Young writers urged to write about experiences at undergrad workshop

UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies Director Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo (center) with Jack Wigley (left) and Chuckberry Pascual (right). Photo by Nikko Miguel M. Garcia

WRITERS must draw their stories from their personal experiences.

This was the advice of the country’s top writers and literary scholars to young writers during the 4th Thomasian Undergraduate Writers’ Workshop.

Ned Parfan, fellow at the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (CCWLS), took a swipe at writers who use cliché subjects such as love and “hugot” in their poetry just to please their audience.

“Tanggalin mo ang lahat ng narinig na namin noon at gawin mong specific ang iyong experience,” Parfan said.

“Kung ang problema mo ay hindi makakarelate ang reader, problema niya na ‘yun. The point is to draw the listener or the reader to your experience,” he added.

Author Joselito de los Reyes echoed Parfan and challenged writers to develop a broader sensibility in writing about romance.

“Marami na ang natula tungkol sa pag-ibig. Pero ayun nga e, creative writers tayo at nagtatangka tayong lumikha ng bago,” he said.

Ailil Alvarez, deputy director at the UST Publishing House (USTPH), advised writers to uphold their roots in their writings.

“Try to use an image that is original to you and your culture, even if you are writing about it in English,” Alvarez said.

But Joey Baquiran, who teaches at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, cautioned writers against presenting personal perspectives to their readers.

“Huwag mong diktahan ang audience mo, pero hindi rin naman puwede maging lax,” he said.

Good writing

UST-CCWLS Director Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo urged workshop participants to improve their craft by reading the best works in their genre.

“How do you learn to sing well and improve? You listen to the ones who do it well and learn from them. You do the same for writing,” she said.

USTPH Director Jack Wigley stressed the importance of preparation before writing.

“Nakatutulong siguro ang outline para nakikita yung progress ng kuwento. Hindi mo kasi masyado makikita ang kabuuan ng kuwento kung wala nito,” said Wigley.

De los Reyes added that writers must also do research.

“May malaking component ang research sa pagiging creative writer. Hindi lamang tayo basta humuhugot ng salita sa alapaap,” de los Reyes said.

Other panelists were UST-CCWLS fellows Ralph Galan and Chuckberry Pascual, screenplay writer Jerry Gracio, and poet Joel Toledo.

Author Dawn Marfil and de los Reyes served as workshop coordinators.

This year’s 16 fellows were Arielle Abrigo, Elaine Ang, Leanne Bellen, Francis Braganza, Zymon Dykee, Doreen Garcia, Nikko Garcia, Philip Jamilla, Marianne Lao, Carl Leal, Moses Matsuzawa, Lloyd Opalec, Kim Sy, Kenneth Tabios, Neal Tayco and Kevin Yee.

The workshop, hosted by the UST-CCWLS, was held at the Rizal Hall of the St. Raymund’s Building from June 7 to 9


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