April is National Literature Month
For the second time, the Philippines will be celebrating National Literature Month or Buwan ng Panitikan ng Filipinas, an endeavor spearheaded by National Artist for literature and chairman of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) Virgilio Almario, which was institutionalized last year when President Benigno Aquino III signed Proclamation No. 968 on February 10.
Proclamation recognizes 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.”
Immediately after the signing, KWF led the celebration, kicking off with the commemoration of the death anniversary of Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar, the greatest of Tagalog poets.
This year, KWF partnered with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Book Development Board and other institutions for the celebration of National Literature Month. Exciting literary and cultural events are lined up for the whole month of April to stimulate the mind and enrich the soul.
Establishing to be a tradition, National Literature Month will start with the celebration of Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar Day or Araw ni Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar on April 2. For this, the KWF is organizing a youth camp from April 1 to 3, at the Orion Elementary School in Orion, Bataan, where the great Tagalog poet lived a significant part of his life. The Kampo Balagtas will gather student-writers from all over the country for a conference to hone their literary skills, to strengthen their passion for the written word and to highlight their roles in the enrichment of Philippine literature. On April 2, simultaneous wreath-laying ceremonies will be held at Balagtas monuments in Pandacan, Manila; Balagtas, Bulacan and Orion, Bataan.
On April 5, the first of a series of Tertulyang Pampanitikan will be held at the De La Salle University. Other Tertulyang Pampanitikan sessions will be held at the Ateneo de Manila University (April 12), University of Santo Tomas (April 19) and Far Eastern University (April 26).
On April 6, the talk “Literature in a Hurry: Literature Journalism for Non-Journalist” will be held. From April 6 to 8, the Uswag Dangal ng Filipino will be mounted in Camarines Sur.
On April 8, the Pinoy Book Store Tour of the National Book Development Board (NBDB) will start rolling at La Solidaridad, Uno Morato and artbooks.ph. It will go to Pandayan (Bulacan) and Orchids Bookshop (Pampanga) the next day, and to the bookstore Mt. Cloud in Baguio City on April 10.
A “Literatour” will happen in Pandacan in April 11 and in Bacolor, Pampanga, in April 18.
On April 16, a pilgrimage in honor of Emilio Jacinto to Majayjay, Laguna, will be conducted in celebration of the hero’s death anniversary. Cebu City, on the other hand, will hold a tribute to Monsignor Rodolfo Villanueva.
The Polytechnic University of the Philippines Center for Creative Writing will be conducting Literaturang Pang-Mass Media seminar from April 13 to 15. At the same time, the “Pagtuturo ng Panitikang Gender-based” will be held at the Jose Rizal Memorial State University in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte.
The Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center (BNSCWC) of the De La Salle University will have a several events in celebration of National Literature Month. These include the Young Writers Workshop for Children Ages 9 to 17 to be held on April 16 at the 13th floor of the Henry Sy Sr. Hall, De La Salle University, Manila. The facilitators will be prize-winning writers and book authors Genaro Gojo-Cruz, Timothy Montes and Susan Lara.
BNSCWC is also working on the Catalogue of Literary Museums in the Philippines, which will feature existing literary museums in the country. A literary museum is a curatorial haven showcasing the writer-artist through his/her manuscripts, books and other printed materials, and memorabilia that define the writer’s personality or depict a particular view of his/her creative process and output (e.g., handwriting sample, photographs, typewriter, writing desk, literary trophies and certificates, letters, diaries).
The IWP Alumni Writers Workshop will take place from April 18 to 20 at the American Corner, 13th floor, Henry Sy Sr. Hall, DLSU, Manila. This inaugural workshop is named for Filipino writers who completed the prestigious International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, some of whom will serve as this year’s panelists and lecturers.
The Philippine Center of International PEN (Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists) will hold For Love of the Word: Workshops on Teaching Philippine Literature in High School and College on April 11 to 12 at the University of Cebu, Banilad Campus, Cebu City. The focus will be on 21st century Philippine literature from the regions. The resource speakers and facilitators include Marjorie Evasco, Macario Tiu and Hope Sabanpan Yu. The Writers’ Forum will feature ResilMojares, Simeon Dumdum, Jr., Ulysses Aparece and Januar Yap.
The 16th Iyas National Writers’ Workshop will be held from April 24 to 30 at Balay Kalinungan, University of St. La Salle (USLS), Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, with 15 fellows in different genres and in English, Cebuano, Hiligaynon/Kinaray-a and Tagalog/Filipino.
Meanwhile, the 13th Lamiraw Creative Writing Workshop will be held from April 27 to 29 in Leyte, highlighting Eastern Visayas literature.
April 23 is National Book and Copyright Day, and National Book Development Board will spearhead the celebration.
From April 19 to 22, the Ikapitong Pambansang Kongreso sa Wikang Filipino will be held in Baguio City by the Kapisanan ng mga Superbisor at Guro sa Filipino. On the other hand, from April 25 to 27, the Pambansang Kumperensiya sa Wika at Panitikang Sebwano will be held at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City. After these, the Philippine International Literary Festival will happen from April 28 to 30.
The Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) will hold the UMPIL Pambansang Kongreso ng mga Manunulat at the Ateneo de Manila University on April 30.
With these, the NCCA and KWF promise a more fulfilling celebration to emphasize the vital role of literature in our lives and identity.