Skip to main content

A cocktail chat with F. Sionil Jose

I just came from the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the Fulbright Program in the Philippines. My mom and sister were also there being Fulbrighters like myself.

The creme of the creme of Pinoy academia, arts, sciences and intellectuals were there.Ex National librarian Dr Serafin Quiason was as bubbly as ever on a zillion topics most of them dealing with Queen Gloriana. Ateneo VP Tonnette Palma Angeles were there too. National artists Napoleon Abueva (sculpture) and F. Sionil Jose were moving through the cocktail crowd. My mom knew both men since she was a librarian. Abueva was dean of Fine Arts at UP and that college was then on the 3rd floor of the Main Library building. Abueva designed the Fulbright award trophies. Sionil Jose was and is still at 85 promoting reading.

My mom introduced me to Sionil Jose by simply stating the truth. "My son has read all of your books! In fact he has all copies of your books."

Sionil Jose repliedand smiled "My condolences. Which of my books do you think is best?"

ooooops! This calls for a decent answer. "The Pretenders!" (Yikes this is part of the English Lit Canon at UP! It was my book review in English 3 class.)

"My condolences again" Sionil-Jose replies. "I wrote that novel in my twenties"

"Well Sir, I started reading your books when I was in high school. And I started with "The Pretenders" and ended up with "Sherds".

Anyway I think Sionil Jose was quite surprised that someone seriously read all his books. I think he believed my mom. After all can a librarian be wrong on this point?

I do have all of Sionil-Jose's books in my library from "The Pretenders" (1962) to the latest "Sherds" (2007) Some of the book pages are now falling out of the bindings. For his essays I liked his "We Filipinos,Our Moral Malaise, Our Heroic Heritage".The pages have really fallen out.

Sionil-Jose's books are a sharp lens on our Pinoy society. The search for social justice seems hopeless.

Those who read realize that he/she is imprisoned. The truth is he/she can only be set free by reading.

Those who don't read don't know their imprisoned thus have no way of being free.

That is why Sionil-Jose gave me his condolences.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

President Manuel Luis Quezon's Code of Ethics

Being a denizen of Kyusi, in honour of the man who gave my city its name and for being the most colourful prez the Philippines ever had, I have the pleasure to post Manuel L Quezon's Code of Ethics on his birthday. Let us profit from the wisdom of the Kastila.

1. Have Faith in the Divine Providence that guides the destinies of men and nations.

2. Love your country for it is the home of your people, the seat of your affection and the source of your happiness and well-being. It's defense is your primary duty. Be ready to sacrifice and die for it if necessary.

3. Respect the Constitution which is the expression of your sovereign will. The government is your government. It has been established for your safety and welfare. Obey the laws and see that they are observed by all and that public officials comply with their duties.

4. Pay your taxes willingly and promptly. Citizenship implies not only rights but obligations.

5. Safeguard the purity of suffrage and abide by the decisions of the…

Simoun's lamp has been lit, finally.. not by one but by the many!

"So often have we been haunted by the spectre of subversion which, with some fostering, has come to be a positive and real being, whose very name steals our serenity and makes us commit the greatest blunders... If before the reality, instead of changing the fear of one is increased, and the confusion of the other is exacerbated, then they must be left in the hands of time..."
Dr Jose Rizal "To the Filipino People and their Government"
Jose Rizal dominates the Luneta, which is sacred to the Philippine nation as a place of martyrdom. And many perhaps all of those executed in the Luneta, with the exception of the three Filipino secular priests martyred in 1872, have read Rizal's El Filibusterismo. Dr Rizal's second novel is a darker and more sinister one that its prequel but has much significance across the century and more after it was published for it preaches the need for revolution with caveats,  which are when the time is right and who will instigate it.

Flame trees in bloom

The hottest summer courtesy of El Nino in at least 10 years gave runners and walkers in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus a visual treat. This year the flame trees Delonix regia are in full bloom!
In past summers it wasn't as hot and dry so the trees did not shed their leaves and few blooms were produced.
It is the tropical version of the Japanese Hanami or the Cherry blossom viewing season. While Hanami tells us the fragile impermanence of beauty, the flame tree hanami tells us that summer burns but soon it will all be over.