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March 08, 2004

REINERIO A. ALBA

The Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology (TTMIST), located at Rueda St., Barangay Balud, Calbayog City, Western Samar organized the first Creative Writing Workshop in Calbayog City from Feb. 25 – 27.

TTMIST is a government educational institution created under Batas Pambansa 304 in 1982, which provides “higher technological, professional, and vocational instruction, and training in trade, fishery, agriculture, science, education, commerce and engineering.”

The project is a literary workshop participated in by students and teachers of Calbayog City and its neighboring municipalities. The proposal for the workshop was made through the joint efforts of four organizations: The Courier (TTMIST official school publication); the LAMIRAW Writers Organization (LAWO), an academic-based organization of the TTMIST English Club and Filipino Club; TTMIST Graduate School Journal; and TTMIST Languages Committee.

The workshop, partly funded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, was intended to revive Waray literature and to motivate locals to write again in Waray, and to expose them to the craft of creative writing. Targeted participants were language (who teach either English, Filipino) and literature teachers and students majoring in either English, Literature or Filipino. Participants were asked to submit five poems written either in Waray, Cebuano, Filipino or English, and two short stories using any of the aforementioned languages.

The literature of Eastern Visayas refers to the literature written in Waray and Cebuano by writers from the region. Dr. Victor Sugbo, one of the panelists for the workshop, and expert on Eastern Visayas literature, explains that of the two, it is Waray literature that has been collected, recorded, and documented by scholars and researchers. The movement, he said, was largely spurred by the interest of German priests, managing a university in Tacloban City, who saw the necessity of gathering and preserving the literary heritage of the region such as the candu, haya, ambahan, canogon, bical, balac, siday, awit, the susumaton and posong, early forms of narratives. It is in this light that whenever East Visayan literature is written about, it is usually Waray literature that is being described.

Panelists and Participants

Joining Dr. Sugbo as panelists for the workshop were Prof. Merlie Alunan, writer and professor of literature at U.P. Tacloban, and current member of NCCA Literary Committee, and Dr. David Genotiva, writer, former faculty member of U.P. Tacloban, and now faculty member of the Leyte Institute of Technology.

The number of targeted participants was 15 but only 14 showed up, with the 15th participant backing out at the last minute due to a conflict in schedule. The participants were as follows: Jannel Canaman (part-time Lecturer, TTMIST, Calbayog); Jenith Salem (part-time Lecturer, TTMIST); Maria Lucil Dollado (Instructor, TTMIST, Calbayog); Erna Perez (Instructor 3, Samar State College of Agriculture & Forestry, San Jorge); Tarciano Cabarles (Instructor 2, Samar State College of Agriculture & Forestry, San Jorge); Rosario Bartolome (College Instructor, Christ the King College, Calbayog); Lolita Cui (College Instructor, Christ the King College, Calbayog City); Sonia Caridad (Secondary School Teacher, Malaga National High School, Tinambacan); Nila Manlimos (Master Teacher, Malaga National High School, Tinambacan); Michael Jude Casalsay (Teacher, Clarencio Calogos Memorial School of Fisheries, Sta. Margarita); Jose Ryan Babon (College Instructor, TTMIST); Rolly Abaro (student, TTMIST); Francisco Macasa (LGU, Calbayog City); Leah Ramos (legal researcher, Atty. Rachel Ramos Law Office).

Workshop Process

The first day involved the registration of the participants in the morning and the afternoon lectures of the three panelists: Prof. Alunan on creative writing; Dr. Sugbo on the teaching of poetry; and Dr. Genotiva on the teaching of fiction.

The second day was devoted to the critiquing of literary works submitted by the participants. This was continued the following day, with the workshop concluding by lunchtime.

The panelists were from Visayas, which proved to be advantageous because they could discuss the nuances of the Visayan language. They were also highly competent in discussing creative writing as a whole, and as it relates to Waray writing, and to Waray literature’s place in the country’s larger body of literature. They were also highly attuned, attentive and flexible to the needs of the participants, smoothly switching from English to Waray in their discussions, and emphasizing important points of discussion, all contributing to an atmosphere, which encouraged everyone’s participation.

The participants, even with an uneven age range (the oldest was 72 and the youngest was 17), enthusiastically participated during the entire workshop, posing questions to the panelists, and were, themselves, open to the criticisms of their works.

Members of the TTMIST English Club and Filipino Club were also present during the first day when all the panelists delivered their lectures. This proved invaluable as the lectures opened up the students to the aspects of creative writing in general and the tradition of Waray literature.

The panelists saw the need for another workshop, this time, on teaching literature. This is seen as a move that could eventually contribute to the appreciation of literature, both local and foreign, not only by the students, but by the teachers themselves. This is also viewed as a significant step towards creating an audience or market for literary works that will be published in the regions.

The participants also voiced the need to continue meeting even after the workshop. Plans include a regular schedule of a variety of activity for the year (that would foster an atmosphere of creativity, at the least, for these first batch of workshop participants), or by forming the current batch of participants into a start-up writers’ group ably supported and/or participated in by the staff from The Courier and the LAMIRAW Writers Organization (LAWO).

TTMIST is expected to be able to use this first creative writing workshop as a start-off point for the larger vision of holding an annual creative writing workshop in Calbayog, aimed at cultivating interest anew in Waray literature and creative writing in general.