Activity: The Bikol Book Festival and Cultural Pilgrimage
Theme: Danay na Yaon (Always, Our Presences)
Date and Time: 17 April 2022

Ambassador Jana Sediva of the Czech Republic,

Naga City Mayor Nelson Legacion and the City Councilors,

Kristian Cordero, and our Bicolano writers, students and teachers …

… Marhay na hapon po sa ating lahat.

On behalf of the National Book Development Board, I’m delighted to welcome all of you to the very first Bikol Book Festival and Cultural Pilgrimage with the theme, Danay na Yaon (“Always, Our Presences).

This festival, which opens today and continues up to the 21st, will highlight the pioneering writers of our literature whose origins can be traced back to the Bicol region. Their writings formed a significant part of our country’s history, reflecting several eras of our past with folklore, poems, and plays adapted from Biblical stories, and rawitdawit, among others. It is only apt, then, that we begin by honoring the resting places of several pioneering Bicolano writers, including literary critic Dr. Maria Lilia F. Realubit and fictionist Delfin Fresnosa.

Besides our symbolic offerings, we have many other exciting activities. For one, the NBDB, together with the Ateneo de Naga and Savage Mind, will present the 15 new Bicolano titles that received translation and publication grants from the NBDB. Participants can discover more local titles by attending our book fair in Pili, Camarines Sur, that will happen on-site and online. They can also learn and hear from authors through artists’ talks, writing and book design workshops, and poetry readings.

As we celebrate and reflect on our own stories, it is also important that we look at the works of our friends from the international community. That is why we will host the Czech Comics Exhibition at the Kamarin Art Gallery. To dive deeper into Bicolano cultures, a film showing, exhibition of local weaving products and sculptural works of the indigenous people of Buhi are also scheduled.

Evidently from these events, the Bicol literary community plays an important role in fostering our local, creative voices. The NBDB recognizes this fact, and so we are honored to have made this festival possible through our grant for independent and regional book fairs. Book publishing and distribution have been a challenge in regions outside of Metro Manila, especially since the pandemic, so a festival such as this is crucial in the creation of a more vibrant literary community across the Philippines. It allows our readers and writers to interact with their favorite authors, and for publishers, agents, distributors and retailers to meet and do business. It also draws media and public attention to the book industry.

We hope that through the launch of this project, book festivals will become a regular program in communities of the region, so that Bicol will develop into an established creative hub for both Filipino and non-Filipino creatives.

To our Bicolano fellows, thank you for all of your efforts in bringing forward the identities, values, and histories of the region. Without all of you, a meaningful partnership such as this would not have been possible.

Muli, marhay na hapon po sa ating lahat, at mabuhay ang panitikang Bikolano!