By Tara Yap
Regional literature in Western Visayas is thriving and a new breed of storytellers has not only kept the varied languages of Panay Island alive, but also become gatekeepers of the region’s culture.
Anchored on the theme “Labaw sa Aton Kaugalingon” (Beyond Ourselves), the recent Iloilo Mega Book Fair 2019 became an avenue for a broader audience of the region’s cultural knowledge and traditions as told by homegrown storytellers who write in the three varied regional languages—Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, and Akeanon—and even in English and Filipino.
The November book fair launched new works published under independent publisher Kasingkasing Press and local writers’ group of Hubon Manunulat.
These were Taga-Uma @ Manila by Genevieve L. Asenjo, Mga Luwa ni Tatay Itsong by Melchor F. Cichon and Charlie I. Ureta, Nahauna nga Lalaki kag Iban pa nga Sugilanon by Felino S. Garcia Jr., Hae-o ag Eusong: Mga Binaeybay nga Akeanon by Shur C. Mangilaya, Mga Laragway Halin sa Paraiso by Jose Edison C. Tondares, Ang Kalye nga Wala sing Kamatayon: The Palanca-Award Winning Short Stories of Leoncio P. Deriada by Dulce Maria V. Deriada, Aklanon by Sharon Concepcion Masula, Carne Fierro by Melecio F. Turao, and Breaking Bread by Karen Faith Villaprudente.
The second edition of The Katipunan in Aklan by John E. Barrios, Melchor F. Cichon, and Dominador I. Ilio was also launched.
Writer and organizer Noel Galon de Leon mentioned how the second year of the Iloilo Mega Book Fair paid homage to Leoncio P. Deriada, the “Father of Contemporary West Visayan Literature” who passed away in April and who was a staunch advocate of mainstreaming regional literature.
Iloilo Mega Book Fair also brought together artists, musicians, and cultural workers from Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental at the Festive Walk Mall of Megaworld Corp.’s Iloilo Business Park.
“It was almost a complete representation of artists and cultural workers,” De Leon said. There were concerts, storytelling, sketch fests, and cosplay contests, while the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art (ILOMOCA) hosted various talks—from literature, marketing, and even social issues.