a blog-tribute by a.a.



(Speech delivered by the author at the University of the Philippines Diliman on
Nov 23)

What is an old man like myself doing here, talking about revolution? Hindsight
is the lowest form of wisdom. I can tell you what it was like when your campus
was nothing but cogon waste, when all those trees that line your streets were
just saplings.

I can tell you also, why we were left behind by all our neighbors when in the
Fifties and the Sixties we were the richest, most progressive country in the
region, when Seoul and Tokyo were ravaged by war; Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta were
mere kampongs; when Bangkok was a sleepy town crisscrossed by canals. I never
was in China till 1979, but I know in the Forties that country was always
threatened by famine. It had a population then of only half a billion. Now, with
more than a billion people famine is no longer a threat, although hunger still
lurks in some of its distant regions.

Hunger has always been with some of us, too, but not as much as it now when so
many poor Filipinos eat only once a day. Altanghap, I wonder how many of you
know what that word means.

So then, why are we poor? Why do women flee to foreign cities to work as
housemaids, as prostitutes?

We are poor because we have lost our ethical moorings, despite of those massive
religious rallies of El Shaddai, those neo-gothic churches of the Iglesia ni
Kristo sprouting all over the country, in spite of the nearly 400 years of
Catholic evangelization.

How can we build an ethical society? We must remember that so-called values are
neutral -- that so much depends on how people use them. James Fallows' thesis on
our damaged culture, which many of us understand, is neither permanent nor

Ramon Magsaysay infused public life in the Fifties with discipline and morality,
Arsenio Lacson as mayor of Manila cleaned up City Hall. Even today, shining
examples of honesty among in our public officials exist, but they are few and
far between and they are not institutionalized.

And it is precisely here where the university comes in with its courses in the

Of all the arts, only literature teaches us ethics. Literature presents us with
problems, complex equations that deal with the human spirit and how often the
choice between right and wrong is made. In this process, we are compelled to use
our conscience, to validate the choices we make, and render the meaning, the
pith of our existence.

The university then is the real cathedral of a nation, and its humanities,
particularly its literature department, the altar. But how many possess this
sense of worth and mission?

To know ourselves, to make good and proper use of our consciences, we must know
our own history. So few of us do, in fact, we nurture no sense of the past.

If our teachers know our history, if they soak it in their bones, then it
follows that they also impart this very same marrow to their students.

If this is so, how come that when Bongbong Marcos visited Diliman sometime ago,
he was mobbed by students who wanted his autograph? How come that in La Salle,
business students cited Marcos as the best President this country ever had?

Not too long ago, I spoke before freshmen at the Ateneo and was told that since
so many practice bribery, it must be right, or how could anyone get things done
if palms are not greased?

In this university are professors who served Marcos. Have they ever been asked
what their role was?

We are poor because we are not moral. Can this immorality as evidenced by
widespread corruption be quantified? Yes, about P23 billion a year is lost,
according to NGO estimates.

We are poor because we have no sense of history, and therefore, no sense of
nation. The nationalism that was preached to my generation by Claro M. Recto and
Lorenzo Tanada was phony; how could they have convinced so many intellectuals to
analyze that inward, socially meaningless nationalism.

Recto and Tanada opposed agrarian reform, the single most important political
act that could have lifted this country then from poverty and released the
peasantry from its centuries-old bondage.

We are poor because our elite from way back had no sense of nation -- they
collaborated with whoever ruled the Spaniards, the Japanese, the Americans and
in recent times, Marcos. Our elite imbibed the values of the colonizer.

And worst of all, these wealthy Filipinos did not modernize this country - they
sent abroad their wealth distilled from the blood and sweat of our poor. The
rich Chinese to China, to Taiwan, to Hong Kong, the rich mestizos to Europe and
the rich Indios like Marcos to Switzerland and the United States -- money that
could have developed this nation.

