Rony Diaz writes a novel / Serafin Quiason presents a model for our leaders
SUNDRY STROKES () - May 29, 2010 - 12:00am

“At War’s End”, Rony V. Diaz’s first novel, had a tremendously successful launching at a recent PEN meeting in the Solidaridad Bookshop. Among the scores present were National Artists for Literature F. Sionil Jose and Bienvenido Lumbera, eminent writers Elmer Ordoñez, Lito Zulueta and Virgie Moreno. In brief remarks, Bien said he and Rony were both post-graduate students at Indiana U.; when Bien asked Rony what he was taking, the latter replied, “Indian linguistics.” There and then, Bien convinced Rony to take up literary courses which later led to Rony’s garnering Palanca prizes for short stories. Earlier, while still at the UP, he had in fact already won several awards.

Copies of “At War’s End”, printed by The Manila Times Publishing Corporation managed by Dante Ang II, are available in Solidaridad at P300. Rony is now working on two other novels: “The Adventures of Candida” and “Quita y Pone”.

During the launch, Dr. Serafin D. Quiason, former National Library director and National Historical Institute chairman and now Lopez Museum consultant, so regaled me with accounts of Vietnam’s late president Ho Chi Minh that I requested him to send me a fuller description of the icon. What follows is the speech Dr. Quiason delivered on May 10 at the Laguna State Polytechnic U.

His Excellency Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu, Dr. Ricardo Wagan, President, Laguna State Polytechnic University, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

May I take this rare occasion to extend to you my warmest greetings in conjunction with the unveiling of the statues of President Ho Chi Minh and Dr. Jose P. Rizal.

It was the good fortune of Dr. and Mrs. Ricardo Wagan and my own to take part in the commemoration of the 120th birth anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh, the Father of the Modern State of Vietnam.

Measured by a universal moral yardstick, he was every inch a man of culture, letters and peace in the highest order. He was truly that, a unique Asian leader who served his beloved country and people faithfully, fully and extremely well. In the early morning of May 10, the foreign delegates to the international conference made a pilgrimage to Kim Lien commune in the province of Nghe An, the birthplace of President Ho Chi Minh.

The distance from Hanoi to Nghe An province is about 1,000 kilometers. It took us eight hours to get there, breaking our arduous journey at two four-star hotels, and another eight hours to get back to Hanoi. To us pilgrims, our visit was an unforgettable experience. Any homage bestowed upon Ho Chi Minh, no matter how tiring and how long the journey to his birthplace, is not wasted.

Twenty years ago, I was in Hanoi and took part in the celebration of the centenary of President Ho Chi Minh. What I have witnessed during my brief stay is a remarkable transformation or an unprecedented metamorphosis of Vietnam into a progressive and prosperous nation-state in the ASEAN region, thanks to its dynamic, committed and dedicated collective leadership.

Since 1986, the policy of “openness” or “doi moi” has been relentlessly pursued resulting in the process a happy balance between industrial development and growth and complex luxuriant agricultural rice production and distribution. The cities I saw are mushrooming with finely designed sky rises and multicolored residential houses displaying a distinct Vietnamese architectural style. I took a glimpse of the ancient looking Roman Catholic churches along the long route which are visible signs of the policy of religious toleration.

Much to my astonishment I have not seen unsightly enclaves of slums, impoverished beggars roving the shady lanes, truant street children, tricycles and pedicabs.

How I wish and hope our new crop of leaders could emulate the simplistic ways of President Ho Chi Minh!

When he became President, he never lived in the fabulously built Palace for the French Governor General, but instead stayed in the gardener’s tiny cottage on stilts just a stone’s throw away from a nearby pond. He bore the title and position with utmost simplicity and decorum.

He had a Gandhi-like deportment, bordering on the ways of a Buddhist ascetic. In his calculus of personal values on food habits, attire, and lodging, he was a man of simple tastes. He knew the delights of excellent cuisine, considering his work experience at the famous Carlton Restaurant. Still, his preference went to ordinary or common man’s fare. His beloved countrymen owe an inestimable debt of gratitude to their nationalist patriotic icon. He died at the age of 79. Although he never lived to see a unified Vietnam, his legacy in the form and substance of extraordinary gifts and major achievements shall live forever.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with