UP, Kolambugan Dance Theater, Sining Kambayoka, and UP Babaylan, among others. What distinguishes the Teatrong Mulat productions was its use of folklore as material, and its specificity for children and young adults as audience. Lapeña-Bonifacio’s “Sepang Loca” was staged ahead of her Teatrong Mulat productions, but early on, her theatre pieces already had an awareness of speaking to the Filipino audience.

The inception of Teatrong Mulat came at an opportune time. Martial Law was ongoing, and Imelda Marcos’ patronage of the arts community was in effect. While edifices were built and international artists were welcomed, there was a distinct divide between productions and artistic constructions that promoted, or were against, the mantra of the true, the good, and the beautiful. In theatre, interstices of protest and alternative forms of citizenship were coursed through allegorical pieces, and folklore became an effective source for such.

Doreen Gamboa Fernandez intuited that folklore’s appeal to the Filipino psyche was not surprising, since it was “a society (that was) still rooted in and not far removed from oral literature.” (Fernandez, 1996: 116) Epic heroes of prodigious strength, trickster figures with incredible wit, and beautiful heroines who were more capable than what their looks were saying populated our riddles, proverbs, legends, epics, and folksongs. In sync with the de-colonization process that many intellectuals were involved with in the 1960s onwards, the scholarship of many research studies in the indigenous communities of the country were soon put to use by the playwrights, the directors, and most of those who were involved in productions. However, native and indigenous materials were also fused together with an awareness of theater that was culled from the West. Brechtian theater traditions were very much in practice, and combined with the folklore material, proved to be an engaging and combustible mix.

In Lapeña Bonifacio’s plays for children, it is interesting to note how the playwright was able to construct a representation of a child that is a personhood with a critical mindset. That character may be an animal or may be deformed, but it is always identifiable as the one who questions the system, as the curious spirit that may be out for mischief but never swept by greed or glory. It is always the character who respects others as much as himself or herself. If this character is absent, a Payaso or Clown/Fool character provides that notion. Indeed, a closer inspection of Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio’s plays will reveal how much the playwright has invested in the proper representation of the Filipino child.

In “Ang Manok at ang Lawin” (The Hen and the Hawk), Bonifacio features the sad fate of Manok and Lawin’s engagement. Manok is enamored not by her lover’s looks or personality, but by his proof of wealth, which is a stunning ring on her talon. Enter Tandang who declares his love for Manok and who offers a bigger, and better bling. Manok chooses Tandang but advises her lover to keep it a secret in the meantime because she knows Lawin’s wrath. The advice is unheeded because Lawin swoops in and declares his pact that he will, from now on, swoop down on each and every chick that they would have.

Bonifacio is commendable in her efforts to infuse folkloric material into drama, especially domestic drama. The topic is a serious discussion on fidelity, and Lawin’s outrage is partly fueled by his perceptions of the feminine. Read and performed in the 1970s, it is pioneering in the sense that the playwright used sources previously unmapped in past productions, and these are Dean Fansler’s contributions in folklore. Together with Bonifacio’s exposure to Asian theater elements, the play’s production infuses the choreography and costumes of Balinese drama. There is a special character in the play, Payaso (Clown) who serves as a walk-in narrator. Payaso’s lines are sometimes minimal, but very instructive, particulary as an introduction to the notion of theatricality, and artifice to the young: “kuwento niyo ito,” serves the best example.

In “Ang Magkapatid at ang Tsonggo” (The Brothers and the Monkeys), Bonifacio weaves a piece that offers questions on filial love and deceit. Bantawan, the older one, is a bully to Cenon, who cannot fight back because of his young age. Once, Cenon fell asleep in the forest. A group of monkeys see him and assume he is dead. They decide to give him a proper burial and a luxurious send-off, dressing him up as a prince. Because of their merrymaking, Cenon wakes up but pretends to be dead. The monkeys leave, and Cenon figures out an escape plan. He tempts the elderly monkey guard to release him, in exchange for a jewel. The monkey falls for the trick and dies, trapped in the boiling cauldron. Soon, Cenon sees Bantawan again. Bantawan notices his brother’s jewels and other adornments, and becomes greedy. He tells Cenon to go on home, and in spite of the latter’s warnings, Bantawan chooses to pretend to be dead. True enough, the monkeys find him and instead of giving him a beautiful burial, they take their revenge. Cenon saves Bantawan just in time.