How do we end this shameless domestic colonialism? The ballot failed; the bullet
then ? How else but through the cleansing power of revolution. Make no mistake
about it -- revolution means the transfer of power from the decadent upper
classes to the lower classes. Revolution is class war whose objective is justice
and freedom.

Who will form the vanguard of change? Who else but the very people who will
benefit from it.

Listen, when I was researching for my novel POON at the New York Public Library,
I came across photographs of our soldiers of the 1896 revolution felled in their
trenches by American guns. I looked closely and found that most of them were
barefoot. They were peasants.

The peasant is the truest nationalist. He works the land with his hands, he
knows instinctively what the term Motherland means. He loves this earth, even
worships it. The Ilocano farmer calls it Apo Daga.

But never romanticize the poor. Once, a group of PhDs lamented the futility of
their efforts in organizing and motivating them. When the elections came that
year, the poor sold their votes or voted for Erap.

Understand why they are often lazy, contemptible, fawning, cheating and
stealing. Imagine yourself not having a centavo in your pocket now, and you
don't know if you will eat tonight. There is nothing honorable about poverty --
it is totally dehumanizing and degrading. But once the very poor are roused from
their stupor, they become the bravest, the most steadfast. Remember, those
Watawat ng Lahi followers felled by Constabulary guns on Taft Avenue in 1965?
They believed that with their faith they were invincible.

It is with such faith and righteousness that our peasants rebelled in living
memory, the Colorums in 1931, the Sakdals in 1935, and the Huks in 1949-53.

The Moro rebellion, the New People's Army -- the cadres of both are from our
very poor, just like it was in 1896. And now, here is the most tragic
contradiction in our country. Our Armed Forces -- its officers corps -- many
come from the lower classes, too; they go to their exalted positions through
public examinations and entry to the Philippine Military Academy. Our Armed
Forces enlisted men -- most of them come from the very poor.

When the poor kill the poor, who profits?

Revolution starts in the mind and heart. It alters attitudes to enable us to
think beyond ourselves, family and ethnicity to encompass the whole nation. If
the communists win, and I don't think they ever will, they will rule just as
badly because they are Filipinos unable to go beyond barnacled habits of mind,
hostage as they always are to friends and family and to towering egos. The same
egos aborted the revolution in 1896, the EDSA revolution in 1986, and now, we
see the same egos wrecking havoc on the Communist Party. We see these egos
eroding our already rotten political system.

The core belief that should guide us in redeeming our unhappy country is in our
history, in our peasantry. It is not in textbooks, in foreign intellectual
idols, in Marx. And what is this ideology which Bonifacio believed in? Which
those barefoot soldiers killed by the Americans believed in? Pedro Close, the
peasant leader who led the Colored uprising in Taut, Parnassian in 1931, said is
this: "God resides in every man. God created earth, water and air for all men.
It is against God's laws for one family or one group to own them."

God and country; translate this belief into your own words and there you have it
in its simplest terms the creed with which the unfulfilled revolution of 1896
was based, and which should be the same creed that should forge unity among us.

Who will lead the revolution?

Certainly, not the masa, but one from the masa who understands them, who will
not betray them the way our leaders betrayed the masa. Estrada is the most
shameful example of that leadership that betrayed.

The leaders of the revolution could be in this university who have the
education, but who are not shackled by alien concepts, or the attitudes of
superiority that destroy leadership. Such leaders, like Ho Chi Minh, must lead
by sterling example, with integrity, courage, compassion and willingness to
sacrifice, who know that when the revolution is won, it is time to change from
conspirators to even better administrators, remembering that they must now work
even harder to produce better and cheaper products. And this massive work of
modernization can be achieved in one generation. The Koreans, Taiwanese and the
Japanese did it. It is not the Confucian ethic that enabled them to do this;
they understood simply the logic of government, which is service, and that of
commerce, which is profit.

By what right do I have to urge revolution upon our people who will suffer it?
What right do I have to urge the young to sacrifice, the poor to get even
poorer, if they embrace the revolutionary creed?

