(From left to right: CCWLS Director Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, former UST rector Rev. Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., and UST Publishing House director John Jack Wigley. Photo by Alvin Joseph Kasiban)

October 1, 2015, 1:22p.m. – THE STORIED career of poet Cirilo Bautista, a Thomasian National Artist for Literature, was celebrated  in a testimonial dinner at the Grand Ballroom of the Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P Building in the University yesterday.

Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, director of the Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (CCWLS), said in her opening remarks that the contributions of artists such as Bautista are valuable to national heritage as their works reflect a time when the arts were given the least priority by the government and society.

“The [National Artist Award], and the benefits that accompany it, clearly do not measure up to the value of the contribution to the national heritage,” Hidalgo said. “But as things are today, it is the highest honor the country can give to its artists that it claims as its own.”

Bautista, a former literary editor of the Varsitarian, expressed his gratitude upon returning to UST and being celebrated as a National Artist.

“I’m at home. I am a UST Alumnus so I am at home here,” he said. “It is always an honor to be a National Artist. It’s the highest prize you can get as a writer in our country, so it gives me a lot of pleasure.”

Top poets Ramil Digal Gulle, Alice Sun-Cua, Lourd Ernest de Veyra, Marjorie Evasco, Marne Kilates and Gemino Abad paid tribute by reading Bautista’s works.

Bautista also got to air his views, from writing to social media to the popularity of a noontime show loveteam, in an interview with de Veyra.

Bautista was given a plaque of recognition by Rev. Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., the dean of the Faculty of Sacred Theology and former UST rector. Zenmond G. Duque II and Cedric Allen P. Sta. Cruz


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