NCCA, KWF, and NBDB, fire up the second half of National Literature Month.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) both headed by National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario, in partnership with the National Book Development Board (NBDB) led by Flor Marie Sta. Romana-Cruz, along with other organizations, institutions, and local government units, are fuelling further this second half of April the on-going festive celebration of the Buwan ng Panitikan ng Filipinas or National Literature Month (NLM).

pingkian panitikan

Being conducted now on its fourth year, the theme of National Literature Month for 2018 is that of “Pingkian”—or dialectical friction or conflict igniting fire—which was also the nickname used by the revolutionary leader and writer who died in Laguna: Emilio Jacinto. Pingkian as a theme highlights the revolutionary function of literature as a springboard of dialogic discourses and discussions towards progress.

Fiery literary and cultural events are already happening this month of April, with a bulk of exciting and exemplary projects still lined up from the 16th to the 30th, which will all in all ignite, innovate and invigorate the creative imagination of the needing nation.

Peregrinasyong Jacinto: Hero’s Homage and Pilgrimage

Happening on April 16 is the “Peregrinasyong Jacinto” which is a literary pilgrimage commemorating the death of the aforesaid revolutionary hero Emilio Jacinto and, more importantly, the national gems that are his poetic writings.

To be conducted at a plaza in Magdalena, Laguna, the homage will begin with a ceremonial wreath-laying in front of General Jacinto’s life-size monument, which was sculpted by artist Priscillano “Jun” Vicaldo Jr., and which was commissioned by the KWF and NCCA.

Following this finally is a discursive lecture in the afternoon with Palanca-award-winning poet and literary scholar Michael M. Coroza as the main speaker, who will then talk about language, history and literature in the context of the revolutionary Jacinto, and in a manner understandable fit for millennials.  

Culmination of Contests

Having launched two competitions prior even to the month of April, culmination activities abound in the second half of the National Literature Month.

First among these is the finals night for the “Timpalak Florentino Hornedo,” which happened last week, April 9, at Basco, Batanes. Alluding to the late scholar, writer, professor, and researcher Dr. Florentino Hornedo, whose research concerning the literary Ivatan song and intangible heritage “laji” influenced the cultivation and preservation of such heritage, “Timpalak Hornedo” relates to the singing of laji by millennials in order to promote the once waning tradition. With contestants coming from six municipalities in Batanes, the grand winner all in all was a high school student named Monica Abad, who hails from the town of Basco itself, and who won ultimately because of performing with flavor, flair, and in a style closest to the traditional form.

Second among the contests is the “Bayani/han 2018: Bayani sa Panitikan” short film competition, which was open to the youth ages 13 to 18, and which aimed and aims to encourage the appreciation of each region’s specific works of literature by way of endorsing film adaptations. With the deadline of online entries set last March 30, the announcement of winners will happen this coming April 20 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP)—along with the celebration of the “9th Philippine International Literary Festival”—and with prizes leveled at Php 35,000, Php 20,000, and Php 10,000 respectively for first, second, and third place. This is in line with the thrust of seeking to unravel by way of ground-up promotions local narratives and stories which showcase particular and national conditions.

Convening Conferences, Discourses and Discussions

As for the case of creating critical spaces to talk about the current state of the country’s literatures, four more national events will take place that will start discourses and discussions on the critical matter.

Come April 18 to 20, a national reorientation on the production, consumption, and teaching of literatures will happen at Bukidnon State University, with lectures revolving on intangible literary heritages such as epics and poems. Following this, on April 23, is a talk at Fort Santiago, to be led by NBDB concerning the “World Book and Copyright Day.” While on the 25th of April, at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Quezon province campus, is a talk entitled “Pagtuturo ng Panitikan at Pananaliksik,” concerning teaching local teachers on how to handle with more vigor and vibe the teaching of humanities and literature.

Finally, from the 26th to 28th is a “National Seminar on the Teaching of Gender-Based Literatures” to be convened at Benguet State University in the Cordilleras, which will push for a more progressive stance on issues of sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions (SOGIE).

Meeting of Writers, Critics, and Readers

Now on its 9th year, starting even before the institutionalization of the NLM, the NBDB along with the NCCA will conduct the 9th leg of the “Philippine International Literary Festival” (PILF) which will aim to engage writers, critics, and readers in the celebration of literature and in the promotion of the best practices of producing texts, in reference to the trends of the book industry. The PILF will also feature the project “Read Aloud” which is an activity designed to provide a platform for persons with disabilities, elderlies, out-of-school youths, and indigenous peoples to discover the refuge of literature and its ability to comfort the disturb and disturb the comfortable. For 2018, the PILF will happen from April 19 to 20, at the CCP Complex.

Come the 21st and the 22nd is the “Tutok Sebwano,” to be held at the University of San Carlos, which will gather established writers, critics and artists from different regions of the country, bounded and brought together by the same language and Visayan affinity, to talk about Cebuano literature and how to move forward.

Finally come end of April is the largest convention of prominent creative writers, readers, and enthusiasts, with the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL), or the Writers Union of the Philippines, convening its annual “National Writers’ Congress” at the Gerry Roxas Training and Convention Center, at Roxas, Capiz, on April 28.

In the said Congress, UMPIL will grant to its adjudged winners prizes such as the annual Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas, which recognizes a writer’s excellence in the field of creative writing and considerable contribution to the country’s corpus of literatures, Gawad Pedro Bucaneg which recognizes commendable writer’s collectives, and Gawad Paz Marques Benitez which honors teachers of literature and culture from the different localities of the country.

Pingkian, Fueled Further

Other events for the NLM include the “Tertulya” at the Civil Service Commission – Quezon City branch, which will happen on April 25, and will feature poetry performances to the delight of government employees. In addition to this is the “SiPat: Sine at Panitik” project to be convened by the NCCA and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), which will air Smaller and Smaller Circles for free, a film directed by Raya Martin, and is adapted from the palanca-winning novel of the same name by F.H. Batacan. “SiPat” will happen on April 23, 26, and 27, at Cinematheque branches located in Iloilo, Manila, and Davao respectively.

Through the efforts of National Artist Almario, Proclamation No. 968 was signed in 2015, declaring the month of April as Buwan ng Panitikan ng Filipinas or National Literature Month. The proclamation states that “Philippine literature, written in different Philippine languages, is associated with the history and cultural legacy” of the country and must be, therefore “promoted among Filipinos.” “National literature,” to say finally, “plays an important role in preserving and inspiring the literature of today and in introducing to future generations the Filipino values that we have inherited from our ancestors.” It is in this light that in tracing our revolutionary history, Pingkian as a process is important for it is through dialectic friction that one could ignite, innovate, and invigorate the creative imagination of the needing nation.

For more details, contact Rene Sanchez Napeñas, head of the NCCA Public Affairs and Information Office (PAIO) at 527-2192 / 09285281057. E-mail: