notes from baguio and dumaguete: part 1 – writing fellow

For the past two weeks, I was able to do something I was never able to do in real life: read and critique literary work while consuming copious amounts of free food and coffee.

First stop: Baguio for the UP National Writers Workshop (May 10-17). I was accepted as a Writing Fellow here.

20150516_083408After checking in at the AIM Igorot Lodge, we headed to BenCab Museum to read/recite poems for the National Artist. This was my third time in the museum, but my first time to have a guided tour. I didn’t know there were different kinds of bulol! Dancing bulol, house guards — I just assumed they were all for fertility. You learn something new every day. (Such as: huwag mag-assume.)


20150510_163549There was a new exhibit called “The Garden of Acedia” by Marcel Antonio.

“Batman and Melancholy”

There were also new pieces by BenCab, because some of the old pieces had been moved to Manila for his 50th anniversary exhibit.

“Rene’s Performance”
Ben Cabrera addressing the workshop fellows and panelists.

That night, we had a short meeting after dinner to formally open the workshop.

Jayson Petras, Workshop Coordinator; Luna Sicat-Cleto, Workshop Director; Roland Tolentino, Acting Institute of Creative Writing Director.

Good morning! We had three panels every day to cover the 12 submitted manuscripts.

20150511_065951The panels made me miss my undergrad days.

20150512_110945When in Baguio, I usually just stick to Session Road, but now that we’re in Camp John Hay I couldn’t pass up the chance to drop by Choco-late de Batirol.


Tsokolate at suman sa lihiya.

We also had a film screening of Teng Mangansakan’s Qiyamah, which tackles the end-times from the perspective of a small Muslim village. Absolutely stunning.

20150513_200132On Thursday, we dropped by the University of the Philippines-Baguio for a lecture on Young Adult Literature by panelist Eugene Evasco and fellows Will Ortiz and Segundo Matias. I tagged along and also answered some questions about writing fantasy, and writing in general.





54th UP National Writers Workshop. Photos from Vlad G.

20150514_164218And of course we went to Batirol again! I tried their Baguio Blend this time, which was the Traditional Tsokolate drizzled with strawberry syrup. Yum.

Batirol, Photo from Vlad G.Kidlat Tahimik also dropped by to screen his film Balikbayan Box No. 1.


20150514_201524My workshop panel was on Friday, where I presented the science fiction story collection I’m working on right now. Positive comments, good points from the panelists and the fellows. You can read my poetics here.

54th UP National Writers Workshop. Photos from Vlad G.

54th UP National Writers Workshop. Photos from Vlad G.That night: Poetry Slam! The Poetry Slam used to be held in Mt. Cloud Bookshop, but Mt. Cloud proved to be too small for the crowd the event now attracted. This year, it was held in Cafe Yagam.




The organizer brought books from Mt. Cloud, and I was delighted to see that they carried all three of my books! Thank you to the fellows who bought copies.

54th UP National Writers Workshop. Photos from Vlad G.

54th UP National Writers Workshop. Photos from Vlad G.How it goes: Round 1, perform a poem. Round 2, perform an original poem. Round 3, poets will be given 15 minutes to write an original poem based on a theme that will be provided that night. I signed up for the heck of it but got eliminated after Round 2! Ha! I can’t perform to save my life. Congratulations to Mida Mabitad and Ned Parfan of the UPNWW, who were absolutely amazing!


54th UP National Writers Workshop. Photos from Vlad G.

20150515_221041We had a short graduation ceremony on Saturday night. I was asked to give a response (along with Rhod Nuncio) on behalf of the fellows. Here’s what I said (from what I can recall):

We, the Fellows, understand the importance of workshops, of community, of having time and space carved out of our realities in which we can spend our days reading stories and discussing literary work with people who understand us. We know how humbling and heartwarming it is to realize that we are not unique in our views, and that we are not alone. Thank you for this opportunity, and we hope to see you all again after this week.

Thank you to the UP ICW! I really enjoyed my stay.

Graduation Day!

54th UP National Writers Workshop. Photos from Vlad G.

54th UP National Writers Workshop. Photos from Vlad G.For more information, you can visit the workshop blog:

You can also read the tweets to get a feel of the discussions:

Special thanks to Vlad Gonzales for some of the photos here.

Read Part 2.

9 thoughts on “notes from baguio and dumaguete: part 1 – writing fellow”

  1. Critique literary work while consuming copious amounts of free food and coffee – how glamorous!

    I haven’t written anything creative in a looong while now and reading this post and reading about Baguio makes me miss those nights when I had that luxury for creative work. #supergreenwithenvy

  2. Why did I have a feeling Kidlat Tahimik would be in this post??? I guess because every picture, every detail, screamed art. How I miss Baguio, spent some of my best years there (age 17 – 21), the small and intimate UP Baguio community, the hiking trails on Camp John Hay, the cold showers when we were late, treading the pine needles to the campus from St. Francis Dorm on cold early mornings, the only two most popular cinemas that time in Session Road (one showed foreign films, the other, Filipino films, maybe three months late?), etc. etc… A friend fondly calls it our four-year vacation. Thanks for taking me back.

    About to read one last story in “Unseen Moon.” Ang galing.

    You seemed to have done really well at the workshop, you. Congrats!

    1. Aww thank you so much! And yes, Baguio is my favorite place in the world. I would have loved to see the city through your 17 yo eyes. You should post some photos! :)

  3. It really must’ve been a great pleasure to be with all these giants!

    Kidlat Tahimik and Virgilio Almario were some of my heroes when I was in college, the artists whose work and advocacies I connected with deeply. I’ve met them both briefly in person, and it’s amazing how sincere they are about their work.

    Luna Cleto was my PI100 prof. She was by far the most sensitive and humane prof I had in UP. She’s so humble and patient with us, her non-liberal arts major students.

  4. And thank you for linking your poetics piece! I don’t share your passion for horror, but I’m also obsessed with the City as a character, on the page and in real life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s