This is actually a funny play to read, and I can imagine the comic potential of the work. True to the trickster tale tradition, Cenon is a kinder version of Pilandok since he saves his brother from a horrific fate. The monkeys have their own moments in the play with the hilarious set pieces of burial rites that are repeated and are symmetrically opposed. It has a didactic touch in the end, when Cenon tells his brother to moderate his greed and not to abuse his position of authority. Stylistically, the dance moves of the monkeys simulate a playful variant groupthink idiocy. Why would they dress up a stranger in refinements? Why send off a stranger at all? The play also draws our attention into the reverse side of amnesia, where exploited groups would organize themselves and make their oppressors pay. But the act of revenge here is hilarious: in thinking that it is Cenon that they are tormenting, they dress Bantawan in the exact opposite manner, except this time the materials used are organic and well-worn.

The other plays in the book are familiar enough for the reader: “Ang Pagong at ang Tsonggo” which is a dramatic rendition of “The Monkey and the Turtle,” “Paghuhukom,” which is a playful re-telling of the King’s trial over his animal subjects and becoming the object of mockery towards the end, and “Ang Pitong Kuba” which pokes fun at those who are not content with what they have. “Kung Paano Pinatay ng mga Ibaloi ang Higante” is also commendable in its spirit of community, wherein the Ibalois tap their communal bond to defeat the giant.

Bonifacio’s plays allow us to see how powerful drama is as a medium, and as practice of citizenship. Indeed, Doreen Fernandez was on the mark when she said that much of the memorable contemporary plays of the 1970s benefitted from the awareness of the Filipino theatre artist of the abundance of cultural and societal insights in Philippine folklore. However, folklore as material cannot just be used without any originality and innovation in its interpretation. Bonifacio’s plays join the ranks of her fellow contemporary theater artists in engaging the audience in laughter, entertainment, and critical thought.

Whether it is Rodolfo Galenzoga’s “Marinatha” (1974) production which appropriates an old Lanao legend about a stranger that saved the people of the kingdom from a predatory black bird, or Virgilio S. Almario and Tito Climaco’s dramatic rendition of Bernardo Carpio as rock opera, re-tellings are not mere robotic repetitions of the material. Bienvenido Lumbera’s collaboration with Nonon Pedero in “Tales of the Manuvu” proved that the epic need not be trapped in time or as archival material, and that it can speak to the current generation. What is common in all their re-tellings is the clever insinuation that although there are mighty power structures out there, there are also ways to bring down the giant: and that lies with the audience’s awareness of their own agency as human beings.

The Kausaban Forum and Workshop Addresses Challenges in Teaching Creative Writing in Mindanao

Creative writing teachers from across Mindanao and four professors from the Ateneo de Manila University came together at the Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City for the Kausaban Forum on Teaching Creative Writing. The forum, the first of its kind, was organized in response to challenges in teaching creative writing, a subject included in the newly-implemented K-12 program by the Department of Education.

Because it goes far beyond the conventional language and literature subjects in the previous educational model, many educators expressed the need to strengthen their understanding of the four genres included in this subject, namely poetry, fiction, essay and drama. This is particularly because creative writing requires an approach that is different from conventional teaching practices.

“Tingnan natin ang larawan ni Mona Lisa at ni Lisa Simpson,” expounded Allan Derain, Professor at Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) –  Department of Filipino. “Tama bang sabihin natin sa mga painters na ‘dapat tayong lahat, mag-paint tayo tulad ni Da Vinci’? Is that valid? Para ito ang ginagawa natin sa mga estudyante na sinasabihang kailangan nating magsulat at dapat katulad ito ni Shakespeare… Pero sa totoo lang, si Lisa Simpson at si Mona Lisa ay parehong valid na representasyon ng tao.”

