The Cultural Center of the Philippines hosts The Philippine Center of International PEN as it holds its first hybrid congress at the CCP Main Theater Lobby on September 20, 2022 at 2pm. PEN members may also attend the event online.

The Congress aims to provide a venue for the literary community to promote truth and freedom of expression through discussion and performance.

The event will begin with a keynote presentation from National Artist for Literature Gémino Abad, followed by an open forum.

Free the Word!, a mini-festival for global audiences, will feature readings and performances from esteemed local and international artists such as Nanding Josef, screenwriter Veera Tyhtilä, director Adjani Arumpac, playwright Guelan Luarca, among others.

A book sale will also be held by independent and academic publishers, among them Ateneo de Manila University Press, UST Publishing House, and several others.

Free the Word! also coincides with the launch of LUNA, a semi-annual literary journal featuring new Filipino writing.

The event is open and free for all. Certificates of attendance will be given to PEN members who attend the keynote presentation and open forum, whether in person or online.

For queries, please email or text 09193175708 or message CCP Intertextual Division Facebook page.



For the first time since its inception in 1921, PEN International, a worldwide organization of writers that seeks to promote literature and defend freedom of expression will hold its annual Congress in South East Asia. The Philippine Center of International PEN (Philippine PEN) will host this landmark event in Manila from September 30 to October 4, 2019.

Founding Chairman and National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose said, “It is an occasion for us to show writers from different parts of the world our treasures.”

The annual Congress is PEN International’s main meeting where delegates from all over the world gather to decide on key organizational and policy standpoints. The theme for this year’s Congress is “Speaking in Tongues: Literary Freedoms and Indigenous Languages.” It dovetails with the United Nation’s declaration of 2019 as the Year of Indigenous Languages.

Around 200 writers from over 100 countries are expected to arrive in the country to discuss indigenous writing, linguistic diversity and multiculturalism. They will also tackle the threats to freedom of expression posed by hate speech, financial crisis in media, fake news, and repressive regimes.

Keynote speakers are Fernand De Varennes, Special Rapporteur for Minority Issues of the UN, National Artist for Literature Resil Mojares, and famed Indonesian writer Eka Kurniawan. National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario will deliver the Welcome Address for the Public Panels of the Congress. Aside from Jose, Mojares, and Almario, National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera will grace the event. Prominent foreign and local delegates will participate as speakers.

Apart from the main assemblies and meetings to be held at the De La Salle University, there will be several events open to the public. They are: the “Free the Word! Manila: Poetry, Peace, and Performances” to be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines; Speeches and Panel Fora at the National Museum; Artists Congress at DLSU; and Outreach activities at various universities in Manila.

Philippine PEN’s principal government partner in organizing the 85th Congress is the National Book Development Board.

The 98-year-old PEN International is the oldest international literary organization in the world. Aside from promoting literature and defending freedom of expression, it also champions human rights. It is headquartered in London and is currently headed by Mexican-American author Jennifer Clement, the first female President of the organization.

<p class="has-text-align-justify" style="line-height:1.4" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">Among PEN International's past presidents are Nobel Prize winners John Galsworthy, Francois Mauriac, Maurice Maeterlinck, Heinrich Boll, and Mario Vargas Llosa. With a membership of 20,000 writers, PEN International has developed a community of writers worldwide through its 150 centers around the globe, among which is the Philippine PEN, founded in 1957.Among PEN International’s past presidents are Nobel Prize winners John Galsworthy, Francois Mauriac, Maurice Maeterlinck, Heinrich Boll, and Mario Vargas Llosa. With a membership of 20,000 writers, PEN International has developed a community of writers worldwide through its 150 centers around the globe, among which is the Philippine PEN, founded in 1957.

PEN holds 5-day Asian workshop on civil society at DLSU

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 |

Free the Word! Manila

Free the Word! Manila

Forum on free expression, poetry and musical performances
4 July 2018, Wednesday, 5:00-7:00PM
Main Gallery, 3rd Floor, Cultural Center of the Philippines
Open to the public. Free admission.

Forum on Free Expression

Moderator: Karina Bolasco
Romana Cacchioli (PEN International) • Danson Kahyana (PEN Uganda) • Tammy Lai Ming Ho (PEN Hong Kong) • Apoorvanand Jha (PEN Delhi) • Sangamesh Menasinakai (PEN South India)

Poetry and Musical Performances
John Iremil Teodoro • Gary Granada • Vijae Alquisola • Carlos Piocos • Genevieve Asenjo • Tammy Lai Ming Ho • Louise Lopez • Yorn Young • Aldrin Pentero and Roy Cagalingan (LIRA) • Mitra Bandhu Poudel • Myat Thu Soe • Sangamesh Menasinakai • Michael Coroza

Free the Word! is PEN International’s roaming event series of contemporary literature from around the world. Its aims are:

Bring writers together across cultures to share experiences and explore ideas;
Open conversations about how literature can transform, influence and excite;
Contribute to the flow of literature around the world through translation and the promotion of writing;
Introduce readers to both established and emerging voices; and
Provide space for debate and dialogue between readers and writers.