The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), led by its chairman Felipe M. de Leon Jr. and OIC-executive director Adelina M. Suemith, National Book Development Board (NBDB) led by its Chairperson Flor Marie “Neni” Sta. Romana-Cruz, and the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) with National Artist Virgilio Almario as chairman is spearheading the first ever celebration of the Buwan ng Panitikang Filipino or National Literature Month.
Proclamation No. 968, which was signed last February 10, 2015, declares April as Buwan ng Panitikang Filipino or National Literature Month, recognizing that “Philippine literature, written in different Philippine languages, is associated with the history and cultural legacy of the State, and must be promoted among Filipinos,” and that “national literature 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.”
April was chosen because the month marks the commemoration of the Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar Day, and the birth and death anniversaries of literary icons such as Emilio Jacinto, Paciano Rizal, Nick Joaquin, Edith Tiempo and Bienvenido Lumbera. Also, international literary celebrations such as International Children’s Book Day, International Day of the Book or World Book Day, and World Intellectual Property Rights Day are being celebrated in this month.
Various literary and cultural events are going to be held for the whole month of April. National Literature Month will kick off with a youth camp and the unveiling of a new monument of Tagalog poet Francisco Balagtas and park in the barangay of Wawa in Orion, Bataan.
In celebration Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar Day, around 500 Grade 8 students in Region III and select indigenous youths from all over the country will gather from March 30 to 31, 2015, in Orion Elementary School for a youth camp. It will begin with the inauguration of a new monument of Balagtas, created by sculptor Julie Lluch, and the opening of the Hardin ni Balagtas.
On April 2, simultaneous wreath-laying ceremonies will be held at Balagtas monuments in Pandacan, Manila; Balagtas, Bulacan; and Orion, Bataan.
On April 6, the first of a series of Tertulya sa Tula: Isang Hapon ng mga Makata ng Taon will be held at the KWF, where the audience will have the opportunity to interact with the Makata ng Taon winners, which will held from 2 to 5 P.M. Subsequent events will be held on April 13, 20 and 27.
From April 9 to 11, Lingayen, Pangasinan, will host the first Baybayin Summit to be in participated in by teachers, scholars, researchers and students. They will tackle the issue of introducing the Old Tagalog script into the school curriculum.
On April 11, Ateneo de Manila University’s Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP) will be holding the Young Adult Writing Workshop. It will be held every Saturday of the month (April 11, 18 and 25).
From April 13 to 15, Uswag Filipino! will be held at the Bulacan State University, while the Filipino poets’ group Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA) will conduct the Lakbay-Panitik para kay Emilio Jacinto in Majayjay, Laguna, on April 16, in celebration of the hero’s death anniversary.
The GUMIL Filipinas (Gunglo dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano iti Filipinas) or Ilokano Writers Association of the Philippines will hold its 47th national conference at the Cubao Expo in Quezon City from April 17 to 19, with the theme “Ang Papel ng Gumiliano sa Lipunang Ilokano.”
The Bienvenido Santos Creative Writing Center of the De La Salle University, with NBDB and Unyon ng mga Manunulat ng Pilipinas (UMPIL), will hold the Young Writers Workshop, targeting children with literary inclinations. It will be on April 17. Also on the same day, reading sessions will take place in two different venues; LIRA’s poetry session program at the Conspiracy Bar in Quezon City and Kumbira! Readings, Exhibit and Book Sale in Davao.
On April 20, Manila Times College in Intramuros, Manila, will conduct a Literary Journalism Workshop with critic and playwriting Dr. Isagani Cruz, while University of Santo Tomas’s Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies will conduct Tradisyon at Modernidad: Isang Simposyum on April 21. From April 21 to 23, a translation seminar will be at the Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City.
April 23 is “Araw ng Aklat at Copyright”, and National Book Development Board will spearhead the celebration. On April 24, the Klasrum Adarna session will tackle “Pagtuturo ng Noli at Fili/ Ibong Adarna” in Makati City, while Folk on Badiw: Ibaloy Legacy to Poetry and Music will be held at the University of the Philippines in Baguio City from April 24 to 25.
On April 21 to 23, Poetry and Peace Kulukabildo will happen on MSU-IIT Iligan.
A Bisayan version of the Vagina Monologues, V. Latanay, will be showcased at the University of the Philippines Mindanao and Calle Cinco, JP Laurel Avenue Manila on April 23 and 24 respectively.
From April 26 to 28, the Iyas National Writers Workshop of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod will be held in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. And from April 29 to 30, the Pambansang Kongreso sa Wikang Filipino will be held in Baguio City by the Kapisanan ng mga Superbisor at Guro sa Filipino (KASUGUFIL).
On April 29, the Pambansang Araw ng Gawad sa KWF Timpalak Uswag Darepdep will be held. Uswag Darepdep is a contest of the KWF for 12 to 17-year-old aspiring writers writing in different Philippine languages. This year, language categories that are open for competition are Ilokano, Sebwano, Bikol and Mëranaw.
On April 30, a poetry reading by the Katig Writers Network will be held at UP Tacloban in Leyte and at the Northwestern State University in Calbayog City, Samar.
Aside from these events, Fully Booked Bonifacio Global City will host a Shakespearean Open Mic Night on April 25. For the whole month of April, Fully Booked will also have a special feature on Filipiniana books on sale.
Summer may be a season for travels and beaches, but it is also a season for reflection, reading and expanding the horizon. With the newly declared Buwan ng Panitikang Filipino or National Literature Month, April in the Philippines will be more enriching and soulful.
For more details, contact the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino at (632) 736-2524 or 736-2525 and look for Ms. Kriscell Largo Labor, Executive Assistant IV, Sangay ng Edukasyon at Networking. Visit KWF office at Watson Bldg., 1610 J. P. Laurel Street, Malacanang Complex, San Miguel, Manila, or log on to their website at www.kwf.gov.ph. You may also send your queries and other concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.