The Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA), the oldest and leading organization of poets in Filipino, welcomed its new members and officers last Feb. 9, 2013 during its annual general assembly at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Elected to his third term as LIRA president is Phillip Kimpo Jr., who will spend his fifth and sixth years at the helm of 2011’s Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations awardee. Joining him in the leadership are Louie Jon A. Sanchez (vice president), RR Cagalingan (secretary), Kriscell Largo Labor (treasurer), and Christa I. De La Cruz (public relations officer). They will inherit the cultural programs strengthened by outgoing vice president Mariane A.R.T. Abuan, secretary Giancarlo Lauro C. Abrahan, and treasurer Deborah Rosalind D. Nieto.
In addition, eight graduates of the 2012 LIRA Poetry Clinic were officially presented as new LIRA members. They are Noel Clemente (Ateneo de Manila University), JP Anthony Cuñada (St. Pius X Seminary), John Marc Estoque (St. Joseph’s College), Ralph Lorenz Fonte (UP Diliman), Joel Donato Jacob (UP Diliman), Alyssa Manalo (University of Santo Tomas), Socorro Orlina (Ateneo de Manila University), and Aldrin Pentero (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila).
The eight new members are the products of LIRA’s spartan-like training program that seeks to hone poets who excel not only in their craft but also in the fostering of literature, language, culture, and national identity. This is in line with the current leadership’s thrust of “poet-volunteerism.”
The LIRA Poetry Clinic was founded by National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario (aka Rio Alma) and has been held yearly since 1985. Held every Saturday and Sunday for a period of eight months, the training program immerses its “fellows” in lectures and workshops that focus on the different aspects of poetry and literature in general.
Some of the country’s most esteemed poets are products of the clinic, such as Rebecca T. Añonuevo, Roberto T. Añonuevo, Romulo P. Baquiran Jr., Michael M. Coroza, and Vim Nadera, as well as multi-awarded younger writers such as Jerry Gracio and Edgar Calabia Samar. Dr. Coroza is the current clinic director.
In addition to its Manila-based workshops, LIRA teaches literature, language, communication skills, and cultural heritage appreciation all over the archipelago through its “Sining ng Tugma at Sukat” outreach program, which is directed by Kimpo and was created by past president Beverly W. Siy. Held since 2008, it has served almost 1,300 teachers and students from more than 200 schools in 22 towns.
In connection with its volunteer activities, LIRA is active in youth leadership. Through its president, it represented the arts, culture, and education sectors in the 2012 National Youth Parliament, the 2012 TAYO Awards national finals as a judge, and various regional forums.
LIRA also regularly holds events that commemorate the nation’s great poet-patriots, such as Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto, and Francisco Balagtas. These events are held annually in partnership with the City of Manila and other institutions.
Writers wishing to enroll in LIRA’s June-November clinic and parties interested in hosting LIRA’s outreach program in their respective towns may send their inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit its lit reading nights held every third Tuesday of the month, 7 pm, at Conspiracy Bar, Visayas Avenue, Quezon City. –Phillip Kimpo, Jr., LIRA