I met Sir Jerry Yapo at the first Philippine Book Festival last June. I watched him signing copies of his book, "Artfully Speaking", humble in speaking to his friends and readers.
On the last day of the festival, when the crowd has settled, I purchased a copy of his book and took the opportunity to ask for writing advice.
At that time, I was just about to start writing for Write Program's summer season.
1. Read your work out loud. Make sure you, and your reader, can breathe between sentences.
2. Tell stories from your life. Magkwento ka.
3. Start every piece with a powerful hook. Capture the attention of your reader right away.
In Sir Jerry's writing, I saw all three of these present.
"Sitting Atop A Carabao" is an essay where he told his story of life as a village boy. It reminded me of the simplicity of living away from the noise of the city, how we seem to constantly long for it.
Then there's "Elbi is Home", describing his place of work, UP Los Banos, as an 'old town that enchants visitors'. Where we spend most of our days become our dwelling, where we feel the most sheltered.
In "Almost There", I thought of how the next three decades of my life would be, and how I would write paragraphs of my aging body, greying hair, and wrinkling skin.
Reading the book in my cozy studio apartment here in Hanoi took me back to the Philippines, and to a brilliant writer's reflective journey.
To Sir Jerry, thank you for this book! What a gift.
Purchase your copy of "Artfully Speaking" through this link.