30 January 2010

Remarks at my book launching

During the launch of a book, just like in awards ceremonies, an author is expected to thank everybody. I will do that by first thanking Dr. David Jonathan Y. Bayot, the Sherlock Holmes to my Watson, because I like posing really difficult questions, and he likes searching for their answers, so we make a good pair. I am notoriously unable to redo what I have already done – been there, written that – and he takes the trouble to hunt down my scholarly articles and put them in some sort of logical order. He has found unity where I intended merely to sow discord. Thank you, David, for this festschrift.

It is really a festschrift in the European sense of the word, a collection of articles by the honoree, just like Emerita Quito’s A Life of Philosophy. David and Karina Bolasco of Anvil Publishing are working on another festschrift, the American kind, to be launched on April 16. Good things always come in pairs. Let me invite you this early to the launching of Inter/Sections. Both The Other Other and Inter/Sections will be relaunched in Los Angeles on April 30, and if you have the time and the money, I invite you to that one, too.

I want to thank Agnes Malcampo, indefatigable and irresistible head of publications here at FEU. She just kept nagging me and nagging me and nagging me until I gave her the manuscript, then she kept nagging me and nagging me and nagging me about everything else that has to be done to a manuscript until it sees print.

I want to thank Dr. Lourdes Montinola, chair of the FEU board, Dr. Lydia Echauz, president, and the management of FEU for giving me an ID so I can enter the campus, for employing me even after I retired from De La Salle University in 2005 with the illusion that I could live on my savings, for giving me a post through which I am able to oversee the continuing education of FEU teachers, for welcoming me as a member of the FEU family. This book is worth not retiring.

I can’t possibly name everybody referred to in the acknowledgements or listed in the index of the book, but I want to thank especially the late Brother Andrew Gonzalez, FSC, who kept at me to keep writing, and Professor Thelma Arambulo of UP Diliman, who babysat the manuscript by proofreading, copyediting, giving comments, even while she was in Canada, presumably to get away from academic work. Unfortunately, as everyone that has ever published a book knows, there are always those awful typographical errors that refuse to go away. I apologize to my readers for those. They’re my fault and no one else’s.

I’m also expected to say something about the book, even if David has already talked about it. I’ve been lucky to have been asked several times to write articles in foreign journals, encyclopedias, and books, and I’ve often wished that Filipinos in the Philippines would have a chance to read those articles. This book puts together many of those articles, not all of them, and I hope these articles challenge readers the way my local articles are meant to do.

I think of this book as my letter to the world, as Emily Dickinson would put it, that has written to me many times, through the publishers, conference convenors, book editors, and foundations that have given me time, space, and often money to write these articles. In particular, together with the Philippine American Educational Foundation and the Fulbright Program of the United States, Wichita State University was very kind to me. Wichita gave me a chance to finish writing the last part of this book, which is made up of critical essays on my literary father, Bienvenido N. Santos. I promised Mang Ben that I would finish my essays on him. This is the fulfilment of that promise, even if it’s only a quarter of a book. I want to thank Tomas Santos, Mang Ben’s son, who came all the way from Colorado to be with us today (just a little lie, because he really came for his sister's birthday tomorrow).

Now, let me talk about myself.

My students know that I am happy when I am with them in the classroom, challenging them to think in ways they never thought before. I am happy when I am surrounded by my students. I thank my students, all of them in the 41 years I have been teaching. It’s my last term of teaching, as I will be too old by my birthday in April to connect with people young enough to be my grandchildren.

My friends and family know that I am happy when I am with them, exchanging stories, experiences, trips, memories, food, affection, love. I am happy when I am surrounded by friends and family. I thank my friends, many of whom are right here in this room. You have taken time off to come to the cleanest place in downtown Manila, perhaps the only clean place. I thank my teachers who have become my friends, especially my best teachers mentioned in the dedication in the book: Mr. Gil Raval (my English teacher in all my four years of high school in Lourdes School), the late Professor Nieves Epistola (we call her Mrs. E., my English teacher in UP who forced me to write a full essay every week), Fr. Joseph Galdon SJ (my English teacher for my MA at the Ateneo, who forced me to be grammatical because he refused to continue reading my assignment once he detected a grammatical error), Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera (the chair of the English Department at the Ateneo during my graduate studies, who took me by the hand and showed me how to be a truly Filipino scholar), and Dr. Marjorie Perloff (before she became president of the Modern Language Association and one of the top three living critics in America today, she was the angry young woman at the University of Maryland who forced me to read in French and introduced me to the rigors of Russian Formalism). I thank my family, especially my most skeptical critic Medy, who has had to share me with my computer.

But they – you – all know that I am happier when I am with Plato, Aristotle, Rizal, Jacques Derrida, and all the philosophers and literary critics I talk with when I am reading their books. I am happier when I am surrounded by books, by their authors, all of them still alive and in my room, debating with me through their books. I am happier when I am in front of my computer, writing to these intellectuals that have changed the way we all think. I thank all the intellectuals, living or dead, listed in the index of the book.

