Honor Guards carry the remains of National Artist for Literature Cirilo Bautista, from the Cultural Center of the Philippines to the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig. Bautista’s departure honors was led by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra’s rendition of Nicanor Abelardo’s “Pahimakas.”

THE VARSITARIAN’S Literary team asked writers, students, and teachers their favorite passages from the works of the late National Artist for Literature Cirilo Bautista. Here are their choices:


The sea cannot touch me now

nor the sky

in this room whose arms are

your arms

(The Sea Cannot Touch, 2012)


“‘The sea cannot touch’ [have] no punctuation marks… [Even if] it seems that this is a typical romantic poem, Dr. Bautista is still in his element, […] playing in language.” –Ronald Baytan, Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center, director


Some big shots have been using me

for target practice. They call it Preparing

for Progress. I ask that my taxes be reduced,

bang goes my left ear. I demonstrate

Against police brutality, bang go

my fingers that hold the placard…

(Some Big Shots Have Been Using Me, 2006)


Tignan mo naman kasi parang kahapon lang sinulat. ‘Yong images talagang maganda at malinaw. Hindi mo na kailangan magpaliwanag.”- John Teodoro, five-time Palanca winner




sa katapusan ng araw

magbibilang kami ng sugat

at tila mga gulanit na kaluluwa

(Patalim, 2012)


“For me, [these] line[s] mean couples who have conflicts shouldn’t let the day pass without resolving their problem. This ‘resolving’ is the part that fortifies them and lets them know their partners better; making conflicts is essential to a healthy relationship. Nevertheless, conflicts without resolutions are futile since they leave the wounds open.” – Cedric Cruz, third year UST AMV College of Accountancy student


Perhaps there was no use in our stealing

Its secret wisdom why it cannot die

Nevertheless we laughed as best we could

Because we are helpless while we are loved.

(Woods: For Rose Marie, 1968)


Pero there’s this one line, the last line in the last stanza, hindi ba ang ganda ng reversal? Are we really weak and helpless and vulnerable while we are loved [and] while we are doing the loving?” – Edmark Tan, UST AB Literature alumnus; fellow to 2018 UST National Writers’ Workshop


At times you pine and pine for beauty gone—

Ah never take the same courage, mon ami,

Wisdom and the past are never one.

(Addressed to Himself, 1968)


“The writings of Dr. Bautista, products of rigor and discipline, proved that he’s a rare breed of poet who effortlessly brought his readers, like me, to the realms of metacognitive and metaphysical questioning, without compromising lyricism. Only Bautista could run a verse in his own transcendent sense of words.” – Aloysiusi Lionel Polintan IV, Divina Pastora College (Nueva Ecija), Senior High School department coordinator


But learn to distrust language that we

In constant dreams deem the only fact,

Kill it in seduction or heraldry


So eagle-like you may invent your act.

(Addressed to Himself, 1968)


“In the era of poststructuralism, where everything is relegated as a construct and value seems diminished due to forces that ‘overdetermine’ us (read: labels, language), there is no other alternative but to be autocritical and redefine our perceptions in order to enrich the value of the self and of life.” – Jayjay Avelino, San Pedro College of Business Administration (Laguna), Literature professor


One dies again, also, bursting through

the skin, and flings his wingless wars

to the sun, broken and raining sadness

on the soul; but just for a moment,

like spumes in air, or the swing of swans

to shore, no longer, no better.

(The Fountains at Villa D’Este, Tivoli, 2013)


“I love the way he had painted the scenery through his manipulation of language. It was as if he had framed the supposedly dynamic nature of water into a frozen memento of beauty. ‘Yong supposedly transient world of the moment [ay] ginawa niyang imperishable. His poem had turned the ephemeral into something that is eternal.” – Bluei Fausto, UST AB Literature alumna


To live again and live rightly, we have to die everyday. That, indeed, is most difficult, if not impossible. It is hard to resolve the tension between the material and the spiritual on top of trying to fulfill our responsibilities and aspirations. But the world is such as we make it, and our soul need proper caring, too. These deaths do not have to spectacular, however. We die according to our ability and capacity. Simple acts of charity and sympathy for the underprivileged everyday, for instance, nurture our spiritual being without straining our resources or spilling our blood. Resurrection enables us to strengthen our spirit when we sacrifice part of our self for the sake of others. All our dying makes us new persons. (Becoming a New Person, 2011)


“That passage in particular always reminds me that, cliché to say, we only have one life. Not everyone is equal. But if you have the capability to make others “happy” I think that is the best form of satisfaction which beats the blinding happiness given by this material world.”- Hans Malgapu, UST AB Journalism alumnus; fellow to UST 2018 National Writers’ Workshop; office secretary and staff writer of UST Social Media Bureau


There can never be a ceasefire in the writer’s war with the irrational, the incompetent, and the corrupt… (“Notes on the Literary Life,” from The House of True Desire, 2010)


“The most unforgettable of his lines I committed to memory, one that has guided me and shaped my own excursion into the rough and tumble world of the writing life in a country where writers are ignored, if not killed.” – Joel Pablo Salud, The Philippines Graphic, editor in chief; UST Psychology alumnus


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.