I have no such right, nor will I call it such. I call it duty, duty, duty. Duty
for all of us rooted in our soil, who believe that our destiny is freedom.

Not everyone can bear arms, or have the physical strength to stand up, to shout
loudly about the injustices that prevail around us.

Those who cannot do these, who cannot be part of this radical movement, must not
help those who enslave us. Do not give them legitimacy as so many gave
legitimacy to Marcos. Recognize, identify our enemies and oppose them with all
your means.

This will then test integrity, commitment.

Nobody need tell us the exorbitant cost of revolution, the lives that will be
lost, senselessly even as when Pol Pot massacred thousands of his own countrymen
in Cambodia. We who lived through the Japanese Occupation know what hunger, fear
and flight mean.

Joseph Conrad, Albert Camus and Jose Rizal -- writers I admire deeply, all
warned against revolution because it breeds tyrants, becaust it does not always
bring change. But look around us, at the thousands of Filipinos who are debased
and hungry, who are denied justice. Be shamed if you don't act. And as Salud
Algabre, the Sakdal general said in 1935, "No rebellion fails. Each is a step in
the right direction."

Revolution need not even have to be bloody. How many lives were lost at Edsa 1?
Not even 20. So Cory goes around telling the world that she had restored
democracy in the Philippines. Sure enough, we know have free elections, free
speech, free assembly but these are the empty shells of democratic institutions
because the real essence of democracy does not exist here. And that real essence
is in the stomach -- as when the taxi driver in Tokyo eats the same sashimi as
the Japanese emperor, or the bus driver in Washington who can eat the same steak
as President Bush in the White House. Contrast these with that jobless Cavite
laborer whose two children died because he fed them garbage. No, Cory Aquino's
EDSA revolution could not even have our garbage properly collected. Worse, 19
farmer demonstrators were killed near Malacanang because she refused to see
them. True to her oligarchic class, she declared a revolutionary government
without doing anything revolutionary; instead, she turned Edsa 1 into a
restoration of the old oligarchy. So today, we are reaping the results of her
negligence, ignorance and folly.

Yet, even capitalism can be very helpful. South Korea is a very good example of
how capital was formed by corruption, and how a single-minded general lifted
that nation from the ashes of the Koren War, into the thriving economy, which
Korea is today.

Remember the slogans of American capitalism -- a chicken in every pot, a Ford in
every garage. Money is like fertilizer -- to do any good it must be spread
around. Those robber barons at the turn of the 19th century were rapacious, they
exploited their worker, but they built industries, railroads, banks, the sinews
of American capitalism. And the most important thing - they kept their money
home to develop America. Unlike our rich Chinese, our rich mestizos and the
likes of Marcos who sent their money abroad to keep us poor. They are the enemy.

It has been said again and again that we are, indeed, a young nation compared
with other Asian countries whose august civilizations date back to 2,000 years
or more. Indeed, so are the Filipinos who shaped this nation --- those who led
the revolution against Spain -- they were all young, like you are, in their 20s
or early 30s. Rizal was 34 when he was martyred.

How then do we keep young without having to grow old only to see the fire in our
having to grow old only to see the fire in our minds and hearts die? How does
the nation's leading university maintain its vitality, its youth against the
ravages of consumerism, of globalism?

How else but to keep the mind ever healthy, ever alive by empowering it with
those ideas that nurture change and revolution itself, by ingesting the
technological age so that we can use technology for realizing our ideals.

How else but to embrace the ideas that make us doubt technology, society, even
revolution itself, but never, never about who we are, what we should do and hope
to be.

We cannot be beholden to any other nation. Jose Maria Sison doomed his
revolution when he turned to China for assistance; he ignored the "objective
reality" -- the latent anti-Chinese feeling among Filipinos, in fact among all
Southeast Asians who fear a Chinese hegemony.