Aside from fictionist Derain, other speakers during the forum were poet Allan Popa (Director, Ateneo Institute for Literary Arts and Practices), fictionist Allan Derain, essayist Martin Villanueva (Chairperson, ADMU – Department of Fine Arts), and Glenn Sevilla Mas (Theater Program Coordinator, ADMU).

Following the workshop, the four ADMU creative writing teachers also served as panelists during the Kausaban Creative Writing Workshop, an activity which aimed to refine the skills of seven emerging Northern Mindanao Writers. One play, two essays, two stories and two poems were dissected and refined during the workshop. Fellows of the workshop were Dennis Flores, Maria Karlene Shawn Cababaran, Hazel Aspera, Abigail C James, Raymond Ybañez, Adeva Jane Esparrago and Mark Acero.

Both the Kausaban Creative Writing Forum and Workshop were organized in partnership with the Ateneo Institute for Literary Arts and Practices, and Nagkahiusang Magsusulat sa Cagayan de Oro, with support from the Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts, and the National Center for Culture and the Arts.

Paanyaya para sa Campus Tagaan

Sinimulan ang Campus Tagaan bilang programa ng Kataga-Manila kasama ang piling organisasyong pampanitikang pangkampus noong 2014. Layunin nitong mapatibay ang ugnayan ng Kataga-Manila sa iba’t ibang kampus at makapagbigay ng libreng literary clinic sa mga interesadong estudyante ng kolehiyo at/o Senior High School sa Maynila.

Ngayong 2017, muli itong magbubukas at magbibigay ng pagkakataon sa labinlimang (15) fellow. Maaaring magpasa ng alinman sa mga sumusunod: tatlong (3) tula o tulang pambata; tatlong (3) dagli, isang (1) sanaysay; isang (1) maikling kuwento o kuwentong pambata; o isang (1) yugtong dula. Tatanggap lamang ng mga akdang nakasulat sa wikang Filipino.

Ipadala ang mga aplikasyon sa kataga.manila@gmail.com. Maaaring magpasa ng aplikasyon hanggang August 20, 2017. Para sa mga katanungan, maaaring ipadala sa nasabing email o sa mga direktor ng programa na si Wynclef H. Enerio sa 0977 122 0415 at Rhea Gulin sa 0926 9920 918.

Celebrating friendships through the literary arts: The first Philippine Indian Literary Festival

By Christine F. Godinez Ortega

The din of war could be heard from nearby Marawi City, creating such uncertainty that the first Philippine Indian Literary Festival would not have pushed through.

The Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) wavered in its commitment to hold this literary festival envisioned to be festive on June 5-6, barely two weeks after the clashes erupted in Marawi City between the terrorist group Maute and government forces.

The exchanges between the lawyer-novelist Pranesh Prasad and this writer, who convened the local literary festival, bordered between anger and frustration. Arguments were also exchanged between the MSU-IIT Administration and the faculty of the Department of English and the Office of Publication & Information, hosts of the event.

But this writer-convenor’s resolve and belief that the war would not spill over to Iligan based on events in history proved correct. Iligan had always been the R&R place and thoroughfare of colonizers, from the Spaniards to the Americans and it is no different for today’s rebels.

Fresh from the Philippine delegation’s triumph at the 8th Hyderabad Literary Festival in January 2016, lawyer novelist Pranesh Prasad broached the idea to this writer to hold the first Philippine Indian Festival to further cement bicultural relations between our countries.

If in the Hyderabad Literary Festival things were indeed festive and grand, this first Philippine Indian literary festival proved to be subdued and downscaled.

The eruption of hostilities between the Maute group and government forces and the influx of evacuees to Iligan City 40 kilometers away began to sink in as well.

