Back at the Bloc: Cebu LitFest 2023

(Photo by Euryl Christy P. Tanucan, CTU-Main Intern)
(Photo by Euryl Christy P. Tanucan, CTU-Main Intern)

Literary festivals are growing in popularity worldwide because they allow local writers, poets and other literary artists to promote their work and interact with their audience. In Cebu, literary festivals have become a gathering place for friends who share a love of literature and the arts, as well as a gathering place for families who want to strengthen their bonds with family members.

To commemorate World Book Day this year, the Cebu Literary Festival, which was established in 2014, collaborated with AyalaMalls Central Bloc on Sunday, April 23, 2023, to gather bookworms, young and adults, and study various kinds of literature — fiction and nonfiction.

The event was held in the Activity Center on the third floor from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

According to organizer Hendri Go, the event was planned two months ago, but the bulk of programming happened last week when the team decided to add “Hamiltunes,” a singalong from the songs of “Hamilton.”

“This month’s literary festival activity differs from recent literary festivals because it aims to encourage kids to engage in books. The main activity includes storytelling for kids, arts and crafts for kids, singalong, book swap, pop-up booth with Journeys bookstore, selling locally made art and merchandise, children’s books and hard-to-find local books from Solidaridad Book Shop, Ateneo de Naga, Komiket, Everything’s Fine and USC Press,” shared Hendri.

“The primary purpose of the Cebu Literary Festival is to celebrate storytelling and its main intersections with cosplay, spoken word poetry, film, music and anything that is related to storytelling. The guests who donated and swapped a book were given sweet treats, stickers and bookmarks,” he said.

For everyone

One of the goals of Cebu LitFest is to promote literacy, creativity and intellectual development, particularly among children who are not highly exposed to art and storytelling. One of the children spotted in the area was five-year-old Flynn Estrera. When asked about his favorite part of the event, he said the painting and coloring. According to his mother, it was Flynn’s first time joining a literary festival. She wanted to expose Flynn to these kinds of events because Flynn loves art, and she is fully supportive of her son’s involvement in art.

The Cebu Literary Festival did not close its doors to adults who wanted to participate. Ezra, a 32-year-old book collector who identifies as a LitFest volunteer, was at the event for the singalong. She also sat down and wrote on her journal with her peers as a way of spending quality time. She and her group create monthly journals to keep up with each other. They love to plan and write entries on their journals.

What pushed her to participate in the event was to support her friend, who is part of the Journeys Cebu team. She said the experience was fun for her since everyone from her circle of friends liked Disney songs and she was surrounded by people who also liked arts and crafts.

“When I love an author, I make sure to collect every book that they publish. I am a collector. Although I have a PDF file of their books because I love to bring it with me, nothing beats reading the real thing so that I can highlight something from the book,” said Ezra when asked why preferred buying hardbound books over scanning e-books.

There is indeed a diversity of literature that explores well-being in various areas, ranging from health to leisure and art.

Participation in many forms of art is recognized to be helpful to people’s mental health since recreational activities such as literary festivals increase concentration skills and the ability to manage anxiety and stress.

It also improves an individual’s social skills, especially for children with limited experience working and cooperating with a group. Furthermore, it is a great way to have fun, meet new people and form new friendships.

It is still possible for those who have yet to experience and explore the essence of literary festivals because the Cebu Literary Festival will organize another event in June — a Pride-themed literary festival to commemorate and promote the LGBTQIA community during Pride Month. (Euryl Christy P. Tanucan, CTU-Main Intern)

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