ABU DHABI—Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Alfonso A. Ver, on February 4, interacted with Filipino authors and artists at the annual Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature (Emirates LitFest), led by historian Ambeth Ocampo, award-winning novelist Dr. Miguel Syjuco, poet Danabelle Gutierrez, authors Angelo R. Lacuesta and Rissa Mananquil-Trillo, as well as writer Budjette Tan and illustrator Kajo Baldisimo of comic book-turned-Netflix animated series “Trese.”
On its 15th year, the Emirates LitFest featured 10 Filipino authors—the largest Filipino contingent in its history—plus the abovementioned writers who held talks and interviews that shed light on their creative process, ways their works manifest their Filipino identity, and prospects writers face in introducing the next generation of “Pinoys” in diaspora to Philippine culture and identity.
Ver attended three thought-provoking sessions: Prof. Ocampo’s “Dirty Ice Cream, Banana Ketchup and Stinking Fish: Deliciously Filipino,” Tan and Kajo’s “Tabi-Tabi Po: Entering the World of Trese,” and “Kwentong Filipino” with Gutierrez, Dr. Syjuco and Lacuesta.
“In my discussions with the…Filipino [authors and artist]…and having attended their talks today, I can say with confidence that the future of Philippine culture is in good, talented hands,” he said. “From Prof. Ambeth Ocampo’s thought-provoking historical insights, Dr. Syjuco’s novels featuring sociopolitical commentary, Ms. Gutierrez’ poetry reflecting her multicultural narrative, Ms. Mananquil-Trillo’s stories of empowerment, Messrs. Tan and Kajo’s focus on Filipino myths and folklore for their comics and animation, and Mr. Lacuesta’s ease of shift from screenplays to short stories and novels, the next generation of Filipino readers have a wide range of selection to choose from.”
The ambassador added: “I am proud of these authors’ commitment to their craft, and their desire to write distinctively Filipino stories that will also resonate universally. I hope the Filipino youth and our kababayans—especially [those] here in the UAE—will be inspired to likewise create and write the Filipino narrative.”
Image credits: Abu Dhabi PE