Letters from readers
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2019 - 12:00am

During the past holidays, I received letters from readers that I feel are worth sharing with everyone. 

Dr. Lita Quebengco was the first woman and lay person to become Chancellor Emeritus. Eddie Yap is a certified public accountant by training, businessman by vocation and a concert impressario by avocation. He has written articles and essays and is now national issues committee chair at Management Association of the Philippines. 

I wrote a column, “A Legacy of Ramon del Rosario Jr.” who has just retired as chair of the National Museum Board. The letter of Ramon was actually for Tony Cervantes and I was copy-furnished. Ramon is better known as Management Man of the Year and head of the PHINMA group. I liked the letter because it shows a personal side of Ramon not too known by the public. Peter Philips is COO of Marnix Reinsurance Brokers and is proud of his Welsh ancestry.

 Letter from Lita Quebengco. Once again I enjoyed reading your article on Reading for Pleasure. I too come from a family of readers. Though my undergrad major is Speech and Drama I am as well very strongly drawn to nonfiction.

 Just the other day I bought Harari’s “Homo Deus.” Some four years ago I took an online course – “A Brief History of the World” taught by Harari which I think became the foundation for his book “Sapiens.” It was a very interesting subject. I found him a most knowledgeable and credible teacher but with a tendency to be very serious and humorless.

I love “humanism, liberalism and freedom” and you said that for people like me what the book sees as the future looks dim. Perhaps that is also part of the reason I was attracted to Homo Deus. I tend to think the same as I see how standards go down, values watered down and flexed in many ways, leadership confused with strong man tactics, meritocracy replaced with being close to those in power, form as more important than substance, etc. What scares me the most is this – many people including some very intelligent and highly educated ones just accept them as part of the new normal.

And these happen not only in the Philippines but in many parts of the world as well. I often feel as though I have been transported to a very different world (or am I just old?)...and wonder what the future will be like...and feel sad...then suddenly tell myself – it is a consolation that I am now an elderly who perhaps will no longer witness that future (or is this a cop out?).”

Letter from Eddie Yap. “I am starting to read Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita and the Battle of Manila by James Scott. Very good reviews but brace for the carnage and destruction vividly detailed in the book. Very sad. I wonder if there’s a study of the after effects of the war on the nation. Germany and Japan were devastated by Allied carpet bombing and their populace suffered as much as our people. Poland, too. Yet, they fully reconstructed and recovered with their integrity and social values intact. In our case, the people changed. Corruption became rampant. Delicadeza was thrown to the winds. Reparation payments, import quota became sources of graft. And it got worse. The national budget is padded and plundered. As a result, progress is stunted and a large part of the population wallowing in abject poverty. Why? Did the war damage the moral fabric of our people? What effect on public governance and economic development? Please let me know if there is a study on this.”

Letter from Ramon del Rosario Jr. “Thank you for your kind note. I especially appreciate your comments about how your driver’s grandchildren were enthralled with their visits to the Natural History and Anthropology Museums. My greatest reward for the work we put into the National Museum is knowing and seeing how hundreds of people now think nothing of lining up to await their turn to enter our museums. This was unthinkable even just a year ago. It really makes my heart swell when I see how people of all ages and walks of life are enjoying themselves and gaining a much better appreciation of our culture and heritage in our museums. I must point out that while it was Pres. Noynoy Aquino who gave me the opportunity to serve as NM Chair, it was our very own DepEd Sec. Br Armin, who extended full support, together with DBM Sec Butch Abad; without their total support, none of our work would have been possible.

While I did serve for one year as president of the DLS Dramatics Guild and enjoyed playing supporting roles in plays such as Twelve Angry Men and A Man for all Seasons under Kit Santos, I never was good enough to play a lead role unlike you Cervanteses. I was also president of the Forensic Society for one year, and had a bit more success as a debater although there too my career was short-lived. I did a total I think of only five or six collegiate debates, representing DLS in the 1967 NUS Speechfest with my partner, Ambassador Chito Sta. Romana. We won all our debates, including our very first one against the much vaunted Azanza brothers of Ateneo, and won the debating championship for DLS that year. As that was my final year at DLS, we never debated again!”

Letter from Peter Phillips. “I have been dredging my memory and have recalled an author and broadcaster called Wynford Vaughan Thomas who has written several books on Wales. His best is simply titled `Wynford Vaughan-Thomas Wales` and was published in 1981. Not sure if it is still in print.

George Henry Borrow was a 19th century English author who wrote `Wild Wales`. A Welsh fiction writer you might enjoy is Alexander Cordell (historical novels). A poor man’s Emile Zola you might say. We are most famous for poetry (as well as choral music of course) led by the great Dylan Thomas. R S Thomas, an Anglican priest and poet is not far behind.

Hay Book festival is well worth visiting held in early summer in the village of Hay on Wye. Next year’s festival runs from 23rd May to 2nd June. Apart from the festival Hay has the largest number of second hand bookshops in one place in UK. The Wye valley is also stunning. With luck I may be in UK while it’s on and in that event it would be my pleasure to take you there, with the option of a visit to the links and a distillery tour!”

I always feel grateful when people tell me they read my column. I am especially privileged when readers take the time to react to my columns. 

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on Jan. 26 (1:30 pm-3 pm; stand-alone sessions) with Tarie Sabido at Fully Booked BGC. For details and registration, email writethingsph@gmail.com.

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Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com.

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