A Profile of The Lamiraw Workshop
by Harold L. Mercurio
The Lamiraw Creative Writing Workshop is an annual activity held in the month of November at Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology (TTMIST) under the auspices of the Arts, Social and Cultural Affairs (ASCA) Office of TTMIST and the Research, Extension and External Affairs (REEA) Office of TTMIST in Calbayog City , Samar .
This workshop is jointly funded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the TTMIST. The founding of the Lamiraw Literary Arts Organization, an arts discipline at TTMIST, on August 24, 2004 gave way to the conception of said workshop by its convenor Mr. Phil Harold L. Mercurio, a faculty member of the Institute who is a product of the UP Visayas Creative Writing Program (UP VISWRITE) in Tacloban City .
Instrumental in the creation of this Samar-based workshop is Prof. Merlie Alunan, the director of the UP VISWRITE and the NCCA Regional Coordinator for Eastern Visayas in the Committee for Literary Arts (CAL) from 2004-2007. Her full support and care giving to this workshop made an open clearing for the growth of Waray literature in Samar , and the whole region, in general. It was on February 25, 2004 when the 1 st Lamiraw Creative Writing Workshop was launched in consonance with the National Arts Month. From then onwards, it was agreed upon by the Lamiraw Executive Committee to hold the said workshop in the month of November during the semester break to allow young writers in the academe to participate in said workshop.
Dr. Aida L. Tobes, former VP for Academic Affairs of TTMIST in 2004-2005, and Dr. Socorro O. Bohol, college president in 2006 to date, are the workshop directors who handled the said activity during their watch. Among those who served as Lamiraw EXECOM members and coordinators are Dr. Remedios T. Tomnob, VP for REEA; Dr. Gabriela T. Sabenicio, coordinator of ASCA; Dr. Judith Reyes, former coordinator of the TTMIST student publication; Dr. Lorna O. De Veyra, former dean of the Student Affairs and Related Services (SARS); and Mr. Phil Harold L. Mercurio, Lamiraw Adviser.
The panellists that have been part of the Lamiraw Workshop since 2004 are Dr. David, Genotiva of Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU); Dr. Victor Sugbo and Prof. Merlie Alunan of UP Tacloban College; Prof. Corazon Almerino of Cebu Normal University (CNU); Mr. Michael Obenieta, former editor of Sun Star Cebu; Mr. Temistokles Adlawan and Mr. Ernesto Lariosa, senior members of the Bathalad Writers Organization in Cebu City; Mr. Dante Rosales of Ibabao Arts Council of Calbayog; Mr. Votaire Oyzon of Leyte Normal University (LNU); Mr. Jethol Paanod of Naval Institute of Technology (NIT); and Ms. Janis Salvacion of Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU). And this year, Dr. Leoncio Deriada, multi-awarded writer and teacher, is invited to sit as a panel member of said workshop.
The target fellows of this workshop are student-writers, teachers handling literature courses, local writers and out-of-school youths (OSY). Works accepted as entries in the selection process are written in Waray, Cebuano, Abaknon and English. To qualify as fellow, aspirants need to submit 3 poems, 1 short story, 2 essays, 1 one-act play, or any reasonable combination of the above mentioned genres.
At present, the Lamiraw Writers of TTMIST are looking forward to come up with a publication which is a collection of works generated in its five years of existence. And the assumption into office this year of Dr. Victor N. Sugbo, NCCA Regional Coordinator for the Literary Arts, sees more projects to come for the cultivation and strengthening of Waray literature and the continuity of the Lamiraw Workshop in the coming years.
SOMETHING AND SOMEPLACE
" Poetry is writing about something
happening somewhere ?"
We almost wanted to turn this popular
query-sounding adage by J. Neil Garcia into a
ring tone. It was repeated too often (thanks to
poet/actor Vic Nierva) that it was starting to
get into our system. From time to time one of
us would blurt it out, almost subconsciously,
as if the insight is a wave of mobile phone frequency
arresting our minds. Then it would come out, well,
like a ring tone.
On call were some of the most prolific
and assertive Bikol writers on the occasion of
the 3 rd Juliana Arejola Fajardo Workshop for
Bikol Writing on May 18-20. Convened by poet Carlo
A. Arejola and the Arejola Foundation for Social
Responsibility, it was co-sponsored by civic groups
Rotary Club of Isarog and Pili: Banwaan Ko,
Padangat Ko . Literary bloodletting was to
ensue at the Training Center of Camarines Sur
State Agricultural College right there in Pili
under the directorship of Jose Jason L. Chancoco
with Jocelyn Bisuña and Jaime Jesus Borlagdan
as lead panelists. Bikol writers Kristian Cordero
and Estelito Jacob also came for a visit and sat
as guest panelists.
The writing fellows whose works
in Bikol, Filipino and English were put under
careful scrutiny were Joy B. Bagasala and Maricris
F. Bongalos of Pili, Camarines Sur; Helga Andrea
R. Casillan, Nona Mikhaila R. Casillan, Ma. Rizza
Icaranom, Edgar Ramores and Victor Dennis T. Nierva
of Naga City; Noel B. Dorente of Tabaco, Albay;
and Nestor Alagbate of Daet, Camarines Norte.
A new feature for this year's write
shop was the presence of teacher-participants
designed to familiarize teachers of literature
with the psychology of the creative writing process
and the psychiatry of the workshop scenario. Coming
from various highschools and colleges across the
province, they were: Cora A. Arejola, Salvacion
C. Aballa, Emerlina S. Arnante, Ma. Shiela Fortuno,
Janet B. Fabay, Ma. Janina B. Catimbang, Alice
Abergos, Rita N. Talay, Mylene P. Ababa, Amelia
T. Ambion, Dr. Marietta A. Tataro, Fritz T. Nuyles,
Nelly C. Aguilar, and Rene Eugenia B. Mercado.
They were all active during the workshop/lecture
sessions with some even planning to come back
next year as writing fellows.
Also sharing their observations
and readings were writer-participants Marissa
R. Casillan, Ramon Olaño Jr., Michelle
Bayos and Vanessa Mae F. Joven.
Truly, regional creative writing
workshops locate the geography of language and
aesthetics. It is here where owners of a certain
literary tradition try to assess and re-examine
themselves in relation with contemporary writing.
In our case, it was for our very own Bikol literature.
For who will have a more genuine concern for the
many Bikol languages than the Bikol writers themselves?
Need for More Research
It is all about something that
is Bikol and someplace that is Bikol. This was
reasserted by the 'Grandma' of Bikol literature,
UP Professor Emeritus Ma. Lilia F. Realubit, PhD
in her keynote speech. Recovering from thyroid
cancer, she could not join us but sent her niece,
Eunice Alanis of Mom's Radio FM to read the message
in her stead. She urged us to 'know the core and
the essence of things'. Sometimes things need
further examining for they are not always what
they seem. There are various cultural forces-hybridities
in many artistic articulations. The Ibalong is
not spared from this, and for Tia Lil, this means
many years more of rigorous research.
'Bikol must resurface', she says.
So far so good and it is going
for the better. There are new publications supportive
of Bikol writing such as the Bikol Reporter, Bicol
Mail, Bangraw, Burak, Ani, Hingowa, The Pillars,
Pegasus, T-Bloc, Dalityapi Unpoemed, A Critical
Survey of Philippine Literature, Muse Apprentice
Guild, E-Manila, Panitikan.Com.Ph and not to mention
Salugsog sa Sulog publisher OragonRepublic.Com.
The Premio Tomas para sa Literaturang Bikolnon
is now on its third year with Irigueños
bringing home gold medallions. The current list
of grandprize winners includes Kristian Cordero,
Rizaldy Manrique, Jose Jason Chancoco, Francisco
Peñones and Sonny Sendon. The academe has
expressed support and just recently, the University
of Northeastern Philippines and the Ateneo de
Naga University hosted a lecture on the Premio
by De La Salle University professor and Bikol
scholar Dr. Paz Verdades Santos. She focused on
the 'Orag' of Cordero and the 'Juan Osong' dexterity
Poetics and Performance
For their turn during the workshop,
HighChair founder Allan Popa and Bikol Reporter
columnist Francisco Peñones lectured on
poetics and performance poetry respectively. Popa
muses, " Sa tula, para mahuli mo ang totoo,
kailangan mong magsinungaling ." For him
poetry is an interrogation of silence, of the
self, and an eternal revolt against the blank
page. It is an attempt on permanence and yet always
in the state of transit and becoming. For him
too much certainty in poetry should be avoided
for this art is just a means for both poet and
reader to arrive at an understanding of certain
things. And one must be wary of the gravity of
artistry in the subtlety of ordinary experience.
And he points to one's neighborhood and locality
as primary source for materials in poetry.
Critics say that Bikol literary
culture is ever-present. Only that it comes in
the form of oral tradition still evident among
rural folks. It is also dynamic and appropriates
other cultural forces pressing against it. The
native genius sometimes is never published. One
source of discussion during the workshop was Noel
Dorente's "Tigsikalampunay" and its attempt to
show modifications on the form of the oral tigsik
while retaining its didactic tendency. While its
title reminds us of some of Vim Nadera's poems,
it is in a way new as compared with the oral tigsik
delivered without a title except for the common
"tigsikan". But it has to have something to do
'tigsik' on, like a person or an object-or even
a concept. And true, there are non-didactic samples
of this poetic form but there are also didactic
ones as oral tradition has that pragmatic value.
As in the Haliya and its function in
driving away the moon-eating Bakunawa.
Also, Nestor Alagbate's 'Sabi ni
Pay: Sarong Bulan na Osipon' expertly simulates
the tradition of spontaneous story-telling with
the same didactic tendency further enhanced by
an ariwaga (Bikol two-liner proverb
with syllabication and rhyme) at the end of each
narrative. Since Alagbate himself admitted that
some parts of his piece are indeed derived from
existing oral tradition, we suggested that he
separates the product of his own creativity from
what he simply recorded.
Tree Planting and Solidarity
As they say, show not tell. And
so Frank Peñones, the 'Mr. Suave' of Bikol
literature demonstrated the difference between
performance art and performance poetry during
the Solidarity Night. Needless to say, others
soon followed, writing fellows and friends performing
Nestor Alagbate's osipon ; the Salakab
Theater group doing excerpts of the Vagina Monologues;
actress Aira Bisuña crooning 'Go not gently
into that good night!', Luther Matel Jorqia doing
stand-up comedy, Noel Dorente surprising everyone
with a cappella renditions of his original songs,
Issa Casillan exclaiming 'Minapoon sa palibot
an paglalang!'-All this with a little help from
rounds of tuba .
Another feature for the writers'
night this year was the 'Come (looking, sounding)
as Your Favorite Filipino Writer and Get a Shot
at Fame'. That is why Nierva's imitation of J.
Neil Garcia, should come as no surprise. Heck,
he could even do Butch Dalisay's 'When I came
home from Michigan.' and 'Hey folks!' with voice
modulation and all. Jo Bisuña appeared
as the ever-radiant Joi Barrios, Luther as stethoscope
toting and storytelling physician Dr. Luis Gatmaitan,
and Carlo as master poet Ricky de Ungria. And
this writer was sort of contemplating of doing
a Rio Alma, reading one of his Bulawan editorials
that goes, "Bakit daw ako "Nativist"?" But then
again, the tuba , it made me drowsier
Good thing we woke up early for
the Pili tree-planting activity around CSSAC campus
the next day. This activity is almost the main
point why we hold this workshop. In fact, it is
so important that those who cannot attend it need
not apply. This year, the seedlings were in the
name and honor of Rudy Alano, Janetlyn Go-Alano,
Christine Bellen, Frank Peñones, Hon. Gabby
Bordado, Carlos Briones, Fr. James O' Brien, S.J.,
Fr. Carlos Abesamis, S.J., Jazmin Llana, Gode
Calleja, Luis Cabalquinto, Prof. Evelyn Soriano,
Prof. Ma. Lilia F. Realubit, PhD., Tito Valiente,
Jun Balde, Danilo DM. Savilla, Leonardo D. Sureta,
Jose Pardalis, Pedro B. Francia, Manuel V. Avilla,
Jr., Henry A. Mabesa, Alberto M. Cabrera, Cecilio
L. Obias, Sec. Damian F. Bresnan, and Rotary of
Isarog President Armin B. Guinto.
