Amanda Echanis continues writing behind bars


MANILA – More than three years after her arrest, Amanda Echanis continues to write stories for the people and just recently, she was consecutively awarded with writing opportunities and mentorship.

Echanis, a political detainee, is one of the fellows of the Palihang Rogelio Sicat (PRS), an annual national workshop on creative writing using Filipino and various languages in the Philippines. It is the first time in the history of the workshop to have a political prisoner as one of its 15 participants.

Echanis was arrested on December 2, 2020, in Baggao, Cagayan, a month after she gave birth to Randall Emmanuel Echanis. Rights groups asserted that the evidence against her illegal possession of firearms and explosives charges were planted.

Read:Arrested activist Amanda Echanis ‘always stands for what is right’

“This is not a political issue. It’s simple. Amanda Echanis submitted entries for drama and poetry, which both ranked first. We can only put her in one category, so she will be under the drama category,” said Jimmuel Naval, dean of UP Diliman College of Arts and Letters, and one of the founders of PRS.

PRS is an outreach program of UP Diliman’s Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas, honoring Filipino writer, novelist, and playwright Rogelio Sicat. He was known for classic masterpieces Impeng Negro, Tata Selo, Dugo sa Bukang-Liwayway, and Moses, Moses.

Professor Reuel Molina Aguila, a renowned Filipino poet, playwright, and scriptwriter, announced in a post the list of successful participants. More than 100 writers applied for the PRS, and other the selected participants are Jessie Barcelon, Michael S. Bernaldez, Eric Jhon Bituin, Glen Patrick Camante, Jose Carrascal, Charles Julian Palma Gollayan, Al Jeffrey L. Gonzales, Vincent Imbat, Obi B. Magsombol, Marjay Manalastas, Wendrei Brent Orquiola, Elijah Felice Rosales, Mark Anthony S. Salvador, Benj Gabun Sumabat.

Echanis will be participating in PRS online. Dean Naval added in Filipino, “In fact, Amanda Echanis is enrolled in the college as a student in Creative Writing. She is attending her classes online, an arrangement that started during the pandemic and is allowed by authorities.”

This is also not the first time that Echanis received a writing feat. She recently won the Southeast Asian Translation Mentorship, organized by the Seams in partnership with Ethos Books. She won the mentorship together with Shirinder Kaur, who will be translating from Malay, and NH Legaspi, also translating from Filipino. At least 46 individuals applied for the program, all coming from or based in countries from Southeast Asia.

Read: Political prisoner wins mentorship program in Southeast Asia

More than these opportunities, Echanis is also a renowned author. Just last year, her book “Binhi ng Paglaya” (Seeds of Freedom) was published by Gantala Press. This contains a collection of her poems, stories, essays, letters, and scripts. She published her first book in 2006 titled “Tatlong Paslit na Alaala,” and also wrote a screenplay on 2014 titled “Nanay Mameng” — honoring the life of urban poor leader Carmen “Nanay Mameng” Deunida. (RVO) (

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