Spanish writer on Joaquin / Benito Legarda on Rizal / Concert honors former CJ
SUNDRY STROKES - Rosalinda L. Orosa () - December 17, 2011 - 12:00am

The modest, soft-spoken, gentle-mannered Jose Ma. Fons Guardiola, head of Instituto Cervantes’ cultural department, recently launched a book, a copy of which he graciously sent me.

Titled “Sostiene Sentado” (literally meaning sustained while seated), and written by the shy, withdrawn, reticent David Sentado who hide behind various pseudonymns, the book contains a dedication by Fons to Filipino writers too many to mention, and a chapter wherein Sentado analyzes, with depth and the keenest perception, the works of Nick Joaquin.

Calling Joaquin the best Filipino writer of the 20th century, Sentado describes how North American literature wielded a tremendous influence on Joaquin as well as on other Filipino writers in English — Francisco Arcellana, Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero, NVM Gonzales, Sinai Hamada, Edilberto and Edith Tiempo and Serain Lanot among others.

For all that, Joaquin despised America “at a time when the least criticism of America was a blasphemy”, a heaping praise on Spanish colonization while writing on our country’s colonial past, on miracles (e.g., La Naval) and religion — all these related to the Spanish era.

Joaquin’s addiction to (San Miguel) beer does not escape the notice of Sentado, but he is all admiration for Joaquin’s insatiable curiosity and intellectual honesty, and for his keeping one eye on tradition, and the other on the present.

Joaquin served only History. History was his sole master. Sentado likens Joaquin to a Filipino Jorge Luis Borges. All who intimately knew Joaquin assert that he wore a mask to hide a pathological timidity.

*      *      *

Last Thursday, Benito Legarda Jr.’s booklet “Eight Rizalian Miniatures” was launched at the Solidaridad Bookshop managed by National Artist for Literature Frankie Sionil Jose.

The book proves the truth of the assertion that the best things in life come in small packages. A brilliant, Harvard-trained economist and a historian by avocation, Legarda has compiled eight of his Philippine Free Press columns in a booklet which can be read in one sitting. Intriguing and enlightening, it encapsulates many hitherto unknown facets of Rizal’s life and works. By their ver nature and the circumstances surrounding them, certain issues will remain unresolved. But one thing is certain: Rizal as the Philippines national hero is not an American invention. Or contrivance.

The historically significant essays which Legarda modestly describes as “miniatures” should be of paramount interest to both historians and non-historians, and particularly to Filipinos who, incredibly enough, have yet to be introduced to their national hero.

Through “Miniatures”, which contains a foreword by Alfredo Roces, Legarda pays tribute to Rizal on his 150th birth anniversary.

Arriving just in time to meet the deadline, “The Foods of Jose Rizal”, a book written by culinary expert Felice Prudente Sta. Maria marks likewise the hero’s 150th birth anniversary. Anvil is its publisher.

A special musicale, “Ageless Passion”, will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at the Meralco Theater in honor of former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban who is celebrating his 75th birthday.

The Manila Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Molina will accompany the musical numbers and will open the program with an overture, with Miguel Panganiban Sandejas serving as narrator.

Original compositions of Ryan Cayabyab will be rendered by Ruiz Sison, the Kilyawan Boys Choir, the Panganiban grandchildren, Reuben Uy, and Jun Ofracio.

Cris Villonco will sing “People” with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merill; the Supreme Court Choir will sing Mike Velarde’s “Buhat” with lyrics by Dominador Santiago.

The Asean Law Association Choir will sing “We Are the World” by Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson. Uy and the AP Ensemble will sing “God Will Find a Way” by Dan Moen. Uy and Al Gatmaitan and the full cast will interpret “Ageless Passion” by Cayabyab. The musicale will end with the Asean Law Association Choir rendering “Pasko na Naman”. The evening’s highlight will be the third movement of Rachmaninov’s Concerto No. 2 to be played by Dr. J. Artemio Panganiban.

Musical arrangements are by Jeffrey Soleares; producer is Donna May Lina Flavier; director is Bart Guingona.

On the date of the concert, the STAR headed by Miguel Belonte, president/CEO, and Isaac Belmonte, editor-in-chief, will hold its holiday reunion.

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