A dozen books from eight award-winning creative writers associated with De La Salle University (DLSU), including a national artist’s latest poetry collection, were launched at the school late last month, signaling the continued vibrancy of its literature department and its Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center (BNSCWC).
Headlining the books was “In Many Ways: Poems 2012–2016” by National Artist for Literature Cirilo Bautista, represented at the “8X12: A Book Launching” event by his wife Rosemarie.
Also launched were “Kabataang Kulturang Popular at mga Sanaysay sa Kartograpiya ng Disaster at Aktibismo sa Filipinas,” “Indie Cinema at mga Sanaysay sa Topograpiya ng Pelikula ng Filipinas,” “New Media at mga Sanaysay sa Platitude ng Bagong Objek ng Media at Mediasyon sa Filipinas,” “Pag Mabilis na Umalis Baka Di Naman Talaga Dumating at Iba Pang Kuwento” and “Sapantaha: Kalipunan ng mga Maikling Kuwentong Spekulatibo at Inahinatibo” by Rolando Tolentino, with the last co-edited with Luna Sicat-Cleto.
“Sa Mga Pansamantala: Mga Tula” by Vijae Alquisola, “Talik” by Mesandel Virtusio Arguelles, “Ang Kural na Bahay” by Genaro Gojo Cruz, “Hush Harbor” by Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, “Anagnorisis: Apat na Dula” by Em Mendez, and “Kissing Through a Handkerchief and Other Travel Tales” by Alice Sun-Cua completed the list.
In her speech at the launch, Ma. Ailil Alvarez, director of the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, which published eight of the books, said the “diversity of the titles…speaks of the achievements of the [resident]fellows—and ultimately, of the reputation—of the DLSU-BNSCWC.”
She called the writers “a very interesting mix,” noting that, although most of them are teachers, they include “a playwright, a medical doctor, two poets in Filipino and in English, a scholar of popular culture and, of course, a national artist for literature.”
“To be chosen as their publisher indeed brings immense pleasure and honor to the UST Publishing House,” Alvarez said.
For their part, most of the writers, as expected, briefly discussed how their books came to be, with a few talking more about writing in general and in the society we now live in.
“Manunulat tayo dahil ang tinig ng isang indibidwal na manunulat na kanyang nadarama at naiisip na karanasan ay hindi hiwalay…sa kaganapan sa labas niya,” Tolentino said.
“Ang pagsulat ay pakikilahok at pagtutol at nagbibigay ng pag-asa,” he added.
“Ang mga dula sa koleksyon na ‘Anagnorisis’ ay naisabuhay na noong 2012, 2013, 2014 at 2015. Ngunit sa panibagong anyo—bilang isang libro—I hope na ‘yung mga ibang mambabasa ay magkaroon ng pagkakataon” na kahit hindi nila napanood ang “mga produksyon ay makita kung paano ang mga tauhan sa koleksyon—si Ambo, ‘yung Barbie Girl, si Teresa at si John—ay nagkaroon ng realization,” Mendez said.
“To travel is always a blessing: to open oneself to new places, experiences and people. But to travel and write about it is twice the blessing,” Sun-Cua said.
“Recalling the events, the conversations, and the surprises in tranquility, contemplating on them, savoring them, and writing about them, remembering the details to share with friends: Where did you go? What did you do?” she added.
After each journey, this often-asked questions were always answered with delight (and) much laughter, the reminiscing doubly enjoyed because it’s shared,” Sun-Cua said, adding that the “narratives in [‘Kissing Through a Handkerchief’] include journeys done after the period covered in my second book, ‘Autumn in Madrid.’”
Regarding Bautista’s latest book, BNSCWC Director Ronald Baytan said the national artist “offers us something different in ‘Things Happen…in many ways.”
He noted how “Bautista’s language has become simpler,” and “yet the poems retain their intellectual rigor, sonic quality, and lyrical intensity.”
Several creative writers attended the launch in support of the eight authors. They included National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose; DLSU literature department chairman Dinah Roma and faculty members John Iremil Teodoro, Genevieve Asenjo and Eros Atalia; Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo; Chuckberry Pascual; Susan Lara; Wilfredo Pascual; Carlomar Arcangel Daoana; Allan Pastrana; Beverly Siy; and Adrian Crisostomo Ho.