12 Beat Convo: SWL welcomes its new members


12 Beat Convo: SWL welcomes its new members

The Sarangani Writers League (SWL) has opened its membership for 2023, inviting potential writers from the province to join the group. This year, SWL welcomed seven new members, including one honorary member, to its ranks.

They are Benhur Suminsing, Zia Clyde Daguplo, Angel Kate Bok, Princess Hannah Peligro, Cassandra Nicole Fado, Guian Dayang, and Rossel Audencial-Mangaron (as an honorary member).

The new members shared their thoughts and experiences on writing and joining the group in an interview.

12 Beat Convo: SWL welcomes its new members
The first meeting with the new members.

What inspired you to join the Sarangani Writers League?

Benhur: The writers and their works in SWL have inspired me greatly. I feel compelled to join and become a part of this organization.

Zia: Last semester, I took a course on Regional Literature with Prof. Rossel Audencial-Mangaron. It was one of the most engaging and enlightening subjects I had every Monday and Thursday. We did group reports, presentations, and activities that featured the prominent writers of our region and their works, such as Jude Ortega, Norman Ralph Isla, Kurt Comendador, Jade Mark Capiñanes, and others.

Their writings reflect the rich culture of Region 12 in various ways. For example, Jade Mark Capiñanes’ essay, “A Portrait of a Young Man as a Banak,” narrates his quest for belonging. Norman Ralph Isla’s script, “Ang Pagdadwaya,” depicts the culture of our Muslim brothers and sisters, especially their polygamous practices. My personal favorite among the regional writers we studied was Jude Ortega’s "Day of Mourning,” which portrays the life of a terrorist’s family and how they deal with his death. It also probes into his mother’s worry that her grandchild might follow his father’s path.

Before taking this course, I was unaware of the existence of writers from our region, or even from Mindanao. Regional Literature allowed me to learn about these talented writers from our region and to appreciate their remarkable works, which vividly capture the culture, traditions, events, and more of Region 12.

Regional Literature inspired me to join the Sarangani Writers League. I want to be part of a community that shares my passion for writing. It would motivate me to write more and be creative. And like the writers we discussed in class, I want to write for and about the people and places I belong to.

Angel: As a Sarangan and a pure-blooded Blaan who dreams of being a writer, I think the Sarangani Writers League is the best platform to achieve this goal. I started to expose myself to spoken poetry in 2017 and joined competitions with different topics, especially the pressing issues in society. Since then, I have had a strong desire to continue this hobby which also boosts my confidence. Later, I was discovered by our teacher and she encouraged me to do better and write more pieces, especially about the empowerment of my culture. With that, every time I perform in front of a crowd, I feel a satisfying kind of feeling where I can express my ideas, emotions, and voice through writing and speaking. It inspires me to keep going even when I feel hopeless. Writing and performing a great ways to share my creativity and inspire others to listen to the unheard thoughts and be the voice of the voiceless.

Princess: I have always wondered what it would be like to write my visions and express my ideas. That’s what motivated me to join the organization. I learned about SWL during the pandemic and the “Pahinga at Paghinga: The Creative Workshop” helped me know more about it. After the workshop, I decided to join because I wanted to be surrounded by writers with different approaches and styles. So when I saw the Facebook post that they were looking for new members, I took my chance and luckily I passed.

Cassandra: I am driven by a desire to be “more” – to learn more and to hope more. I want to dedicate my best efforts to something that ignites my passion and deserves my commitment. I want to be a voice for those who have the potential but are afraid to take the risk. These are the reasons why I joined this organization.

Guian: My inspiration to join the SWL is my family and some other people who do not believe in my writing skills. Through this, I want to prove that writing is an ability that should be recognized and utilized. I want to inspire others like me, who have stories and opinions that they want to share through writing. By joining SWL, I hope to have the opportunity to change their perspectives and demonstrate the value of my art in writing.

12 Beat Convo: SWL welcomes its new members
A fruitful discussion with SWL members.

Have you been involved in writing or creative writing before joining our group?

Benhur: I have participated in creative writing contests online and on campus since I was in junior high school. That’s why I am passionate about joining SWL.

