Ilocano language, culture, literature

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Creative Writing and Freedom of the Press

I'm publishing here Zeny B. Padre's blog as a guest blog:

In Tawid News Magasin, Vol. VII No. 43, December 24-30, 2007, Dr. Aurelio Solver Agcaoili, professor at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, wrote a piece entitled "When Poets Become Fascists, or Why Ilokano Creative Writing Needs Redeeming" followed by "When the Craft of Creative Writing Is No Longer Creative Because It Is Corrupt and Corrupting" in the corrected version that came out on January 9, 2008.

Basically, the two pieces are a rant against creative writers, more specifically those masquerading as Ilocano poets whom he claims have become fascists/monsters WITHOUT citing any specific examples.

"As I write this piece," says Agcaoili in the first article, "there is this pang of rage in my heart." For me, that's a cue to not take Dr. Agcaoili seriously for as he seethes with anger, he could not even point a single finger to what he is raving at. As in the heat of passion, things could be said and done that, under more sober circumstances, could have been avoided. If one doesn't have the conviction to call a spade a spade, how can you take him seriously?

"Ilokano writing as an incestuous, anomalous, compadrazgo relationship continues," complains Agcaoili. And he rues: "Where has that decent and dignified--decent because dignified--Ilokano writing gone?" Reminds one of that oft-repeated refrain in Diff'rent Strokes: "Whatchoo talking about, Willis?"

In the second article, Agcaoili puts a new spin on the goals of creative writing: "...we resist the lies and ruses of this present world... we write... to insist that we have the right to live in dignity and self-respect... we write... to become agents of change--to change following the fundamental principles of justice and fairness." What happened to the fundamental definition of "creative"?

Even as Ralph Gregory Elliot, former president of the Connecticut Bar Association, identifies certain limits to freedom of the press in "Limits of Freedom of the Press" [], this freedom is well enshrined in the Bill of Rights--Article III, Section 4--of the 1987 Philippine Constitution: "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press..."

Just as we recognize Dr. Agcaoili's right to rant against Ilocano creative writers and the creative Iloco writing craft itself as part of his freedom of the press, we would like to remind him of his responsibility to exercise restraint by avoiding irresponsible accusations sans specifics, concrete proofs, and that pang of rage in his heart.


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