This is a repost from my Facebook page. I wrote this note as a take on Ricky Lee‘s scriptwriting manual Trip to Quiapo (published by Anvil Publishing, Inc. in 1998). I’ve decided to repost it here (mostly translated for the benefit of this site’s non-Filipino speaking followers):
I have known of Ricky Lee’s Trip to Quiapo scriptwriting manual for quite some time through friends’ discussions on how it describes writing. I’d wanted a copy since. However, as it was always out of stock, it wasn’t until August 2012 that I was able to get myself a copy. Whopee!
Now, as mentioned, this is a manual on scriptwriting. But then many of the points I have read applies to writing in general.
Excited as I was to read it, I have only managed to read a few lines from the first chapter. Let me say that even then, it was as though I’d actually gone through an intense workshop.
Here, I just want to share some lines from the book as well as my thoughts…
Hindi ka tuturuan ng librong ito kung paano magsulat. Buhay ang gagawa n’on. [This book will not teach you how to write. Life is where you will get your lessons.]
Kung naituturo ang pagsusulat, disin sana’y kasindami ng tinapay ang magagandang scripts. [If writing could be taught, the number of beautiful scripts would be as numerous as bread.]
Hindi rin ibibigay ng librong ito lahat ng sagot. Kagaya sa tunay na buhay, walang iisang pormula sa pagsusulat. Ikaw ang maghahanap ng sagot. [This book will not give you the answers either. Like life, there is no single formula in writing. You will find the answers yourself.]
Pero puwedeng i-share ng librong ito ang mga karanasan, mga kombensyon at mga technique na ginamit ng mga naunang writer sa iyo. [But this book can share experiences, conventions and techniques used by earlier writers.]
This is just like saying you cannot rely on just plainly asking advise on how to write from the more seasoned writers/novelists. No amount of teaching or reading instructional books will do that. You have to discover, to actually write, to live and experience living, so you can learn the ropes.
Maybe you can rephrase your question next time: What experience/s did you go through in writing your manuscript/novel? There could be more lessons for you to pick up from our answers there.
The book further says,
May tatlong manunulat, lahat gustong pumunta sa Quiapo. [There are three types of writers, all wanting to go to Quiapo.]
Ang unang manunulat, pag-aaralan niya ang daang ginamit ng mga naunang manunulat, at ito ang susundin niya. Makakarating siya sa Quiapo. [The first writer examines the road previous writers took and he will follow the path. He will get to Quiapo.]
Pero ang ikalawang manunulat, may pagkakalog yata, umikot muna sa mga ilog at bundok at gubat, umiwas sa kombensyonal na daan, nakipagtsismisan pa sa kalye. Pinagtatawanan natin siyadahil madalas natatawa tayo sa mga nalilihis, tama man sila o hindi. [The second writer is a bit quirky, he went through rivers and mountains and forests, he avoided the usual paths, even gossiped along the way. We laughed at him because oftentimes, we poke fun at those who deviate, whether they are right or wrong.]
Hanggang sa makarating siya sa Quiapo. [Until he reaches Quiapo.]
Mas mahusay siyang manunulat kaysa sa una dahil nakadiskubre siya ng bagong daan papuntang Quiapo. Hindi magtatagal marami pang susunod sa kanya. Papatag ang landas na ginawa niya at magiging kasimbilis na rin ng unang daan. [He is a better writer than the first because he was able to discover a new path to Quiapo. It won’t take long, there will be more who will follow him. The path will level off and will be as easy as the first path to traverse.]
Pero ang ikatlong manunulat, hindi rin siya sumunod sa rules. Umikut-ikot din siya sa mga ilog at bundok at palengke at simbahan. Nagkawala-wala pa! [But the third writer also did not follow the rules. He went around rivers and mountains and markets and churches. He even got lost!]
Pinagtawanan din natin siya. Diniscourage. Hanggang sa makarating siya sa isang lugar. Hindi ito ang Quiapo kanina. Pero mapapaniwala niya tayo na ito ay Quiapo rin. [We also poked fun at him. Discouraged him. Until he reaches a place. This isn’t the same Quiapo as the first two reached. But this writer will make us believe that this place, too, is Quiapo.]
Siya ang pinakamahusay sa tatlong manunulat. Dahil may magic sa ginawa niya. Dahil ang mundo ng literatura, sining, at pelikula, pati na ang buhay natin, ay nagiging napakayaman at makahulugan dahil marami ang Quiapo. [He is the most skillful of the three writers. Because there is magic in what he did. Because the literary world, art, and film, even our life, becomes enriched and filled with meaning because there are a number of Quiapo’s.]
The book and Ricky Lee, goes on to tell us:
Pag-aaralan natin ang kombensyonal na daan papuntang Quiapo, kung paano gumawa ng mahuhusay at matatagumpay na scripts ang iba, pero kapag nagsulat ka na, kalilimutan mo lahat iyon, maghahanap ka ng sarili mong daan, o sarili mong Quiapo. [Let’s learn the conventional way to go to Quiapo, how others were able to create great and successful scripts, but when you begin to write, you will forget all that and find your own way, or your own Quiapo.]
Dahil sa mundo ng sining ay walang iisang tama at naka-fix na approach sa pagsusulat, walang iisang standard sa kung ano nga ba ang magandang pelikula, o ang komersyal na pelikula. Ang lahat ay nagbabago at nag-i-evolve sa bawat kultura at sa bawat panahon. Kagaya ng iba pang porma ng sining, ang pelikula ay nabubuhay nang malusog dahil sa mga exception kaysa sa mga rules. [Because in the lietrary world, there is no singularly fixed approach in writing, no single standard to what is a good film or a commercial film. Everything changes and evolves in every culture, in every era. Just like all other forms of art, films possess a robust life because of exceptions rather than rules.]
Ang rules ay nandiyan para sirain. Nagawa na nila lahat, ba’t mo pa gagawin? Nakarating na sila sa Quiapo, ba’t ka pa pupunta doon? [Rules are made to be broken. They’ve all been there, done that, why would you do the same? They’ve all gone to Quiapo, why would you still go there?]
So what am I saying? Find your voice. Find your style. Stop asking how you should do things. I’m not saying don’t ask for help or advise. But start on it now. Don’t be afraid to get lost. Make your own path. And do enjoy blazing your own trail.