AFTER attending the 21st Iligan National Writers Workshop last May 26-30, 2014 in Iligan City, my passion in writing has been awakened like a sleeping giant within one’s small world.

Like a quenched thirst waiting for words to be poured, the processes in the workshop brought many insights to budding writers who hailed from different parts of the country including myself.

Having all of the delegates from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, the workshop was successful in recognizing local colors and use of local languages in the works subjected for scrutiny.

Being a Meranaw, my interest in joining was inspired by this year’s call for the use of local languages.

This event has become my avenue to finally launch a long-time dream to finally use the Meranaw language in my creative works specifically in poetry.

With the inspiration, my works were accepted and appreciated as they were subjected to critiquing for further improvement.

My poems used in the workshop were “Bituanen” (Divorcee), “So Sinagnin o Puso Aken” (My heart’s longing) and “So Hijab Aken” (This Hijab of mine).

From their titles alone, the Meranaw language use became the center of appreciation and scrutiny.

But what interested me the most in the process is the way how the panelists suggested improvements for better presentation and translation of the beautiful words expressed in my works.

It was indeed a pleasure to be part of a group of people who are real and kind enough in sharing their expertise in developing creative writers like us.

At the end of the day, what matters most was the quenched thirst of passion for writing that has been waiting for so long to be appreciated.

Indeed, the event has inspired the 15 writing fellows.

Coming from Luzon were budding short story writer Seymour B. Sanchez, two young poets Lawdenmarc Y. Decamora and Rommel V. Roxas, and an INWW alumnus Allan Popa.

From Visayas, young fiction writers were applauded with their use of local languages in Waray, Hiligaynon and Cebuano.

They are the young but inspired Manuel M. Avenido Jr., Jeremy Alexandre O. Evardone, Early Sol A. Gadong, Le-an Lai Lacaba and the sole Waray poet Ela Mae G. Salazar.

From Mindanao Region, budding playwright Hiyasmin Gabriela Espejo and young short story writers Maria Karlene Shawn I. Cabaraban, Edmond Julian Y. Dela Cerna and Karen Y. Ramos were successful in portraying the lives of the youth in Mindanao, while poets from Lanao were Amado Guinto Jr. and I.

Again, this said event was a success because of the undying sponsorship from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology through the initiative of the INWW director Christine F. Godinez-Ortega with the dedicated support from the expert panelists German V. Gervacio, Tim Tomlinson, Hope Sabanpan Yu, John Iremil Teodoro, Mac Tiu, Vic Sugbo, Steve Fernandez, Erlinda Kintanar Alburo and guest panelist Rebekah M. Alawi.

Being an annual affair in the country, this prestigious writing workshop has been there to inspire young creative writers for over two decades with fellowships and awards.

This year’s Jimmy Balacuit Literary awards were given to poetry and short story writers.

This is also an opportunity for me to express my gratitude to INWW for having me as the Manuel Buenafe Writing Fellow and for awarding me the second best in the Poetry category under the Jimmy Balacuit Literary awards.

We are so fortunate to be inspired by all the panelists and to be cared by the facilitating team from MSU-IIT English Department.

We are like birds in cages that were given the chance to fly in the open and soar higher to reach our ultimate goals.

Sanggibo Salamat.



(Ms. Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph is currently the chairperson of the Communication and Media Department, Mindanao State University, Marawi City.)