IN the past week, writers from all over the country gathered for Taboan 2010: 2nd Philippine International Writers festival held at the Casino Espanol de Cebu. Given that these writing conferences are usually held in far-north Manila, or usually held in ultra-secret, super-exclusive affairs, it was a sweet relief to find out that this year’s event was going to be held just in the neighborhood, and for free at that.
Events like these were exactly the kind I had wished Cebu had more of when I was growing up, as a young writer in Cebu. It was in high school when I began to discover Filipino writers in English. And although I knew that some of them were still alive, the idea of their being real, breathing, walking individuals was something that escaped my imagination. It’s one thing to read an essay, follow the brief exploits of a character in a short story, recite out loud a poem. And it’s another to finally meet its author.
There are many advantages to not being able to meet the author of whatever it is one is reading. For one, it prevents one from forming the unnecessary and preliminary judgments of too personal a knowledge. Sometimes it helps that one doesn’t see the face, hear the voice of the author of what one is reading. Such anonymity is one of the undoubted pleasures of the written text.
Also, it isn’t rare that one held-dear, and beloved text becomes instantly ruined the moment we meet its writer: the moment that is, we find out that the warmth of the page isn’t so much as visible as a rumor when we finally, finally shake the limpid hand of its writer. I remember losing instant interest in the work of V.S. Naipaul, right after I had read a book on his life and found out he wasn’t the most kind and humble of people.
The benefits, however, of meeting the author in the flesh, far outweigh any potential disappointment of meeting him or her may offer. For in the meeting of authors, one is reminded of the human, and special production that is involved in the writing of literature: not the product of a faceless assembly line, or the end result of an inhuman machine, but the fruit of a life lived in the midst of words. And if someone could do it: write a novel, collect ones stories, publish a book of poems, perhaps one could very well also do it.
I hope someone, sometime, in the past three days, met the face behind the words and left not too disappointed.
On Sunday, February 14, from 8 am to 4 pm, St. Benedict’s Childhood Education Centre celebrates its family day at the USC Talamban Soccerfield and Basketball Covered Courts. With the theme “Enhancing Love of Family and the Environment”, the whole day affair lots of food, activities, and games. Program begins with a welcome address from MS. Ibanez followed by a field demo and mass at 10am. A dragon dance is going to be held at 11 am and a host of other games promises fun and enjoyment the rest of the day. See you there!