A Raw Text
By Dean Francis Alfar
In 1992, when I attended the Workshop in Dumaguete, I was young, headstrong and angry. A self-declared maverick at odds with academe and not a member of any fashionable literary cliques, I was possessed of a desire to prove to the world that I could write whatever I wanted, whichever way I wanted. I was so filled with arrogance that I requested that the panel ignore my Palanca awards for my plays and judge me solely on my unproven prose. I was ready to pick fights, blinded by my own sense of ability.
Doc and Mom Tiempo saw right through me, engaged me and showed me how destructive my anger was. In their hands, I was a raw text that could do with improvement and critical thought. In the short span of weeks, they invested in the person in me and showed me who I could be. They saw potential beyond the pose and challenged me to become not just a better writer, but to become a better man. The Tiempos taught me the power of incisive thought filtered through the lens of genuine kindness and compassion. They showed me that writing was just the beginning of a writer’s journey. When before, upon arrival, I could not wait to go home, when it was time to leave I found I did not want to go. Since then, Dumaguete has become the second home of my heart, the place where I plan to spend the days of my retirement.
“Write a novel, Dean,” Mom Tiempo told me one evening.
Years later, I returned to Silliman and gave her a copy of Salamanca. “This is for you.”
The smile and embrace that she gave me meant everything.