The Philippine PEN (Poets & Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists) is hosting the Civil Society Programme Development Workshop, which will be attended by representatives of various PEN centers across Asia.

The workshop, organized by the PEN International based in England, will be held July 2-6 at De la Salle University, Alfred Xerez Burgos Boardroom, Taft, Manila.

Founded in 1921 in London, PEN International is the federation of writers upholding freedom of expression with centers all over the world.

PEN members through the years have included Nobel laureates Mario Vargas Llosa, Nadine Gordimer, Gunter Grass, Francois Mauriac and Lio Xiabao.

Its main committees show International PEN’s chief concerns: Writers in Prison, Writers for Peace, Women Writers, and Translation and Linguistic Rights.

The Philippine PEN was founded in 1957 by National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose.

Hosted by the Philippine PEN, the international workshop is participated in by representatives of several PEN centers in Asia.

Delegates include Yorn Young (Cambodia); La Seng and Myat Thu Soe (Myanmar); Mitra Bandhu Poudel (Nepal); Apoorvanand Jha (New Delhi, India); Gauranga Chandra Mohanta (Bangladesh); Sangamesh Menasinakai (South India); Lai Ming Ho (Hong Kong); and Danson Kahyana (Uganda).

“Free the Word!” will have publisher Karina Bolasco, director of the Ateneo de Manila University Press, moderating the forum on the state of freedom of the press and expression. Panelists include Romana Cacchioli of PEN International based in England; and writers from Uganda (Danson Kahyana) and Myanmar.

Philippine delegates are: Pamela R. Castrillo (Davao, Southern Mindanao); Junley L. Lazaga (Baguio, Northern Luzon); Phil Harold L. Mercurio (Samar, Eastern Visayas); H. Francisco V. Peñones Jr. (Bicol, Southern Luzon); Ma. Carmen Aquino Sarmiento (Manila); and Santiago B. Villafania (Pangasinan, Western Luzon).

International PEN staff from London who will conduct the workshop include Romana Cacchioli, Holly Strauss, Emma Wadsworth Jones, and Mike Halmshaw.

Supporting the PEN International’s Civil Society Programme Development Workshop in Asia are the Cultural Center of the Philippines, DLSU Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center, San Miguel Beer and Freeway National Artist Collectors Series.

The workshop is not open to the public.

‘Free the Word!’

But open to the public is “Free the Word!”—a forum plus poetry and performance event involving local and foreign writers—at the CCP’s Main Gallery on July 4, 5-7 p.m.

Aside from the Asian PEN delegates, to do poetry readings and performances are Gary Granada, Krip Yuson, John Iremil Teodoro, Vijae Alquisola, Louise Lopez, Roy Cagalingan, Aldrin Pentero, Genevieve Asenjo (who will read the PEN Women’s Manifesto in Kinaray-a), Carlos Piocos and Michael Coroza.

Free admission. (Lifestyle | Inquirer.net)