Naga City, June 2, 2006
The First Iligan National
Writers Workshop – Pioneering Literary Development
WE were a participant in the successful
Iligan National Writers Workshop held the first
week of May 1994. It was a historical event, to
say the least, since, for the first time, writers
from south of the country acquired the long-needed
voice and forum for their creative consciousness.
Conceived as a national workshop where the best
poets, fictionist, and dramatists can interact
and discuss their works, credit for its realization
must be given to the officers, teachers, and staff
of Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute
of Technology, specifically Vice Chancellor Jimmy
Y. Balacuit of the Office of Research and Extension;
Dr. Jaime An Lim, Workshop Director; Christine
Godinez-Ortega, Workshop Co-Director; Dr. Anthony
Tan, Resident Panelist; Ralph Semino Galan, Chair
of the Secretariat; and Ferdie Areola, Chair of
the Accommodations Committee. Our humble contribution
was suggesting to Tony and Jaime, when they visited
us in the Panorama office the other September,
the need for Iligan writers to concretize such
a workshop. We never thought that they would do
so in such a short time.
The workshop was held also in conjunction
with a Literature Teachers Conference, in the
belief that the thirty or so mentors, mostly from
Visayas and Mindanao, could learn from the discussions
in the workshop. And they did so, on their own
admittance at the end of the week, especially
concerning matters of teaching methodologies,
materials, and philosophy. The panelists gave
them particular lectures on these areas and their
involvement in the workshop enabled us to consider
literature from both the creative and the educationist
points of view. The output of such an encounter
will undeniably be of much help to future classroom
Discussions and criticisms during
the workshop were enlivened by diverse perspectives
and experiences coming from the fellows. Luzon
was represented by J. Neil Garcia, Camilo Villanueva,
Jr., Charlson Ong, and Jim Pascual San Agustin;
Visayas by Felino Garcia, Jr., Ma. Milagros Geremia,
and Dino Enriquez V. Deriada; and Mindanao by
Eduardo P. Ortega, Eulogia Salalima, Nancy Allen,
Maribel T. Ora, Man V. Gervacio, and Saturnina
S. Rodil. The level of discourse was generally
high, with theoretical frameworks from New Criticism,
Post-colonialism, Pragmatism, Reconstruction and
Ethical Criticism being brought in to bear light
on the literary works under consideration by panelists
Leoncio Deriada, Steven Patrick Fernandez, Anthony
Tan, Jaime An Lim, Christine Godinez-Ortega, and
Cirilo F. Bautista (whose wife, Rosemarie, was
conceded as an unofficial special panelist). Some
of the poems were so exceptional that we have
asked their author’s permission to have
them published in future issues of Panorama.
The formal opening ceremonies of
the workshop took place on May 2 at Café
Hermoso. The Church, the city administration,
and the academe were represented. The Most Rev.
Fernando Capalla, Bishop of Iligan diocese, gave
the invocation; Mayor Alejo Yañez sent
a proxy, Kagawad Pedro Generalao, to read his
welcome speech; MSU President Emily M. Marohombsar
articulated the importance of writers in national
development, of literature to teachers, and culture
as a component of the national soul. She cited
her own initiatives in supporting the arts as
head of the biggest academic community in the
South. “Writers are an endangered species,”
she said, but they “draw out the richness
of life in their works,” providing teachers
and readers with “a bridge to various worlds.”
We found her speech a blend of intellectualism
and common sense, based on a correct understanding
of the role of the humanities in social progress.
She invited us to visit the Marawi campus –
“a most beautiful place,” she said
– but we doubted if we could, given our
tight schedule. Perhaps next year, we told her,
if the workshop organizers could include a session
outside Lanao del Norte.
Then the panelists and fellows
were introduced to the guests, after which Dr.
Bienvenido Lumbera, 1993 Magsaysay Awardee for
Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication
Arts, delivered the keynote speech. Focusing on
the theme of the writer and the institutions of
learning, Lumbera averred that “literature
today is largely a product of the academe,”
that in fact one could not think of writing in
the country apart from the schools. This, of course,
is true, especially in the case of our literature
in English which was spawned by the American educational
system. Its language and awareness took roots
and blossomed in the classrooms. Now, because
of education’s empowering values, even our
literatures in other languages have academic configurations.
