UMPIL the Writers’ Union

I TAKE GREAT PRIDE in aligning myself for the past more than 30 years with the Unyon ng Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) or the Writers’ Union of the Philippines.

Karangalan ko na makihanay sa iginagalang na mga nakatatanda at nakababatang manunulat sa pamayanan ng panitikang Filipino, English at iba pang wika.


Ang Panitikan sa Panahon ng Tokhang

(Literature During the Bloody War on Drugs)

MANILA, Philippines – In celebration of the National Literature Month, the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (Umpil, or The Writers Union of the Philippines) will hold its National Writers Congress on April 29, from 8 am to 6 pm, at the Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City.

The program will consist of a keynote address and writers fora. The awards ceremony of the annual Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Francisco Balagtas, Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez, and Gawad Pedro Bucaneg will be held in the afternoon. The closing ceremonies of the National Literature Month celebration will follow immediately after.

The overarching theme of the congress is “Ang Panitikan sa Panahon ng Tokhang (Literature During the Bloody War on Drugs)” featuring a keynote lecture by Dr Jose “Butch” Dalisay Jr, a multi-awarded and well acclaimed author of books of fiction and essay. Dalisay is a professor of creative writing at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.`

The speakers for the writers forum “Ang Papel ng Manunulat sa Panahon ng Tokhang” are Lourd Ernest de Veyra, Joel Salud, and Juana Change (Mae Paner), with Karina Bolasco as moderator.

The speakers for the writers forum “Paglalako ng Opinyon, Pagkabigo ng Gunita (Opinion Peddling, the Failure of Memory)” are Floy Quintos, Frank Cimatu, and Joyce Martin, with Louie Jon Sanchez as moderator.

The congress’ highlight will be the conferment of the 3 major awards given by Umpil since 1988.

This year’s recipients of the Gawad Alagad ni Francisco Balagtas, a lifetime achievement award for literary writing, are: Romulo Baquiran (Poetry in Filipino), Luis Gatmaitan (Children’s Fiction in Filipino), Marne Kilates (Poetry in English), Liza Magtoto (Play in Filipino), Jameson Ong (Poetry in Chinese), Carla Pacis (Children’s Story in English), Vicente Rafael (Criticism in English), Criselda Yabes (Essay and Fiction in English), and Melchor Yburan (Poetry in Cebuano).

Receiving the Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez, an award for achievement in literary education, is Alicia Magos, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of the Philippines Visayas in Iloilo and the editor-translator of the Panay Bukidnon epics published by the University of the Philippines Press.

The Gawad Pedro Bucaneg, an award for outstanding literary organizations, will be given to Thousand Islands, an organization of Chinese-Filipino writers.

The congress is supported by the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center and the Department of Literature of the College of Liberal Arts of De La Salle University-Manila, the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

The event is open to the public, but admission does not cover meals. Umpil writers and members are enjoined to attend the congress and renew their membership. For inquiries and early registration, and membership application, email Umpil secretary-general John Iremil Teodoro at –


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