Zia: I have been involved in creative writing since I joined the Special Program in the Arts at Malapatan National High School. This program offers various specializations, such as Music Arts, Dance Arts, Theatre Arts, Visual Arts, Media Arts, and Creative Writing. I chose Creative Writing as my field of interest and pursued it for four years.

Angel: Yes, since I graduated from Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) where most of our teachers introduced us to great and well-known writers and their published works. They influenced us and helped us write our pieces. Our strand also taught us many learnings and tips that are useful in our writing journey. Writing has become one of our priorities.

Princess: Writing is my hobby and I have been writing and expressing my thoughts in my notebook. When I was in elementary school, I wanted to join the journalism club of our school, but I was rejected because of my poor handwriting. When I entered high school, I aspired to be a Feature Writer or a Science Writer (since I also like Science), but I could not pursue either of them because I was encouraged to do Editorial Cartooning instead. But those “almosts” did not stop me from writing what I felt and thought. I sometimes wrote poems or songs and read other books for inspiration. Now in college, I joined a writing group (similar to a publication but only for a specific event) that allowed me to write news and features.

Cassandra: I have been passionate about journalism since I was in fifth grade. I started as a feature writer and participated in several school press conferences at the Division and Regional levels. My writing journey may not be very diverse, but it is focused and consistent. I joined this organization to further hone my skills and explore new possibilities.

Guian: Yes, before joining SWL, I had experience in the field of writing and creative writing. In the past, I discovered the importance of words in expressing emotions, ideas, and stories. It served as my way to express my opinions and create works that convey the value of this art. I also participated in various projects, workshops, and organizations related to writing. These experiences contributed to my development as a writer and opened doors for deeper training. When I joined SWL, I was filled with joy and excitement to expand my knowledge and be with colleagues who share the same passion for writing.

An intimate 'Bigkas Sarangani 2023' event at Kalonbarak Skyline Ridge, in Malungon, Sarangani Province.

What genres or types of writing are you most passionate about?

Benhur: I enjoy fiction and I have written many stories in the horror-comedy genre. I also write poetry from time to time.

Zia: I used to love writing poetry when I was in junior high school. It was a time when I felt joy in creating verses. Whenever I had to attend boring school events, I would grab a pen and paper and write down my thoughts. Back then, it was easy for me; writing helped me express myself freely. Now, when I try to write poetry, I often struggle to find the right words and make rhymes. That’s why I switched to writing fiction and creative nonfiction. The inspiration for this change came from the literature we studied in our Regional Literatures class. I think that fiction and creative nonfiction give me more space to explore different topics with rich detail, something that poetry sometimes restricts.

Angel: I like poetry and fiction. I like poetry because it was the first genre that I learned about. I like fiction because I used to read e-books and watch movies a lot.

Princess: I enjoy writing fiction and poetry that reflect my experience or the experience of other people I know. I am a hopeless romantic, so I am fond of poetry. My poems often include themes of love, pain, and comedy. With fiction, I like to write about reality but in a different world, like expressing my fantasies and what-if scenarios. I tend to be more political when I write fiction. I also write creative nonfiction, but mostly about my daily life as an MSUan.

Cassandra: I enjoy writing human-interest stories that allow me to connect my experiences and emotions with the readers. As for the genre, I am new to an organization that is not related to journalism, so I am still experimenting with different styles and forms of writing. I joined this organization to broaden my horizons and challenge myself as a writer.

Guian: I have a deep desire for different kinds of writing. First of all, I love spoken word poetry. It is a way of writing that allows emotions and messages to be expressed openly and with care. Spoken word poetry is a powerful way of expression that gives voice to life stories.

On the other hand, I also care about writing children’s stories. It is a kind of writing that gives joy to children and promotes lessons and fun. In writing children’s stories, I help spread the love of reading to the young.

I am also currently studying and experimenting with writing fiction and non-fiction. Writing fiction gives pleasure in creating different worlds and characters with unique stories. Writing non-fiction allows me to share my knowledge and insights with the readers, contributing to a deeper understanding of issues and experiences in life.

