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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.


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Saturday, December 07, 2013

entry arrow10:22 PM | From the Preface of Celebration...

Celebration began in 2008, a few years before the golden anniversary of the Silliman University National Writers Workshop, when many among the former fellows of the workshop felt that a commemorative anthology was more than fitting for the occasion. It was a testament, in book form, to how the workshop has shaped much of the national literature. But only upon the urging of Silliman University President Ben S. Malayang III in 2011 did the volume finally take shape, however, when he suggested that a special issue of Sands & Coral could serve as that commemorative anthology.



The first thing that the editors did was to go over the list of alumni of the workshop, which was a considerable lot to consider, given what is easily an illustrious list of names culled from five decades of Philippine writing, numbering among them a few National Artists for Literature, many Palanca Hall of Famers, among others.

From among that number, we sent out invitations to contribute to those whom we felt were still prolific in the craft, asking each one to follow only one criterion for their own selection of their works to submit to the book project: they had to send in what they felt was best suited for an anthology celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Silliman University National Writers Workshop.

The response was overwhelming. The works that we eventually received gave a variety of definitions to our broad imperative: quite a number sent in new works of fiction, poetry, drama, creative nonfiction, and literary criticism, even sequential literature (in other words, “comics”); many sent in what they considered to be their best works in their outputs as writers; others sent in poems, stories, and essays dedicated to Edilberto and Edith Tiempo; still others sent in what could be called “memory pieces” of their stay in Dumaguete.

The final roster of 142 writers include Gémino H. Abad, Ceres Y.C. Abanil, Mariane A.R.T. Abuan, Reinerio A. Alba, Dean Francis Alfar, Estrella Alfon, Merlie Alunan, Isolde Amante, Alma Anonas-Carpio, Gina Apostol, César Ruìz Aquino, Carlomar Arcangel, Francisco Arcellana, Juaniyo Arcellana, Carlos Ojeda Aureus, Isabela Banzon, Romeo Baquiran Jr., F.H. Batacan, Ronald Baytan, John Bengan, Herminio S. Beltran Jr., Merlinda Bobis, Rica Bolipata-Santos, Lilledeshan Bose, Rofel G. Brion, Douglas Candano, Jose Wendell Capili, Miro Frances D. Capili, F. Jordan Carnice, Shane Carreon, Ian Rosales Casocot, Erwin Castillo, Albert B. Casuga, Mark Anthony Cayanan, Luna Sicat Cleto, Mikael de Lara Co, Elsa Victoria Martinez Coscolluela, Vincent Coscolluela, Conchitina Cruz, Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz, Jose Y. Dalisay Jr., Ricardo de Ungria, Lourd de Veyra, Nino Soria de Veyra, Noelle Leslie de la Cruz, Ruel S. De Vera, Ida Anita del Mundo, Daryll Jane Delgado, Leoncio P. Deriada, Ophelia A. Dimalanta, Jacob Walse Dominguez, Simeon Dumdum Jr., Indira Endaya, Antonio Enriquez, Marjorie Evasco, Aida Rivera Ford, Mo Francisco, Diana T. Gamalinda, Eric Gamalinda, J. Neil C. Garcia, Jeneen Garcia, Eugene Gloria, Christine Godinez-Ortega, Ma. Romina M. Gonzalez, Vicente Garcia Groyon III, Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, Ramil Digal Gulle, Ken Ishikawa, Carljoe Javier, Nick Joaquin, Ana Maria Katigbak-Lacuesta, Rebecca E. Khan, Marne L. Kilates, Anthony L. Kintanar, Francesca Kwe, Marie La Viña, Angelo R. Lacuesta, Marra PL Lanot, Jose Lansang Jr., Gian Lao, Susan S. Lara, Gabriela Lee, Ricky Lee, AnLi Llego, Francis Macansantos, Monica Macansantos, Priscilla Supnet Macansantos, Petra Magno, Connie Jan Maraan, Edgar B. Maranan, Sasha Martinez, Maningning Miclat, Grace R. Monte de Ramos, V.E. Carmelo D. Nadera Jr., James Iain Neish, Wilfrido Nolledo, Michael U. Obenieta, Charlson Ong, Charisse-Fuschia A. Paderna, R. Torres Pandan, Gerard Pareja, Allan Pastrana, Bj Patino, Maria Elena Paterno, Ma. Elena L. Paulma, Myrna Peña-Reyes, Jose Victor Peñaranda, Padmapani L. Perez, Nicholas B. Pichay, Kerima Polotan, Allan Popa, Baryon Tensor Posadas, Danton Remoto, Danilo Francisco Reyes, Jun Cruz Reyes, Dinah Roma-Santuri, Ninotchka Rosca, Allen Samsuya, Anna Felicia C. Sanchez, Wilfredo Pascua Sanchez, Tara FT Sering, Oscar Serquina Jr., Vincenz Serrano, Myrza Sison, Lakambini Sitoy, Angelo Suarez, Artemio M. Tadena, Anthony L. Tan, Edilberto K. Tiempo, Edith L. Tiempo, May Tobias-Papa, Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas, Joel M. Toledo, Linda Ty-Casper, Naya Valdellon, Janet B. Villa, Martin Villanueva, Bobby Flores Villasis, Niccolo Vitug, Januar Ernesto Yap, Ernesto Superal Yee, and Alfred Yuson.

