All Because of Literature
written by Beverly W. Siy
The 2nd Manila International Literary Festival entitled The Great
Philippine Book Café was a huge success. It was held at the Ayala
Museum, Makati last November 16 to 18, 2011. Writers, publishers,
reading enthusiasts, artists and interested individuals flocked to
Ayala Museum every single day of the Fest.
Keynote speech entitled Where in the world is the Filipino Writer? was
delivered by no less than the great critic and researcher Resil R.
Mojares of Cebu. Two Pulitzer Prize winners Edward P. Jones (The Known
World, 2004) and Junot Diaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,
2008) flew in from the US just for this event. They talked about
writing from the margins. Both of them are from minority backgrounds
in the US and yet their works were able to penetrate the mainstream of American
publishing. In the next few days, Jones and Diaz met and talked with
the Filipino audience (mostly writers as well). Book signing after
their talks were also held.
On the first day, the following topics were discussed by experts from
different parts of the country and from abroad: novel writing, hunting
manuscripts and selling them to the publishers, world book market,
world readership, putting literature within context, literary theories
On the second day, writing away from home, cross-cultural experiences,
literature that offends, assessment of the Philippine book industry,
writing for young adults, reaching women readers, writing crime,
horror and suspense, Philippine children’s literature for the world,
writing memoir, features for folktales, myths, legends in fiction,
many forms of the novel, being a bestseller and writing non-fiction
On the third and last day: writing about war/conflict, writing in the
regional language, mentoring the writer, the many poetic forms,
transforming literature into movies, bringing literature to life by
different media and the traditional bonding/family moment, strategies
to make kids love reading, promotion for the books and
the authors, humor writing, the basics of fiction and non-fiction
writing were discussed.
The atmosphere was strikingly similar to that of the fiestas.
Indeed, it was a very productive and creative (and of course,
colourful) way to show the world that Filipino writers and the
Philippine publishing industry have excellent products and they need
help to get their works out there in the global arena.
The event was organized by National Book Development Board headed by the
indefatigable Atty. Andrea Pasion-Flores with support from Filipinas
Heritage Library, Philippine Airlines, National Book Store, Penguin,
Central Books, Vibal Foundation, Book Development Association of the
Philippines, Ayala Museum, Manila Bulletin and the Embassy of the US
Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society or FILCOLS joined the
celebration of the Philippine Book Development Month (through the
aforementioned event). FILCOLS Executive Officer for Membership and
Documentation Beverly W. Siy came as a speaker and as a participant as
well. Her sessions included: When Literature Offends, Writing the Woman
Reader and What's so Funny (humor writing).
This is how a sweet November transforms into the busiest month of the year. And all because of literature.
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