Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Precarious Saturday

I can't quite recall the last time I saw or spoke to my uncle Rene. He is my mother's first cousin, the son of my grandfather's sister. He also happened to be my high school English teacher, of which I have fond memories of. Outside of the classroom, conversations between me and my uncle were limited, if not non-existent. At parties he would sit in one corner and not talk to anyone other than my aunts and uncles. That could explain my amnesia. Early this year, Ria invited Tito Rene to hold a workshop on creative writing for bloggers. I thought it was brilliant. My uncle had the knack for entertaining people and I was certain he could bring that aura of fun to this workshop. It took months of planning and meetings with fellow officers of Davao Bloggers to make it happen, though I have to admit I didn't do a lot. I served as the perennial go-to guy who took care of picking up the food, the LCD machine, the LCD screen and take photos. As dull as it seems, I do a fantastic job at it. Last Saturday, things finally came together. It was the day we will find out if we're any good at what we are attempting to do -- create events for bloggers of Davao City. Most of us have had experience organizing blogging events, but this is the first time we would do it under the Davao Bloggers umbrella. I had no doubt the workshop would be a success. Tito Rene has that instant name recall that will make people sign up. Who doesn't know him? He's a famous columnist for Sunstar and an accomplished author. For me and thousands of others, he's the cool English teacher we had the luck of having in high school. I'm sure he prefers to be remembered that way.

True enough, Tito Rene brought that same energy and exuberance to the workshop. The participants gave their all in the individual and group exercises, and I myself did the unthinkable: I talked to strangers (without coercion by my cousin Ria) and I chose to be my group's spokesperson. That in itself is a personal accomplishment. During the course of the discussions, I was glad to learn that Tito Rene and I had something in common. We each had a list of cliche words to avoid when writing. His list contained words that are all adjectives, while mine are mostly adverbs. Yes, adverbs that I have not used in this blog post so far. Tito Rene asserts that in writing, one has to be concise and specific in picking words. He says we should avoid meaningless words such as "good", "bad", "fine" and go for more profound alternatives, say, "brilliant", "nefarious" and "spellbinding". But he is quick to point out that the words should remain in context.

He adds that we should draw inspiration from our personal experiences and pour it into our writing. View the <textarea> as an empty canvass and fill it up with a slew of colors, textures and brush strokes. It is a matter of having a keen understanding of what you want to say, and say it in the most concise and creative way. I'll keep that in mind from now on, though I'm worried it might take me nine times longer to finish an article. My past blog posts were written in all but 5-20 minutes each, in a veiled attempt to be seen as a blogger who writes often. That may not be such a bad thing. Readers tend to be more forgiving of blog writers than legitimate online journalists. One small mistake from a journalist can make tomorrow's headlines. One small mistake from people like me goes virtually unnoticed. That doesn't take away from the fact that there is room for improvement in my writing skills. There are lots. Okay, heaps. One thing I learned from Tito Rene is I can be better. His workshop was the first step. He insisted for a second one. I guess we're that awful?

Here comes the obligatory part where I post spellbinding pictures of the event.

Creative Writing Workshop
The speaker, Mr. Rene Lizada

Creative Writing Workshop
Ria, me and Tito Rene (yes, I wear glasses!)

Creative Writing Workshop
Group pic with all the participants

Thanks to my fellow organizers Ria, Chattee, Lyle, Brendel and Dulce for a job well done. Thanks to the participants too! Hope to see you in future events.


  1. it's brief, concise and specific..

  2. Nice post. Very accurate post on the productive workshop we had. :)

  3. Gripping, engaging, and spell-binding post! :-)