PGTW: Memoiry

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 13 June 2013, Thursday


Several times a year, I come out with a column that rounds up various coming events in the literary world.

You’ll find the updates and “calls for” at the bottom of this piece.

But first, a word on the memoir.

One of those still selling like hot pandesal in the morning is Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s eponymous book. It was a bestseller right out of the gate and went through another printing, if not more than one.

However, there are people who’ve called him out for omitting facts or altering them. “I was there too and that’s not how it happened,” is the usual comment.

Writing is always a selective process, and memoir differs from journalism. Do not expect from memoirs the truth in the same form or shape that we expect it from news stories.

William Zinsser calls the memoir “remembered truth,” and while “how-tos” suggest that memoirs be honest, in the end the writer chooses what to reveal to his audience, and presents it in the way she or he wishes it to appear.

A memoir-writer, consciously or not, employs agenda-setting, selecting what issues or topics to include and to prioritize as important. This is not to say that memoir is dishonest, but it is, I repeat, selective; and when reading, be mindful of this.

The contemporaries of memoir writers who have a different take on events should write their own personal histories, and their point-of-view on the same topic would be just as interesting to readers. It would also provide what researchers call “triangulation of the data” or cross-verification, meaning if a statement is consistent across several sources then it is probably true.

Again, Zinsser: “If your sister has a problem with your memoir, she can write her own…and it will be just as valid as yours; nobody has a monopoly on the shared past.”

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            Call for short stories: speculative fiction writer and anthologist Dean Francis Alfar invites writers who will be aged 45 and below by the end of this year to contribute stories in any genre to a forthcoming anthology “Volume.” The suggested length is around 5,000 words. Email to by June 30.

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“Manila Noir” launch: National Book Award nominee Jessica Hagedorn will launch the new anthology she edited, “Manila Noir,” on July 6 at National Bookstore Glorietta 1 at 4pm.

The book, part of the “Akashic Noir” series, is a collection of new stories by F. H. Batacan, Jose Dalisay Jr., Lourd de Veyra, Eric Gamalinda, Angelo Lacuesta, and others, delving into the deep dark side of the city we know and love.

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Children’s lit authors group: Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting (KUTING) is a 17-year-old network of writers for children. Among its members are Carla Pacis, Augie Rivera, Luis Gatmaitan, and May Tobias-Papa. The group has nurtured many promising writers over the years and invites applicants for membership (must be at least 18 years old).

There will be an orientation seminar on July 6, 1pm, at Room 309 of the University of the Philippines College of Arts and Letters. For details, find their Facebook Page, check out their website, or send an email to

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Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas event: In celebration of the Andres Bonifacio sesquicentennial, UMPIL will hold the “Andres Bonifacio As Writer Conference for Teachers” on 29-31 August 2013 at the Leong Hall Auditorium, Ateneo de Manila University.

On 29-30 August, scholars will deliver papers on the aesthetics, theory and praxis, and influence of Andres Bonifacio’s works during the 1896 Revolution and its aftermath.

On 31 August, the annual UMPIL members convention features the Writers Forum and the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas, Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez, and Gawad Pedro Bucaneg.

UMPIL members, teachers, and other interested parties are encouraged to attend. For details, text Eva Cadiz at 09178453721 or email UMPIL Secretary General Michael M. Coroza at or

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National Book Development Board call for manuscripts: Apply by 30 August 2013 for a P200,000 grant to complete books on the local history of a province in English or Filipino; novel written in Ilocano; biography written in Cebuano; and books on entrepreneurship, livelihood, or new technologies. For more details and the list of requirements, visit ***

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