Monday, June 23, 2014

Hendri Go, The Man Behind the Cebu Literary Festival


Monday, I had tea with Hendri Go, who along with Hope Sabanpan Yu cooked up the idea for Cebu's Literary Festival. A year ago, they had broached the idea of having a literary event in Cebu and had asked me to participate. I told them I usually visit Cebu in June for the fiesta in the historic district. It turned out two other Fil-Am Cebuano writers, Linda Faigao-Hall and Lawrence Ypil, also visit Cebu in June. With lighting speed, the 2014 Cebu Lit Fest started falling in place.

According to Hendri, the producer of the event, he thought of the theme "Coming Home Again" although this is not stated in press materials. Hendri has a  vision that the event should be "pop", "fun", and educational. The initial idea was to have three separate talks by the three US Cebuano writers over a period of three weeks. The talks were consolidated into one afternoon; but the afternoon event evolved further into a full day's event, not at a university (who goes to a university? - Hendri posed the question to me -- ) but at the Ayala Center, Cebu's premier mall. The only drawback Hendri warned is that the event is on Friday; the weekend would have been better, he said, but that's how the scheduling went.

Hope Sabanpan Yu is handling the educational aspects of the event while Hendri is applying his theatrical production skills to make the event exciting to students and the public. Hendri is on top of things, from the streamers at the venue (Ayala Center), to social media and regular media publicity. The people I've seen since my arrival are all intrigued and interested in attending the June 27 Cebu Lit Fest - (great publicity, Hendri! - Japanese media included).

Don't forget: The Cebuano Literary Festival is June 27, at the Ayala Center.  I give a talk/reading at 4:30 p.m. followed by a panel discussion at 5:30. Hendri has also arranged for the books of the writers to be available at the event, so the authors will be signing books (some of them hard-to-find titles).

Thanks to Hendri Go and Hope Sabanpan Yu for inviting me and for all the hard work!

I'm reprinting this short writeup re the Cebu Literary Festival, which appeared in the SunStar, June 23, 2014. Hendri had asked me to write it, as part of his publicity for the Lit Fest.

Dreaming of the Future of Cebu Literary Festival
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

I am delighted to be part of the upcoming Cebu Literary Festival on June 27, 2014. I am not always in my birthplace of Cebu, and so it’s a privilege for me to have the chance to share my work with my fellow Cebuanos.  The fact is that Cebu has been a great inspiration to my fiction, where Cebu appears as Ubec. I have also written about Cebu in my non-fiction, some of which have been collected in the book, Out of Cebu: Essays and Personal Prose.  I plan to talk and do readings about this topic at the Cebu Lit Fest on June 27.
What I wanted to bring up is the idea that the Cebu Lit Fest can do more than showcase Cebuano writers and literature, the event can be a real boon to Cebu. I have been to places where literary festivals have become important events, bringing in tourists to those places.
Guanajuato in Mexico hosts a Cervantes Festival (Festival Cervantino) for 2-3 weeks in the month of October, drawing many tourists. I have attended this festival and was awed by the energy and vibrancy of the place. There were open-air concerts and performances in the city’s theaters, auditoriums, churches, and historic haciendas.  The students from the Universidad de Guanajuato and other schools wore costumes, which livened up the place a lot. During this time, Guanajuato had a party-atmosphere that was also cultured. It was very enjoyable.
I also had the chance to visit Barcelona on Sant Jordi’s Day (St. George’s day) on April 23, and that was something to behold. Sant Jordi is also known as the Day of the Book and the Rose, and on that day, people in Barcelona give one another books and roses. It was like Christmas, with people frantically buying books and roses to give away.
In the US, the Shakespeare Festival is held in Ashland, Oregon and visitors not only enjoy Shakespearean plays but opera, bluegrass, folk singing, and chamber music as well. The Shakespeare Festival is famous and draws many visitors to Ashland.
Ubud in Bali has a five-day Writers and Readers Festival in October. This began ten years ago as a healing project in response to the first Bali bombing, and the festival has earned the reputation as the most renowned cultural and literary event in Southeast Asia.
Like these different cultural and literary events, our own Cebu Lit Fest can bring in visitors who are inclined to the literary and artistic. I will dream here and imagine that Cebuano theater and music can participate in future literary festivals. I will allow my imagination to see Cebu’s auditoriums and cafes filled with literary readings, theatrical performances, musical presentations. And since I’m already dreaming, why not have a writer’s conference at the universities as well? And let our art galleries show off our artists’ works. June is an excellent time for Cebu’s Literary Festival because it’s summer in other parts of the world and people can travel for their holiday.
See you at our June 27, 2014 Cebu LitFest, at the Ayala Activity Center!

Bio: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard was born and raised in Cebu, Philippines. She is the author and editor of 19 books, including the novels, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept and Magdalena, which are set in Ubec (or Cebu backwards). She will be talking about “Cebu As Inspiration to My Writings” at the Cebu Literary Festival on June 27. 

Read also
Interview of Cecilia Manguerra Brainard by Allison Hunter
Woman with Horns at the Cebu Literary Festival
Tags: literature, theater, Cebu, Philippines, literary festival, litfest, Hendri Go, Hope Yu, Linda Faigao-Hall, Lawrence Ypil, Cecilia Brainard, books, authors, writers, culture, Sugbo
This is all for now,

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