But, through sheer grit and going by our instincts that the problem will not escalate and spill over to Iligan, this writer lobbied hard with the MSU-IIT administration as well as with Pranesh and his group of five Indian writers to be in Iligan to realize the literary festival, a first in the country.

Fortunately, several universities in Manila hosted the Indian writers to lunches and dinners– De La Salle University’s Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center through Dr. Shirley O. Lua; the University of the Santo Tomas Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies through Ralph Semino Galan, Dr. Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, and Lito Zulueta’s The Varsitarian and its editors; Luna Sicat Cleto, Lily Rose Tope, and the UP Center of Creative Writing; the National Commission for Culture & Arts International Desk through Annie Luis, Veronica Amboni, and National Artist Rio Alma; the Intramuros Administration and Tourism Office;  the International Center of Philippine PEN hosted by National Artists for Literature F. Sionil Jose and Bienvenido L. Lumbera; and Mt. Makiling’s Philippine High School for the Arts with its President, Vim Nadera.

The afternoon tea at the Embassy of India in Manila hosted by the Charge d’Affaires N. Ramakrishnan was another event with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) through representatives Rona Beth Goce, Director of the DFA Asia Pacific Affairs Desk and Stacy Danika S. Alcantara of the DFA Office of Public Diplomacy.

All these activities happened after the successful three-day literary festival at the MSU-IIT and at the Xavier University’s Xavier Center for Culture and Arts through Hobart P. Savior.

While at MSU-IIT, the Indian writers headed by Pranesh and members of the Indian delegation: the novelist and journalist Sriram Karri from Hyderabad, the translator and creative writing professor Subashree Khrisnaswamy from Chinnai, the writer and literature professor of Virginia State’s William and Mary College R. Benedito Ferrao from Goa; and Aishwarya Manivanan, a Silamban performer from Chinnai and one of 51 outstanding women across India.

The lively group sampled Philippine food and took in local scenery despite having been confined to certain areas after an early curfew around Iligan was imposed.

The love for literature, culture, and the arts over threats to everyone’s security simply held. Risks to life and limb are faced daily. This one was, to this writer, another challenge. Besides, this writer simply believed that despite the declaration of Martial Law, her second experience would be different.

It was faith in humanity and the faith that writers or artists are loved that simply came through.

Highlights of the event at the MSU-IIT were literary readings, forums on the impact of globalization on creative writing, translation, and literature, indigenous music, and a performance between Silamban artist Aishwarya and local performers from the MSU-IIT Sports Development Office of Kali (better known as Arnis, the country’s ancient martial art form).   The performance of Davijon de Ocampo and his group plus the lectures of the two martial arts forms by Cesar Miguel provided a rousing finale that also included the Maranao dance Pamalong-malong by the MSU-IIT’s resident theatre company, the Integrated Performing Arts Guild (IPAG).

The Indian writers were each gifted with souvenirs like malongs and were taught to wear these before the audience. Aishwarya’s performance of the ancient Tamil martial art form Silamban was a hit, especially when she performed to the indigenous music by the MSU-IIT Kalilang Ensemble.

In Xavier University, the interaction between the Indian writers and the audience was as stimulating as the interactions between Filipino writers and the Indians in Manila, even as the Indian writers relished the reunion with some members of the Philippine delegation at Hyderabad Literary Festival that included Nelia Balgoa, Luna Sicat Cleto, Vim Nadera, Jun Cruz Reyes, Kooky Tuason, Marty Tengco, and this writer.

If there was one thing, the first Philippine Indian Literary Festival taught us, it was the affirmation of friendships between the two nations, and the celebration of commonalities between India and the Philippines through culture and the arts.

The impact of this first Philippine Indian Literary festival has yet to be felt, but already we are looking forward to the next Philippine Indian literary festival in India next year.


Photos by Jez Timonera Orbe and John Daniel O. Enriquez, MSU-IIT Office of Publication & Information

UST National Writers’ Workshop 2017 fellows announced

The University of Santo Tomas Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (UST CCWLS) is set to hold its annual National Writers’ Workshop from July 23 to 29 at Ridgewood Residence in Baguio City.

The writing fellows named for 2017 are as follows (with their genres and institutional affiliations): Marren Araña Adan (katha; Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela/UP Diliman), Rhea Rose Berroy (poetry; UST), Mark Norman Boquiren (dula; UP Diliman/UE/Manila Tytana Colleges), KC Calpo (creative nonfiction; UA&P/DLSU), Deirdre Camba (poetry; AdMU/UP Diliman), Jade Mark Capiñanes (creative nonfiction; MSU-GenSan), George Deoso (tula; UST), Roma Estrada (tula; PNU/Adamson/UST), Abigail James (fiction; Xavier University), Jose Mojica (dula; DLS-CSB/UST), Wilmor Pacay III (Katha; PNU/Treston International College), and Scott Platt Salcedo (fiction; University of Arizona).

The senior guest panelists of this year’s workshop are Gémino H. Abad (UP University Professor Emeritus and distinguished poet, critic and scholar), Bernardo Bernardo (playwright, director, and veteran stage and film actor), and Victor Emmanuel Carmelo Nadera, Jr. (director of the Philippine High School for the Arts and founder of the annual USTetika Awards). Nadera and Bernardo are former editors-in-chief of “The Varsitarian”—the official student publication of UST, while Abad and Nadera have both served as directors of the UP Institute of Creative Writing (UP ICW). The participation of this year’s senior guest panelists has been made possible through the sponsorship of The Varsitarian.

This year’s workshop director is Professor Emeritus Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, who is also the director of the UST CCWLS, and the workshop coordinator is Ned Parfan, UST CCWLS resident fellow.

The rest of the teaching panel are UST CCWLS Resident Fellows Augusto Antonio Aguila, Joyce Arriola, Ma. Ailil Alvarez, Joselito Delos Reyes, Ralph Semino Galán, Dawn Laurente Marfil, Chuckberry Pascual, John Jack Wigley, and Joselito Zulueta; and CCWLS Associate Michael Coroza.


Zeno Denolo on Uberman and winning the Madrigal-Gonzalez Award

We caught up with Zeno Antonio Denolo, author of the acclaimed novel Uberman (under his pen name, Zero A.D.) which won the Special Jury award of the 2015 Cirilo F. Bautista Prize, as well as the Madrigal-Gonzalez First Book Award in 2016. He gamely talks about the fighting chance of self-published books, joining literary contests, and a renewed belief in Santa Claus.    


UP ICW: How did you find out about the MG awards? What do you know about it and its past winners?

Zeno Denolo: I don’t trust my memory enough, but I think it was first mentioned to me by Sir Chuckberry Pascual. His book Kumpisal was also one of the finalists. Nagkita kami nun sa may Jollibee sa may Mandaluyong.  Bumili kasi siya ng self-published release ng Uberman. While eating his chickenjoy, he encouraged me to join the MG contest since it is my first book. Then I saw the requirements and mechanics on a Facebook post by Likhaan on the pantikan.com.ph page, a month or two before the deadline. Sakto, ang category last 2016 ay Filipino-language written books. Sige, I said to myself, I’ll give it a try since may natira pa namang stock ng libro ko. Buti na lang; mahirap magbenta ng self-publish kaya may stock pa ko para ipasa sa contest.

Out of curiousity, nag-research din ako sa Google kung sinu-sino yung mga nanalo na dati. Mga kilalang writer na rin ngayon at karamihan pala galing sa mga academic at established publishers ang nananalo. Hala, mukhang malabo ang tsansa ko. Ganito na lang, magpapasa pa rin ako pero hindi na ako aasang mananalo. Ang importante naman sa buhay ay sumubok at lumaban ka, di ba?


ICW: Who nominated your book Uberman?

