Saturday, September 23, 2017


The ‘quixotic’ in all of us

SPANNING four centuries of popular and critical acclaim, the classic novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes continues to shape the literary landscape. In line with the 400th year of its publication last 2005, the Instituto de Cervantes of Manila, the Spanish cultural agency, organized a series of lectures by three accomplished Filipino writers representing three generations of readers of Don Quixote.

These lectures are now compiled and published in a book, If a Filipino Writer Reads Don Quixote (Instituto de Cervantes and UST Publishing House, 2007). The book instantly places the reader in a position of curious familiarity with the often deranged but chivalric man from La Mancha, thus asking, “What if a Filipino writer reads Don Quixote?”

It’s the Palanca season once more!

ON THE night of the first of September, 2007, the Rigodon Ballroom of Peninsula Manila teemed with Filipino creative writers of different generations gathering for a night of celebration of Philippine literary excellence.

Now on its 57th year, the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature stayed true to its goal of discovering the best in Philippine literature. With 27 new names in its roster of winners, six of whom are below 20 years old, the most respected literary award-giving body in the country continues to be the aspiring writer’s doorway into the foyer of the literary circle.

Senator Mar Roxas, the event’s guest of honor, commended the assembly of writers present in the awards night.

“I am awed by the commitment, the continuity, and the steadfastness that the Palanca family has given in recognition of the men and women who have excelled in arts and letters here in our country,’” he said in his speech.

Isa para sa lahat

MULA sa kaniyang pananaw bilang Pilipinang dayuhan sa ibang bansa na nangungulila sa kinagisnang wika at bansa, pinanday ni Elynia S. Mabanglo ang Mesa Para sa Isa (UST Publishing House, 2002), isang librong maaaring makapagbigay depinisyon sa makabagong Pilipino.

Sa mga piling tulang ito ni Mabanglo, ipinakikita ng makata ang tumitibok na diwa ng karanasan ng tao tulad ng mga karanasan niya habang nagtuturo ng Filipino at panitikang Filipino sa Unibersidad ng Hawaii-Manoa.

Pinagtagpi-tagping panitikan

HINDI na bago sa pandinig ang mga Pilipinong manunulat na naninirahan sa ibang bayan. Magmula kay Jose Rizal hanggang kay Jessica Hagedorn, makikita na patuloy na umuusbong ang panitikang Filipino sa ibang bansa. Ngunit nakabubuti nga ba ito sa ating bayan o nagpapahiwatig lamang ng lalong pagkakawatak-watak ng lahing Pilipino?

Sa isang panayam sa Varsitarian, pinatunayan nina Jose Wendell Capili, Marianne Villanueva at Ninotchka Rosca na ang pagiging makabayan ay hindi natatapos sa sandaling tumapak ang isang Pilipino sa lupaing banyaga.

Suede and Velvet

CAUGHT at night in the bustling city, Sonia lingered inside the quaint coffee shop where she usually soothed herself after a tedious week of work at the advertising firm. While smoking cigarettes, she drank coffee to calm her nerves until she fell into a state of wakeful dreaming where the senses seemed to merge into a hazy spell.

It was in this state that Sonia found herself under a familiar gaze.

“Adam!” she shouted as the face registered in her thoughts. Adam returned the greeting with a hug and treated Sonia to a feast of Japanese dishes in a nearby restaurant.

The past in the eyes of Filipino storytellers

SIGNIFICANT literary traditions in Philippine fiction in English were tackled last June 29 commencing the University of the Philippines (UP) Likhaan Centennial Lecture Series, titled, “Fiction as Response to History: Philippine Fiction in English,” by Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, UP Vice President for Public Affairs and former Likhaan director.

Chicken soup for the Filipino youth

PART of growing up is the in-between world of innocence and maturity, and the Filipino dimension to this developmental limbo is portrayed and problematized in Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, 2004), a collection of short stories for young adults edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard.

Making it through the literary maze

THESE days, media-hyped potboilers, paranormal anthologies, and international tear-jerkers crowd many shelves. But every now and then, there is that cranial knock that yearns for reading of another kind: reading that engages the brain cells, and at the same time tugs at the heartstrings.

Now, how can one make the right choice? When most readers are not adept at literature, or blessed with a worthy literary pedagogue, to judge by the cover is not an option.

Between cradle and coffin

COLD and damp in darkness’ study, we stand

Armed with nothing but swords to cleave the air

Against foes who know where our blows will land.

To bleed for victory, what heart would dare?

All scores consumed by unfurling defeat:

By refusing-parry from one held dear,

Or when one pierces us to shamed retreat,

Heroic knees fail, to the earth draw near.

Drop our guard, and rob our grave of flowers,

Sheath in salt, the sword meant to gash death’s cheek,

And maim the giver of hallowed powers,

Thus, no euphoric life is left to seek.

But in mankind’s sempiternal making

All our labyrinthine jokes find meaning.

New York in a nutshell

THOUSANDS of dreams have been realized in New York. As for author Carissa Villacorta, the Big Apple not only held the key to her dreams but also to her identity.

Dwelling on the erratic lifestyle of a New Yorker is Surreality (UST Publishing House, 2006), composed of 14 essays written by Villacorta who contributes for the US broadsheet Philippine News. Recognized by the Philippine New York Junior Chamber of Commerce for her outstanding achievement in contemporary literature, Villacorta narrates her life-changing, four year sojourn in New York through her collection.

Villacorta kicks off each essay with a teaser, called “Roller Coaster Ride,” which tells of her random musings about New York. Making this part more vivid is the use of photographs featuring images of Times Square, subway stations, and the author’s immediate family.