In his keynote speech, Carlos Palanca Hall of Famer and Metrobank Outstanding Educator Leoncio P. Deriada said it plainly and directly: “The greatest evil in the Philippine educational system is the use of English as the language of instruction in the classroom. The greatness of the Filipino is preserved in the various languages of the country.”
Calling the continued use of English as “cultural genocide,” he urged writers and teachers to master their own language before they master another’s. “We must teach in the language of the learner,” he urged. Incidentally, Deriada is the only writer in the
During the first literary session on “The S in Philippine Literatures: State of the Literary Art in the Center of the Philippines,” Erlinda Alburo of the University of San Carlos in Cebu City then reported on several projects (such as the compilation of a language corpus, writing workshops for farmers, and literary publications) done by various Cebuano writers’ organizations.
John Iremil Teodoro of the
Regina Groyon of the
A lively discussion followed, focusing on the role of writing workshops (virtual and real) in developing young writers in the various vernacular languages.
Summarizing the first session, Malou Leviste Jacob of De La Salle University Manila assured the audience that PEN would take steps to ensure that all literary languages will be given due recognition by national award-giving bodies.
In the second literary session on “Mainstreaming the Marginalized: Preserving, Promoting, and Developing Visayan Literatures,” Victor Sugbo of UP Tacloban urged DepEd and CHED to strengthen the study of local languages and literatures in the curriculum.
Melanie J. Padilla of UP Visayas reported on the extensive collections of the university of materials written in Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, and Aklanon.
Isidoro Cruz of the
Merlie M. Alunan of UP Tacloban stressed the need to have more literary texts available to the general public, particularly to college students.
Joefe B. Santarita of UP Visayas pointed out that, even within
The lively discussion that followed focused on the need to decolonize our own minds.
Summing up the second literary session, Frank G. Rivera pointed out that, since West Visayan literary texts have many readers, the mainstream is really West Visayan and everybody else is “marginalized.”
In the third literary session on “Reaching In, Reaching Out: Translating Our Texts into the Languages of the Global Village,” Genevieve Asenjo of De La Salle University Manila related how, in the course of her traveling around the country, she discovered that Philippine languages are very similar to each other. She also recommended that foreign students be required to study at least one Philippine vernacular language.
Amorita C. Rabuco of the
Palanca Hall of Famer Elsa Martinez Coscolluela of the
The discussion that followed was extremely lively, particularly because a student stood up to say that literature was boring.
Summing up the session, Marjorie Evasco quoted Jorge Luis Borges’ concept of a literary work as forever unfinished and described translation as a way a literary text moves from culture to culture.
In the year’s Jose Rizal Lecture, Agustin Misola (who writes in Hiligaynon, Spanish, and English) spoke of his encounters with Rizal, both the Rizal of matchboxes and the Rizal of the novels.
The conference was distinguished by its use of several languages. Speakers spoke in the language they knew best (Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, Aklanon, Waray, Tagalog, Filipino, or English). Interestingly enough, everybody understood each other. That proves that differences in speaking disappear when confronted with commonalities in writing.
The next Philippine PEN conference (on Dec. 2, 2006) will be held in Vigan, Ilocos