Wednesday, August 3, 2011

So Sunny Singapore - AFCC

It's always summer in Singapore, or so we've been told. The instant we landed in the great Merlion city, the first thing we realized was the time. It was 7 in the evening. And yet it was still bright with no signs of night. The streets, as you may have noticed, run in the opposite direction. They're right side drivers. And guess what? For some time in our life, we may have entertained the thought of public utility vehicles accepting credit cards but then dismissing it as impossible, but in Singapore, lo and behold, they have credit card machines in their taxis! So let me take you along our trip and see the highlights of my summer vacation.

Asian Festival of Children's Content
This was the main reason for my trip to Singapore. The Asian Festival of Children's Content or AFCC is an annual gathering of writers, illustrators, media practitioners and educators. The conference speakers include published children's book authors, publishers, poets and teachers, with some media makers to talk about the rise of technology and the apparent threat to the printed book. The sessions were held at the Arts House, an old parliament building that has been renovated and redesigned to hold conferences and programs related to (guess what) the arts.

It has been said that Singapore has a high regard for the Arts, and there I was to witness it first hand. The courtroom was now a conference hall. A smaller room was named "Dark Room" because of its obvious dark ambiance was made into a mini theater where plays were performed. And a little mini cinema also hosted short films and student project screenings. It was an investment by the government to convert such an old building into something made solely for the arts, something we could only wish to happen in our country.

I will not bore you with detailed expressions
of each session I attended so I will invite you to visit this link instead.Some notable speakers that made dents in my writing life are the following: 
  • Liz Rosenberg, a children's book author and book reviewer. Her name is on the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone paper back edition because she's one of the best reviewers. Consequently, she's one of the first people who's read all the books when they're released. Sessions I attended with her are the following: The Importance of Place in Children's Literature; A Book Reviewer Speaks: Trends in Children's Literature in America; Getting Published.
  • Neal Porter, an editor and publisher. Sample books are ABC3D and On the Night You were Born.
  • Holly Thompson, author of young adult fiction. Gave interesting and important facts about writing for the young adults.
  • Diane Wolfer, author. Talked about turning life experiences into fiction. Biggest suggestion she gave was "write it IMMEDIATELY"
  • and more!
The conference took up three days of our 5-day trip, which gives a lot of explanation why I haven't been able to visit some notable and tourist worthy places in Singapore. But then again, I wasn't there for just the conference. I was a participant also in the first Scholastic Asian Book Awards. Here's the link. It's a children's story contest wherein the stories must either be set in Asia or the characters are Asians. I didn't win, by the way but the experience was equivalent to the prize.

The awards night was duly guested by none other than the president of Timor-Leste himself Pres. Jose Ramos-Horta. He talked a great deal about the literacy in his country and the many efforts the people have made to increase the love of books and reading.
That's him. =)

It was a grand night and the winners of the awards were very much proud to be there. It was indeed a great event for the future children's content writers and an eye opening experience to the state of literacy in Asia.

The whole 3 days of the conference was enlightening and educational. I got to meet a lot of new friends and even friends from the Philippines. I'd go back next year if I had a chance and I am inviting all of you to join the SABA whose deadline is on October 17, 2011. Write for the children and you'll realize that it's an investment that will grow for many more generations.

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