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Bohol Arts and Cultural Heritage Institute (BACHI)
« on: July 20, 2019, 04:33:16 PM »
By Cooper Resabal


by Cooper Resabal

Some 70 teachers of creative writing and literature from all over Bohol and other cultural workers recalled memories of Boholano cuisine—ranging from sweet,  sour, milky and bitter, to salty and spicy—in a four-day heritage memoirs writing workshop on place, memory and food  on July 8-11, 2019 at the Bohol Arts and Cultural Heritage Institute (BACHI) in Tagbilaran City.

The four-day workshop introduced participants to the experience of creative writing, particularly the genre of creative non-fiction memoir, on their Boholano family food heritage. Guided by writing mentors, they culled from remembered stories of a food item, in terms of its particular contexts in place and time, the characters in these stories, and how the heritage continues to live in the family.

The all-Boholano team of facilitators included Dr. Marjorie Evasco, University Fellow and Literature Professor Emeritus of De La Salle University, Prof. Leo Abaya, full professor of the College of Fine Arts of University of the Philippines-Diliman, Dr. Ulysses Aparece, anthropologist and dean of the College of Liberal Arts of University of Cebu, and Dr. Rose Rara, Holy Name University graduate school professor.

The heritage memoirs writing workshop has been organized by BACH Institute in partnership with the Bohol provincial government, Diocese of Tagbilaran, Department of Education Division of Bohol, Loboc Youth Education Association Foundation and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Designed for teachers of literature and creative writing, artists, cultural and development workers, the workshop opened with a panel provocation sharing  on “Cultural Heritage, Place, Memory and Food” by each of the facilitating writers, including a “Memory Mapping” with Lutgardo Labad, head of BACHI. 

Participants were then divided into four groups,  each with a facilitator, and held close reading practices on a sample memoir writing “Puto Baang: Journey and Memory” by Ulysses B. Aparece.

In the first writeshop on “Framing the Narrative through Conceptualization and Form (Point of view and Story Arc),” the participants were asked to cull their memory of a traditional Boholano dish that is part of their family culinary heritage, like torta nga kinaraan, kalamay, inun-unan tulingan, etc.

A guide questionnaire prepared by Dr. Evasco urged participants to specify the elder in their family who specialized in preparing and cooking the dish. “Since the memoir is yours and is in the first person point of view, excavate your memory for the story you can tell of how this elder and her/his dish marks your family in a specific way by describing three scenes that you can use as the story’s beginning, middle and end,” she further instructed.

The first day produced draft sample narratives of some Boholano family culinary heritage. These included, “Kilawin Kindles Kinship,” a draft account of a dish from goat meat, “Halang-Halang Manok Tinunuan ” from Maribojoc about a chicken dish with coconut milk that spices up life in a village, “Hinudnong Bingka ni Manang”  as livelihood support, “Putos Putos nga Latik” as means for education, “Nilusak ni Mamala,” “Puso sa Saging: A Story of Food and Healing,” etc.

The second day tackled “Constructing the Story World; Setting as Place and Space; Setting as Time.” Participants were asked to “think of the context in which the family dish is situated in the village and town.” What is available in the area that is used in the preparation of the dish? When is this family dish prepared and why? Do other families know how to prepare and cook it?

At this stage, they were asked to extend the contexts in place and time of the family dish by interviewing  the one who specialized in cooking it (if still alive) on how the recipe came into his/her hands, who taught her the ‘secrets’ that made it distinct from the recipe of the same dish in other families.

The third writeshop on “Constructing the Plot and Desire in the Arc of Meaningfulness” followed. The facilitators asked participants to “think… why this dish is important to them personally and how it is connected to their sense of belonging to a family or clan.” Do they know how to prepare and cook it? If not, who usually prepares and still cooks it now?

The guide question further instructed the teachers to “remember an occasion, including who were present, when the whole family gathered and had the dish. How is this family culinary tradition valuable to you? How important is this culinary heritage to you as a Boholano? How would you feel if it is lost forever in oblivion?

Since there were many heritage Boholano dish narratives written by the 70 workshop participants that could not all be presented within a limited time, each facilitator was asked to choose a best draft that was reviewed and critiqued by the panel and presented on the final day in a creative presentation or reading at the BACH Institute. The facilitators selected the following:

“Hinalang nga Baki: Lami o Dili” by Ejay Auxterio of Dagohoy, narrated the mixture of fun and difficulties involved in catching farm frogs for the hinalang nga baki dish in “sugid-balak”  or narrative prose poetry in Boholano with theater improvisation assistance by Kasing Sining artists Bryll Dumandan, Doydoy Calle, and one more.

“Pag-abot sa pagkaon, lahi ra gyud basta Bol-anon. Kugihan mangita up paagi para naay sud-anon. Usa na niini ang pagkaon ug hinalang nga baki, bati sa imong pamati apan kung ikaw makatilaw daw tumang kalami,” Auxterio opens her narrative on a spicy frog dish.

“Puso: A Story of Food and Healing” by Jocelyn J. Laguna showed in English narrative how her grandmother’s recipe of puso or banana blossom with lumayagan or squid was instrumental in healing a family trauma early in her childhood. Laguna presented a dramatic reading of excerpts from her heritage dish story.

“Bisa’g Saging Basta Labing” by Jaymay Derosahento presented a voice dramatization of how pounded banana sab-a mixed with grated coconut saved his family from hunger after typhoon Ruping devastated their house and farm. This banana mix eventually became the basis of a family business venture from his Lolo’s nilurang nga sab-a to maruya. He concludes, “As long as there is saging, we will surely always be assured of labing (love).”

Raffy Salo presented a reading of his “Putos Putos Aron Mulampos: Latik,” a story of how preparing and selling “balikutsa” or latik, a sticky mixture of cooked dark brown sugar and coconut milk wrapped in dried banana leaves, helped him and his family in facing the challenges of life, and in completing his education as a teacher.

The best final memoirs will become part of a book, “The Bohol We Savor,” to be published by the BACH Institute in 2020.

A reading/performance of Marjorie Evasco’s poem “Sumad” was presented by Rama Marcaida, Gardy Labad, Cooper Resabal, Rose Rara and one more, with drum and bamboo rainmaker sound backup as a final rite/offering of the workshop.

All participants who submitted a memoir or work of creative non-fiction on a heritage family dish were each given a certificate of participation for completing the writeshop signed by the four mentors/facilitators.

Cooper Resabal

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