Thursday, September 13, 2007

Vin Simbulan at Xavier School

From I.C.A. last July with Yvette Tan, I crossed two streets over and went to the neighboring boys' school, making sure to skirt the church inbetween, taking as wide and safe a berth as I could so that I wouldn't accidentally alight on sacred ground and get struck by sudden blindness, hit by lightning, or drowned in a downpour of blood.

Now on his second year at Xavier School in San Juan in his stint as the high-school creative writing club moderator, writer and National Book Award winner Vin Simbulan* has been hammering into the heads of his young wards the importance of reading and writing.

Vin invited me over twice this week to visit his classes, to meet his 2nd year high-school students last Tuesday, Sep. 11, and then to meet his 3rd year students on Thursday, Sep. 13, 2007.

Girls are quieter than boys, let me tell you that.

Amid wisecracks, side jokes, and boisterous laughter, I watched Vin teach his students. He spoke to them of the different story genres, how each person is different from another and thus, has different stories to tell, and how self-discipline can lead to achieving one's goals, whether as a writer or anything else.

Vin gave me an opportunity to speak to his kids too. I told them about PGS and why I set it up. I told them that there are many Pinoy writers out there worth reading as much as writers from other countries, and that they should not stop reading even when they get older. They in turn asked me about the time when I was their age, and they had a lot of fun with what I told them about a world with no internet, no high-tech game consoles, no cellphones, and no cable TV (if I had been in their place, I would have joked about it too). It was a wide enough opening for me to segue into talking a bit about science-fiction, how the world these kids were living in today was just imaginary years ago, the subject of seemingly fantastic stories then, but now taken for granted as a regular part of everyday.

But even then, there were books. We had books. We still have books. I told them, that even with all the other things they could do today, the should reserve a part of their lives for books.

Vin also gave both classes a writing exercise. In fact, he used Andrew Drilon's illustration from PGS2 to give them their own forty-minute Image Inspiration. I promised to reward the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd placers of both classes with free copies of PGS, their short vignettes to be judged by Vin and a few of his friends.

My interaction with them, and with the students Yvette spoke to last July, confirms my notion that there are a lot of young ones out there with the intelligence that can be enhanced by reading, and with the talent and imagination to write; and not necessarily write only fiction, but to write anything competently enough, a skill that will be an asset no matter what they choose to be in the future.

Two uplifting afternoons, and Vin's students are lucky to have him for a club moderator. This makes me so much more eager to meet other students from other schools. I've scheduled time to go to these other schools in the near future, with other writers in tow. I'll blog about these visits soon.

*Vin has won the National Book Award three times, and has seen his work published in The Philippine Daily Inquirer, K-Zone, and in Philippine Speculative Fiction, Volumes 1 and 2. One of his stories, "In the Arms of Beishu" from PSF Vol. 1, received a citation a couple of years ago in the international Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthology (edited by Ellen Datlow, Gavin Grant, and Kelly Link). He's amassed more books than he could ever hope to read in one lifetime and favors the high-fantasy genre in particular. His story, "Wail of the Sun", appeared in PGS1, and another one, "The Last Stand of Aurundar", will come out in PGS4.


Blogger Vin said...

Thanks for joining me Kyu!
It's all part of the agenda of spreading Spec-Fic and Genre stories. :)

4:59 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

I should be the thanking you, Vin, for inviting me and letting me speak a bit. I think you're doing a good thing. Good luck with the students for the rest of the sem!

6:22 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

I should be the one thanking you, Vin, for inviting me and letting me speak a bit. I think you're doing a good thing. Good luck with the students for the rest of the sem!

6:23 PM  

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