MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/26 May) – The Malaybalay City-based community news agency BukidnonNews.net and some partners launched on May 22 the 1st Bukidnon Book Festival as their major initiative for the celebration of the Bukidnon Centennial on September 1.
Organizers described the festival as “a gathering of past and potential authors, a collection of copies so the public will see, read and be inspired; a step to help change the way Bukidnon’s stories are told.”
They said it will include a book forum and book tour.
BukidnonNews’ initial partners include the Bukidnon State University’s Social Science Department and the school’s library.
The festival, expected to peak in the last week of August, tentatively carries the theme “Bukidnon: Ilhon, Ayohon, Saulogon” Know, Nurture, Celebrate).
Dr. Beulah Rose R. Torres, chair of the BSU Social Science Department, said at the launching that it is important to preserve the history of Bukidnon through writings.
She added that the gathering of books on Bukidnon and its authors is “very important” to rectify some errors especially those by authors who are outsiders.
She cited the wealth of books written by foreign authors on Bukidnon.
“With less from Filipinos (with less from those from Bukidnon),”she added, noting that the US has a richer collection of books on Bukidnon.
She urged young aspiring writers who joined the 3rd Bukidnon News Malaybalay Youth Summer Workshops to “really write about Bukidnon to help correct some errors”.
She cited that the question on the actual date of Bukidnon’s founding is a gap in literature.
“The gap is at local writing. We don’t see much writings (from local writers),” she added.
Until last year, the province had celebrated its foundation anniversary every March 10.
As it turned out, Bukidnon’s founding as a province occurred on Sept. 1, 1914, when Philippine Commission Act No. 2408, which was passed on July 23 of the same year, took effect. The provincial government, on the other hand, believed that Bukidnon became a province on March 10, 1917.
This was clarified by Dr. Maria Serena Diokno, chair of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), in a letter to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in June 2012. The latter requested the NHCP in 2010 to clarify the province’s founding date as it started to plan for its centennial celebration.
Novelist Telesforo Sungkit Jr., who was guest of honor at the launching and one of the lecturers at the summer workshops, said he hoped the sessions would be the beginning of Bukidnon Writers Workshops someday.
“The children have a good potential to create good stories. Hopefully Bukidnon writers will produce more,” he added.
He agreed with Torres that many books on Bukidnon are not locally available, but added that it’s because most researchers did not provide local libraries or the subjects of their research with copies of their books or research findings.
The local government units don’t even have copies, he said.
Sungkit said the indigenous peoples have a lot of experiences being used as subjects only of research.
“How do we know if their researches are correct? How do we validate or evaluate if their writings are true?” he said.
The celebration of the Bukidnon centennial is a big milestone in the history of Bukidnon, festival organizers said.
“It is a worthwhile endeavor because it provides a revisit of the books in the past and a stream of possible books to be written on Bukidnon to promote understanding of context and history, conversations on Bukidnon,” they said.
Sungkit said the book festival is a way to help raise public consciousness that the centennial should be a time to check identity, history, and development.
With a list and a collection of books from June to July 2014, the books will be displayed for the Bukidnon Centennial Book Forum from August 29 to September 1. There is a plan to hold the forum together with the tour of the Mindanao Book Festival in partnership with MindaNews.
The book collection will then be toured around Bukidnon’s four districts for subsequent local book forums.
Among the goals of the book festival is to inspire aspiring writers and book publishers to produce more books on Bukidnon so that residents themselves can tell local stories.
Organizers will still meet with other interested parties to be partners for the book festival project. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)