There was, finally, no one theme that emerged: the writers wrote about domestic disputes, and epiphanies gained from travel, and gender reassignment surgery, and suggestions of the horror of pedophilia, and the blossoming of first love, and the travails of Manny Pacquiao. The works ranged from traditional narratives to literary experimentations of the first order.

Susan S. Lara sent in a remembrance she wrote of Mom Edith—a piece that she had read for the memorial of the National Artist at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2011, after Dr. Tiempo passed away. Padmapani Perez, on the other hand, sent in an essay that recalled her encounter with Mom Edith years after her own workshop fellowship, as they ruminate over a short poem Padma had written and had asked Dr. Tiempo to read.

But the workshop was not only about the Tiempos. Part of the magic of the Dumaguete workshop is how it has come to be a good mix of all the literary influences in the Philippines—not merely something with a Silliman University mark (which is a tradition steeped in New Criticism), but also the mark of the kinds of writing that was coming out of the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, the University of Santo Tomas, Far Eastern University, San Carlos University in Cebu, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, among many others—Dumaguete’s panelists, after all, were coming from all of these academic centers of writing. So there are pieces celebrating some of these mentors, most notably with J. Neil C. Garcia’s essay dissecting the influence of Tomasian poet Ophelia Alcantara Dimalanta on his poetics.

What is also interesting are the works included in this volume written by mentors who have long since passed on. We have included long-lost stories and poems by Edilberto Tiempo, Edith Tiempo, Francisco Arcellana, and Wilfrido Nolledo. Courtesy of the estate of Nick Joaquin, we are including a rousing essay about the strange visit of The Beatles to Manila in the 1960s, which paints a perfect portrait of the Philippines from that decade. We have also included works by the late Jose Lansang Jr., Artemio Tadena, Ernesto Superal Yee, Diana Gamalinda, Maningning Miclat, among others.

In the end, this book becomes, indeed, a “celebration” of the varieties of literary expression fostered by the Dumaguete experience of the Silliman University National Writers Workshop. It has been fifty years, but the dream and the legacy of the Tiempos will live on forever.



Sands & Coral 2011-2013 and the special literary issue of the Silliman Journal are now available for P500 each. Please email us at silliman.cwc@gmail.com for orders and queries. Please deposit the amount + shipping cost over LBC (to be determined over email correspondence, depending on the number of copies) to the BPI bank account of Prof. Warlito Caturay Jr. at 1086-1345-38. Please include in your email a scanned copy of the deposit slip.

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