We must mold our own destiny, infusing it with the strength of a sovereign
people. The Americans, the English, French, Russians, Cubans, Chinese, and
Vietnamese -- all achieved their unique revolutions. We must have our very own,
defined only by us.

How to build it, direct it, use it for the betterment of our lives, the
flowering of liberty -- I see all these as the major function of the university
which, after all, shapes our leaders. I pray that UP will graduate the best
doctors, the best engineers, the best teachers, the best bureaucrats. The
revolution needs them all. But most of all, let this university of the people
produce the ultimate modernizer, the heroic nationalist revolutionary -- we need
him most of all.



On Saturday, December 3, following the day-long annual PEN Conference and Ramon Magsaysay Lecture at the NCCA building in Intramuros, “An Evening for Frankie” will be held at the Main Lobby of the CCP, starting at 6 p.m. Dear Frankie, as in National Artist for Literature and PEN Chair F. Sionil Jose

-- from Krip Yuson's post


F. SIONIL JOSE Speaks at U.P.

On November 23, National Artist for Literature and Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, F. Sionil Jose will deliver a public lecture at the University of the Philippines on "The University and the Revolution" at the Faculty Conference (FC) Hall, U.P. Diliman at 1:30P.M.

The world renowned novelist was personally invited to speak at UP by outgoing U.P. President Nemenzo, a long-time friend and reader of JOSE. The lecture will be the latest in a series of recent visits to U.P. by cultural icons including ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, fimmaker Marilou Diaz-Abaya and National Artist for Dance Leonor Orosa Goquingco.

A distinguished panel of academics will repond to Jose's lecture composed of Professor Randy David, Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera and Dean Zosimo Lee.

The lecture is FREE and open to all.


The Best Novelist reminisces about the Best Filipino Writer

by Deni Rose M. Afinidad

“Nick, who died on April 29, is our greatest writer. I’m the greatest novelist.”

National Artist Francisco Sionil Jose always taught us to be boastful. Writers are never humble, he always said, to 15 of us who attended the Fifth UST National Writers’ Workshop in Baguio City from April 25 to May 1.

More than just our panelist, F. Sionil Jose, or Sir Frankie as we call him, provided us with some wine to toast and to toss us up as we painlessly sang videoke oldies during the first three socialization nights of the workshop.

But April 30 was a different day. Almost everyone got up early and woke up without a hangover. Sir Frankie didn’t pour any wine on our glasses. That day, a Friday morning, he sank his grief in a smile. He sat plainly before the panelists’ center table, and humbled himself in memory of a friend.

Looking at the ceiling, Sir Frankie placed his cane over the table and rekindled his first years with fellow National Artist, Nick Joaquin. “I’ve known Nick since the late forties. Having known him, I can talk about him as a human being and a writer.”

Like Sir Frankie, Nick wrote history, legends, journalism, poetry, drama, and award-winning fiction. For Sir Frankie, Nick’s greatest masterpiece is the book “A Question of Heroes.”

“He knew Philippine History very well. His knowledge of Philippine History helped him very much in his writing. He makes history come alive,” said Sir Frankie, who also shared his admiration for national hero Jose Rizal with his reposed friend. Rizal’s novels laid the foundation for both of them to start honing their career as fictionists.

“Nick was a Manileño through and through. Others thought that he was an ilustrado because he came from a well-to-do family, yet in reality, he is strongly anti-elitist. He can’t write about peasants, but he was never detached from the masa. Although he can’t write about peasantry, he felt deeply for them.”

Despite having the same interests, Sir Frankie and Nick also had some disagreements. “We had serious arguments about the Philippines and the Filipinos, up to the point that we’ll shout at each other . . . He is very much in love with Spain. I tell him to never forget that it was the Spaniards who killed Rizal.”

Nevertheless, the arguments that they had did not make Nick less endeared to Sir Frankie. “He is very loyal to his friends,” he recalls, giving as an example how Nick accepted the 1976 National Artist award just to persuade Ferdinand Marcos to free his friend Emman Lacaba, a poet who was then being detained for rebellion.