But I am happiest when I give birth to a book, when I am able to hold in my hands a product not just of my own conversations with students, friends, family, and living or dead intellectuals, but also a product of the people in an industry I love so much (publishing, which I love almost as much as education and the theater). Many artists and laborers contribute to creating my books. The Jewish Talmud had it only partly right. It said that, to live a full life, we must have a child, plant a tree, and write a book. Anyone can do those, yes, even write a book. I think that, to live a really full life, we must nurture the child until adulthood (in other words, we should teach), we should care for the tree until it bears fruit, and we should not just write a book but publish it.

A book is more than just another line in my curriculum vitae, more than just another accession number on my library shelf, more than just another memory to enjoy when old age kindly stops for me (since, still following Emily Dickinson, I cannot stop for it). A book represents a chapter in my life. This book represents the life of the scholarly writer that I lived for almost half a century, a life that I intend to leave come April, when I turn 65 and, as the Beatles described that age, I finally lose all my hair. For the sake of food on the table I will still do administrative work in universities and government until my spirit, though willing, will be too weighed down by my flesh, a 65-year-old body that now needs repair more often.

But, my students, my colleagues, my friends, my family, I will spend more quality time with you. I can talk to Plato, Aristotle, Rizal, Derrida, and all the rest of scholarly gang when I meet them in heaven, and that can wait.

Thank you. (Delivered at the launching of The Other Other at Far Eastern University, 29 January 2010)

17 January 2010

Not the third-largest English-speaking country

I posted this on my other blog (LOL Literatures in Other Languages):

The ranking of the Philippines in the list of English-speaking countries varies widely from Number 18 in Nationmaster to Number 5 in Wikipedia. Only Filipinos who have never been to India, the USA, Nigeria, UK, and China claim that the Philippines is up there with the biggies. Don't ask me why it should be a source of pride to speak English. Ethnologue says that English is only the third most-spoken language in the world, trailing Chinese and Spanish. (For Philippine languages: Filipino is Number 37, Tagalog 39, Cebuano 57, Ilocano 98, Hiligaynon 115, Bikol 130.)

15 January 2010

The Other Other

Isagani R. Cruz
Edited by David Jonathan Y. Bayot
Far Eastern University Publications


Introduction: Isagani R. Cruz, the Critical-in-Difference, and the Other Other, by David Jonathan Y. Bayot

The Critical S/subjects as the Other Other

The Other Other: Towards a Postcolonial Poetics
Edith L. Tiempo as a Literary Critic
Demythologizing Postcolonial Otherness, or Why Anti-Imperialism Does Not Imperil Imperialism
Resisting the New Cultural Imperialism: Against Postcolonial Theories of Literature
Deeuropeanizing Theory
Philippine Literary Criticism Today

A Philippine Ontology: Facets and Phrases

The Philippines
A Nation Searching for a Language Finds a Language Searching for a Name
One Thousand Years of Filitude
The Discourse of People Power
What’s the Word on the Bases, and Why are They Saying Such Terrible Things about Them?

Faces of the Subjects with/in the Other Other

The Beginnings of Philippine Literature: The Epic Tradition
Malay Consciousness in Philippine Literature
The Southeast Asian Writer’s Non-ASEAN Roots
Philippine Literature in the Age of Ninoy
Images of Japan in Contemporary Philippine Literature
White Snow, Brown Earth: Philippine-American Cultural Relations
Emersonian Values in Philippine Literature
Deconstructing America: America through the Eyes of Filipino Writers
English and Tagalog in Philippine Literature: A Study of Literary Bilingualism
Philippine Fiction from English
Introducing the Man: F. Sionil Jose in Literary and Historical Context
The Future of Philippine Literature in English
Literary Magazines
Short Fiction
Southeast Asian Novel: Philippines

Face-to-Face with the Other Other

A Deconstructive Meditation on the Writer and Society
Bienvenido N. Santos
Bienvenido, Our Brother: The Man Behind the Author
Villa Bienvenido: The Poetic Universe
The Man Who (Thought He) Was Santos: The Narrator in the Short Stories
Introduction to the Second Edition of The Day the Dancers Came
The Volcano Erupts: The First Novels
Bienvenido N. Santos on Bienvenido N. Santos
Ben Santos in Wichita / Wichita in Ben Santos

Works Cited

Index of Names

08 January 2010

ERF: Fidel Ramos

During the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, I chanced upon former president Fidel V. Ramos in the lobby of a hotel in Ortigas Center. I was alone, waiting for my driver to come around with my car. He was alone (at least, he was standing alone, although I suppose he had bodyguards standing inconspicuously somewhere near), also waiting for his driver to come around with his car.

I greeted him, "Mister President, you were the best president we have had."

He answered without hesitation, "That's because everyone who followed me was so bad!"

