IT WAS a meeting of people who love the written word last Feb. 10 to 12 at the Casino Espanol de Cebu. Writers, intellectuals, students and patrons of culture and the arts attended the 2nd TABOAN International Writers’ Festival, made new friends, learned new things, exchanged new ideas and experienced a fellowship possible only when a group of like-minded individuals come together.

Named for the places where people gathered to peddle things, TABOAN 2010 indeed stayed true to its name. With the plenary session held on the first day and the various forums and workshops available to the attendees, the festival provided the speakers a venue in which to “peddle” their thoughts. And, likening the attendees to “customers,” thoughts, ideas and lessons were “bought,” so to speak.

On the first day, Dr. Resil Mojares, a multi-awarded writer, critic and cultural researcher, held an open forum on the how’s and why’s and wherefores of National Artist selection. Several lively discussions resulted, with a few tears even being shed, but the overall tone of the session was one of unity: all the attendees felt that some writers deserved to be recognized more, and that language should not hinder the sharing of ideas.

For most of the three days of the festival, panel discussions were held on translating works into other dialects and languages, the visual aspects of children’s literature and its trends, writing about how industrialization affects the environment, and the aesthetics of the Visayans. Diverse other topics were discussed: such as poetry, non fiction, journalism and ways to earn a living through writing, and the different kinds of publishing, as well as ways to get published. The most popular discussion, however, proved to be the one on writing erotica.

Workshops, such as those on critical reviewing of works, poetry and performance and even songwriting, were also held to benefit those who sought to better their craft. Among the luminaries in the literary world who attended were Dr.Butch Dalisay, Dr. Erlinda Alburo and Bambi Beltran.

On the evening of Feb. 12, most of the delegates attended the closing dinner, with entertainment provided by several local artists. The highlight of the dinner was the TABOAN Awards, whose purpose is to honor outstanding writers from the Visayas.

The first TABOAN awardees were Resil Buagas Mojares, Magdalena Jalandoni Gonzaga, Estrella Alfon, Austregelina Espina-Moore, Edilberto Kaindong Tiempo, Erlinda Kintanar Alburo, Temistokles Adlawan, Gremer Chan Reyes, Leoncio Deriada, Gumer Rafanan, Rodolfo Escalon Villanueva, Rene Estella Amper and Merlie Alunan.

The TABOAN International Writers’ Festival 2010 was organized by the National Committee on Literary Arts and the Arts Council of Cebu.