[CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS to the 6th Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Writers Workshop on folklore in contemporary literature]

Submissions are now open for the 6th Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Writers Workshop. This year, we are focusing on how writers are revisiting mythology and folklore as material for contemporary literature. 

Fantastic creatures, rituals, and otherworldly terrains populated the Filipino imagination prior to colonialism and modernity. They have endured through our own rich history of retelling and resurrecting folklore, such as those by writers like Severino Reyes, popularly known as Lola Basyang, and Mars Ravelo. To this day, our folklore re-appears cyclically in periods of assimilation and rehabilitation. Interest in mythology is renewed periodically because of inter-genre versions of works such as the TV adaptations of the Janus Silang series and Trese. 

Today, as the country faces the challenges of the pandemic and global unrest, the lure of the lore manifests as a possible escape to a better world, a re-imagining of what it means to be human, while manifesting the Diwata, the duwende, the aswang, the kapre. Traversing the source material in adaptation and retelling isn’t a simple matter of research, there is also the listening to, and the feeling of, the diversity of experiences possible. Folklore isn’t mere verbal art. It also precludes an interaction and transaction, and capturing artistically what action means in social life. 

Folklore is also a play on texture and grounding. Therefore, it can also mean the usage of protest songs, humor, speech, dance, all possibilities of human creative energies that can be captured in writing. It acknowledges that sources can be volumes written by folklorists and anthropologists, but also the rural folk, the marginal, and the fringe. It challenges the possibilities of mishearing, misunderstanding, and forgetting, in order to listen to the equivalence of the unsaid, overlooked, and the misremembered. 

Art critic Alice Guillermo wrote about folklorismus, a tendency to use folklore and mythologies to market tourism and economic regrowth while failing to address the basic needs of the nation. She details how mythos can propagate fascism, and how mythos without an understanding of collective accountability can blind the gullible, and destroy the future by toying with the past. Indeed, it is a malady that comes with an abuse of the power of the written word. What we are searching for is not just better poetry and better fiction, but courageous writing, which re-fashions and challenges, the limits of the lure, and of the lore, to re-energize our readers and writers alike in making sense of the world we live in.

Conceptually, we are looking for works that traverse this delicate balance, thus implicating how ordinary people (and not just the privileged, nor the trained) view folklore. We are looking for possibilities in rendering speculation and mythical imagination, ideally scaffolded in solid narratives or poetry.

Here are the guidelines for submission: 

1. We are accepting fiction and poetry entries of up to 5,000 words. For fiction, the folio can be two short stories or a series of microfiction/dagli. For poetry, a suite of 5-7 poems or two long poems may be submitted.  In accordance with the theme, the works must draw from or feature Philippine myths and/or folklore.

2. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age. 

3. The language may be in English, Filipino, or any of the regional languages. Texts written in the regions must be accompanied by a translation in English or Filipino. 

4. Applicants must also submit a short biographical note (not more than 150 words) and an author photo. 

5. The works must not have been submitted to any other publication or workshop. 

6. Applications are to be sent via email to [email protected] with the subject:


7. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2022. 

For this round, the workshop director is Luna Sicat-Cleto. 

Luna Sicat-Cleto is a playwright, essayist, poet, fictionist, and translator. She is also a professor at the UP Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas. She edited the anthologies Lapat: Antolohiya ng mga Kontemporaneong Kuwento and Sapantaha: Mga Kuwentong Imahinatibo at Spekulatibo, and Reading the Regions 2: Philippine Folk and Oral Traditions. Her play [email protected], based on Ginto sa Makiling by Macario Pineda, was performed at the CCP on March 8, 2020 as part of the Festival of Women Playwrights. Her other published works include the poetry collection Bago Mo Ako Ipalaot and the novel Makinilyang Altar. She has earned the 2019 Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas for Fiction in Filipino (Lifetime Achievement Award), the 2018 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for fiction, and the 2018 National Book Awards for nonfiction, among others. 

We are looking forward to reading your stories and poems. Best of luck and stay safe always! 



Raw image from Sharrie Villaver (UP Cebu)


Alburo, Erlinda K. “CONTINUING AND EMERGING DIRECTIONS IN CONTEMPORARY PHILIPPINE FOLKLORE STUDIES.” Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, vol. 20, no. 2/3, University of San Carlos Publications, 1992, pp. 210–25, http://www.jstor.org/stable/29792088.

Guillermo, Alice. “Fiestas: A Reevaluation.” Aghamtao 1990 Journal of the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao, Inc., Selected papers presented at the 1990 UGAT National Conference on Cultural Pluralism and Nationhood, 1990, pp. 97-105, https://pssc.org.ph/wp-content/pssc-archives/Aghamtao/1990/11_Fiestas_%20A%20Reevaluation.pdf

Reyes, Soledad S. “The Komiks and Retelling the Lore of the Folk.” Philippine Studies, vol. 57, no. 3, Ateneo de Manila University, 2009, pp. 389–417, http://www.jstor.org/stable/42634017.