Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

I AM delighted to be part of the upcoming Cebu Literary Festival (Cebu Lit Fest) on June 27 to be held at the Ayala Activity Center. I am not always in my birthplace of Cebu, and so it’s a privilege for me to have the chance to share my work with my fellow Cebuanos. The fact is that Cebu has been a great inspiration to my fiction, where Cebu appears as Ubec. I have also written about Cebu in my non-fiction, some of which have been collected in the book, Out of Cebu: Essays and Personal Prose. I plan to talk and do readings about this topic at the Cebu Lit Fest on June 27.

What I wanted to bring up is the idea that the Cebu Lit Fest can do more than showcase Cebuano writers and literature, the event can be a real boon to Cebu. I have been to places where literary festivals have become important events, bringing in tourists to those places.

Guanajuato in Mexico hosts a Cervantes Festival (Festival Cervantino) for two to three weeks in the month of October, drawing many tourists. I have attended this festival and was awed by the energy and vibrancy of the place. There were open-air concerts and performances in the city’s theaters, auditoriums, churches, and historic haciendas.

The students from the Universidad de Guanajuato and other schools wore costumes, which livened up the place a lot. During this time, Guanajuato had a party-atmosphere that was also cultured. It was very enjoyable.

I also had the chance to visit Barcelona on Sant Jordi’s Day (St. George’s day) on April 23, and that was something to behold. Sant Jordi is also known as the Day of the Book and the Rose, and on that day, people in Barcelona give one another books and roses. It was like Christmas, with people frantically buying books and roses to give away.

In the US, the Shakespeare Festival is held in Ashland, Oregon and visitors not only enjoy Shakespearean plays but opera, bluegrass, folk singing, and chamber music as well. The Shakespeare Festival is famous and draws many visitors to Ashland.

Ubud in Bali has a five-day Writers and Readers Festival in October. This began 10 years ago as a healing project in response to the first Bali bombing, and the festival has earned the reputation as the most renowned cultural and literary event in Southeast Asia.

Like these different cultural and literary events, our own Cebu Lit Fest can bring in visitors who are inclined to the literary and artistic. I will dream here and imagine that Cebuano theater and music can participate in future literary festivals. I will allow my imagination to see Cebu’s auditoriums and cafes filled with literary readings, theatrical performances, musical presentations. And since I’m already dreaming, why not have a writer’s conference at the universities as well? And let our art galleries show off our artists’ works. June is an excellent time for Cebu’s Literary Festival because it’s summer in other parts of the world and people can travel for their holiday.