Writing in other professions

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By Levine Andro H. Lao

Can the tedious task of creative writing squeeze through the hectic schedules of professionals?
Despite the demands of their respective careers, multi-awarded contemporary literary personalities Victor Emmanuel Carmelo “Vim” Nadera, Jr. and Jim Libiran still allot some of their time for writing, being convinced that it is very useful in their professions.

Writing legacy
Having pursued Psychology in both college and graduate school, Nadera thought that his creative writing would just stay among memories of his high school days.
“I took up Psychology as a pre-med course because my mother, who is a doctor, wanted me to follow her footsteps,” Nadera, the youngest director of the UP Institute of Creative Writing, told the Varsitarian.
However, his scientific undertakings did not limit the creative writer inside him.
“Psychology helped me in writing a persona for my poems and characters in my stories,” Nadera added.
Nadera joined the Varsitarian and became the publication’s editor in chief in 1986. During his term, he initiated the revival of the creative Thomasian prowess through the foundation of the USTetika Awards, UST’s prestigious awards for literature.
Aside from being the “Father of Performance Poetry in the Philippines,” Nadera was awarded with two Centennial Literary Prizes in 1998 for his epic Mujer Indigena and novel (H)istoryador(a).
After finishing his studies, Nadera found a way to merge his profession and love for the written and oral arts. He applied poetry therapy to street children, comfort women, and even those afflicted with AIDS and cancer.
Nadera advocated this unique kind of therapy through his master’s degree thesis, Poetreat: The Use of Poetry Therapy in Mutual Support Groups of Cancer Survivors in Metro Manila, which saw print in 2001. His series of free sessions to patients led to Asia’s first expressive art workshop, which was held in the National Arts Center in 1995.
“It was fulfilling because I was able to satisfy my love and need for literature and psychology,” Nadera told the Varsitarian.
In memory of his late son, Awit, Nadera, together with his wife, established the Awit foundation, which aims to help special children. He is planning to use poetry therapy for the patients in the foundation.
Nadera said that most of the youth do not look at creative writing as a financially rewarding job so they tend to choose technical courses. As the newly appointed chair of Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas, he is planning to help every writer in the country, whose rights as creators are violated by rampant photocopying.
“Xerox machine operators don’t have anything to do with the creative process,” Nadera said. “We will try to make writers earn what they deserve by fighting for the intellectual property rights of every writer.”
In addition, Nadera is pursuing a goal to promote the use of Filipino in writing. “Right now, I am trying to champion the cause of Filipino as a language and Philippine literature as a genre,” Nadera told the Varsitarian.

On-set writer
After making an exit from television news production, Jim Libiran staged his debut in film directing.
Libiran said his only motivation is simply to tell a true-to-life story, like what he does in writing.
“The discipline of writing brought me to where I am now,” Libiran told the Varsitarian. “It is the discipline of finishing everything inside my mind first before I execute my plans.”
The multi-awarded native of Tondo, Manila has done so much as a poet, essayist, documentary maker, television journalist, and producer. In fact, whenever Libiran has time, he joins creative writing contests. One of his prized literary pieces is the Palanca Award-winning 2006 screenplay-turned-movie “Tribu,” which tackles the lives of street gang rappers in Tondo.
“This is something that I planned,” Libiran told the Varsitarian. “I told myself that I should be able to write first before going to the broadcast and film industry.”
After finishing his bachelor’s degree in Sociology in UST, Libiran dedicated a decade of his life in print media companies. He worked in tabloids, but later on turned to broadsheets  and became a columnist of the Manila Times.
After his stint in print media, Libiran took the road of TV broadcasting. He became a segment producer, reporter, and manager of ABS-CBN’s News and Public Affairs Division in a span of 10 years. Then, the fated director moved to ABC 5, becoming the head of production for News and Public Affairs.
“My experience in different broadcast companies served as my training ground for film orientation,” Libiran said.
Libiran recently made his first box-office movie from his award-winning screenplay, and the film gained various distinctions right away.
The movie Tribu took three of the most coveted awards in the Cinemalaya film festival, namely Best Film, Best Actor, and Best Sound.
Dwelling on contemporary Tondo, the plot revolves around what Libiran recalls during the time he lived in the place. The film depicts social conditions dominating among the “tribes,” who are real life gangsters in Tondo.
“No story can be told without experience,” Libiran told the Varsitarian. “I don’t believe that writers lock themselves inside their rooms. They must go out and explore.”
Although they are practicing two different jobs, Nadera and Libiran both attest that creative writing made a difference in their lives.
“Writing gave me hope to make a change through the arts,” Nadera told the Varsitarian. “Through writing, I was able to tell the lives of our people, who are sometimes ignored by the society,” Libiran added.

Montage Vol. 11 • September 2008