The Philippine Center for International PEN, or PEN Philippines for short, elected its new national officers in the first meeting of its new Board today, October 14, 2022.

The officers are Angelo R. Lacuesta, President; Santiago Villafania, Vice President; Pamela Castrillo, Secretary; and Jenny Ortuoste, Treasurer.

PEN is the worldwide organization of writers to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere. The association has autonomous International PEN centers in over 100 countries.

The Philippine chapter also elected its various committees, as follows: Programs Committee: Joel Pablo Salud (head), Beverly Siy, Glenn Sevilla Mas, and Angelo R. Lacuesta; Membership Committee: Santiago Villafania (head), Jhoanna Cruz, Beverly Siy, Junley Lazaga, and Eros Atalia; Finance: Jenny Ortuoste (head), Charlson Ong, and Lito Zulueta; and Communications Commitee: Maria Karina Bolasco (head), Guelan Luarca, Marne Kilates.

For its regular international liaisons, PEN Philippines also named its International Subcommittees, which are: Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee: Santiago Villafania (head), Marne Kilates, and Junley Lazaga; Women Writers Committee: Maria Karina Bolasco (head), Jhoanna Cruz; Writers in Prison: Joel Pablo Salud (head), and Junley Lazaga; and Writers for Peace: Charlson Ong (head), Guelan Luarca.

PEN International aims to emphasize the role of literature in the development of mutual understanding and world culture; to fight for freedom of expression; and to act as a powerful voice on behalf of writers harassed, imprisoned and sometimes killed for their views.

PEN Philippines intends to pursue its projects including workshops for the teaching of literature, membership expansion, and the continuing fight against fake news and history manipulation. It also intends to protect its members, and even non-member writers, from harassment.

PEN Philippines was founded by National Artist F Sionil Jose in 1958 to bring the ideals of PEN International to the local context and to firm up writers’ commitment to democracy especially during the dark days of Marcos Sr.’s martial law. At the same time, PEN Philippines stood beside and behind writers facing suppression and harassment from authorities.

PEN International has a long history of gathering writers to its cause. The first PEN Club was founded at the Florence Restaurant in London on October 5, 1921,[3] by Catherine Amy Dawson Scott, with playwright John Galsworthy as its first president. Its first members included Joseph Conrad, Elizabeth Craig, George Bernard Shaw, and H. G. Wells.

PEN originally stood for “Poets, Essayists, Novelists,” but now stands for “Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, Novelists”, and includes writers of any form of literature, such as journalists and historians.

For membership application visit https://thephilippinepen.wordpress.com/membership/

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