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PIA Press Release

Taboan 2009 gathers writers in first-ever International Writers Festival in RP

By Neil D. Lopido

Tacloban City (February 16) -- The first-ever gathering of writers in the Taboan: Philippine International Writers Festival 2009 marks a significant event in the Philippines as the country celebrates the month of February as the National Arts Month.

Taboan is a Cebuano word which means "assembly," "congress" "marketplace," "meeting place".

The three-day festival, which was held February 11-13, 2009, was participated in by writers from all over the country and was made global having been participated in by international writers coming from Thailand and Vietnam.

According to Ricardo M. de Ungria, festival director, Taboan is the gathering around a hundred of young and senior writers who have been recipients of grants from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and who have made and making their mark on Philippine literature.

Activities during the three-day festival include conferences, conversations with writers or writers groups, lectures and panel discussions by writers on a variety of topics, book launch, literary readings and performances, art gallery and library tour, among others.

During the parallel sessions paneled by junior and senior writers alike, many issues and concerns have been addressed to the committee to include the argument on the labeling of what is "imperial Manila" vs regional, holding of regional literary contests, holding of the annual writers festival (Taboan) in other key cities in the country, encouragement to organize groups in the regions and register to the Securities and Exchange Commission, submit proposals, support to international contests, among others.

In his speech, National Artist for Literature Francisco Sionil Jose, challenged the writers when he said, "We are writers – what impact do we have on our history? We do not make the decisions that alter the nation's destiny. And what can the solitary writer do now that will make a difference?"

The national artist underscored the importance of literature as he emphasized to the writers "to write as best and as honestly as we can… We must bear this duty, endure it, if we are to be true not just to the vocation we have chosen but to this land which sustains us, which gave us life and reason to be."

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Likhaan: U.P. Institute of Creative Writing, and Ateneo de Manila University were responsible for the holding of the "TABOAN: The First Philippine Writers Festival 2009" in three venues in Manila : The University of the Philippines Diliman; Ateneo de Manila University Loyola Campus; and Cubao Expo.

The National Arts Month started with Presidential Proclamation No. 683 in 1991. Now, the NCCA, led by its Chairman, DepEd Usec. Dr. Vilma Labrador and Executive Director Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, through the NAM Artistic Committee headed by Prof. Ricardo de Ungria, Commissioner of the NCCA-Subcommission on the Arts (SCA), is taking the celebration to the next level by calling National Arts Month the Philippine International Arts Festival (PIAF) for next year, it was learned. (PIA-8) [top]

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