‘Use written word to counter social ills’

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WRITERS should write to address social issues and not just for personal gain.

This was the message of a number of writers during the lecture titled “Whatever Happened to Protest?” which was part of the annual conference of the Philippine PEN (Poets & Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists), the premiere literary organization.

“Madaling kapitan ang memes at hugot, ngunit nasaan ang lalim nito sa mainstream? Hindi magwo-work ang mga sulat na pawang feel-good o entertainment lamang, na walang diskurso at kinalaman sa status quo,” said playwright Mixkaela Villalon at the Henry Sy Hall of De La Salle University in Manila last Nov. 21.

Villalon said writers should not write merely for monetary compensation. “Kapag nilalagay sa pedestal ang manunulat, nagkakaroon ng irony dahil ang pagsulat ay ginagawa na lamang dahil sa pera, parangal o kasikatan,” she said.

TV5 news personality Lourd de Veyra said joining street protests has more impact compared with social media posts.

“Yes, social media is a wider form of communication. Mas instant ang publishing at writing na puwede macheck sa telepono anytime. But the question is, even with social media, do we as writers reach our intended audiences?” said de Veyra, a UST journalism alumnus and former Varsitarian staff member.

“Mas malawak siyang megaphone, sigurado. Mas maraming nararating, mas maraming diskusyunan. `Yung mga talakayan ay mas nagkakaroon ng buhay sa pagbabatuhan ng impormasiyon at links,” he added.

Fictionist Alvin Yapan said people should protest out of their ideological beliefs and not just out of a bandwagon mentality.

“Protest is co-opted by media and pop culture which is a form of mainstream capitalist consumption,” he said.

The two-day national conference, on its 59th installment this year, featured lectures, book sales and book launches. Book exhibitors and sellers in the two-day event included Anvil Publishing, Ateneo de Manila Press, Bookmark Inc., DLSU Publishing House, New day Publishing, UP Press and the UST Publishing House.

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