ZD: Since self-published book ito, ako lang din. Kinapalan ko na lang mukha ko na mayroon akong ibubuga kahit papaano. Personal kong ipinasa sa library sa araw mismo ng deadline. Umaambon pa nun at trapik. Naligaw pa ako kasi hindi ako pamilyar sa mga building ng UP. Hindi rin ‘ata alam ng Google maps. Nagtanung-tanong na lang ako.

Pagdating ko sa library, wala nang mga tao. 6PM kasi ang deadline pero sabi ng guard, 5PM pa lang nag-uuwian na sila. Wala na. Buti na lang may naiwan pang isang tao sa library. Iniwan ko na lang sa kaniya yung ipapasa kong libro na may kasamang note. I forget her name, but thanks to her kindness, I was able to submit. The deadline was a Friday, kaso mabibigay na lang daw niya iyon sa kinauukulan sa padating na Monday pa.

So there was no assurance that my entry would be qualified for the contest. Pero iniwan ko na lang din. I just said to myself, babalikan ko na lang yung mga kopya kung hindi man nila tanggapin. Sayang din kasi yun eh; puwede ko pa mabenta. I just emailed the MG awards, asking if they would still accept my book entry. Nagpaliwanag na lang ako nang matindi. Buti na lang tinanggap nila. A few days later, Likhaan FB page posted about the extension of deadline. Buti na lang.

ICW: How did you feel when you found out that you’ve won? Was it unexpected or were you confident that you’d win?

ZD: It was very unexpected. Actually, being one of the finalists was already surprising for me. I never really thought that I would have a chance. Especially when I look back at the history of winners. Most of them were already established as writers and produced by known publishers.

As for my book, it was just me and my friend Pangz, with the financial support of friends and family, who contributed to self-publish the book. We didn’t know anything about writing or even publishing. We didn’t have expert advice, mentorship, or any of the sort. It’s just really to put my work out there. So, to be included as finalists is already a prize for me. And can you just imagine the feeling of actually winning the contest? I have to remind myself a few times that this was really happening.

ICW: What, if any, are the benefits of the MG awards on your book? Did the sales go up, etc.?

ZD: Since it’s expensive to self-publish a book, we only had 200 copies printed. Ang hirap pa ibenta nun kasi hindi naman ako kilala at wala naman akong libro sa mga bookstore. Kadalasan, ang benta ko ay through meetups, which is personally nakakapagod, pero okay lang naman dahil wala naman akong choice. O kaya through shipping, especially sa malalayong lugar. Recently ko lang nai-consign ang libro ko sa Wiseguy’s Book Shop sa Teresa papuntang PUP.

Kaya nung nanalo ng award, naubos ang stock. Supposedly, magbebenta rin ako sa BLTX nung December 2016, kaso kaunti na lang ang natirang kopya at reserved pa, kaya nakipag-meetup na lang ako sa kanila doon.

There are also well-known and kind writers who would post copies they purchased from me, and that also helps me in selling and advertising the book. Word of mouth, mostly. Kung dati ang problema ko ay paano ko ito ibebenta, ngayon ang problema ay wala na akong mabenta dahil ubos na. Malaking tulong ang MG awards kaya na-sold out ang Uberman.

ICW: What did you do with the monetary prize?

ZD: Nagka-issue pa nun sa tseke. Ang istrikto kasi pala ng banko pagdating sa pangalan. Eh hindi nakasulat ang second name ko sa tseke, kaya ayaw nilang tanggapin. Gumamit kasi ako ng pen name. Pero ako rin naman iyon. Binalik ko pa at pinabago. Pero naayos naman, salamat sa tulong ng UP.

Bago pa ang awarding, nagbitaw kasi ako ng proklamasyon. Nung nalaman naming finalists sa MG awards ang Uberman, sabi ko sa pamilya ko, sagot ko yung gastos namin sa Cebu pag nanalo yung libro. Confident naman kasi akong hindi ako mananalo kaya nasabi ko yun. Kaya nang mapalitan na ang tseke, napunta ito sa canyoneering at pambayad ng accommodation. Habang ang natira ay nakatabi bilang pambayad utang kay Pangz para sa nagastos sa self-published na libro.