“Filipino writers had a social and economic base during the Martial law years. Some writers enriched themselves during the Marcos regime. They oppressed other writers. Nick has a very strong violent reaction on this. He rarely expresses his views, but I know that he despised writers bound to Marcos . . . Nick perhaps is the most decent Filipino writer I’ve known. When I say decent, it’s just that.”

In defense against the misconception that his friend was a drunkard, Sir Frankie once told one of the workshop fellows that Nick used to pretend that he was drunk to escape media exposure. “He drank a lot of beer, but he never got drunk. He never was drunk. He just seemed drunk but he knew what he was saying,” Sir Frankie reiterated.

“Nick showed that it’s possible not only to be a true artist, but also to be a moral person. It’s not enough to have a sense of history or to be loyal to your country. It’s also necessary that you’re a moral person so that you’ll be able to impart a sense of ethics to your readers. Literature is the noblest of the arts. Writers should always have a noble bearing. They should be pious not only in writings, but also in the way they live.”

Nick’s moral stature is grounded on his deep-seated religiosity, Sir Frankie said. “There’s paganism in his writing, but he’s very religious. Nick has a profound sense of piety as showed in his fiction.”

“Nick believes that we should have to let go of the American influence and to think first of being published in our own country because our audience is here. We write for Filipinos.”

Sir Frankie flashed a grin at us as he ended his eulogy. That morning, he was supposed to explore an Ilocos beach with his wife, but this plan was postponed in lieu of a trip back to Manila to see Nick’s wake.

The day before, a sudden heat wave hit Baguio when a workshop fellow burst out of the bathroom and announced to everyone the worst joke she has ever gotten from a text message: Nick Joaquin is dead.

The slumberous atmosphere of April 29 turned hysterical for all writers attending the fourth day of the workshop. A loud “Ssshhh . . .” then tormented the room when one of the panelists, Eric Melendez, tried to slow down the commotion, in hope that Sir Frankie would not be shocked to know about his friend’s sudden death. Sir Frankie sat just after Melendez in the panelists’ table. One of the panelists asked Sir Frankie to go upstairs to have lunch. As Sir Frankie slowly turned his back from the rest of us, the panelists, one by one, broke into tears.

That day, we watched how professional writers Ophelia Dimalanta and Cirilo Bautista exchanged sobs for the loss of an older writer. The next day, we listened to the sentiments of another veteran writer—F. Sionil Jose.

We, the young writers, don’t know where to pick up the pieces of our emotions. We don’t know whether we’ll remain twirling our thumbs in silence or mourn with the rest of the older writers. I was staring at my fellows as I sucked on a strawberry-flavored candy. Tomorrow, we could be mourning for ourselves.

Source: http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2004/may/09/yehey/weekend/20040509wek3.html na


Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts

Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies
31 August 1980, Manila, Philippines

The life confronting writers and artists who will not compromise their self-expression is at best uncertain. Poets and painters who in times past have been appreciated and honored by courts and a scholar gentry, in the developing world today may receive only passing notice amidst the scramble for wealth, privilege and power. Mass communications catering to the lowest common denominator of taste occupy the public attention. Values most needed are frequently lost from sight.

It is the hard task of serious writers and artists in this setting to survive and be effective; the quality of their creativity alone is no guarantee. Only by joining in common cause with like-minded men and women can they become significant. This, in turn, requires self-effacing leadership, a stimulating, congenial gathering place and forums for publication or exhibition.

FRANCISCO SIONIL JOSÉ's role in this many-faceted arena is a product of his wit and formative experience. Born into a poor family in the Philippine province of Pangasinan in 1924, he learned as a boy the hard life of a farmer, following a water buffalo to plow the rice field. After high school he worked with the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the 1945 battles for northern Luzon. Lacking funds for a medical education, he worked his way through school as a liberal arts student at the University of Santo Tomas. There he had his first experience in journalism, working on the collegiate Varsitarian and later on Commonweal, the national Catholic weekly.