In summary, writing is for me a way to express thoughts, feelings, and stories. I am diligent in exploring and analyzing different kinds of writing to spread its importance in our society.

12 Beat Convo: SWL welcomes its new members

Angel Kate Salip Bok: A Spoken Poetry Performer and a Culture Bearer. Angel is a 4th year college student majoring in Elementary Education at Mindanao State University GenSan. She is a spoken poetry performer who writes her own pieces and joins competitions at the provincial and regional level. She is a proud Blaan and a youth volunteer who loves reading, doing organization works, and telling stories to children.

12 Beat Convo: SWL welcomes its new members

Cassandra Nicole Fado: A Student-Journalist and a Future Architect. Cassandra is a Manila-born honor-student who grew up in Kiamba, Sarangani Province. She is a Grade 11 STEM student at Notre Dame of Dadiangas University-IBED and a feature writer for the Special Program in Journalism. She loves writing, but she also has a vision for designing buildings in the future.

Do you have any specific writing projects or goals you'd like to share with us?

Benhur: One of my goals is to improve and enhance my writing skills, learn the technical aspects of writing, and develop confidence. Another goal is to become a published writer who can inspire others, especially the Sarangans, to showcase their writing talents and be a voice for the young generation. I want this organization to flourish for years to come, to publish more books, and to encourage more youth.

Zia: I have some specific writing projects and goals that I would like to share. Right now, I’m working on my piece for an upcoming anthology book in collaboration with other SWL members. I haven’t started yet because the topic is delicate and the person involved is close to me. But I have a clear idea of what I want to write. I hope to finish it soon so I can get feedback before submitting it by the deadline, ensuring quality work. Also, in the future, I want to pursue a career in a publishing company or a related field. This goal was one of the reasons I studied Bachelor of Arts in English Language Studies. I think that SWL will help me develop the skills and experience I need. I’m excited about these plans and looking forward to advancing in my writing journey.

Angel: I believe that joining SWL is the best step for me to inspire readers and share my stories with them. I want them to relate to my stories and write their own emotions until writing becomes part of their life. I also want to promote our amazing culture through writing, performing and publishing my works. I hope to achieve this dream with SWL and uplift the local writers in the province.

Princess: I am not ready to publish my work yet because I think I still need more feedback and confidence to make it happen. But, I am planning to establish my presence as a writer. I have posted some of my poems online, but not regularly. My goal now is to produce quality content online (poems and zines), but I am still brainstorming on the best approach to do that. If I succeed, then maybe I will have the confidence to turn my online works into published ones.

Cassandra: My goal as a writer is to grow and flourish. I want to immerse myself in literature and learn from the masters. I know I am only sixteen, but I have a thirst for knowledge and a passion for writing.

Guian: I do not have a concrete project at the moment, but my dream is to publish a book that contains spoken word poetry that tackles themes such as “Lun Padidu or Malapatan.” Through this, I want to share stories about the aspects of our culture and society.

My dream is not limited to publishing a book. I also want to expand my knowledge in writing. To achieve this, I will continue to study and experiment with different kinds of writing. Maybe I will also have the opportunity to be part of workshops or have a mentor who can help me grow as a writer. My goal is not only to maintain my proficiency in writing but also to be an inspiration to others who want to convey their thoughts and stories to the world of literature.

12 Beat Convo: SWL welcomes its new members

Zia Clyde Daguplo: A Reader, Writer, Singer, and Calligrapher. Zia is a 21-year-old English Language Studies student at Mindanao State University GenSan. She enjoys various forms of artistic expression and self-reflection, especially writing. Writing has become an integral part of her life since 2016, when she discovered the joy of penning down her thoughts and emotions.

Are there any favorite authors or poets who have influenced your writing style?

Benhur: I was inspired and influenced by Ma’am Hannah Leceña, who encouraged and motivated me to pursue my writing career. I admire her spoken word poetry and her unique writing style. That’s why I use her as a basis for writing my own stories and poems.

Zia: I don’t have a single favorite author. My writing style is influenced by all the writers I’ve read, but none of them stands out. It’s like my writing style is a mosaic of theirs. Whenever I read something amazing, I try to imitate their style (tone, word choice, structure), but I don’t apply it to every piece I write.

