WORDS serve their function as tools of communication, not arrogance.

I remember a friend of mine from the University of the Philippines-Diliman telling me back during my sophomore year about the difference between UP and UST when it comes to writers. He gave a perfect example: recruitment. Using symbolisms, he said that while UP would inquire, “do you know how to write?,” UST would ask “how good are you as a writer?.”

As a Thomasian writer, of course, I refused to believe that kind of description. UST is home to the greatest writers of the land, but it never meant they think so highly of themselves that they refuse to acknowledge young writers of today just to pass what they have learned to the next generation. In fact, the Varsitarian has been holding the Fiction Workshop for five years now with Thomasian writers such as Francezca Kwe and Jose Victor Torres gracing the event. All along I thought the same things have been happening with other writing groups such as the Thomasian Writers Guild (TWG), but now, I may be wrong.

I was startled to know how some writers of the guild criticized the Literary section of the Varsitarian in an online thread available only for its members. Well, how did I get through it? Some members of the Varsitarian are members also of TWG. I think a few remarks are needed here to protect not the publication, but the University.

Writers should be communicators, not flaunters, of knowledge. What some members of the guild posted in their thread are products of what I consider “superiority complex,” their writers thinking that they are the only sons and daughters of God gifted with the talent of the written word. The only difference is real children of God are humble, just like their Creator.

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I do not see any problem being criticized. It is actually a good way to improve one’s self. However, this “weapon” could be harmful if used self-servingly. Just like what we say, in everything you do there would always be the best way to do it, or in this case— the nicest way.

Criticisms need not be publicized if the person concerned is present in the place where you are publicizing it. Tell it in front of his face like a teacher telling his student what is wrong with his spelling or grammar so that he may correct it at that moment or at least explain his point. It is what you call “decency.” That should also apply in this case. By being decent, you are actually teaching him to learn from his mistakes, a job only real teachers are able to do.

Also, in criticizing you do not need to use harsh words like “poor soul” against another writer. In doing so, you are giving the writer more reason to hate you than be thankful for the advice.

That is exactly what that friend of mine from UP is talking about: most UST writers nowadays boast of their talent to others to the extent of stepping on other’s ego. In the more than 40,000 students in the University, I know that there are other good writers out there— probably better than what TWG and the Varsitarian have— who want to join writing groups but cannot do so because they are afraid that they might be criticized, but more so, that they might be insulted or ridiculed.

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UST is home to the greatest writers in Philippine history, there’s no doubt about that. But greatness does not mean boorishness. For me, a great writer is one that passes on what he knows to the younger generation so that his talent may transcend the years. Yes, we are doing that, but let’s ask ourselves: are we doing it in a constructive way?

“The pen is mightier than the sword,” it is often said. But some writers resort to hateful words and arrogant speech. They’re slaves of the sword, not apostles of the pen.

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