Still reading, writing and performing: Mindanao celebrates National Literature Month

Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo. (Photograph courtesy of FB/Cristina Hidalgo)

Forty-one writers and 11 cultural groups are featured in the National Literature Month (NLM) celebration in Mindanao, led by the organization Mindanao Creative and Cultural Workers Group Inc. (MCCWG), with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy, from 26 to 30 April, bannering the theme “Pagguho (Decline/Emergence): Literature and the Pandemic.”

According to MCCWG founder and chair of the Board of Directors, Christine F. Godinez Ortega, “Pagguho” has two meanings. In Filipino, it means “decline” and in Cebuano or Binisaya it means “to emerge.” This is meant to be a tribute to creative writers and performers who may have suffered but who have turned more productive during and despite the pandemic.

The celebration comprises literary readings, forums and performances, which streams free online on the Facebook pages of MCCWG and of Philippine embassies and foreign missions abroad. Students, teachers and all Filipinos are urged to join the various events and activities.

On the first day, 26 April, was the forum “The Indigenous Writing the Indigenous” with Lolita Lacuesta (Mansaka), Amelia T. Bojo (Meranaw-Higaonon Manobo), Telesforo “Jun” Sungkit, Jr. (Higaonon Manobo) and Estrella Dacillo (Higaonon Manobo) as moderator. Subanen thimuay and chanter Nilda Mangilay chanted a ginguman. This was followed by performance poetry and prose readings by Ralph Semino Galan, John Jack Wigley, Augusto Antonio Aguila, Roberto T. Anonuevo, and Rebecca T. Anonuevo, with a performance of German V. Gervacio’s poem by MSU-IIT, Integrated Performing Arts Guild.

The following day, 27 April, there will performance poetry and prose reading in Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a and English by Alex de los Santos, Jesus Insilada, Alain Russ Dimzon and Elsa Victoria Martinez-Coscolluela. The forum “Publishing Stories for Children” will feature Genaro Gojo Cruz, Mary Ann Ordinario, Luis T. Gaimaitan, Cyan Abad Jugo and Christine Bellen Ang.

Bro. Karl Gaspar. (Photograph courtesy of FB/Karl Gaspar)

Poetry and prose readings in Cebuano on 28 April will feature Cheeno Lopez Borden, Erlinda Kintanar Alburo, Adonis Durado, Jondy M. Arpilleda and Gerald Castillo Galindez, while the forum “Playwriting and Production in the Pandemic” while feature Jose Dennis C. Teodosio, Glenn Sevilla Mas, Nicholas Pichay, Jann Dainver Labasdilos Maravilla and Karlo Antonio Galay David.

Phil Harold Mercurio, Nemesio S. Baldesco and Precious Elaine D. Tubigan will read their traditional and modern poems in Waray or siday on 29 April, while Roel Hoang Manipon, Noel de Leon, Rhandee Garlitos and Lulu Reyes will be featured in the forum “Publishing Literature.”

On the last day, 30 April, the forum “Mindanao Settler Literature” will have Karlo Antonio Galay David, Gerald Galindez, Nino Jan Pol Dosdos and Frank de la Cruz, while the forum “Directing the Writers’ Workshop” will have Raymundo “Rayboy” Pandan Jr., Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Jane Maxino, Warlito Caturay Jr. and Ortega.

Excerpts of the Mindanao epics like the Meranaw Darangen and Kalilang with a performance of a Meranaw onor; the pamarah of the Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo Ulahingan; excerpt from the Subanen geguman; and Panay Bukidnon oral literature in Kinaray-a are highlighted during the week-long celebration.

Playwright Glenn Sevilla Mas. / Photograph courtesy of Sunshine Teodoro

Performances by the different cultural and art groups in the country are likewise featured such as the award-winning UST Singers of the University of Santo Tomas; the faculty and graduate students of the Piano Department of Silliman University’s School of Performing and Visual Arts; the Quezon Bukidnon Kabilin Dance Company; the MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology’s resident cultural groups Integrated Performing Arts Guild (IPAG), Ringkaran and the Kalilang Music Ensemble; the Mindanao State University Main Campus’s Sining Kambayoka Ensemble; and the New York-based Kinding Sindaw to enliven the forums and literary readings.

Mindanawon novelist, scholar, dramatist and educator Bro. Karl Gaspar, CSSR, opened the conference with a keynote address on 26 April. Convener of this online literature conference is Ortega.


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