Today was the first day of the Ateneo de Davao University Writers Workshop 2012. All in all, a pretty significant affair for me because it's my first time to be a workshop director, and the burden of responsibility weighs heavy on my shoulders. Which is not to say that it wasn't a fun day, which it was; and by many measures, I'd quality the day as a success.
Of course, I couldn't have pulled it off without my mates from the Davao Writers Guild -- Ric de Ungria, Mac Tiu, Jhoanna Lynn Cruz, Don Pagusara, and our keynote speaker Dame Aida Rivera Ford -- nor the energetic SALEM president Karen Kae Dicdican, nor the efficiency of Humanities Division secretary Jo Dizon.
Aida Rivera Ford gave our keynote address. She talked about her early experiences as a young writer in Silliman University and how they started the Sands and Coral publication, and about her adventures taking up her MA in English at the University of Michigan. Key revelations: she wrote her widely anthologized stories "Love in the Cornhusks" and "The Chieftest Mourner" because of pressure to produce for the Sands and Coral and for her thesis work.
Some public school teachers undergoing training for the upcoming K-12 program dropped by and took the opportunity to have their photos taken with Dame Aida. Aida showed off her latest book, published by Anvil, "Heroes in Love", a collection of plays about Rizal, Gregorio del Pilar, Manuel Quezon, and the fictional Crisosto Ibarra.
Despite some changes in the lineup for fellows, we still had a good turnout: we have 15, all told. Majority are students of Ateneo de Davao, but we have guests from University of Southeastern Philippines, University of Immaculate Conception, University of Southern Mindanao, and Cebu National Science High School.
This year, we're experimenting with slight changes in the format. Instead of the traditional critique workshops all throughout, we've included intensive writing sessions, our so-called "writing blitzes", and breakout read-aloud groups. I also asked the panelists to read the works soon after the keynote so as to give the fellows a chance to know them better by their works.