Saturday, May 24, 2008

between ecstasy and chagrin

That is what I felt last night, as I sat with the Dumaguete National Writers Workshop fellows and panelists as well as the staff of the NCCA (National Commission for Culture and Arts) and the SU English Department at the Fellow's Graduation Night. The nerve! I had totally no right to be there yet I felt so at home in their company. My heart was at rest and at a flutter all at the same time. In medicine, we would probably call that a regularly irregular arrhythmia. In local parlance, that would be "ang kapal ng mukha mo."

But anyway, after the caveats and disclaimers, let me just barge on and say I had a blast. I had an extraordinarily fabulous time. (eekk. can't think of a better modifier) ::sigh:: I have a long way to go before I can become a fellow but libre naman mangarap, di ba? After three weeks of (sporadic) sitting-in and eavesdropping, I've learned lots of things. Tons. Jordan said something about admitting one's ignorance. Well, that, I have plenty of. Like, I didn't know there is a difference between journalistic writing and creative writing. And that there is this relatively new animal species in Kingdom Literati controversially called "creative non-fiction." And that cliches are totally taboo in creative writing. That's why I found it so funny when the Tokwa and Leslie introduced their group song number deliberately using a bunch of hoary cliches like "friends forever" and other such lines which I can't recall right now. I do recall being very, very amused with their spiel.

After the fellows sang "Stand by me" one of them said, "Mabuti na lang,
marunong kaming magsulat!" meaning that their writing is better than
their singing. I agree. Oh, except for Margie, who has a very good singing voice as well as superb writing talent. Yesterday morning, Ma'am Rowena called her a virtuoso, for her consistently exquisite fiction. And another panelist said Margie's work has made his coming all the way to Dumaguete worthwhile. Marguerite de Leon, a name to watch in Philippine literature!

Now back to the program. Emcees were Boy Abunda (Igor) and Cherry Pie Pecache/Aiai de las Alas (Liza). Special mention was made about Tokwa, who is in his early twenties yet and already is a Palanca awardee! Everybody got suya so they decided to become awardees too, even if they gave the awards themselves. So the Katsubong Awards was born, katsubong being a local herb rumoured to be hallucinogenic.

All the fellows and panelists got awards but I can't recall all of them right now. I remember Lambert's award, of course. He got the "Swapang sa genre award" as he submitted entries in all categories (poetry, short story, creative non-fiction). Panelist Susan Lara got the "ang ganda ng lola mo pahiram ng earrings" award. Margie got the "stiff neck award" because that was her pose in most of her pictures. Sir Sawi got the "chick-boy basang sisiw hairstyle" award. And for Mom Edith the "pahiram ng national artist award" award. The awards of the panelists who were not present were received by their "representatives," fellows who impersonated them! For example, Sir Butch Dalisay (impersonated by Arlene) got the "binagyo sa Manila/Cebu/Tagbilaran award."

Then they had a drama presentation called "How we coped with the panelists' butchering of our work." Lambert played the generic panelist while the other fellows acted out their own coping strategies which ranged from distractions, i'm-on-vacation-actually, anyway-i-have-other-skills, oh-you-got-the-wrong-manuscript-po, to i'm-gonna-kill-you.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of "the fellows give back to Dumaguete" token. The fellows came up with a PUBLICATION, every writer's dream, a booklet, a compilation of their works, about Dumaguete, written in Dumaguete during the first two weeks of their stay here. Sea[sic] is the name of their secret project. They said this is their way of showing their gratitude to the panelists, to the city of Dumaguete and to their sponsors, the NCCA and the SU English Department.

After that it was the panelists' turn to speak. They said their final pabaon messages to the fellows AND read more poetry. As can be imagined, it was a treat listening to all these people, panelists and fellows alike. All their words were so carefully chosen.

There were a few irksome moments, though, as during the poetry reading, some people from the other tables (by the way, the venue for the graduation dinner and program was at the Hayahay Restobar, which was fully packed that evening) were talking and laughing in loud voices. Obviously, they did not care to listen to the poems. Oh, well, to each his own. (sorry, cliché!) They probably thought mga weird man na sila, uy. Reading poetry? As for me, I was perfectly happy to be in the company of the “weird people.”

1 comment:

Rosana said...

hehe u sure had the time of your life with a bunch of extraordinarily gifted writers. the SU writer's workshop is very prestigious. my co-worker at the Communication Services Group in SGV @ Co. where i use to work once told me that it is even more prestigious than U.P.'s. he holds an M.A. in Creative writing obtained from U.P. and also a fellow. he is anthony buyawe, i don't know if his name rings a bell to other writers. butch dalisay is the hubby of junie, another co-worker in the same department at the SGV back in the '80s.

anyway, you're right. most people find it hard to connect to writers' thoughts like theirs. they are outsiders looking in thinking that these people have a world of their own, that they are eccentric, unfathomable or those who have deviant minds that border between sanity and insanity. little do they know that these are minds pregnant with wonder, dotted with colorful hues that endlessly recreate what have been effortlessly recreated.

i once dreamt of becoming a certified creative writer but The Muse seems to elude me. so i stick to non-fiction which is closer to what you call "journalistic writing," which, oftentimes, could be a literary work in a hurry. but i've always been interested in scriptwriting for the movies in tagalog. sa edad kong ito, pangarap ko pa rin yan. hehehhe

you're one of the few medical people i know who has a genuine interest in the arts and letters. write on, my friend.