Friday, April 18, 2008

After the Workshop

"So, the Baguio workshop went well," I texted a writer-friend of mine. "In fact, it went too well. Now we're all suffering from a post-workshop 'hangover'." She replied, with mock-wisdom and a smiley: "Ganyan talaga ang buhay, anak."

My camera died on our third day in Camp John Hay for the UP ICW 'mid-career' writers' workshop, hence the discontinuation of my daily photo-posts. (I have a ton of pix now though, from the official workshop CD and from my roommate Vince, so if I feel like it, I may eventually put up a bunch of workshop pix plus captions.)

I hope I don't sound too pretentious when I say that the workshop reminded us of the real standards and difficulties and rewards involved when it comes to the creative writing that we do. It's easy to forget, amid all the awards-chasing and racking up of publication credits and jockeying for influence. The panelists -- two National Artists among them -- pulled no punches, in general, and I couldn't have been happier with the lineup of fellows (we had three Palanca Hall-of-Famers in our batch, no less!). I was both proud and humbled to stand among them, if that makes any sense. Thanks to the panel -- and each other -- I think we all have a clearer idea now of what it is we're doing.

More than any single discussion regarding craft, it was our activity schedule plus the mix of people we had that got to me. As I told friends when I returned, the workshop was like the awkwardness, angst, adventures and affection of high school, compressed into one week. Coffee with new friends, overnight cram sessions, talks and walks, presentations that ranged from enlightening to humiliating (I played Charlson Ong in a skit: that's all you need to know), and a certain bittersweetness when it was all done. Thanks to two dear friends and the ICW people, Yvette was even able to join me in Baguio midway through the workshop, so it was really an all-around amazing experience for me.

To quote fellow fellow Jun Lana: "Pero eto ang totoo: sobra akong nagpapasalamat na napasama ako sa workshop. Lahat ng hinahangaan kong writers, andun. Lahat sila, nag-abalang basahin ang sinulat ko. At nagbigay ng opinyon. Ang dami kong natutunan. At ang lalong nakakatuwa, ang dami kong naging bagong kaibigan."

And to quote fellow fellow Bobby Añonuevo: "Pambihira ang talakayan sa Baguio dahil sumapit na sa pagkatigulang ang mga kalahok. Matatalim ang pukol ng mga diwain, ngunit kataka-takang ni wala man lamang nagsaksakan, nagmurahan, o nagbatuhan ng silya. Mapapansin ang paggalang sa isa’t isa, at walang may hangin sa ulo. At gaya ng winika ni Tara, kalmante man ang pangkat ng mga kumag sa palihan, maaasahan naman na lilikha sila ng nakayayanig na bagyo pagsapit sa larangan ng panitikan ngayon at sa mga darating na araw."

Finally, my roomie Ian Casocot: "I loooovvvveee these people!"

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