ICW: Please give us details about your next book (working title, when you hope to publish, etc).

ZD: Pag sinabi ko kasi yung gist ng kuwento ay magiging spoiler na ito. Sa title naman, wala pa talaga akong naiisip kundi Ano. Siguro kung ang Uberman ay repleksyon nang nakaraang gobyerno. Ito namang iginagapang at di ko alam kung kailan ko matatapos isulat.  Ito ay salamin ng kasalukuyan. Ang sigurado ay bahagi nito ang ipinasa ko sa nakaraang 56th UP National Writers Workshop.

Tulad sa naunang libro, umaasa pa rin ako na mai-self-publish ito ng ilang kopya kung papalarin, para may kalayaan akong gawin at isulat ang gusto ko nang hindi iniisip ang censorship. At the same time, ipapasa ko rin ito sa mga publisher (sana may tumanggap) para mabasa pa ng mas nakararami.

ICW: Are you planning on joining any other literary contest soon? If yes, which?

ZD: Mayroon na akong sinalihan, pero sikreto muna kung saan, baka kasi mabati. Tsaka para walang nakakaalam kung sakaling matalo ang akda ko.

ICW: Please say something too about the Madrigal-Gonzalez awarding night and how it went.

ZD: The only proper word I have in my vocabulary to describe the event is ‘surreal.’ I invited my family to come with me kasi balita namin masarap yung pagkain doon. I’m not expecting anything aside from eating good food, which was true. I’ve made peace with myself that just by being there already makes my book a winner.

We were also late. Traffic at ang tagal pang mag-makeup ng kapatid ko. Nakarating kami mga kalagitnaan na ng programa. Sakto: pagdating namin, mukha ko na yung naka-flash sa projector. Nagulat din ako, eh. They were saying something about my book, kaso hindi pumapasok sa utak ko, mukhang maganda pa naman. I’m just so happy to be part of the program. Buti na lang nakasulat din yun sa certificate of recognition.

So when Sir Jun Cruz Reyes was describing the winner, ayaw pa niyang pangalanan para raw surprise, pero nang marinig na namin ang salitang ‘superhero,’ may ideya na kami kung sino ang nanalo.  Pero hindi pa rin ako naging sigurado; ayaw ko munang mag-assume para hindi ako masaktan.

Kaya nang marinig ko na yung Uberman, (ang korni ko pero) it was like a dream. Yung parang, hindi naman ako naniniwala kay Santa Claus, pero nakatanggap pa rin ako ng regalo mula sa kanya. Mabuti na lang at pinilit ako ng Ina kong gumawa ng speech. Kundi, wala akong masasabing matino sa harap ng lahat. Though hindi ko masasabing matino ang mga nasabi ko.

Overall, I am very grateful. An institution found the rawness of my work meritorious. The people were warm and kind. The food was good. I had a beer. It was indeed a good night.

Grand Dame of SEA Children’s Theater Continues to Make Waves

Despite her numerous achievements in the realm of theater, University of the Philippines University Professor Emeritus Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio has not been content to sit back and relax. Instead, the Grand Dame of Southeast Asian Children’s Theater continues to make waves. In the past year, Prof. Lapeña-Bonifacio has finished translating Filipino stories about the sea into English. She has also partially finished the second volume on a planned three-volume set entitled “The Complete Plays of Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio.” This volume focuses on children’s plays.

Prof. Lapeña-Bonifacio most enjoys her theater work in the Teatrong Mulat Museum, the annual staging of her 33-year-old papet pasyon, and staging other local and international theater productions. Teatrong Mulat represented Philippine puppetry theater and staged perfomances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

UP Likhaan: Institute of Creative Writing, is continuing to accept entries for the second Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Writers Workshop on Young Adult Literature which will take place on October 6-9, 2017.

For inquiries about the second Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Writers Workshop, contact 9818500 (2117) and look for Isa Lorenzo, or email albw.workshop@gmail.com