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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, November 26, 2016

entry arrow8:33 PM | Notes From the 2016 Cebu LitFest

A Conversation With Resil Mojares

I was told by the Cebu LitFest organizer Hendri Go, "One of your panels today is a one-on-one conversation with Resil Mojares about Cebuano theatre." My insides turned to knots. Not because I know virtually next to nothing about Cebuano drama; I could easily draw on scholarship and some stock knowledge about regional theatre for that. But because the prospect of interviewing a great man was quite intimidating for me. Sir Resil is one of only a few people I most admire in Philippine literary circles; I love his fiction; his essays are ones I find myself constantly being in awe of; and his continuing historical research on local literature has become a necessary template -- and the standard to be measured against -- for my own. We talked about the development of Philippine drama, and then settled on a discussion about the zarzuela. I learned a lot in that thirty minute talk.

A Reckoning With a Willful Voice

Novelist Rogelio ("Ogie") Braga and I treaded dangerous waters paneling Protest Literature for the festival. I loved Rogelio's measured calm especially when a pro-Duterte person -- a random shopper in Ayala -- stormed the open forum after our pannel, delivered an impassioned spiel, practically dropped mic, and walked off without listening to our responses. Ogie said, "We need now the grace to listen to that voice. That is part of the process."

What Ogie said about practicing dissent in a public space still remains with me after that panel. He encouraged everyone listening to be opinionated and know that you're backed up by history and data. Study and know where you stand, he said, and when people ask -- around the dinner table, in a classroom, in a busy Ayala mall with a mic with hundreds of people staring at you [which we experienced, Ogie and I] -- speak up and learn to swallow fear and intimidation. Practice feeling the angry stares of everyone who disagrees with you, know how to embrace their loud voices, listen carefully and with patience.

And then calmly reply.

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