Excerpt from an article I wrote for publication elsewhere:
In what must have been a first for any writers workshop in the country, last summer's Ateneo de Davao Writers Workshop featured stories from the genre of fanfic. As the screener for the applications, I take responsibility for the ensuing misadventures; but I confess I also found much amusement in the resulting collision of cultures between the panel and the fellows.
Fanfic, if you're not aware of the term, is short for fan fiction. Its writers take characters from juvenile books, TV series, video games, and anime and cobble together new stories around them. Because of this lack of originality, the genre doesn't get much respect. But because of the popularity of the source material, many young people gravitate to the genre, either as readers or writers.
For our panel of award-winning Davao writers, fanfic was a new and confusing – and perhaps also mildly unpleasant – experience. The fanfic stories in the workshop drew heavily from Final Fantasy, a Japanese video game, and Gossip Girl, a scandalous American teen television drama. While the language was competent, the final product came out awkward, stilted, and inauthentic. Quoting one panelist, the poet Don Pagusara: "Why are you writing this?"