Writers’ Festival (Taboan 2013) experience

“Things never happen the same way twice, dear one…” goes a most loved line from C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. And indeed, this is the truth of life. For even if you could go back in time, you could never capture the feelings in the moment equal to the ones you had at the time. Why? Because you went back to that event with a new perspective, a new ideal from the time you left. Therefore, you won’t feel and do the same thing about that event.

I, ever the imaginative dreamer (no bragging involved), had tried to picture myself out in the Philippine Writers’ Festival with a different scenario. Like I was in college with my friends accompanying me, it was quite good but it didn’t feel right to me. In fact, I even felt like I was tampering with a very sacred occasion. I didn’t get the exhilarating feeling of excitement and giddy nervousness I had when I first knew of my invitation to the event, the childish optimism I held in my heart for my experience in the Festival and most of all, the sense of fulfilment and awe at having met with different distinguished Philippine writers and shared with them several experiences of being a colleague in a chosen profession.

To tell you the truth, being in the Taboan 2013 led to fulfilling many firsts in my life.

  1. I went to Manila for the first time and stayed there for even a few hours, which was a pretty good experience to me.
  2. I got to Dumaguete which I had never visited before even if I wanted to, because it is near my father’s hometown, Bacolod and my grandmother’s birthplace, Aklan.
  3. I had the most weird and wonderful surprise at our school since it was the first time in their history that a student went without a chaperone in a conference to represent the school.
  4. I met for the first time the Greats of our Philippine Literature, which made me, aspire to be like them someday.
  5. I shared ideas with professors, college deans, and other professionals chiefly, to fearlessly express my writing style to them.
  6.  I finally knew the true meaning of a Market (Taboan) – in the writers’ circle – when I went to Taboan.
  7. I checked in a hotel and used an elevator for the first time in my life.

And perhaps many more things, that I simply cherish in my heart for the rest of my life.

A million thanks to Father Albert Alejo and Mr. Marion B. Guerrero for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! I owe everything in my experience of the Taboan 2013 to you, guys!

So it’s really the best to make the most wonderful of something right at the instant it appears before your eyes. By that perspective I feel that all the experiences, all the memories I made here with other people are irreplaceable and so infinitely unforgettable.

In that perspective, I learned so many things during the Taboan that I believe I must share to you.

There, I learned that one must be careful in his writing, so as not to hurt anything or anybody in the process. Just like in the Lecture Gender Factor, we must write, still respecting even homosexuals and equal men and women, and promote the good things that each of these groups have in their own way, despite their differences in each other. We must not be afraid to change our status quo, as long as we know that we’re doing the right thing, for the better good of many.

We must also learn all about the things we write so that there are no details that can be mistaken by the readers when they read. For example, I fondly remember Leoncio Deriada, prolific writer and critic as he said: “When you write about the people in the barrios, go to the barrios themselves…” Precise must be the undertaking to research every single detail to your story – the setting, the characters, the theme, absolutely everything! – so that the story will be a success.

That includes the language or medium that you would use to write your story. The lectures in Translations of Texts proved beneficial to all the delegates, as they plan to use the vernacular dialects along with the English language. In this way, they can fit in with the international community whilst retaining their heritage.

Then I delighted in knowing that I wasn’t the only one to feel that I must revise my work from time to time, even to the point that I was already in a crazy frenzy. I learned that every writer had this kind of syndrome, as they want the best of their skills to surface in their works. We all have visions of the things we plan to write. However, a vision cannot right away be perfect and a masterpiece. To produce preciseness and fineness in your desired work, you must make revisions. There may be errors wherein some ideas may be considered irrelevant so they must be replaced with the more appropriate ones, or some ideas are lacking in their structure and content that they must be augmented with others that are related to them.

Most importantly, aside from the formation of friendships that I hope would last a lifetime, I got from the Festival a sense of patriotic zeal to make my country, the Philippines, proud. Writers, they say, are a dying breed. It is through activities like the Writers’ Workshops and the Philippine Writers’ Festival that we can do something about this. This Philippine Writers’ Festival has opened my eyes to the beautiful realm of Philippine Literature, and the rich culture we have, withstanding all that the Western world offers.

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