In celebration of the National Literature Month, the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL, or The Writers Union of the Philippines) will hold its National Writers Congress on April 29, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Bro. Andrew Gonzales Building, De La Salle University, Taft Avenue, Manila.
The program will consist of a keynote address and writers fora. The awards ceremony of the annual Gawad Pambansang Alagad Ni Francisco Balagtas, Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez, and Gawad Pedro Bucaneg will be held in the afternoon. The closing ceremonies of the National Literature Month celebration will follow immediately after.
The overarching theme of the congress is “Ang Panitikan sa Panahon ng Tokhang (Literature During the Bloody War on Drugs)” featuring a keynote lecture by Dr. Jose “Butch” Dalisay, Jr., a professor of creative writing at the University of the Philippines-Diliman and a multi-awarded and well acclaimed author of essays and books of fiction.
The speakers for the writers forum are Lourd de Veyra, Joel Salud, and Juana Change (Mae Paner) with Karina Bolasco as the moderator. The speakers for the writers forum “Paglalakong Opinyon, Pagkabigong Gunita (Opinion Peddling, the Failure of Memory)” are FloyQuintos, Frank Cimatu, and Joyce Martin with Louie Jon Sanchez as moderator.
The congress’ highlight will be the conferment of the three major awards given by UMPIL since 1988.
This year’s recipients of the Gawad Alagad Ni Francisco Balagtas, a lifetime achievement award for literary writing, are Romulo Baquiran (Poetry in Filipino), Luis Gatmaitan (Children’s Fiction in Filipino), Marne Kilates (Poetry in English), Liza Magtoto (Play in Filipino), Jameson Ong (Poetry in Chinese), Carla Pacis (Children’s Story in English), Vicente Rafael (Criticism in English), CriseldaYabes (Essay and Fiction in English), and Melchor Yburan (Poetry in Cebuano).
Receiving the Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez, an award for achievement in literary education, is Alicia Magos, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of the Philippines Visayas in Iloilo and the editor-translator of the Panay Bukidnon epics published by the University of the Philippines Press.
The Gawad Pedro Bucaneg, an award for outstanding literary organizations, will be given to Thousand Islands, an organization of Chinese-Filipino writers.
The congress is supported by the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center and the Department of Literature of the College of Liberal Arts of De La Salle University-Manila, the Komisyon Sa Wikang Filipino, and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.