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July 14, 2009
The 5th Lamiraw Regional Creative Writing Workshop
Mr. Phil Harold L. Mercurio
Untitled Document

    The Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology (TTMIST) takes pride in successfully hosting the 5th Lamiraw Regional Creative Writing Workshop on November 5-7, 2008 in Calbayog City, Samar. This half-a-decade advocacy in reviving the Golden Years of Waray literature is such a phenomenal achievement of the Institute after it opened its first eventful workshop in 2004 with only fifteen fellows then. The significance of this workshop rested on the idea that it fostered a new breed of young writers in Eastern Visayas, both from the academe and the barrio folks. Thus, emergent writers of Waray poetry and short story have been composed restoring the lost luster of local writings since the time of Trinchera, Lucente, Macabenta, Gomez, and De Veyra.

    Once again, it is felt in the veins of the Waray people that the tide of time for the Renaissance of Waray Literature is underway. This language, literary and cultural revival is not just a success of the people in Region VIII, but a bright promise for the resurgence of Visayan literature and the development of Philippine Literature as well which the writers from the South have painstakingly labored as their humble contribution in the writing of our National Literature. Language and literature which are at the core of our culture have actually preserved the very soul of our people, and such awareness has led us to discover that our identity as Filipinos and particularly as Visayans is enriched by our multilingual and multicultural background. It is on this premise that the 5th Lamiraw Regional Creative Writing Workshop is founded.

    With the working theme "An pagsurat siday pagparig-on san aton pinulungan" (To write poetry is to strengthen our language.), emergent writers in Eastern Visayas have been optimistic that this literary undertaking in Samar will pave the way for the intellectualization of said local languages. Likewise, this effort supports the preservation of the two major languages in the Philippines-Waray and Cebuano, and, eventually, giving a helping hand in preventing the demise of an indigenous tongue-the Abaknon language. Basically, its importance is rooted on the idea of building a strong region, especially in the area of culture and the arts wherein Calbayog has been one of the major stakeholder cities in Region VIII, active in promoting arts and culture and producing artists in various disciplines from theater to visual arts, film, dance, music, song writing, literature, and the like. This level of consciousness signals the dawn of a new wave of cultural development in this part of the country. This is something that the Waray people could truly be proud of.

    The said workshop was a joint venture of various institutions, such as, the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), a government agency under the Office of the President of the Republic which has remained to be a major partner in this noble pursuit for the last five years where the bigger chunk of funding (P155,000) came. Likewise, partnership was established with the UP Tacloban VisWrite, a UP-based Creative Writing Program in Tacloban managed by Prof. Merlie M. Alunan; the Arts and Culture Office of TTMIST chaired by Dr. Gabriela T. Sabenicio; the Office of the Research Extension and External Affairs spearheaded by Dr. Remedios T. Tomnob; the TTMIST administration through our energetic and ever supportive College President, Dr. Socorro O. Bohol who facilitated the school's counter funding of P156,000.00 in the form of services and housing, making a combined cost of the project of P311,000.00; and the Lamiraw Literary Arts Organization through their adviser and convenor, Mr. Phil Harold L. Mercurio who laid down the groundwork of the workshop. Such activity yielded a very tremendous result not only for the NCCA and TTMIST, the funding institutions, respectively, but most especially for the participants or the fellows. Moreover, the assumption into office in 2008 of Dr. Victor Sugbo, the NCLA Regional Coordinator of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts paved the way for the continuity of the workshop and an intensified vigor in promoting Waray writings in the Region. In general, everything turned out a success because of the good partnership of the NCCA and the TTMIST over the years in promoting the cultivation of culture and arts in this part of the country, particularly in the field of literature.

   The 5th Lamiraw Workshop at TTMIST was a symbol of rebirth of Waray writings in Eastern Visayas. Lamiraw, ultimately, became a banquet of siday (poems) and halipot nga estorya (short story) in Calbayog City every year. Being an offshoot of the UP Visayas Creative Writing Program based in UP Tacloban, the said literary undertaking was committed to cultivating the elegance of Waray language in the cultural heritage of the Waray-speaking people. In one way or another, this worthwhile project was a way of claiming authority, dignity and political clout (Alunan, 2005) of Waray language being one of the major languages in the Philippines. Waray Literature as a field of art was given emphasis to be developed among the Waray speakers to restore the exuberance of the literary spirit in Leyte, Samar and Biliran.

