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.
After 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.)
There was a new exhibit called “The Garden of Acedia” by Marcel Antonio.
There were also new pieces by BenCab, because some of the old pieces had been moved to Manila for his 50th anniversary exhibit.
That night, we had a short meeting after dinner to formally open the workshop.
Good morning! We had three panels every day to cover the 12 submitted manuscripts.
The panels made me miss my undergrad days.
When 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.
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.
On 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.
And of course we went to Batirol again! I tried their Baguio Blend this time, which was the Traditional Tsokolate drizzled with strawberry syrup. Yum.
Kidlat Tahimik also dropped by to screen his film Balikbayan Box No. 1.
My 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.
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.
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!
We 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.
For more information, you can visit the workshop blog: https://upworkshop2015.wordpress.com/
You can also read the tweets to get a feel of the discussions: https://twitter.com/upworkshop
Special thanks to Vlad Gonzales for some of the photos here.