by Eda Acierto
(On September 1-2, 2016, six staff members of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. [KKFI] trooped to Tagaytay City to hone their skills in writing. Four of the six, including the writer of this blog, were greenhorns, hence, as nervous as a sky-diving student about to plunge from the plane and into the open sky for the first time. After all, “Mommy Eda,” as she is fondly called by dorm residents and colleagues alike, is the dormitory manager and had no need to develop any kind of writing skill to get her job done. However, she said she had no regrets that she went through the writing workshop. She wrote the following blog to tell us why.)
I thank the Lord for allowing me to attend the recent writers’ workshop that our organization, the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), generously sponsored. At first, I was reluctant to accept the invitation of Ms. Glenda B. Gutierrez, our Communication Coordinator, since I was afraid that I might be shamed by our teacher, Mr. Fort Nicolas, the KKFI editorial consultant.
I was intimidated and overwhelmed, I must confess, by him. His reputation preceded him. From what I heard from a couple of participants of previous writeshops, he’s quite a “ruthless butcher” of articles. I was told that he often leaves the participants’ copies all bruised, battered and bloodied, not to mention their egos.
He was a newspaper editor for three decades, working in some of the best-known and leading newspapers in the country since the days following the Edsa Revolution until recently when he had to take a break from the pressure-cooke called the newsroom. I guess being the newsroom manager and editor of broadsheets like Malaya, Manila Times, and Inquirer is not the ideal job for a stroke survivor like Sir Fort.
Anyway, back to the writing workshop. When we were about to depart to the venue last Thursday morning, Sir Fort asked me repeatedly if I was really determined to go through the workshop sessions since “pinasubo ka lang ni Glenda.” To my amazement and disappointed, I earlier I learned that Glenda would not be able to come with us because of a bum stomach.
“Are you sure about this,” Sir Fort asked me again with a tinge of sarcasm.
I wondered: “Is he being sincerely altruistic and he is giving me the chance to withdraw or is he simply deriving some secret pleasure in seeing a sheep being led to a slaughterhouse?”
As a first-time participant of a writing workshop I had all the reason to back out, return to my comfortable seat in my office inside Annex 1 Building and routinely do my job without any threat of discomfort. I resisted that urge and bravely pushed on. I plunged myself to the workshop activities.
“If everything fails,” I told myself philosophically, “at least I got to breathe the fresh air of Tagaytay City.”
Another thing that made me do it was that I always had an inclination for writing. I guess it had gone buried inside my system for decades, but it’s still there. You see, I had this childhood dream of being a novel writer. I told myself not to be frightened and face the challenges ahead because I wanted to know if there’s any fire left inside of me to rekindle.
Hence, I went through the one-and-a-half-day workshop atop a hill overlooking the breathtaking scenery of Taal Lake that nestled the famous Taal Volcano and other islets. On that strategic spot, one can see the lush vegetation and green forest below.
The initial fear, it turned out, was baseless. There was no blood and there was no butcher. Each and every one of the six students acquired the confidence needed to write consistently and had fun in the process. Our mentor comfortably and with ease started us off toward mastering the art of writing.
The lessons, writing exercises, camaraderie, and easy laughter that pervaded the workshop atmosphere helped me externalize what I had bottled up, it seemed, inside me all these years. I felt that I suddenly found the wisdom and the gift that had eluded me for a long time.
I rediscovered my gift and I rekindled the fire in my belly. I want to write again.