Objectives
The 5th Lamiraw Regional Creative Writing Workshop was anchored on the following objectives and expected outputs:
1. Expose young writers in Eastern Visayas on contemporary Waray literature, Cebuano literature, and Abaknon literature , as well as Philippine literature in English. 
2. Enhance the writing techniques of emergent writers on contemporaneous literature. 
3. Create a venue for the discussion of literature and literary studies.
4. Encourage the creation of literature in the Waray language, Cebuano language  and Abaknon language-the languages spoken in Eastern Visayas, as a way of expanding the frontiers of Philippine literature.
5. Elevate progress on creative writing in Region VIII by introducing young or emergent writers both to indigenous literary craft and more contemporaneous models of writing. 
6. Encourage book production, and
7. Serve the needs of literature teachers in Eastern Visayas.

Description of the Project
    This was a region-wide creative writing workshop which was conceived by Mr. Phil Harold L. Mercurio, the adviser of the TTMIST Lamiraw Literary Arts Organization with the support and motivation of the College President, Dr. Socorro O. Bohol; the VP for Research, Extension and External Affairs, Dr. Remedios T. Tomnob; and the Coordinator of Arts, Social and Cultural Affairs (ASCA), Dr. Gabriela T. Sabenicio. This, too, was realized through the support of Dr. Victor N. Sugbo, the NCLA Coordinator for Eastern Visayas who was the witness to the track record established by TTMIST in the conduct of the regional creative writing workshop in Calbayog City, Samar for the four previous activities. Like in the previous years, the workshop was run for three days and fellows from different parts of Eastern Visayas were invited to showcase their poems, short stories, and other writings in Waray, Cebuano, or Abaknon. NCCA-accredited panelists were invited to share their knowledge and expertise to the fellows who were eager to listen to their literary criticism. The panelists came from UP Tacloban, Eastern Visayas Sate University (EVSU), Leyte Normal University (LNU), Naval Institute of Science and Technology (NIT), and Calbayog City through the Ibabao Arts Council of Calbayog. The three-day program was drawn by the Lamiraw Literary Arts Organization with its adviser. The collaborative action of the EXECOM and the Lamiraw Literary Arts Organization made the 5th Lamiraw a great success which had caught the attention of the panelists as an improvement from the preceding workshops and being able to invite more writers not just from Region VIII but also from Luzon and Mindanao.

    The largest portion of the budgetary allocation of the workshop came from the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) amounted to Php 155,000.00. It covered the expenses for personnel services, transportation allowance for both panelists and fellows, food allowance, and the documentation of the workshop. TTMIST, likewise, put up its counter part of Php156,000.00 for other expenses, e.g. venue, electricity, lodging, water, sound system, LCD projector, laptops, desktop computer units, printers, digital camera, digital video camera, xerox machines, fax machine, transportation vehicles, etc.

Actual Implementation
    The workshop was done for three days from November 5-7, 2008.
The panelists from UP Tacloban came all the way from Tacloban. Some participants including the panelists and some fellows outside Calbayog City were billeted at the TTMIST Hostel; while some were placed in very comfortable and safe inns in Calbayog City. It was sought to it that they were served with safety and comfort throughout the workshop which included water dispenser to ensure safe drinking water, efficient communication, with fully-air-conditioned rooms and cable television sets and comfort rooms. Moreover, the panelists were provided laptops for their power point presentation.

    As stipulated in the itinerary of the panelists and participants, they had to come a day before the workshop--that was November 4, 2008. So, the project coordinator made follow-up calls just to make sure they were kept posted of the program of activities. Upon arrival, they were billeted right away to their respective places and a welcome dinner was tendered for them at the I's Plant Hotel in Recone Drive, Calbayog City.

November 5, 2008
    The 5th Lamiraw Creative Writing Workshop commenced with the registration and distribution of workshop kits at 8:00 in the morning. The opening program, anchored by Lamiraw members, Angelo Velarde and Rhea Lavendia, followed. The program started with the multimedia invocation and singing of the Philippine National Anthem. With her usual enthusiasm, Dr. Gabriela T. Sabenicio, TTMIST Arts, Social and Cultural Affairs coordinator, gave the rationale of the workshop. She underscored the primary objective of the workshop which was to hone aspiring writers to their creative excellence. To introduce the participants to the City of Calbayog, especially the newcomers, a multimedia presentation was played regarding its history, people, culture and economy. The audience was much astound when another multimedia presentation showcasing the history of the Lamiraw Workshop was shown. Soon after, Dr. Socorro O. Bohol, TTMIST College President, conveyed her welcome message to the panelists, fellows, auditors and other guests of the workshop. Right after the talk of the college president, Dr. Remedios T. Tomnob, Vice President for Research, Extension and External Affairs, introduced the panelists; Mr. Phil Harold Mercurio, Project Coordinator, introduced the NCCA fellows; and Dr. Judith V. Reyes, Chair of the Languages Area, presented the workshop auditors. Then, Dr. Avelina N. Bergado, Vice President of Academic Affairs, expressed her goodwill for the activity when she delivered her closing remarks. The NCCA Regional Coordinator on Literary Arts, Dr. Victor N. Sugbo, gave the workshop briefing afterwards.

    Dr. David Genotiva, panelist, gave the significant characteristics of a poem. The poems entitled "Duha nga mga Pagtug-an" and "Palatay-latayan han Bana ni Isay" written by Arthur Macabasag were the first two poems scrutinized by the panelists, emphasizing that the author's approach to writing the poem was very similar to that of a known local poet. In the middle of their discussion of the poems, the panelists gave additional pointers for the writers for them to improve their craft. Dr. Genotiva highlighted that the last line of the first piece was said to be not culturally truthful; while Dr. Sugbo pointed out that the second piece was not a poem at all, since it did not define the communication context.

    "An Tanom nga Lubi" and "Bongalos nga Sangkay," both of the same author, were likewise critiqued by the panel. The first poem was said to be noisy, merely making declaratives instead of pictures. Dr. Sugbo even added that it did not give any insight while the second one reminded him of a folksong. Despite those comments, the author, Mrs. Dolores Pitao, appeared receptive. "Bisperas" and "Waray Libang," by Jessie Baldomaro were also grilled by the panelists. Dr. Sugbo emphasized that an image was essential in the unfolding of the poem and that aspect in writing poetry had not been developed by the author. "Waray LIbang" appeared rather flat, according to Prof. Alunan.
    In the afternoon, came the next set of poems critiqued followed: "Alop san Gugma" and "Payong" by Ms. Rhea Rosales. The piece "Alop san Gugma," according to Dr. Genotiva did not succeed in the figurative level, while the latter, according to Mr. Rosales, had sexual undertones.

    The poems of Edwin Briones "Karatawo" and "Balangaw 1" followed. Based on the observation of Dr. Genotiva and Prof. Merlie Alunan, they both agreed that the said poem succeeded. Alunan further pointed out that the poem was carefully written and it worked to its limits. "Paghuraw han Uran" and "An Imo mga Rosas" by Imelda Ruiz were likewise discussed. Prof. Alunan emphasized that the poem "Paghuraw han Uran" had a clear narrative strategy and it signaled transitions. But Dr. Genotiva pointed out that the frog as a metaphor did not advance to insights and Dr. Sugbo suggested to omit the last stanza to strengthen the desire of the persona to go back to childhood.

    The poems "Alibangbang" and "Kahidlaw" by Kevin Capablanca were also put under fire by the panelists. The last poem was considered very noisy, however.

November 6, 2008
    The second day started with the critiquing of the first set of pieces written by Mr. Reynel Ignacio, "Paglili san Naglabay" and "SIday." Dr. Sugbo mentioned that the image of the poem was good because of its riddling quality; however, it still needed to create a situation wherein the poet had to control emotion. Prof. Alunan said that the haiku procedure was very evident in the poem "Paglili san Naglabay." However, Dr. Sugbo insisted on the principle of quantity and relevance. Mr. Paanod suggested that the author should not take the messianic responsibility in the piece "Siday."

    The panelists said Mr. Ryan Labana's "Dampog" used the narrative strategy of unfolding ideas but it lacked functional metaphor. It still had to be revised to elevate the poem into the symbolic level.

    Mr. Joseph Lim's "Saad" and "Mahinaw, Mauli Katapos Panlibod" were likewise tackled. The poems however did not work in the figurative level.
    In the afternoon session, Dr. Lorna De Veyra's poems "Ambot Nala" and "Antiyohos" were the first set of poems scrutinized. The first one was said to be a mere cataloguing of ideas while the second one was said to have a silly procedure, according to Prof. Alunan. Again, the literary piece needed a closer look in its metaphor and tension to create a poem written with so much control.

    The first short story discussed during the workshop was written by Mr. Hermie Sanchez. It was entitled "An Ika-Byente Singko nga Sapatos." The piece, however, was said to be culturally incorrect and it lacked meaning as well as dramatic conflict. Mr. Paanod even emphasized, "It is unrealistically realistic. It does not contain all the elements of fiction."

    The author of the story "Si Undoy ug Ayog," Jondy Arpilleda, was commended for his good command of the language as well as for detail but then again, it lacked conflict. His story still needed to be worked out in order for the story to move.

    Another story of Hermie Sanchez, "Panuhot han Konsensya," was also critiqued. The story lacked details as underscored by the panelists. Prof. Alunan discussed briefly the difference between erotic and pornographic since the story was a description of a sexual act. She underscored, "Sex is a very interesting thing. But please try to read how other good writers deal about it. Study that." A fellow made a comment that the story did not show an insight at all.