His car came and whisked him away before he could explain to me why Erap Estrada and Gloria Arroyo were very bad presidents, but I guess the reasons are obvious. Erap was convicted and Gloria pardoned him. Erap was proven to be corrupt. Gloria is reputed to be corrupt. Erap was successfully removed from office by the people themselves. The people (at least 75% of the entire population, according to an SWS survey) have been trying to remove Gloria from office, but unsuccessfully. Yes, Ramos (apparently not exactly an angel) looks like a saint compared to his two successors.

01 January 2010

Manigong bagong taon!

Mabungahong Bag-ong Tuig kaninyong tanan, Magayagayang ba'gong taon, Narang-ay a Baro a Tawen kadakayo amin, Manigong bagong taon, Mainuswagon nga Bag-ong Tuig ha iyo nga tanan, Mahigugmaon nga Bag-ong Dag-on kinyo tanan, Masaplalang Bayung Banwa keko ngan, Mahimungayaon nga Bag-ong Tuig, Gelukkige nuwejaar, Gëzuar vitin e ri, Բարի կաղանդ և ամանոր, e glëckliches nëies, عام سعيد , shnorhavor nor tari, yeni iliniz mubarek, aw ni san'kura, urte berri on, З новым годам, መልካም አዲስ አመት, subho nababarsho, asgwas amegas, mbembe mbu, bonne année, sretna nova godina, bloavezh mat, честита нова година, hnit thit ku mingalar pa, 新年快樂, 新年快乐, bon any nou, pace e salute, sretna nova godina, šťastný nový rok, godt nytår, sale naw tabrik, gelukkig Nieuwjaar, felicxan novan jaron, feliæan novan jaron, head uut aastat, eƒé bé dzogbenyui nami, gott nýggjár, onnellista uutta vuotta, gelukkig Nieuwjaar, bonne année, lokkich neijier, bon an, feliz aninovo, გილოცავთ ახალ წელს, ein gutes neues Jahr, Ευτυχισμένο το Νέο Έτος, sal mubarak, rogüerohory año nuévo-re, bònn ané, hauoli makahiki hou, שנה טובה, nav varsh ki subhkamna, nyob zoo xyoo tshiab, नये साल की हार्दिक शुभकामनायें, boldog új évet, farsælt komandi ár, selamat tahun baru, ath bhliain faoi mhaise, felice anno nuovo, sugeng warsa enggal, 明けましておめでとうございます, asseggas ameggaz, hosa varshada shubhaashayagalu, zhana zhiliniz kutti bolsin, sur sdei chhnam thmei, umwaka mwiza, umwaka mwiza, 즐거운 성탄절 보내시고 새해 복 많이 받으세요, sala we ya nû pîroz be, sabai di pi mai, felix sit annus novus, laimīgu Jauno gadu, feliçe annu nœvu, mbula ya sika elamu na tonbeli yo, laimingų Naujųjų Metų, gelükkig nyjaar, e gudd neit Joër, Среќна Нова Година, arahaba tratry ny taona, selamat tahun baru, nava varsha ashamshagal, is-sena t-tajba, kia porotu te ano ou, kia hari te tau hou, नवीन वर्षच्या हार्दिक शुभेच्छा, Шинэ жилийн баярын мэнд хvргэе, wênd na kô-d yuum-songo, umyaka omucha omuhle, godt nyttår, bon annada, nawe kaalmo mobarak sha, سال نو مبارک, szczęśliwego nowego roku, feliz ano novo, ਨਵੇਂ ਸਾਲ ਦੀਆਂ ਵਧਾਈਆਂ, bun di bun onn, baxtalo nevo bersh, un an nou fericit, С Новым Годом, ia manuia le tausaga fou, nzoni fini ngou, bonu annu nou, bliadhna mhath ur, Срећна нова година, mwaha mwema, goredzva rakanaka, nain saal joon wadhayoon, suba aluth avuruddak vewa, šťastný nový rok, srečno novo leto, dobir leto, sanad wanagsan, feliz año nuevo, wan bun nyun yari, mwaka mzuri, gott nytt år, es guets Nöis, manigong bagong taon, ia orana i te matahiti api, assugas amegaz, iniya puthandu nalVazhthukkal, yaña yıl belän, నూతన సంవత్శర శుభాకాంక్షలు, สวัสดีปีใหม่, tashi delek, tshidimu tshilenga,ርሑስ አውደ ዓመት, posa varshada shubashaya, yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun, gluk in'n tuk, Vyľ Aren, Z novym rokom, نايا سال مبارک هو, yangi yilingiz qutlug' bo'lsin, ༄༅།།ལོ་གསར་ལ་བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས་ཞུ།, Chúc Mừng Nǎm Mới, bone annéye, blwyddyn newydd dda, bon lanné, dewenati, אַ פֿרײליכע ניטל און אַ גוטער נײַער יאָר, روجىستىۋا بايرىمىڭىزغا مۇبارەك بولسۇن !