Angel: I am influenced by Nick Joaquin’s novels and short stories, especially by how seamless and detailed his writing is. I also admire Francisco Balagtas’ works, which I consider phenomenal and creative. He inspires me to write like him. He has a unique way of playing with words and creating impactful meanings that readers can understand easily.

Princess: I don’t have a specific favorite author, but there are some masterpieces that I love and that motivate me to write even if no one is reading. One of my favorites is “The Ultimate Safari” by Nadine Gordimer. It is a fiction story by an African woman. I remember that the writing was very descriptive and made me feel like I was watching a movie in my head. That inspired me to be more expressive with the words I write. It was also one of the stories that made me interested in African literature. In terms of poetry, “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is what I call my bible. The words in the poem resonated with my young self and I can still remember some lines. Sometimes, when I feel tired or frustrated, I involuntarily say “Ah, life is but an empty dream!”

Cassandra: I admire many authors, but I developed my writing style. I don’t think any author or poet influenced how I write.

Guian: Yes, there are some selected writers and poets who inspired my writing. First is Juan Miguel Severo, one of the famous spoken word poets who is known for his colorful narration of stories and feelings. His style of narration inspired me to express my ideas artistically and emotionally.

Another inspiration for me is Hannah Adtoon Leceña, who is known for her creations in writing poetry and short stories. Her ability to give life to words and stories pushed me to continue experimenting with creative writing.

Their creations and their expression of feelings and stories inspire me to continue contributing to the art of writing. I hope they continue to share their creations and be an inspiration to others as well.

12 Beat Convo: SWL welcomes its new members

Princess Hannah Peligro: A Debater, Writer, Artist, Activist, Journalist, and Aspiring Scientist. Princess is a Biology student from Mindanao State University GenSan who has a passion for arts and science. She writes poems and short stories inspired by her experience and worldview, and posts them online. She also participates in debates, activism, and journalism, expressing her opinions on politics, love, and student life.

12 Beat Convo: SWL welcomes its new members

Benhur Suminsing: A Tutor, Writer, and Reader. Benhur is a Sangil from Kiamba, Sarangani Province, who is studying BSED English at GoldenState College. He has been a tutor volunteer since seventh grade and won the first place in the 4th Quarter Read at Home Program. He is also a feature writer in Filipino for Campus Journalism and a secretary for their Supreme Student Government. He loves writing and reading poems, fictional stories, and essays, and joins online writing contests.

How do you usually overcome writer's block or creative challenges?

Benhur: When I face writer’s block, I usually try some of these strategies: talking to a friend, changing my perspective, switching my writing tools, listening to music, going out, or taking a break.

Zia: I usually let my emotions flow. If I feel sad, drained, or experience writer's block, I just let it be. I do not force myself to do things I cannot do at the moment. Most of the time, I watch Studio Ghibli movies because it makes me feel relaxed and serene. Until I find myself cleaning my room, folding clothes, and arranging my desks, at 2 AM.

Recently, I experienced writer's block until the first meeting of the Sarangani Writers League transpired. I attended the meeting unprepared, lacking a clear concept of what to write. However, inspiration struck when it was my turn to speak. Engaging in discussions about the anthology book sparked my creativity. Likewise, during our Regional Literature class last semester, I discovered that dedicating time to learning, discussing, and listening to others about writing provided me with the inspiration I needed.

The longest writer's block I experienced was from 2020 to 2023. During this period, I had little time for creative writing. Unlike earlier times when I had a dedicated Creative Writing class, I found myself with no outlet for expressing my thoughts. Unbeknownst to me, I had stopped writing altogether. However, I did have two literature classes: Regional Literature and Philippine Literature. I also had Stylistics, a linguistics class but our professor used literary works applied to the course.

