For the first time in its 27-year history, the Iligan National Writers’ Workshop (INWW) welcomes international participants among its 19 regular writing fellows.
The pioneer batch of international writing fellows are workshop alumnus J. Dennis C. Teodosio, Filipino playwright who is currently based in Myanmar; Nat Dharmasaroja, Thai poet recommended by the Thai Writers’ Association; Kasvini Muniandy, poet, spoken word performer and teacher of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at the Universiti Sains Malaysia; and Queen Sarkar, multilingual poet, translator and reviewer who teaches at the Ranchi University in India.
They are joined by this year’s crop of Senior Writing Fellows, who have been part of the workshop since 2014: Januar Yap from Cebu, prize-winning poet and filmmaker who will give a lecture/demonstration on “Script to Screen;” Karlo Antonio Galay David of Kidapawan City, fictionist and local historian who will be sharing his piece “Familiaris” in a lecture on English fiction; and poet from Cagayan de Oro City, Denver Torres, who will lecture about his poems to the workshop.
There are 10 panelists for this year’s INWW, held from 30 November to 5 December: professor of literature and anthropology of the University of San Carlos (USC) Dr. Erlinda Kintanar Alburo, who was also a former director of the Cebuano Studies Center; Dr. Hope Sabanpan Yu, the present director of the USC Cebuano Studies Center, chair of the Division of Humanities of the National Research Council of the Philippines and commissioner for Cebuano language of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino; Dr. John Jack Wigley, chair of the Department of Literature, Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and former director of the UST Publishing House; Ralph Semino Galan, an alumnus of both at Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) and INWW, an associate director of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies and a faculty member of the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters; Dr. Isidoro M. Cruz, former dean and faculty member of the University of San Agustin in Iloilo; Dr. Pranesh Prasad, Indian novelist, legal scholar, adviser of international literary festivals and educator; Dr. R. Benedito Ferrao, assistant professor of English and Asian and Pacific Islander American Studies at the College of William and Mary in the United States.
The panel also includes Gerald Galindez, who will be leading a panel on Hiligaynon poetry, and Phil Harold Mercurio, whose panel will focus on Waray poetry. Both are alumni of INWW.
The three resident panelists are Dr. German Gervacio, poet and MSU-IIT faculty member of the College of Arts and Social Sciences; Dr. Steve Fernandez, artistic director of MSU-IIT’s resident theater group, Integrated Performing Arts Guild and retired professor of humanities, theater and literature; and Dr. Christine Godinez-Ortega, retired professor of literature and creative writing and the workshop director.
Another highlight of this year’s INWW is the keynote address of fictionist and essayist F. Sionil José, National Artist for literature. The opening program has traditionally featured a keynote lecture delivered by an alumnus or writer of note.
José’s literary career spans seven decades with over 35 books, written in English and translated into 28 languages. This work includes novels, two novellas, five short story collections, four compilations of essays and books of verse, plays and children’s stories. He is best known for the Rosales Saga, a five-novel series that weaves through Philippine history.
INWW is hosted by the Mindanao Creative Writers Group, the Mindanao Creative and Cultural Workers Group and the MSU-IIT Center for Culture and Arts Studies and is funded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the MSU-IIT.
The annual INWW has previously featured the work of 12 writing fellows (two from Luzon, five each from Visayas and Mindanao) along with the aforementioned senior fellows. This year’s additions will hopefully begin a new trend of expansion for the national workshop: from its local roots to envisioned branches in Southeast Asian and South Asian countries and beyond.