Yearly, upon graduation, writers from the campuses
join the national literary streams.
Because of this, Lumbera suggested
a re-appraisal of our historical heritage vis-à-vis
the literary craft. “To what extent must
the Philippine writers allow themselves to be
constricted” by western norms acquired in
college? He asserted that the search for identity
is no longer the concern of the writers, but creative
freedom – “to break the confines that
limit creativity, to interrogate the past, as
it were.” This is a form of subversion,
he said, for the sake of liberating the literary
mind so that it could soar to new heights and
expand its magnitude. Though academic standards
have a strong historicity, they can be reshaped
to answer the imperatives of the present, thus
making the writers attuned to the vibrations of
contemporaneity. Lumbera advocated the use of
new modes of interpreting social realities to
widen literary boundaries, for it is an important
tool to creative progress.
Vice Chancellor Balacuit assured
us that the Iligan National Writers Workshop will
continue annually as long as he is in office –
“the funding of next year’s workshop
is already budgeted,” he told us. He is
very supportive of arts and culture, for a head
of a technological university, because he is committed
to creating humanistic men and women of science.
We admire his commitment and look forward to seeing
him and all our writer-friends in Iligan in April
The University of the Philippines
National Writers Workshop
National Writers Workshop was first held
at the COMELEC Compound and the UP College Baguio
from 12 to 24 July 1965. It was a pilot project
proposed by the late UP Pres. Carlos P. Romulo,
and administered by the Department of English
whose Chairman was Dr. Dionisio A. Rola.
From the UP ICW
records, which was received from Rene O. Villanueva
and Herminio S. Beltran Jr., sometime during the
first Writers’ Workshop sponsored by the
then CWC in 1980, the following were the Fellows:
Jorge Arago, Leopoldo Cacnio, José Nadal
Carreon, Julian Dacanay Jr. (+), Romeo Dizon,
Rita Gadi, Erwin Gomez, Edilberto Guerrero, José
Lacaba, Marra PL. Lanot, Clemencia Nativida, Ong
Nai-bon, Emmanuel Osorio, Lourdes Pangilinan,
John Panoy, Armando Ravanzo, Georgina Reyes, Virgilio
Reyes Jr., Rosemarie Romero, Maximiano Tuason,
Wilfredo Pascua Sanchez, Alma de Jesus Tayo &
The records, with
minimal errors, also included the Fellows, the
Visiting Writers and the venues of the six other
Workshops under the aegis of the English Department:
1967, 1969, 1971, 1974, 1976 & 1978. The turnover
of records was not only a happy coincidence, but
also a stroke of luck. Under the directorship
of the late Francisco Arcellana, the CWC tried
to reconstruct the other pertinent files of the
Workshop, but, due to the passage of time, the
Department could not furnish any.
Lasting 13 days,
the Workshop consisted of lectures, discussions,
criticisms of manuscripts, and individual conferences
between the Fellows and the Teaching Staff. The
succeeding Workshops practically followed the
of Washington University and author of The Private
World of Cully Powers served as the Writer-in-Residence.
Mrs. Natalie Bluestone also delivered a lecture
on Jean-Paul Sartre.
Arcellana was the Workshop Director. The Teaching
Staff was composed of Arcellana, Petronilo Bn.
Daroy, Romy V. Diaz, NVM Gonzalez & Alejandrino
G. Hufana, Department of English Ricaredo D. Demetillo
& Virginia R. Moreno, Department of Humanities;
Wilfrido Ma. O Guerrero, Department of Speech
& Drama; & Dominador I. Ilio, College
of Engineering. Prof. Emerenciana Yuvienco-Arcellana
was the official chaperone. The Workshop Fellows
were provided board, lodging & transportation
from Manila and back.
The Workshop ended
on 24 July with the Closing Ceremonies at the
UP College in Baguio Auditorium. Poet and translator
John Ciardi, Poetry Editor of the Saturday Review,
delivered the closing lecture. Pres. Carlos P.
