Friday, June 14, 2024

Love Lit

By Sarah Madison Repollo | May 7, 2024

In the dim lighting of 58 EJ Blanco Drive, dozens of people flit about the lively venue. On one side, vendors chat earnestly with customers, conversing about their shared interest in some products. Right across, the aroma of home-baked goodness wafts over to newly arrived guests, enticing them to afford at least a single bite. Adjacent to the foodie line, seated viewers hang onto every word and sound escaping the stage’s sound system — the star of this year’s Dumaguete Literary Festival lay in each and every voice that spoke to the crowd of literature enthusiasts.

Philippine literature’s hometown

The Dumaguete Literary Festival held its inauguration on April 26. Multiple industries, including the SU English and Literature Department, Edilberto and Edith Tiempo Creative Writing Center, and the SU Culture and Arts Council worked tirelessly to create a festival that would both spark interest in the Dumaguete literary scene, and tie in with the celebration of National Literature Month — some of the most notable activities included informative talks, film screenings, storytelling sessions, and many more.

Several big names such as Dean Francis Alfar, Marjorie Evasco, and countless others played vital roles in the local event. Aside from well-known figures, many upstart literary lovers got to share their passions during the Fest, including students from Silliman like Matthew Yasi and Alyana Aguja, among others.

Even with the newer generations’ declining interest in all things book-related, the LitFest’s venue filled up with people of all kinds of people — the Dumaguete Literary Scene continuing to serve as a home for writers and literary lovers alike. Prolific writers from all over the city and neighboring towns have cultivated the writing culture here — with the likes of Edith & Edilberto Tiempo, Bobby Flores Villasis, and many more building up the city’s reputation in ages past.

Nowadays, younger writers have continued this legacy, especially in the Silliman community.

A couple of months back, the formation of the Silliman Writers’ Bloc guild rounded up many young, budding authors. Since the organization’s creation, event after event has been held in the name of literature — poetry nights, Valentine’s prompts, and many more. Aside from guilds, the Silliman community has continued to pursue their love for literature through full-on publications. In mid-March, the oldest student-led literary journal in Asia, the Sands & Coral made a print comeback after eighteen long years.

A bright future

In an age wherein at least 90% of Filipinos aged 10 have poor literacy and technology dominates the country, there are countless obstacles in the local literary scene. Despite this, youth in the Philippines — and, by extension, Dumaguete — beginning to rediscover the power of literature through ventures made by the writing community. This recent LitFest was a major catalyst.

Through various initiatives, from org formations to writing contests, and informative talks to literary festivals, the power of words and storytelling is gradually becoming more widely recognized among the youth.

Love for literature

With the venue lights shining bright on each writer who graced the stage, they also lit up the wide smiles of the presenters as they talked and talked about the one thing that bound together all who walked through the gates of 58 EJ Blanco Drive: their shared love for literature.

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