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At the grave of National Artist Francisco Arcellana at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. Tomorrow, September 6, 2016 is Arcellana's 100th birthday. So his children from the US and Canada went home to join the nation in celebrating their father's life.In Part 1, I learned that his fellow National Artist Nick Joaquin was his compadre. Now they are buried side by side at the Libingan. Joaquin himself will have his 100th birthday anniversary next year so we in the book club will probably visit and spend time reading his works also in that heroes' cemetery. Also in this part is Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. who made me realized what I thought I felt while reading Arcellana's Favorite Arcellana Stories (currentlyreading): that "he is a poet trapped in fiction." But the best piece of writing in this book is that of Elmer Ordonez for his tongueincheek story about how Arcellana won the National Artist award.
Part 2 also has some interesting pieces as they are about the reminiscences of his students at the University of the Philippines. Arcellana was able to tutor many of the popular and respected authors in the Philippines: Charlson Ong, Marra PL. Lanot, Danton Remoto, Doreen Yu, etc.
However, the real deal of this book is Part 3. Arcellana's wife was Emy Arcellana who was one of the students who scored the highest in the history of University of the Philippines Entrance College Admission Test (UPCAT). She graduated B. S. Political Science in 1948 and held the highest grade point average of 1.02 that was only broken in 2011 by John Gabriel Pelias who finished a degree in Mathematics with an GPA of 1.016. My point is this: a brilliant writer plus a genius professor in political science equals six top achievers children: Francisco Jr., a surgeon; Elizabeth Y., a pathologist; Jose Y., a communications man; Mayi, a molecular biologist; Juaniyo, a poet; and Meyen, a psychologist. All of them have essays here plus their equally bright children. The most interesting one was that of Corinna Esperanza Arcellana Nuqui. For me, she is the grandchild that's to watch out for in terms of literary greatness. I don't know any of the Arcellana clan except those who I met yesterday at the grave but I am sure someone in the family will inherit the excellence in writing of the late professor Arcellana.
What struck me most is the interview conducted by Bernardita Regina Aquino Azurin Quimpo with the Francisco when he was 77 years old, 4 years after he was bestowed with the National Artist award. Below is the except from this interview:
Among the awards which you have received, which is the most meaningful to you?That despite the many achievements, awards, testimonials for his talent and fondest memories that his family wrote in this book.
The National Artist award
Because I don't deserve it.
He remained as how he was remembered by all: humble.
Why you should read this book? This is a book about a brilliant author. The articles here were written by his equally brilliant friends, students and family members. You will learn about the literary world during the time of Arcellana particularly during the time of Marcos and also the time when he was sent to study in the US where he brought his family. Francisco Jr., Arcellana's firstborn, said that it was the happiest part of his life.
by Elizabeth Y. ArcellanaNuqui and Lydia T. RodriguezArcellana (Editors)
(The University of the Philippines Press, 2009)
It could be the crisp "Filipino English" that was a mark of the prewar Filipino writers in English, and Prof. Francisco "Franz" Arcellana, who led the Veronicans, continued to share his stories as a family man and a teacher, fondly remembered. What I like about these autobiographical accounts is that you see the idiosyncrasies of people and reinforces a sense of humanity, that they too, get hurt and disappointed, long for the better days but appreciating what they have at the moment, and as with some of our beloved teachers, the humility and the patience in spite of their status in Philippine letters.