Hundreds of groups, artists and personalities nominated Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison as National Artist for Literature Saturday.
Nominators led by the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera beat yesterday’s deadline by a few hours as they submitted hundreds of pages of testimonials and lists of Sison’s works at about 8:30 in the evening at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Citing his profound impact on many Filipinos and on Philippine society through his poems, essays and other articles, the nominators and endorsers urged the Conferral Order of National Artists to formally include Sison in its list as one of the country’s greatest writers.
“The nomination of Jose Maria Sison for national artist for poetry and the essay is moved by recognition of the crucial role he has a played and continues to play in the making of the Filipino community and nation by developing and enhancing the Filipino capacity to understand the Philippine crisis through the poems and the hundreds of essays he has written on the manifold aspects of that crisis,” a part of the nomination entitled “Jose Maria Sison’s Enduring Legacy: People’s Art, People’s Culture” read.
Lumbera, University of the Philippines deans Luis Teodoro and Roland Tolentino, writers Alice and Gelacio Guillermo, playwright Bonifacio Ilagan, National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Allan Jazmines, Davao-based writer Don Pagusara, UP professor Rommel Rodriguez, and director-producer Soc Jose led hundreds of individual artists, writers, academicians and personalities who nominated Sison.
The Concerned Artists of the Philippines, College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines, Sining na Naglilingkod sa Bayan, Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino, Teatro Obrero, Artista kag Manunulat nga Makibanwahanon (Panay), Artistang May Diwang Dagohoy (Bohol), Sining Banwa Performance Collective (Albay) Panday Sining (Metro Manila), Liga ng Kabataang Propagandista, Southern Tagalog Exposure, Kodao Productions and The Philippine Collegian were among the organizational nominators.
Sison has authored dozens of books of essays and poetry published locally and internationally and translated into various languages. He has won several awards as a writer, including the Literary Achievement Award for poetry and essay writing from the Writers’ Union of the Philippines, National Book Award for Poetry (Prison and Beyond), Manila Critics Circle, the Southeast Asia (SEA) WRITE Award for the Philippines for essay writing and poetry (reputedly the most prestigious literary award in Southeast Asia) and the Marcelo H. del Pilar Award bestowed by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.
The nominators singled out Sison’s Struggle for Nationalism and Democracy, Philippine Society and Revolution, and Prisons and Beyond as his most influential books, saying these undoubtedly changed Philippine history and helped define Philippine society.
“[Sison’s essays] have enlightened several generations and inspired them into living lives dedicated to the service of the people in furtherance of the empowerment of the poor, the marginalized and the powerless so they may themselves transform their own lives in a society of peace, prosperity and democracy of their own making,” the nominators wrote.
“He has thereby raised the level of public discourse on such issues as poverty and underdevelopment from the confusion and misdirection of the past to its current focus on their historical and structural roots, and as neither mandated by heaven nor an affliction inherent in the human condition, but as man-made and therefore susceptible to human intervention,” they added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)