ALWAYS shining beacons of the arts and letters, Thomasians have again proven they’re the country’s foremost humanists as many of them have again been nominated for the National Artist Awards.

At least 13 alumni have been nominated for the award as of press time, the Varsitarian has learned from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

Leading the race for the National Artist Award for Literature is Cirilo F. Bautista, who was finalist in the 2006 edition of the awards (which are given out every two years). At that time, Bautista lost out to another Thomasian, the more senior Bienvenido Lumbera.

Both Bautista and Lumbera were former literary editors of the Varsitarian.

Bautista graduated magna cum laude in 1963 from the old UST College of Liberal Arts. He finished Master of Arts in Literature in 1968 at the Saint Louis University and Doctor of Arts in Language and Literature in 1990 at De La Salle University.

Perhaps the most awarded living Filipino writer in English, Bautista was among the first writers to be included in the Hall of Fame of the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature for having won five first prizes in the contest.

Although Bautista excels in both prose and poetry, in fiction and the essay, he is best acclaimed as a poet. And his best achievement in poetry is his epic, Trilogy of Saint Lazarus, consisting of “Archipelago,” “Telex Moon,” and “Sunlight on Broken Stones.” The first two won the first prize in English poetry of the Palanca while the last won the grand prize in the Centennial Award for Epic Poetry in 1998.

Power predictions

Another Thomasian nominee for Literature is the late Wilfrido D. Nolledo, a graduate of Bachelor of Literature in Journalism from the old UST Faculty of Philosophy and Letters.

During his heyday in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Nolledo was known as the enfant terrible of Philippine letters for his dense narrative and bravura English prose (he was Ten Outstanding Young Men [TOYM] for literature in 1963) . Like the older Nick Joaquin, his fiction and other works combine history, myth and magic in a style that is now known as “magic realism.” Although the style has come to be identified with the Latin American fictionists, Nolledo and Joaquin had long mastered the style even before the South Americans.

In the 1970’s, a major American publishing house published Nolledo’s novel, “But for the Lovers,” to critical acclaim. Reissued recently in the US, the novel carries an introduction by the respected fictionist and critic, Robert Coover.

Before his death in 2004, Nolledo was writing his last novel “A Cappella Dawn.”


Thomasians all

Fil Dela Cruz, National Artist Awards nominee for Visual Arts, took up Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Advertising in 1974. In 1971, he won the first prize in the YMCA Annual Students’ Art Competition of the Philippines. In 1980, he won the gold medal in the 34th Annual Art Competition of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP).

Dela Cruz is acclaimed both for his painting and printmaking. In fact, he was president for several terms of the Philippine Association of Printmakers and received the first prize in the NCCA’s Third Biennial Arts Competition for the graphic arts.

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In both his paintings and prints, Dela Cruz uses Philippine myths, particularly T’boli mythology, and employs indigenous motifs of flora and fauna that are usually depicted in powerful graphics and lines and magnificent colors.

But perhaps the strongest nominee for the visual arts is sculptor Eduardo Castrillo, who took up Advertising Arts at the old UST College of Fine Arts and Architecture. Castrillo, a former president for several terms of the AAP, the premiere artists’ group in the country, is the most dominant sculptor in the Philippines. His public sculptures are a familiar sight, such as the Last Supper and the Resurrected Christ in Loyola Memorial Park in Paranaque, the People Power monuments in Edsa and in the RCBC Building in Ayala, the Rizal light-and-sound in Luneta, and the Liwasang Bonifacio monument near the Manila City Hall. His sculptures are also in public parks abroad, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and even Poland.


Woman of legacy

The late founder of the Repertory Company (now Repertory Philippines), Zeneida Amador, is nominated for National Artist for Theater. She graduated in 1953 with a degree in Bachelor of Arts from the old UST College of Liberal Arts and finished in 1955 a Master of Arts from the UST Graduate School. She took up a post-graduate course in drama in New York at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

A fiery actress and director, Amador’s legacy is Repertory, the first professional theater company in the Philippines which has produced some of today’s leading thespians and theater artists, such as Leah Salonga, Audie Gemora, Pinky Amador and Monique Wilson.

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Other UST alumni nominated for the National Artist Awards are Genoveva Edroza-Matute (literature), Naty Crame-Rogers (theater), Rosario Bitanga, Danilo Dalena and Manuel Rodriguez Sr. (visual arts), Gabriel Formoso, Francisco Mañosa and Jose Maria Zaragosa (architecture).

Established in 1972, the National Artist Award, or Gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining, is administered by the NCCA and Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Categories include Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film and Broadcast Arts, and Architecture and Allied Arts. Maria Aurora F. Mon


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