Romulo formally closed the Workshop with a speech
entitled “The Writer’s Freedom and
is a slight problem regarding the number and composition
of the Fellows. The Philippine Collegian press
release on the Workshop – datelined 28 July
1965, p. 1 – listed only 19 Fellows. No
mention of Messrs. Carreon, Gomez, Guerrero &
Sanchez. According to Marra Lanot, Carreon &
Sanchez were later accredited as Fellows for their
attendance in the Workshop. The UP ICW will not
revise the line-up handed down by Messrs. Villanueva
& Beltran, until further notice and incontrovertible
evidence is found.
Dumaguete National Writers
the late Dr. Edilberto K. Tiempo and Dr. Edith
Lopez Tiempo as the Silliman National Writers
Workshop in 1962, the three-week live-in summer
workshop for Philippine writers (writing in and
from English, as well as in any Philippine regional
languages) aims to provide opportunities for interaction
between a panel of established writers and critics,
and the selected writing fellows.
The bases for interaction are the manuscripts
in any of the literary genres submitted by the
writing fellows for reading and analysis. The
panel of discussion is composed of Dr. Edith L.
Tiempo, the director of the program, critics,
and creative writers of the Creative Writing Foundation,
and visiting writers and critics from other countries.
Panelists have included Nick Joaquin, Gregorio
Brillantes, F. Sionil Jose, Alejandro Roces, Gémino
Abad, Ophelia Alcantara-Dimalanta, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo,
among other top writers in the country.
Each manuscript receives varied appraisal and
interpretation from the panel, allowing the fellows
deeper insight into their own performance, the
range and limits of their freedom and responsibility
as literary artists as well as their mastery of
techniques in the craft of creative writing. Years
of application of this analytical procedure have
proven its efficacy in guiding young writers into
self-discovery of the rigorous demands of the
craft and the pleasures of the art of poetry,
fiction, and drama.
The Iyas Creative
Writing Workshop is held every summer in Bacolod
City, Negros Occidental. It was first conducted
in 2001 as a module in that year's Negros Summer
Workshops in Multimedia. Since then, it has grown
into an independent workshop managed by the University
of St. La Salle (USLS) in cooperation with the
Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center and
the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Each year, the
workshop awards fifteen fellowships to writers
from all over the country in the genres of fiction,
poetry, and drama, and the languages English,
Filipino, Cebuano, and Hiligaynon.
Apart from the
critiquing sessions, the workshop activities include
a lecture from one of the panelists, a cultural
tour of historic sites and landmarks in Negros
Occidental, and individual consultation time between
fellows and panelists. The workshop is conducted
in Balay Kalinungan Retreat House, within the
Poet and novelist
Cirilo F. Bautista serves as Workshop Director.
The teaching staff includes writers like Marjorie
Evasco, Elsa Martinez Coscolluela, Leoncio P.
Deriada, Erlinda Alburo, and Vicente Garcia Groyon.
fellowships are accepted beginning January each
year, and the roster of fellows is announced in
CORNELIO FAIGAO MEMORIAL
Also known as the Annual Writers
Workshop of Cebu, it was established in 1984 by
the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of
San Carlos (USC), Cebu City, in honor of the poet-journalist-teacher
Cornelio F. Faigao (1908-1959), whose heirs provided
seed money for the project.
Held annually, usually for three
days in May or October at the Talamban Retreat
House of the USC Talamban Campus in Cebu City,
it is the only regular English-Cebuano workshop
in the country and has expanded to include fellows
from the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao. The
workshop is free, with an average of 20 participants
chosen on the basis of submitted manuscripts.
From 1984 to 1990, 106 have participated as fellows,
resource persons, or panelists.
The resident panelists are Resil
B. Mojares, Simeon Dumdum Jr., and Vicente Bandillo.
Workshop coordinator is Erlinda Alburo. Those who
have served as panelists include Gémino H.
Abad, Rene Estella Amper, Thelma Arambulo, Cesar
Ruiz Aquino, Leoncio P. Deriada, Linda Kalayaan
Faigao, Teresita Gimenez Maceda, Lina Espina-Moore,
Ricardo Patalinjug, Marjorie Evasco, Godofredo Roperos,
Alfrredo Navarro Salanga, Anthony Tan, and Merlie