These classes rekindled my passion for writing, and I once again began to experience the joy of having a surplus of ideas to write about. This reawakening was also spurred by the PENTakasi event, an initiative led by Prof. Rossel Audencial-Mangaron. It was this event that reignited my passion for writing, a flame that had been extinguished for so long. As part of her class requirements, we were tasked with producing a zine. I still vividly remember that my idea struck me at 10 in the evening while I was lying in bed. I immediately got up and started conceptualizing my zine. Ma'am Rossel chose the top three best zines, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had secured first place. It was unexpected, considering that my writing skills had been dormant for so long.

Angel: When I face this kind of situation and challenge, I do different things. I read books by my favorite authors, surf the internet, and watch performances. I chat with my friends or elders to express and share my thoughts. But I am most comfortable and effective when I unwind, meditate, and sleep. After that, if I feel okay, I start to write again. I critique it first and let my friends read it to get their comments and suggestions.

Princess: When I feel stuck with writing, I always do something else that makes me feel something. I often feel uninspired when I am in a void and I can’t feel or understand anything. To overcome this, I usually hang out with friends, watch sad movies, listen to sad songs, or just sleep.

Cassandra: I don’t force myself to write when I have writer’s block. Instead, I take a break and read something inspiring that can spark my creativity.

Guian: My dreams inspire me to continue writing, even though there are times when I struggle to create ideas or words. When I think of my dreams, I become a more creative writer because it gives purpose to my writing. It is a way of lifting myself from the challenges of writing and having direction in my art.

12 Beat Convo: SWL welcomes its new members

What do you hope to gain from your membership in the Sarangani Writers League?

Benhur: I hope that SWL will help me develop my confidence, enhance my writing skills, and be the instrument for me to publish my books in the future.

Zia: As our Chairman, Sir Carlou Espedillon, said, the Sarangani Writers League aims to improve not only our writing skills but also our leadership and organizational skills. This includes organizing events, communicating with Local Government Units, promoting Sarangani literature, and more. As I shared during the interview, many of my former Creative Writing classmates from Malapatan are curious about how I joined the organization. I think many potential writers could grow if they have the right support and platform to express themselves. 

As a member, I want to help make this happen. While sports events are popular and important for engaging the youth in our barangay, there are few or no academic and literary events. As a result, those who love writing often don’t get recognized. Organizing events that showcase the culture of Malapatan through literature would help address and solve this problem. Also, without exaggerating, I dream of getting a job in a publishing company or a related field in writing. I believe that the Sarangani Writers League will help me develop the skills I need to achieve my dream job.

Angel: I am honored to be part of this growing organization in the province that supports and promotes local literary writers. They can freely write their thoughts and get constructive feedback that helps them create more pieces out of their creativity. I hope that as a beginner and aspiring writer, by joining this organization, I will learn strategies and gain valuable experiences that will help me throughout my journey. I also hope to publish works that will contribute positively to the community through my inspiring literary pieces.

Princess: One reason why I joined the organization, besides meeting other writers, is that I wanted to get feedback and criticism on my work. As a person who always asks my friends to critique my work, I often don’t get constructive or helpful criticism. But in the organization, I know that the criticism will be based on the standards that they apply to their writings. Also, meeting other writers who have a vast imagination is one thing that excites me about joining (despite the pressure).

Cassandra: As a member of the Sarangani Writers League, I want to learn more about literature and unleash my potential as a writer.

Guian: By joining SWL, I want to achieve the following: First, I want to achieve improvement in my writing. This is a place where I can get feedback and opportunities to enhance my writing. I want to become a better writer and more successful in expressing stories and ideas.

Second, I want to be part of the beautiful work done by the members of SWL. I want to learn their styles and methods of writing and share my knowledge and experience. This is an opportunity to be part of a community of writers and succeed in my own academic/artistic development.

12 Beat Convo: SWL welcomes its new members

 Guian Dayang: A Poet and a Storyteller. Guian is a passionate writer who dreams of creating literary works that touch the hearts and minds of readers.

Can you share a brief excerpt from your recent work or a favorite piece you've written?


“Itay tingnan niyo po ang lapit buwan” wika ni Pedro habang naglalakad.
“Anak hindi buwan iyan, isa lamang yang ilaw”, tugon ng kanyang ama.

