Traditional, Emerging Literature Share Spotlight at CCP’s Pasinaya

Traditional Literature  CCP’s Pasinaya
LIRA workshop snapshots at the CCP Pasinaya 2024. Photos courtesy of LIRA, CCP, Beverly Siy social media.

Literary arts came well-represented in the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ “Pasinaya” (“inauguration”) Open House Festival 2024 to kick off the month-long celebration of February as the National Arts Month.

With the theme “Sulong” (move forward), a slew of workshops for the entire day of February 3 also showed that moving forward includes looking back at tradition and history, as non-government organization LIRA (Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika at Anyo) conducted a workshop on the use of rhyme, meter, and caesura in writing Filipino poetry.

LIRA Board Member Edbert Darwin Casten, who facilitated the workshop, was pleased with the good turnout of people at the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez parking tent to learn about poetry. “The goal is to conserve history while innovating the art form and the only way to do that is to know the past. Once we’re fully aware of what happened in the past we’d be able to hone it to form a better style thus helping the art form grow.”

Aside from LIRA, two authors came to talk to the eager crowd about literary forms that may not be new, but could be considered emerging in prominence within the country. Jemson Cayetano, author of dagli (Filipino flash fiction) collections “Ang Prilanser” (the Freelancer) and Tatlumpu’t Isang Tig-Iisang Daan (Thirty-one with a Hundred Each) led the workshop “Madali Lang ang Dagli”  (Dagli is Easy). Cayetano, whose favorite encouragement is “magtipid sa salita, hindi sa sasabihin” (be thrifty with words, not with what you want to say), was equally surprised at the audience’s reaction to his topic. “It was my first time giving a writing workshop, but I am happy sharing some insights and techniques that work for me as a writer.”

Regarding the acceptance of publishers and readers for dagli as an art form, Cayetano said, “I am seeing the increasing relevance of dagli or flash fiction as an adaptation to the changing mindset and personality of the newer generation. The pace of life is getting faster and faster, as our art forms.” While he admits that this could be seen as a way of catering to people’s decreasing attention span, “dagli also encourages us to be more resourceful, imaginative, efficient, and appreciative of the little things.”

Check out the Pasinaya’s LIRA tent in these photos from Beverly Siy:

Equally enthusiastic in sharing his experiences as an author, Renato Tranquilino is proud to share the futuristic timeline of his science fiction books and how they relate to each other. Author of the Filipino science fiction novel “Fate of a Distant Future”, Tranquilino led the workshop “Things you wanted to know about Pinoy Scifi but don’t know who to ask.” Regarding the current state of the science fiction genre in the country, he said, “It is still not as prominent as romance and horror. Hopefully, in time it will be at par with these two and I am one of many trying to get it up there.”

Regarding the future of Filipino sci-fi, Tranquilino said, “For me, I would like to see Pinoy Sci-Fi at the Oscars, or at least showing at the Cannes Film Festival.  Again, this is something I am working on with a local studio to try and get it up to that level. It may take four to five years to do it, but no doubt, Pinoys will start to see something by 2025.”

Tranquilino further wowed the crowd by ending his presentation with his vision of how his novel would look like as a movie. Despite the big dreams though, he still finds it unexpected that people wish to get his autograph. “I was very surprised, (and) the books I wrote were on display because I needed to try and explain how they connect in the Universe of things.”

Check out the Pasinaya tent in these photos:

Another author, Cymbeline Villamin, will get to enjoy her novel being given a unique treatment at the arts festival. A chapter of her novel “Ang Maghuhurno” (The Baker) is being presented as a play on the 4th of February. In a recent radio interview, Villamin related how her novel was chosen to be presented at the CCP.

“They (CCP) contacted my publisher, Ms. Cindy Wong (Chief Executive Officer of 8Letters Publishing, who also publishes Cayetano’s and Tranquilino’s books), and my novel got chosen to be presented.” Instead of usual actors, she said that the people who would act in the play were fellow writers themselves, Cris Santos, Ernest Enriquez, and Paula Alagao.

Regarding her journey as a writer, Villamin said, “Writing is my life. It gives me catharsis and healing. Recently I had my second mastectomy. I would be writing about it, to make sense of why after fifteen cancer-free years, cancer haunts me again. I have to write about all the major events in my life. Because I have not lived life fully until I have written about it.”

The CCP Pasinaya which runs until today, February 5th, offers numerous shows and other activities for other art forms like music, theater, dance, visual arts and film. Aside from the CCP complex in Manila, activities will also be held in Iloilo City and Tagum, Davao Del Norte.

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Edelio P. De los Santos is a former journalist and BPO worker. His work has been previously published in Santelmo quarterly literary magazine, the poetry collection Pintanaga: Linya-linya ng Pagsinta, and with 8Letters Publishing: poetry collections Alamat ng Santol Atbp. and Sa Pagkain Sana; and novella Sa Muling Pagsikat ng Araw, and short stories in Circles Magazine and Pinoy SciFi anthology They Came From The Rivers. He is also a member of Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika at Anyo (LIRA), the oldest organization of poets writing in Filipino. He grew up in Baler, Aurora, and currently lives in Metro Manila with his family and cats.