JOSÉ pursued his career in journalism as managing editor of the Manila Times Sunday Magazine, editor of Progress and later Comment, and in Hong Kong as managing editor of Asia Magazine. After two years as Information Officer for the Colombo Plan in Sri Lanka, he returned to Manila in 1965 to open the Solidaridad Book Shop and Publishing House, and the following year launched Solidarity, a monthly magazine of comment on current affairs, ideas and the arts. A year later he opened the Solidaridad Galleries to allow little known artists an outlet for their work.

Possessed of prodigious energy and curiosity, JOSÉ made himself an authority on land tenure and in 1968 became a consultant to the Department of Agrarian Reform. He had earlier been a founder and national secretary of the Philippine PEN and a moving spirit in the International Association for Cultural Freedom. He continued as a prolific writer of essays, short stories and novels, some of which have been translated into half a dozen languages, all the while lecturing at universities in the Philippines and abroad.

Although it is difficult to quantify, JOSÉ has probably made his greatest contribution through the guidance and assistance he has offered numerous Filipino and foreign writers, artists and scholars. From Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas they have come to browse among the carefully selected titles in his bookstore and glean ideas.

JOSÉ has earned only a modest living through his many activities. He has won instead, for the Philippines, himself, his wife Teresita and their seven children—who all help manage his enterprises—a roster of extraordinary international friends. He has fostered a cultural and intellectual exchange which is enriched by his abiding solicitude for the welfare of ordinary people and enlivened by his vigorous sense of humor. In his writings he has expressed that dimension of caring about human beings that separates trivia from writing of worth.

In electing FRANCISCO SIONIL JOSÉ to receive the 1980 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts, the Board of Trustees recognizes his intellectual courage and his concern for and encouragement of Asian and other writers and artists, for many of whom his Solidaridad Book Shop is a cultural mecca.

Source: http://www.rmaf.org.ph/Awardees/Citation/CitationJoseFra.htm


The foremost and most-translated novelist, FRANCISCO SIONIL JOSE, who has become a favorite [Filipino] novelist since the day I picked up a copy of his THE PRETENDERS, MASS, ERMITA and recently, POON as well as his collection of essays, WE FILIPINOS: OUR MORAL MALAISE, OUR HEROIC HERITAGE, among his other works, releases his collection of stories for Kids :


The Molave and The Orchid will be launched at PowerBooks, Greenbelt 4, Makati
on November 6, 5p.m.

F.Sionil Jose is one of our National Artists for Literature. He was recently awarded the PABLO NERUDA CENTENNIAL AWARD by the Government of Chile, which was given to 100 authors among 65 countries in commemoration of the 100th birthday of Pablo Neruda, a Nobel Laureate, poet from Chile



F. Sionil Jose Literature (2001)

F. Sionil Jose’s writings since the late 60s, when taken collectively can best be described as epic. Its sheer volume puts him on the forefront of Philippine writing in English. But ultimately, it is the consistent espousal of the aspirations of the Filipino--for national sovereignty and social justice--that guarantees the value of his oeuvre.

In the five-novel masterpiece, the Rosales saga, consisting of The Pretenders, Tree, My Brother, My Executioner, Mass, and Po-on, he captures the sweep of Philippine history while simultaneously narrating the lives of generations of the Samsons whose personal lives intertwine with the social struggles of the nation. Because of their international appeal, his works, including his many short stories, have been published and translated into various languages.

Jose is also a publisher, lecturer on cultural issues, and the founder of the Philippine chapter of the international organization PEN. He was bestowed the CCP Centennial Honors for the Arts in 1999; the Outstanding Fulbrighters Award for Literature in 1988; and the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts in 1980.

SOURCE: http://www.ncca.gov.ph/culture&arts/profile/natlartists/literature/jose.htm

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