    The fiction "Killer Clock" by Ryan Labana received many comments from the panelists as well as from the other workshop fellows. Mr. Paanod mentioned that the piece had a "very poor grammar" and the panelists agreed that the main problem of the piece was the writer's language. Dr. Genotiva pointed out that the story had a melodramatic effect. "The effort to create a terror effect has failed. The style is hysterical. Its title should have been Hysterics," he added.

November 7, 2008
    Yasmin Doctor's "Almost" and "The other Sister" were tackled in the third day of the workshop. Chuck Smith's "Father" and "Confessions" were also discussed.

    The essay of Michael Villas entitled "An Attraction to Light" was commended by the panelists. The author failed, however, to develop his work.

    The poem "Lamiraw" by the traditional writer Nemesio "Totoy" Baldesco was also discussed. The panel gave comments on the persona of the poem to be hazy. Another piece of Baldesco, "Luwa nga Amoral o Ismayling", was also critiqued. The panel members were amazed by the dynamism of the poem in terms of how it sustained the interest of the readers in following the unfolding of the poem. Dr. Victor Sugbo expressed his admiration that this form of poetry had survived in Samar, especially in the hinter lands. The fellows gave praise to the master piece of Baldesco, considered a renowned "Poet Laureate of Calbayog" as recognized by the Ibabao Arts Council of Calbayog. Research retrieval of said literary material in Samar for posterity sake was suggested by the panel members.

    The poems "Mga Lal"la May Gaud" and "Danay" by Dianne Marzol, as well as, the other two poems "Isla Capul" and "Lunsod" by Reza Magdaraog were written in Abaknon language. All the fellows were eager to take hold of the said poems because to their ears it really sounded outlandish. For them the words were incomprehensible, either. The panelists commended the effort done by the project coordinator in inviting Abaknon writers since their tongue was considered an indigenous language. The panelists encouraged them to write more in their native tongue to avoid the extinction of their language. Since it was the first time that writers from Capul joined in said workshop, the quality of their work, as expected by the panel members, was still in the stage of further polishing.

    The three-day workshop ended with a graduation ceremony which started at 7:00 p.m. wherein the workshop participants, panelists and staff were given certificates and a pictorial for documentation purposes followed. They also shared a sumptuous dinner after the program.

Profile of Participants
    The participants of the workshop came from a diverse sectoral representation across Region VIII and outside Region VIII.  Most of them were local writers; some were students, while others were teachers connected to academe.

Profile of Fellows
    Out of 23 fellows, 11 were local writers: Mr. Nemesio "Totoy" Baldesco, a tricycle driver writing traditional poems, the Poet Laureate of Ibabao Arts Council of Calbayog for being a prolific writer in Waray poetry, and a Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Awardee in regional writing; Mr Jessie Baldomaro, a script writer and theater director in Calbayog City, connected with the City Arts and Culture Office (CACO) of Calbayog;  Mr. Edwin Briones, a writer who hailed from Abuyog, Leyte, currently working at the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Marasbaras, Palo, Leyte; Mr. Hermie Sanchez, staff of the Provincial Capitol of Catbalogan, Samar who won a Karangalang Banggit in Waray Poetry Competition sponsored by Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino in 2007 and 2nd Prize Winner in 2008, and a fellow in the Iligan National Writers' Workshop; Mr. Michael Villas, a freelance writer who hailed from Palo, Leyte; Imelda Ruiz, a writer from Tacloban City who happened to stay in Cebu for many years; Mrs. Dolores Pitao, a community health worker in Brgy. Alibaba, Oquendo District, Calbayog City who had participated in local siday (poetry) competition, and prolific in writing her collection of poems; Mr. Ryan Labana, an education graduate from TTMIST, a substitute teacher in a public school in Calbayog City; and Mr. Teofhen Arthur Macabasag, a freelance writer from Borongan City, Eastern Samar presently working at the Regional Statistics Office. The tenth and eleventh local fellows were supposedly Mr. Jerry Gracio from Mondragon, Northern, Samar and Mr. Jerby Santo but the demand of their work in Valenzuela City and Tacloban City, respectively, hindered them from attending said workshop. Moreover, a student from Naval Institute of Technology in the person of Mr. Kevin Capablanca, a student-writer in said school, and five students from TTMIST who were resident writers of Lamiraw Literary Arts Organization made it to the list, namely, Reza Magdaraog and Diane Marzol from Capul, Northern Samar; Cheenee Gahuman from the Island Municipality of Sto. Niño, Samar; Reah Rosales, resident writer; Reynel Ignacio, Lamiraw President; and Joseph Lim, Lamiraw Vice President. In addition, three teachers who were trained writers also qualified as NCCA Fellows, namely, Mr. Efmer Agustin, a faculty member from UP Tacloban College; Mr. Jondy Arpilleda, a faculty member from Holy Cross of Davao College; and Dr. Lorna DeVeyra, a college dean at TTMIST, Calbayog City.

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