Friday, April 18, 2014

Nick Joaquin: The Biography

Nick Joaquín (Photo credit:
Nick Joaquín (Nicomedes Márquez Joaquín) was born in the old district of Pacò in Manila, Philippines, on September 15, 1917, the feast day of Saint Nicomedes, a protomartyr of Rome, after whom he took his baptismal name. Although some claimed the writer's correct birthdate was May 04, 1917. Whichever was right, Nick was born to a home deeply Catholic, educated, and prosperous family. His father, Leocadio Joaquín, was a procurador (attorney) in the Court of First Instance of Laguna at the time of the Philippine Revolution. Around 1906, after the death of his first wife, he married Salomé Márquez, Nick’s mother. A friend of General Emilio Aguinaldo, Leocadio was a popular lawyer in Manila and the Southern Tagalog provinces.

The fifth child of ten children, Nick had an extremely happy childhood. Their parents were able to provide them a decent and privileged life. However in 1920s, Leocadio lost the family's fortune in an oil exploration investment somewhere in the Visayas. This was the turning point in the life of the Joaquin's. After that, Nick dropped out of school and his intention of entering the seminary to pursue his religious vocation was abandoned. Later, his work in the composing department of the Tribune, of the TVT (Tribune-Vanguardia-Taliba) publishing company, got him started on what would be a lifelong association with the world of print.

Right after the war, he published in rapid succession stories as “Summer Solstice,” “May Day Eve,” and “Guardia de Honor.” These stories have become Nick Joaquín’s signature stories and classics in Philippine writing in English.

In 1947, Joaquin's earlier dream of leaving Manila after the war came to reality when he was awarded a scholarship to the Saint Albert’s College, a Dominican monastery in Hong Kong after the publication of his essay “La Naval de Manila” (1943), a description of Manila’s fabled resistance to 17th-century Dutch invaders. His stay at Saint Albert’s schooled him in Latin and the classics. He stayed less than two years and returned to Manila thereafter.

In 1950 Joaquin joined the country's premiere magazine, Philippine's Free Press working as a proofreader, copywriter, and then member of the staff. His Free Press years established him as a leading public figure in Philippine letters. He wrote using the pen name Quijano de Manila (“Manila Old-Timer”).
He wrote with eloquence and verve on the most democratic range of subjects, from the arts and popular culture to history and current politics. He was a widely read chronicler of the times, original and provocative in his insights and energetic
and compassionate in his embrace of local realities. 
(Biography of Nick Joaquín, Resil B. Mojares)
The novel The Woman Who Had Two Navels (1961) examines his country’s various heritages. A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino (1966), a celebrated play, attempts to reconcile historical events with dynamic change.

Joaquín died of cardiac arrest in the early morning of April 29, 2004, at his home in San Juan, Metro Manila. He was eighty-six. He was then editor of Philippine Graphic magazine where he worked with Juan P. Dayang, who was the magazine's first publisher. Joaquin was conferred the rank and title of National Artist of the Philippines for Literature. Joaquin was also publisher of its sister publication, Mirror Weekly, a women’s magazine. He also wrote the column (“Small Beer”) for the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Isyu, an opinion tabloid.

He is considered one of the most important Filipino writers in English, and the third most important overall, after José Rizal and Claro M. Recto.

For a detailed biography of Nick Joaquin, click here.

Carmen Guerrero Nakpil: The Biography

Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil (Photo credit:
Carmen Guerrero- Nakpil is a prominent Filipino journalist, author, historian and public servant. She was born on July 19, 1922 in Ermita, Manila— in what then the epicenter of the Hispano-Filipino community, into the Guerrero clan of that town, who were renown literary artists (painters and poets), as well as scientists and doctors.

Her parents were Alfredo Leon Guerrero, a doctor, and Filomena Francisco, celebrated as Philippine's first pharmacist. Brother Leon Ma. III, lawyer and diplomat is a renown essayist and fictionist who was best known for his translations of Rizal's two novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, as well as the prize-winning work on Jose Rizal, The First Filipino. Her second brother Mario X. Guerrero, was one of the country's first foreign-trained cardiologists. Nakpil studied at St. Theresa’s College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1942. While there she edited the campus paper, The Orion. She taught literature at the same college.

She married Lt. Ismael A. Cruz in 1942, with whom she had two children, one of whom, Gemma Cruz- Araneta, a fictionist and Ismael G. Cruz. Carmen was widowed in World War II. Years after her first husband’s death, she married Harvard-trained modernist, the city planner and architect Angel E. Nakpil in 1950 with whom she had three children: Ramon Guerrero Nakpil, Lisa Guerrero Nakpil, and Luis Guerrero Nakpil.

