Asia’s longest-running creative writing program launched its 54th installment on May 11 at the scenic Rose Lamb Sobrepeña Writers Village in Camp Look-out, Valencia.

The Silliman University National Writers Workshop (SUNWW) this year was formally opened with words of welcome from Vice President for Development Prof. Jane Annette L. Belarmino who mentioned briefly the University's plans of assisting a university replicate the workshop in Myanmar. Also in attendance were College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dr. Margaret Helen Alvarez and University Librarian Mrs. Lorna Yso.

Slated to run for three weeks, the workshop brings to the University different sets of panelists who are distinguished poets, fictionists and novelists in the country and abroad. These panelists serve as mentors to this year’s fellows who come from different parts of the Philippines.

Comprising the panel for the first week are Director-in-Residence Ricardo de Ungria, Dumaguete-based poet Cesar Ruiz Aquino, guest panelists Timothy Montes and Dinah Roma, and foreign panelist Gwee Li Sui of Singapore.

(Photo by Sha'ianne Lawas

Twelve writers from all over the Philippines have been accepted as regular workshop fellows. They are: Aimee Paulette O. Cando of Quezon City (University of Santo Tomas), Angela Gabriele R. Fabunan of Olongapo City (University of the Philippines-Diliman), Darylle Luzarita Rubino of Polomolok, South Cotabato (University of the Philippines Mindanao) and Mohammad Nassefh R. Macla of Davao City (University of the Philippines Mindanao) for poetry; Luis Manuel Diores of Cebu City (University of San Carlos), Patricia Corazon F. Lim of Quezon City (Ateneo de Manila University), Kristine Abelink Patenio of Murcia, Negros Occidental (University of St. La Salle) and Rodolfo Eduardo T. Santiago of Quezon City (Ateneo de Manila University) for fiction; and Jona Branzuela Bering of Cebu City (Cebu Normal University), Rowena Rose M. Lee of Manila (University of the Philippines Mindanao), Miguel Antonio Lizada of Davao City (Ateneo de Manila University) and Edmark Tejarcio Tan of Quezon City (University of Santo Tomas) for creative nonfiction.

A special fellow for poetry, Khail Campos Santia of Malaybalay, Bukidnon (Silliman University), and two special auditors, Daw Thiri Soe and Thazin Oo of Myanmar’s Dagon University, will be joining them. Three applicants have also been invited to sit as special workshop mentees: Ana Joaquina Adriano of Dumaguete City (Enderun College), SilvinFederic Real Maceren of Cebu City (Silliman University) and Chuckie Perez Manio of Bacolod City (Silliman University).

SUNWW season in Dumaguete also means a banquet of literary events, including readings, lectures, and book launches. Last May 14, Gwee Li Sui gave a lecture titled “Poeticizing Love” at the American Corner in the University Library. Afternoon of that same day, the National Book Development Board held a panel discussion on book publishing, preparing manuscripts for publication and online publishing with NBDB’s Executive Director Graciela Mendoza-Cayton, literary agent Atty. Andrea Pasion-Flores and self-published author Mina V. Esguerra at the Student Center.

This year’s workshop is co-sponsored by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia.