Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Why Writers Guild?

Dylan Gozum: I think WG was the most reasonable club to join as I do not sing in public and I’ve stopped painting and hiking a long time ago. The only things left that I still do on a regular basis are read and write.

Pia Manzano: For me, writing is a form of silent self expression and reading (regardless of material) takes me to a more peaceful place away from the harsh realities of the world.

J.P. Canivel: When I was born, the doctor predicted that I will become a member of SPi Writers Guild, so he put me in the incubator for some time so that my father would be able to look for a name from the bible and the mythology. My existence then is a constant preparation for my pre-destined purpose. Kidding aside, WG caters to my interests. Back in 2003, Edwin Tiamzon, a Quality Assurance Specialist, invited me to join the club. I discovered then that a relative of mine was the secretary of the club.

The team to beat: JP, Rica Bolipata-Santos (our very 1st guest speaker!), Pia and Dylan. Not in the photo is Alex de Juan.

How come your team works so well?
J: It does? *laughs* At first we have so many clashes because we have different ideas and backgrounds. One time we planned a mutiny to overthrow tyrant Dylan. Either that or have him assassinated after saving enough money. It did not push through. I learned to settle our differences and being open to each others’ opinions. That could be the magic formula – having an open mind.

D: It wasn’t really like this in the beginning. We were strangers to each other. I only met JP during the debates in 2004 and Pia was just new to SPi. We’ve had many moments when we rubbed each other off in a bad way. Dhang and Ivy (of Employee Relations) are witnesses to the numerous e-mails that we’ve exchanged just arguing. Being writers, we argued a lot through e-mails!

P: It’s not so much about agreeing with each other or engaging in lengthy debates. What’s more important is respecting each other's opinions and knowing where the other comes from. Respect just makes everything run smoother.

Recall a moment in 2006 which you think defined the Guild and what it does best.
: I cannot think of a… Wait, the fact that we managed to jump-start the Guild and brought it to a wider audience is, methinks, the best thing we ever did in 2006. Otherwise, the series of workshops would be the next best thing, followed by the blog.

P: All of the Guild’s activities define its vision and mission. Not one activity would define the totality of the Guild. It’s more of bits and pieces of its aims being achieved each time an activity is completed and yet another idea is born from the brains and hearts of its leaders.

J: Let me correct what Dylan said. The series of workshops is the best thing – all the rest follows. *laughs* Talk about taking all the credits! In truth, I think it is the blogspot maintained by Dylan and Perps Poblador (Weblog Administrator). When you say “Writers”, regardless if it they are beginners or professionals, there should be a proof of their work to have a claim.

Do you plan to pursue these things in 2007?
J: Whoever will be the next set of officers has a say on this. If they think that they have to discontinue a program or change something, then that would be their choice and they have the authority to do so. All I can advice is make a wise use of the assistance that SPi is providing us.

D: There is this thing we know as an “inherent pressure” on sitting officers to surpass the achievements of previous officers. I, however, never felt that pressure. Sometimes it does look like we want to achieve more than Gigs (Garcia) did or Allan (Palileo) before her, but I’d rather see it as a leveling up of sorts, building on what they started and improving on previous ideas. Most officers like to “start all over again” but for us, that’s not the case. In fact, the idea of a blog started in Gig’s time, and an internet-based repository of articles already existed in Allan’s time. It just so happened that a web log is today’s PR tool of choice. Next year, work would have to revolve around the concepts of “continuum” and “institutionalization”.

P: I see 2007 as a year where more creative programs will be launched that will entice more people to see that the Guild can help them better themselves. Also, to promote reading and writing to those who initially shun our activities.

What’s the Guild’s highest point in ’06?
: Making a name for the Guild. When you mention the name, it somehow conjures certain images. I hope they are positive ones.

P: We are more visible now and appreciated by more people as they see how our activities have helped them personally.

J: Making use of the allotted budget properly and being active again. There’s no honorarium though. *Dylan pouts*

The lowest?
: Losing Alex (de Juan). It was not our lowest point but it sure was our saddest. He was Palanca-material. He and JP add credibility to the Guild. They bridge us to the very active literary scene here in Manila. Pia naman keeps us all grounded. She brings us back to the negotiation table.

P: Going through the process of understanding how the company system works and how the Guild fits in but from that low point, it is most important to know how we stood our ground, even if our individual thoughts differed.

D: Right. Sort of like we should welcome dissenting voices. It spurs growth.

J: Pouring many efforts for an activity but ending up without or short of the desired results. Poetry in motion and SPiT, which were supposed to be our activities for the SPi Club Week, are examples. This is the reason why we dropped the ‘Be the next Nobel Laureate in Literature’ thing.

D: Oh, we had that? *laughs*

Happy times: Poetry Editor Alex de Juan with contestants in our annual Word Factory

What are you most frustrated of?
: Plans that never see the light of day. Others consider them ideas that are ahead of their time. I simply call them missed opportunities.

P: Great ideas that the audiences in SPi were not ready for.

J: Not having enough resources to catch up with our plans. I mean all types of resources - financial, human and even environmental.

What do you plan to do about that?
: Plan properly.

P: Slowly integrate more lofty plans into our list of programs to prepare everyone to more serious and thought-provoking activities.

J: Dylan has some plans to generate some money for both WG and SPi Foundation. For me, I’ll try lotto. Pray for me though so that I can donate something.

Among your many activities, which among them would you rather have more people getting involved in?
: All? *laughs* Kung kaya lang sana.

P: It would be our series of learning sessions (A Series of Fortunate Events - Ed.). We really had the best of speakers and would have loved to have more people come and be part of them.

J: I agree with Pia. The workshops should have more SPi participants. This is also in preparation for the national workshops, contests and the bigger literary field.

Women power: Weblog Manager Perps Poblador and Pia during the Fun Debates we co-sponsored with Toastmasters Club in 2006

Major issues faced last year?
: I am looking at issues that will continue to plague us this year. The level of involvement, of course, bothers me a lot. Sometimes I watch co-employees in the cafeteria and I tell someone, “We are not getting our message out to these people. We are not reaching them.” It’s like, what are we tiring ourselves for? We think too much, we worry too much, we work too much, we spend too much but people around us are completely unaware.

: Reach. A greater reach is one of the most important aspects of any activity. We need to make people realize what they want in life and see that there are things that the Guild can do to help them achieve their life goals.

J: Ditto.
D: And we're not paid like the EC Chairpersons are given the breadth of our tasks, but that's moot and academic now. *grins* Wait, is this on the record?!

Classic: the backdrop designed by the Guild for the 2006 Fun Debates. It was used again during the Rockfest in December. That is Ivy Buenaventura of ER. She is now with Organizational Development. We will miss working with her. *sniffs*

What were the biggest surprises of 2006?
D: That we were able to make ends meet.

P: We were flat broke at the end of the year with all the activities we had though we ramped up mid-year already.

J: I was surprised by the book donations. WG did not release a teaser or invitation for such. Elaine Kunkle, CIS Director of Operations, donated 86 books. A few days afterwards, May Dizon, Corporate Communications Manager, also donated a bunch of books. Once we have the bookcase and the borrowing cards, every employee may borrow the books. (Everyone nods in agreement with JP’s comment)

D: We also received a small number of storybooks from one of our storytellers, Rose Teleron, a medical doctor. I would like to see that donation as a starter kit of sorts. I hope we grow a good collection of storybooks which parents from SPi can bring home and read to their kids.

Biggest let-downs?
D: That we cannot – or aren’t – reaching out to the Guild’s past members. I see them around, but there seems to no effort in bringing them back. I only managed to reign in 1 or 2 but the former bigwigs, for example, are just around us. For example, it took us forever to identify who (former Guild President) Allan Palileo was. *laughs* Perps (Poblador, Guild Weblog Manager) had to check out old photos and I, on the sly, checked out his I.D.! Ha ha!

: That there seemed to be lack of support from the Employee Council on our activities and other projects.

J: That we can’t invite any National Artist for Literature for a small talk because of the small population of interested employees.

Do you find club work fulfilling?
D: People might find it akin to an ego trip. In truth, it’s more frustrating than fulfilling that I feel like giving up every single day, but yeah it could be fun.

P: Truly, especially when you hear that our activities enrich people’s lives.

J: I am used to extra-curricular activities during my study years and I love sharing my time and skills. Yes, by so doing I feel happy, but there are also times when I feel depressed especially if other people misunderstand your intentions.

So why do you do it?
D: I have messianic complex. Kidding! *laughs*

P: It gives my reading and (seldom) writing some purpose. Well, aside from the selfish ones.

J: It gives me a reason to skip suicide for some time and make something fruitful out of my life. Scary, huh? I always want to learn and experience something different.

D: Suicide is so literary, 'di ba? It has spawned many novels and films!

How is it like working with other groups like CSR, for example?
D: We were aiming at tying up with SPILA in the beginning. Unfortunately, I heard through the grapevine that HR didn’t consider creative writing as a form of formal training, that it doesn’t fit into SPILA’s curriculum; the EPP, for example. This came as a big shock to me. I can't imagine how creativity cannot enter the realm of business writing, which is normally stiff. The best thing then was to bring out my Confucian thinking cap and re-think our options then CSR came along.

P: CSR has been a staunch advocate of literacy and Writers Guild just plays its part in realizing their goals. It is good that we have CSR and even Toastmasters to join our activities, at the very least, we have an audience.

J: There are just some things which are better done in groups.

D: Yeah, that's right. CSR was like a deus ex machina, an unexpected surprise but a welcome one nonetheless.

What are you looking forward to?
: Our 5th anniversary in 2008 and getting ourselves accredited with literary groups like Panitikan.com and Read or Die. Maybe we can submit entries to the Writers’ Bloc in CCP but that’s like dreaming big already.

P: Making the Guild an essential part of the company!

J: Winning the recognition as the Best Club in SPi. Sana may trip to Disneyland din, parang sa CIT.

Do you consider the Guild a success story?
: Not quite. We only made a dent. The task of involving more people in joining our activities consumes us. The challenge is still finding out what goes on in an SPi employee’s mind, what makes him tick and if we get to involve him in at least one of our menu of activities, I think that’s when I’d like to call ourselves successful. The response to the M.V. Doulos trip was a positive, heart-warming start.

P: We are still a success story in the making. It’s a long and arduous travel that we are glad to be taking.

J: If you look at it on a micro level, yes it is. Little by little, we are achieving something. JP is part of it so it is bound to succeed!

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