AILAP hosts 12th Ateneo National Writers Workshop

July 01, 2014
The Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP), in partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), organized the Ateneo National Writers Workshop last May 18 to 24, 2014.  The five-day workshop series was held at the Natividad-Galang Conference Room at Dela Costa Building and the Pardo de Tavera Room in the Old Rizal Library at the Ateneo de Manila University.  In its 12th year, the ANWW gathered fifteen young writers from across the country.

The fellows for fiction in English were Juan Carlo Mallari of Los Baños, Laguna, Xer Jason Ocampo of Davao City, and Dominic Paul Sy of Quezon City.  Fellows for fiction in Filipino included Norman Tagudinay Darap of Tubugan, Iloilo, Marvin Einstein Mejaro of Norzagaray, Bulacan, and Enrico Lee Suarez of Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan.

The fellows for poetry in English were Michelle Anne Esquivas from Pasig City, Mohammad Nassefh Macla from Panabo, Davao del Norte, Johnina Martha Marfa from Manila, and Regine Miren Cabato from Zamboanga City.  Fellows for poetry in Filipino included Christian Jil Benitez from San Mateo, Rizal, Mary Rose Iggie Espinoza from Cainta, Rizal, and Jessrel Gilbuena from Santa Fe, Cebu.

There were two fellows for plays in Filipino: Jerome Hipolito from Calabanga, Camarines Sur, and Ariane Masicampo Lim from Quezon City.

“My co-fellows pushed me to the ground and helped me stand back up,” said Carlo Mallari, fellow for fiction. “They’re the sort of people you can’t help but root for, the sort of people who get you to hope anew.”

“As a writer, it is of utmost importance to keep a company with whom you can share a passion for writing,” said fellow for poetry Christian Benitez, adding that he learned a lot from panelists and co-fellows.  “Nothing beats the energy brought by my work’s turn to be workshopped.  The wisdom gained from all the panelists is of extreme value for me as a budding artist.”

The workshop sessions, which lasted five days, were facilitated by a diverse selection of writers affiliated with different universities.  The panelists included D.M. Reyes, Michael Coroza, Rosario Cruz-Lucero, Alvin Yapan, Martin Villanueva, Jerry Respeto, Vicente Groyon III, Mabi David, Ramon Guillermo, Luna Sicat-Cleto, Edgar Samar, Allan Derain, Mark Anthony Cayanan, Benilda Santos, Exie Abola, Mikael de Lara Co, Glen Sevilla Mas, Joseph Salazar, and AILAP director Allan Popa.

“I think the workshop was a reminder that there exists a community willing to read and engage whatever you produce, and so you always have to be on your toes when you write,” said Johnina Marfa, also a fellow for poetry.

The event also held a fiction reading with Rosario Cruz-Lucero, a poetry reading with Benilda Santos, and a lecture on craft by Allan Derain.  It was also the first time that the workshop opened a session to the public and held talks on literary editing, building a reading community, and alternative publishing. This component of the workshop was co-sponsored by the National Book Development Board (NBDB).

“[ANWW] made me accept that my writing was raw, that storytellers weren’t just people who knew how to string words together, that my pieces weren’t stories just yet,” said Mallari. It showed me a world beyond my own, a world filled with people who held firmly to their pens, and boy, what a beautiful world that was.”