The lines imply the innocence and naivety of Pedro. Pedro is a ten-year-old boy who grew up in the province and never set foot in the city because he had no opportunity to travel due to his financial difficulties. One day, his father took him to the city so that he could experience and see the way of life there.

Zia: My most recent favorite piece that I've written is titled "Unsaon pagluto og law-uy." It was the last piece I wrote for my zine, "Have Mercy On Us: An Anthology of Tales." This piece was born out of my curiosity about the houses nestled within Mindanao State University. I was intrigued by the question, "Kinsay nauna magpatukod, sila o ang MSU?" The narrative delves into the life of a struggling mother residing within MSU, who strives to make ends meet for her children. To put food on the table, she prepares 'law-uy' with only a handful of ingredients gathered from her neighborhood, seasoning it solely with salt.

This proved to be the most challenging piece I've ever crafted, as it marked my first attempt at using Binisaya as a medium, despite it not being my first language. I am fully aware that my proficiency in Binisaya is still a work in progress and requires improvement.

“Wala pa gihapoy resulta tong eksam ninyo diri sa MSU? Murag pila ka bulan naman ang nilabay sukad tong ni-tek ka. Wala pa?” pagpangutana nako. Basin og naa nay resulta pero dili ra niya kaya na iingon sa akoa ang tinuod. Basi’g wala siya kapasa. Dako gyud ning problema. Siya na lang ang akong ginasaligan na maka-sulbad sa among problima.”- An excerpt from “Unsaon pagluto og law-uy”


Mapanlinlang ang dilim sa gabi, at nawawala rin ang buwan,
Ngunit pinapatunayan din ng buwan na hindi malungkot kung ika'y mag isa lang.

Life is full of struggles, but we must not let them dull our minds or distract us from our goals and values. It is okay to be emotionally vulnerable sometimes, but we should not let it overpower our resilience and strength as human beings. We should accept the reality that life is not constant, but changing.

Being alone can also be a source of power and productivity, as it allows us to connect with ourselves and discover our true essence. Even if people may leave us at any time, even our loved ones, we can still shine and thrive on our own.

Princess: I don’t have a favorite piece yet, but I have a favorite lines from one of my past works. I wrote it during the pandemic when I experienced an existential crisis and then later edited it for my entry on Teacher’s Day. My favorite part of this poem titled, “Kung Ikaw Man ay Isang Ibon” is this lines:

“Darating man ulit ang ulan, 'wag kang mangamba
Pagka’t marami ka nang napagdaanan.
Kung napapagod ka nang lumipad,
Tingnan mo lang ang ilalim
At iyong makikita ang kagubatang dati’y
Mga butong hinulog mo lang.”

It means that no matter what challenge may come my way, I just need to look at my progress and remind myself that I have already built a fortress of my own—a fortress that I built with all my struggles and glories. Although I admit that the whole poem still lacks charm, this line always brings me back to what I imagined when I was young. I can say that I wrote this for myself, to remind me of my younger self.

Cassandra: An excerpt from my recent feature article, based on the topic “the essence of beauty pageant”, entitled “She, Who Walked Through the Runways of Grace,”

With all the deafening screams and blinding lights, she stood in front of a massive crowd. She kept her elegance aglow, never once faltered by the anxiety crippling up her nerves. She spoke so gracefully, you'd never notice the big waves of anxiety she was fighting. And when a different name was called for the title, she smiled ever so sweetly and clapped for someone else's victory. She somehow knew it wasn't her time, but she also knew that she engraved in everyone's mind all the steps she took and left behind. And she was sure that everyone will remember her, she, who walked through the runways of grace.


Here is one of my brief excerpts from my “Kulturang Namamatay.”

Sa Maria Clara naman, di na alam ang kasuotan, di ma ipinta ang binibining larawan, dahil nag papaiklian nang suot, at ang labanan at palakihan nang pwet, at pakitaan nang cleavage na, kaya paano ka matatawag na isang dalagang Pilipina, kong mukha kanang Koreana. Gustong kong mahanap ang aldabahan nang ang iyong utak at mabuksan ito at mag tanim nang kaalaman, nang balang araw ay may aanihin ka naman, kaalam.


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