This episode is a tie-in with the 59th UP National Writers’ Workshop. The lecture problematizes the idea that in the modern day, there are so many narratives demanding to be told. The question posed: what should writers write about first?

Four lecturers, two from the fellows and two from the panelists of the workshop, offer their perspectives on this issue:

Esteemed educator, literary historian, poet, and cultural manager, VIRGILIO ALMARIO goes by the moniker Rio Alma. He has published numerous collections of poetry, his first being Makinasyon at Ilang Tula (1967), which was followed by Peregrinasyon at Iba Pang Tula (1970), Doktrinang Pawis (1979), Palipad-Hangin (1985), Katon Para sa Limang Pandama (1987). He has also published several books on criticism and literary history. He has received several awards for his work as a poet and scholar and was named National Artist for Literature in 2003.

Si EUGENE Y. EVASCO ay manunulat, editor, tagasalin, at kolektor ng mga aklat pambata. Kasalukuyan siyang Professor ng panitikan at malikhaing pagsulat sa Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas, UP Kolehiyo ng Arte at Literatura. Ilan sa mga aklat niya ang Mga Pilat sa Pilak: Mga Personal na Sanaysay, May Tiyanak sa Loob ng Aking Bag: Mga Tulang Pambata, Ang Singsing-Pari sa Pisara, Ang Nag-iisa at Natatanging si Onyok at ang salin ng Charlotte’s Web ni E.B. White at The Secret ni Lin-Acacio Flores. Nagwagi siya noong 2014 ng UP Gawad sa Natatanging Publikasyon sa Filipino (Kategorya ng Malikhaing Pagsulat). Naging bahagi siya sa Hall of Fame ng Carlos Palanca Award for Literature noong 2009, dalawang ulit nagwagi ng Grand Prize sa Philippine Board on Books for Young People, Makata ng Taon 2000, National Children’s Book Award, at National Book Award para sa Young Adult Literature. Naging Research Fellow siya noong 2016 sa International Youth Library sa Munich, Germany upang manaliksik sa mga aklat pambata na may temang LGBT.

Herlyn Alegre, currently based in Tokyo, Japan, juggles her full- time profession as a researcher and her passion for the arts as she writes for film and the stage on the side. Her debut play, Imbisibol, was staged at the Virgin Labfest in 2013. It was later adapted for screen and recognized for Best Screenplay at Sinag Maynila (2015) and the Los Angeles Philippine International Film Festival (2017). She was also named Film Ambassador by the Film Development Commission of the Philippines (2017). Her other plays staged at the Virgin Labfest were Huling Huli (2015), Bahay-Bahayan, Tagu-Taguan(2016) and Fangirl (2019). Her plays have also been included in various anthologies such as Mga Piling Dula mula sa Virgin Labfest 2013-2016 published by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. She also received training on the Theatre of the Oppressed at the Centro de Teatro do Oprimido in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her current research project focuses on the use of Theatre for Development for HIV/AIDS education in the Philippines.

Christine Lao teaches creative writing and literature at UP Diliman where graduated with a bachelor of law’s degree in 2000 and an MA in Creative Writing (fiction) in 2015. Her chapbook, Musical Chairs, was a finalist of the Madrigal Gonzalez Best First Book Award in 2019. Her stories (speculative fiction) have appeared in anthologies published in the US, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Tin practiced law for 17 years. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing also at UP, this time majoring in poetry. Some of the poems in her manuscript were published in Likhaan 13 (2019). Her poems have also appeared in two separate issues of Kritika Kultura.