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Pinoy, Bicol Reads: NA Series

Pinoy, Bicol Reads

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), in collaboration with the National Committees on Language and Translation (NCLT) and Literary Arts (NCLA), recently celebrated National Literature Month 2024 through a series of events highlighting the enduring impact of our National Artists (NA). The initiative, entitled “Reading the National Artists for Literature Series,” underscores the profound influence of these NAs on literary communities across the Philippines.

Pinoy, Bicol ReadsThe first event in this series, “Bicol Reads Bien Lumbera and Levi Celerio,” took place on April 23, 2024, at the Bicol University Amphitheater. This event was a collaborative effort with the Bicol University College of Arts and Letters (BU-CAL). It featured a two-part lecture series focusing on the lives and works of National Artists Bien Lumbera and Levi Celerio.

Ian Ron V. Bello, founder and creative director of Arabay Folkloric and Theater Group, delivered a compelling presentation titled “Insights into the Life and Works of Lumbera,” which delved into Bien Lumbera’s significant contributions to Philippine literature and cultural scholarship. Following this, Abdon M. Balde, Jr., a commissioner of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino and founder of the Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society, presented “SINO SI LEVI CELERIO,” a lecture that illuminated the life and musical genius of Levi Celerio. Mr. Jobert Landeza and Prof. Ramil C. Chavenia of Bicol University also shared their insights as reactors during the event, enriching the discussions with their perspectives.

Pinoy, Bicol ReadsThe second leg of the National Artist Reads Series took place at the UP Hotel, University of the Philippines-Diliman, and commemorated the works of Nick Joaquin on his birthdate. This gathering attracted avid readers from Metro Manila and was graced by Nick Joaquin’s sister, Ms. Rosario Charo Joaquin-Villegas, and her husband, Mr. Bing Villegas. Mr. Jaffy Fajardo opened the event with remarks about his journey as a reader and his discovery of Nick Joaquin’s works.

Professor Jenny Ortueste from the University of Santo Tomas provided an insightful lecture on how new readers can engage with Joaquin’s unique literary perspective. Her talk culminated with a narration of one of Joaquin’s celebrated works. Ms. Ella Betos and Mr. Paul Morante brought Joaquin’s prose to life with their reading renditions, followed by Mr. Jayson Vega, founder of Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books (PRPB), who shared his experiences as a reader and discussed the relevance of Joaquin’s stories in today’s cultural landscape. Ms. Hannah Pauline Pabilonia concluded the session with a poignant interpretation of an excerpt from “May Day Eve.” Ms. Rosario Charo Joaquin-Villegas expressed her gratitude for the tribute to her brother and shared that her family is planning initiatives to further commemorate Nick Joaquin’s literary legacy.

The “Reading the National Artists for Literature Series ” fosters a deeper appreciation for the works of our NAs. These events not only honor the contributions of Bien Lumbera, Levi Celerio, and Nick Joaquin but also inspire and engage literary communities across the country, ensuring that their legacy continues to thrive and resonate with new generations of Filipino readers.

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