April is National Literature Month and there are monthlong festivities which explore belles lettres and its links with other art forms, such as music, theater and film, in close to 30 provinces, cities and towns, from Batanes in the north to Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the south.
This was announced in a recent press conference at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) led by National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario, chair of NCCA and Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF).
The celebration opened in Orion, Bataan, with Araw ni Balagtas, honoring the great poet who was from Bulacan (the town where he was born, Bigaa, is now named after him) but who later moved to Orion where he died.
The National Book Development Board, chaired by Marie Santa Romana-Cruz, launched monthlong online activities, a book fiesta featuring contests and interactive projects, all aimed at promoting books by Philippine authors.
Florentino Hornedo, a scholar on Ivatan folk literature, was honored with the Timpalak Hornedo, a literary competition of writing and singing the traditional laji, in Basco, Batanes, on April 8. There were workshops to train students and the winning pieces became part of the Bantayog ng Wika program of the KWF.
An interesting exchange was held simultaneously in Cebu and Manila on April 11. The works of newly named National Artist Ramon Muzones, a novelist in the Hiligaynon language, were read at the Ateneo de Manila University. In turn, the works of Tagalog novelist Lazaro Francisco, another National Artist, were taken up at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City.
Emilio Jacinto, revolutionary hero and writer, and great composer Nicanor Abelardo were honored. With the Filipino art song, the kundiman, recognized as a literary form, a three-day kundiman writing workshop for Filipino composers was held April 12-14 at the NCCA Auditorium.
A literary pilgrimage for Jacinto will take place today, April 15, in Magdalena, Laguna, where he died from wounds suffered in battle.
Pista ng Komedya will be presented in San Jose, Antique, on April 23-25, bringing to the fore this traditional play in verse, with its stylized choreography, martial music, colorful costumes, and conflicts which end in peace.
A two-day symposium at the University of the Philippines Film Institute will explore interaction between literature and film.
On April 26, Pistang Pampanitikan in Baler, Aurora, will tie up the literary arts with musical and visual arts.
Celebrations end with the National Writers Congress by the Unyon ng Manunulat ng Pilipinas on April 27 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. —CONTRIBUTED