The PEN Philippine Center celebrated its golden anniversary in December 2007. Its founding was marked by a national writers conference, the first of its kind after the war, held for two days in Baguio City in December 1958 and attended by distinguished literary people and intellectuals from all over the country including Senator Claro M. Recto and President Carlos P. Garcia. The conference organizer and also Philippine PEN founder was F. Sionil Jose, now National Artist for Literature. Among the conference participants were, later to become National Artists for Literature: Francisco Arcellana, N.V.M. Gonzalez, Bienvenido Lumbera, Alejandro Roces and Edith Tiempo.
In its 50 years, the Philippine PEN has organized and sponsored such activities as literary readings, workshops, meet-the-author series, seminars, and conferences in Manila and in the provinces. It has hosted the visits or held receptions for distinguished writers from abroad, such as Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Richard Kim, Lin Yutang, Khushwant Singh, Hirabayashi Taiko, Hayako Sono, Norman Mailer, Gunter Grass, Mario Vargas Llosa, Mochtar Lubis, Edwin Thumboo, Juan Gelman, and many others. PEN also organized two regional Asian Writers conferences in Manila, and published several anthologies including an Asian PEN Anthology.
During the Marcos dictatorship, PEN stood in defense of the freedom of expression and speech. This is an avowed purpose as embodied in the International PEN Charter.
PEN is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Authors like myself choose the city as a setting for their fiction because the city itself illustrates the progress or the sophistication that a particular country has achieved. Or, on the other hand, it might also reflect the kind of decay, both social and perhaps moral, that has come upon a particular people.”F. Sionil José - BBC.com, July 30, 2003