2013 Taboan Writers' Fest Turns Spotlight on Visayan Literature and Laureates

Article excerpt

Some people seemingly draw a distinction between local and national writers and their works of art. Hence, provincial writers apparently feel "left out" and find it hard to reach a wider audience and gain a greater sense of appreciation. Consequently, an extensive issue on the significance of our nationhood comes into the picture.

The Cebu-based historian, critic, and fictionist Resil Mojares pointed out the problems of 'local' writers and academicians in his keynote address, "The Nation in the Visayan Imagination," in the recently concluded fifth Taboan Writers' Festival held in Dumaguete City.

According to him, the literary situation today is that writers and works have to be recognized in Manila for them to acquire the status of 'national'.

Cebuano writers (or any local poets for that matter) who have published vernacular materials in thousands are considered 'local' while authors from Manila with lesser materials are deemed 'national' writers.

The discussion continued on the plenary session ("Your Place at the Writer's Table") on the importance of having an inclusive 'national' literature-where no one must be consigned to oblivion- amidst the perceived snobbery of established writers on 'local' and younger generation of talents. In addition to this situation, the Philippine writers-creative thinkers, poets, essayists, novelists, scholars, academicians-are constantly fazed with problems rooting from the changing times: the country's diverse language spoken, 'writers' cliques', proliferation of social media, and the youth's inclination toward non-reading habits.

Despite all these, Taboan 2013 finds the reason to recognize and celebrate the icons, focusing on the Visayan laureates, for their contributions to Philippine letters amidst the challenges posted above.

Dumaguete City, dubbed as the country's "University Town", seemed to be the most apt location for the festivity. It houses Silliman University, which holds the pioneer and longest-running writing workshop in the country. The National Artist Edith Tiempo and husband Edilberto founded the writing seminar that produced and nourished great literary personalities of today. …