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Learning from literature at the 2018 Philippine Readers and Writers Festival

By REYANNE LOUISSE AMPONG and DOMINIQUE NATHANIELLE M. MULI

THE POWER of literature was once again celebrated in this year’s Philippine Readers and Writers Festival held from Aug. 10 to 12 in Makati. Book lovers, authors, and aspiring writers gathered to participate in forums and panel discussions about the importance of literature in this vastly changing world.

Here are some of most engaging discussions from the event.

Empowering creatives

Abbey Sy, author of “The ABCs of Hand Lettering,” poses with a fan. photo by IAN CARLO L. ARIAS

Participants were given the chance to unleash the artist in them through the use of free art materials during artist and author Abbey Sy’s talk.

“Nothing beats what your hands can do compared to machines,” the creative entrepreneur said.

Sy shared that she developed her now popular penmanship at an early age as a hobby, which allowed her to channel the artist inside of her young self. Little did she know that it would eventually take her places.

She added that anyone can become an artist and “make it happen” on their own because the realm of ideas is endless.

Sy also emphasized four important things to remember when one’s creative juices falter: read for more learning, write for more practice, collect pegs for future references, and be observant while exploring.

Quoting author Stephen King, she urged her audience to stop waiting for good ideas to come: “Amateurs just sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.”

Sy said idle time just gives more room for writer’s block. However, she also reminded the audience to address any obstacle that hinders them from performing their best to avoid burnout.

‘Dead Balagtas’: The new face of Philippine comics

Author Emiliana Kampilan gives her talk while wearing a mask. photo by SHANA ANGELA S. CERVANIA

Wearing a bayong mask to keep her anonymity, Emiliana Kampilan shared the story of how she came up with her comics titled “Dead Balagtas Tomo 1: Mga Sayaw ng Dagat at Lupa.”

Her comics tell the colorful history of the Philippines and the local mythology’s version of the creation of the universe.

Ang konsepto ng teritoryo natin would determine many things about what happens in our country,” said Kampilan.

She added that when talking about territory, water, land, and sky are not the only concerns; rather, she wants her readers to look at territory as an organism which has power over people and not the other way around.

“[Organisms] are lands which define us and which we define,” she said.

This idea led her to starting her comic book with the concept of nothingness, unlike most most history books which usually begin with the Philippines’ geography and topography.

“The importance of discussing territory sa paraan ng mga katutubo o sa paraan natin, ay dahil ang kwento ng mga babaylan at epiko ay ‘di lang basta-basta kathang isip. These are ways through which they articulated not only their history or the history of the land. These are ways through which they articulated themselves to this world,” she said.

“Dead Balagtas” tells not only about the geological birth of the Philippines and how the love between Tungkung Langit and Alunsina gave birth to the universe, but also the many struggles that the country faces.

During her talk, Kampilan also showed a few comic strips from her book that were mostly in the shades of blue, red, and yellow—the colors of the Philippine flag. She stressed that one image in a comic strip can speak volumes, thus giving comics their power. F

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