Sunday, July 25, 2010

Learning from F. Sionil Jose, a National Artist for Literature

I am now a full-pledge feature writer of the CTHM Journal. (^o^)\m/

Yesterday, I attended a conference/workshop regarding us, being a writer in our respective colleges. There were lots of interesting speakers, and one of them is my favorite--Francisco Sionil-Jose, a National Artist for Literature, and a proud Thomasian.

(I apologize for the not-so-professional shot. It's only
from a 3.15 MP camera phone. Zoomed in.)

F. Sionil was the one who wrote "The God Stealer" (a story about an Igorot named Philip Latak who stole their God), which was once our reading assignment in Literature class. He was actually the former teacher of my Literature professor (Sir Timothy Sanchez), and I find it really cool that I met him. At first, I never thought that the big ol' man sitting in the stage was actually him because he wore simple clothes and a "writer's cap." He's really old that he addressed himself as an "octogenarian." And that surprised me because he still manages to engage in this kind of activity despite of being 80+ years old. Judging by his face, I'd say he's a pro because he has these big eye bags, meaning, he writes a lot for the past decades! For his age, he is still perky and he connects with us, which makes him really likable. He shared to us his adventures. Unbelievably, he had traveled in every part of the globe like (if my memory serves me right) Brazil, Japan, Tibet, Russia, the whole Philippines, and lots more. He also shared to us his achievements like receiving numerous awards.

According to F. Sionil, writers are not rich. And jokingly, he said to us that "if you want to be a writer, find a rich husband/wife first!" Being a writer means you have to be dedicated to what you are doing despite the hindrances that may occur. It's actually a serious job. He even told a student not to dream of becoming a writer if he's not wealthy. He also said to us that he is thankful for having an understanding family because of the career he has chosen. He wasn't even a good provider to his family (but his wife! LOL!). But after a masterpiece has been created, it is the time you come to realize that it is indeed a fulfilling career. It's the passion that drives you to achieve your goals no matter how hard it is.

He shared to us his experience of being a writer who travels. When he was in riding a train in Shinjuku, he was crying. Crying because according to him, he knows that his heart is lost in Shinjuku. It was actually in the epilogue of his novel entitled "Ermita." He read to us part of it, and it was really touching.

When he ended his talk, we were so fortunate to have a picture taken with Mr. Francisco Sionil-Jose. It was an honor for me to be able to listen to his talk.

(When he was presented a plaque of appreciation)

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