45th UMPIL Congress, Dia del Libro, ‘Kaduma ni Karol’ launch

Last Saturday, April 27, was a busy one for the writers and readers’ community as well as music aficionados with the staging of three different literature- and music-related events.

The 45th Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas National Writers’ Congress held their whole-day event at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, including the 32nd Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas

The congress’ theme was ‘Panitikan, Galing, at Ginhawa’ (Literature, Healing, and Wellness.) After opening remarks by UMPIL secretary- general Dr. John Iremil Teodoro and the chairman’s message by UMPIL Chairman Dr. Michael M. Coroza, keynote speaker Dr. Felipe M. de Leon Jr. spoke about wika (Philippine languages) and their aspects. One insight he gave was how geography influenced the development of languages in the country.

Filipinos being excellent seafarers from earliest times, he said, islands separated by a body of water tend to have the same language, whereas communities divided by mountain ranges or other land features are likely to have developed different languages.

For the first writers forum, ‘Panitikan at Galing,’ physician Dr. Noel Pingoy and Ateneo de Manila university professor Dr. John Labella and Philippine High School for the Arts director Dr. Vim Nadera discussed how words—literature, poetry—can help heal or alleviate physical illness and distress.

The second writers forum, ‘Panitikan at Ginhawa,’ featured feminist psychologist Dr. Sylvia Claudio, University of Santo Tomas Senior High School literature teacher Sooey Valencia, and Visayas State University professor Michael Carlo C. Villas.

Claudio explained that ‘ginhawa’ is a holistic concept that includes “katawan, isip, damdamin, at ispiritwal.” Health, she said, is not only a lack of illness, it is also a state of mind encompassing sigla (physical and mental), lakas, and gana (para sa buhay).

The day was capped with awarding ceremonies. This year’s Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas awardees are Godehardo B. Calleja (Poetry in Bikolnon), Grace D. Chong (Children’s Literature in English), Dinah T. Roma (Poetry in English), Luna Sicat Cleto (Fiction in Filipino), Alice M. Sun-Cua (Essay in English), Gina Marissa Tagasa (Drama for Radio, Television, and Film), and Ester T. Tapia (Poetry in Cebuano).

Lilia T. Tio received the Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez and the Bathalan-ong Halad sa Dagang, Inc. (Cebu) the Gawad Pedro Bukaneg. Tio has written award-winning stories in Cebuano, and Bathalad is the oldest writers’ group in the Visayas.

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Also on the same day was the annual Dia del Libro event at Ayala Triangle, organized by the Spanish Embassy’s cultural arm Instituto Cervantes.

Publishers and bookstores such as Anvil, Adarna Books, Ateneo Press, Fully Booked, Visprint, and others sold books at half-off. Book buyers were each given a rose. Instituto offered many interesting activities, among them the rewriting by hand of Cervantes’ novel ‘Don Quijote.’

The Instituto offers Spanish language courses from beginner to advanced, for adults and children and teenagers, at two campuses—Makati City and Ortigas. Visit their website at for details.

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Kaduma hi (ni) Karol held their album launch in the evening at the Yuchengco Museum courtyard. The band’s music is inspired by Philippine tribal culture and features several indigenous instruments to create tunes that strike straight to the Filipino heart.

About the album, the band’s Carol Dawonlay and Dandy Dawonlay said, “All our songs are prayers that celebrate the good and hope for the bad situations to change. We feel that this music project is timely especially when the world continues to lean more toward selfies, commonalities, and intolerance rather than community, difference, and acceptance.”

An excerpt from the liner notes: “‘Babagabagin’ bothers those in absolute power and criticizes any greedy warmonger; ‘Wata’ (Maranao for ‘child’) expresses a child’s longing for the ancestral land; ‘Iisang Dugo,’ we have the same blood but some people value worldly wealth more than fellow human beings.”

There are twelve songs in the album. The others are ‘Bugta’ (Higaonon, ‘land’), ‘Hiraya’, ‘Baliti,’ ‘Banog’ (Higaonon, ‘eagle’), ‘Katribung Lawin,’ ‘Hipanaw’ (Higaonon, ‘wander leisurely’), ‘Saniblahi,’ ‘Bakunawa’, and ‘Kulipan.’

The album is recorded not on plastic CDs but within a USB drive made of bamboo, nestled in a small bamboo box. The executive producer is Boy S. Yuchengco of Water Dragon, also the publisher of the anthology ‘Rizal +’ edited by Krip Yuson.

For copies of the album, call the Yuchengco Museum or email: [email protected] 

Dr. Ortuoste is a qualitative researcher with a PhD in Communication. FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO

Topics: 45th Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas National Writers’ Congress , Cultural Center of the Philippines , 32nd Gawad Pambansang Alagad , Lilia Tio

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