Between the year 1946 and 2006, Nakpil worked either as staff member, editor or editorial columnist for the Manila Chronicle for 12 years where she wrote a daily column and a weekly column for the Sunday Times Magazine; she was also a columnist or editor at Evening News Saturday Magazine, Weekly Women’s Magazine, Malaya, and other newspapers. In 1960s, Nakpil served as the chairperson of the National Historical Commission and the Cultural Committee of the Philippine Commission for UNESCO. In 1983-1986 she worked as a representative elected by the UNESCO General Assembly in Paris. And between 1984-1986 she was managing director of the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center.

Guerrero-Nakpil’s published works include: Woman Enough and Other Essays, 1963; Question of Identity, 1973; The Philippines and the Filipino, 1977; The Philippines: The Land of the People, 1989; a novel, The Rice Conspiracy, 1990; History Today, the Centennial Reader and Whatever; as well as a wildly successful autobiographical trilogy Myself, Elsewhere; Legends & Adventures; and Exeunt.

1983 Arrival Speech of Ninoy Aquino

I have returned on my free will to join the ranks of those struggling to restore our rights and freedoms through non-violence.

I seek no confrontation. I only pray and will strive for a genuine national reconciliation founded on justice.

I am prepared for the worst, and have decided against the advice of my mother, my spiritual adviser, many of my tested friends and a few of my most valued political mentors.

A death sentence awaits me. Two more subversion charges, both calling for death penalties, have been filed since I left three years ago and are now pending with the courts.

Three years ago when I left for an emergency heart bypass operation, I hoped and prayed that the rights and freedoms of our people would soon be restored, that living conditions would improve and that blood-letting would stop.

I could have opted to seek political asylum in America, but I feel it is my duty, as it is the duty of every Filipino, to suffer with his people especially in time of crisis. I never sought not have I been given any assurances, or promise of leniency by the regime. I return voluntarily armed only with a clear conscience and fortified in the faith that in the end, justice will emerge triumphant. According to Gandhi, the willing sacrifice of the innocent is the most powerful answer to insolent tyranny that has yet been conceived by God and man.

Rather than move forward we have moved backward. The killings have increased, the economy has taken a turn for the worse and the human rights situation has deteriorated.

During the martial law period, the Supreme Court heard petitions for habeas corpus. It is most ironic after martial law has allegedly been lifted, that the Supreme Court last April ruled it can longer entertain petitions for habeas corpus for person detained under the Presidential Commitment Order, which covers all so-called national security cases and which under present circumstances can cover almost anything.

The country is far advanced in her times of trouble. Economic, social and political problems bedevil the Filipino. These problems may be surmounted if we are united. But we can be united only if all the rights and freedoms enjoyed before September 21, 1972 are fully restored.

The Filipino asked for nothing more, but will surely accept nothing less, than all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the 1935 constitution – the most sacred legacies from the founding fathers.

Yes, the Filipino is patient, but there is a limit to his patience. Must we wait until that patience snaps?

The nationwide rebellion is escalating and threatens to explode into a bloody revolution. There is a growing cadre of young Filipinos who have finally come to realize that freedom is never granted, it is taken. Must we relive the agonies and the blood-letting of the past that brought forth our republic or can we sit down as brothers and sisters and discuss our differences with reason and goodwill?

I have often wondered how many disputes could have been settled easily had the disputants only dared to define their terms.

So as to leave no room for misunderstanding, I shall define my terms:

Six years ago, I was sentenced to die before a firing squad by a military tribunal whose jurisdiction I steadfastly refused to recognize. It is now time for the regime to decide. Order my immediate execution or set me free.

I was sentenced to die for allegedly being the leading communist leader. I am not a communist, never was and never will be.

National reconciliation and unity can be achieved, but only with justice, including justice for our Muslim and Ifugao brothers. There can be no deal with a dictator. No compromise with dictatorship.

In a revolution there can really be no victors, only victims. We do not have to destroy in order to build.

Subversion stems from economic, social, and political causes and will not be solved by purely military solution: It can be curbed not with ever increasing repression but with a more equitable distribution of wealth, more democracy and more freedom.

For the economy to get going once again, the working man must be given his just and rightful share or his labor, and to the owners and managers must be restored the hope where there is so must uncertainty if not despair.

On one of the long corridors of Harvard University are carved in granite the words of Archibald Macleish: ‘How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms; by truth when it is attacked by lies; by democratic faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always and in the final act, by determination and faith.’

I return from exile and an uncertain future with only determination and faith to offer – faith in our people and faith in God.