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The Tabaon Festival is a Philippine literary festival celebrated regularly since its founding in 2009. “Taboan”is Visaya and it means, “Market”. Much like how a market would function only without the trading of goods, it is a gathering of writers, scholars, linguists, thinkers, and artists with the gift of the literary prowess from all over the Philippines wherein trades of ideas take place. Last February 24-27, 2014 the 6th Taboan Festival took place at the Subic Holiday Villas, Subic Freeport Bay, Pampanga. The 6th Taboan Festival also awarded the two much celebrated National Artists of the Philippines, Bienvenido Lumbera and Virgilio Almario, as well as many other writers for their display of impeccable skill in creating Philippine literary masterpieces.

I was very fortunate enough to be invited to this prestigious gathering. The Taboan Festival was not at all a writing contest. Rather, it was a festival wherein a great deal of an exchange of ideas took place. Various talks and sessions were offered for three days and in these sessions one picks up and generates musings, feelings, opinions, and contemplations among others to inspire one’s own future literary works. However, I did not only gain tools necessary to spark a new short story or poem but I also learned a lot about our Philippine language and cultures. There was many a discussion on the preservation of the Filipino language, dialects, and cultures spread throughout our country. I actually learned more about my Filipino heritage here than anywhere else. Through the Taboan Festival I was able to appreciate my Filipino roots. I was able to understand, in a way, the unique cultures we have. I was able to see the beauty of what it means to be a Filipino.

From here, I gain the three things I have learned in this event summed up in three simple words: respect, words, and art. To respect is to be able to look at another person’s culture in its totality, viewing it with an open mind and heart. When I am able to respect another’s culture, I am able to put myself in his shoes and I get to appreciate the uniqueness of his culture. Words are one of the most powerful tools man has in his arsenal. Words can be used to make or break. Words can be used to heal or destroy. I learned to be responsible and accountable for letting go of these words because I may hurt or help others. As they say, “Think before you speak” and maybe in this case as well, “Think before you write.” Lastly, art is man’s expression of his significant human experiences. These experiences are not only his thoughts but they are also his feelings as he goes through his journey in life. When people write or tell stories, write or read poems, participate in public speaking they are engaging in art. They are expressing what they think and what they feel. They express their desires, hopes, wishes, and dreams. They express moments of their lives. This expression, this art draws people in and allows for others the ability to relate. In this ability to relate with one another, the art of writing and speaking hopes to allow for the breeding of more ideas which will be shaped into words that would express more hopes to generating stories that are and will be future works of art. This was the magic the Taboan Festival left with me. I do hope the Taboan grows to invite more writers scattered in the Philippines who exude potential so that the magic that comes from the literary word lives on.


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