Literature - Eastern and Western - abounds with stories, myths, legends about the search for youth, for eternal life.
Like so many poor Ilokanos, my grandparents left their village, for it could no longer sustain them. The Ilocos is a narrow coastal plain where, so often, the mountain drops to the sea. Land hunger had always afflicted the Ilokanos and made them migratory.
From antiquity, Latin died but is still studied in seminaries and elite universities. So did Sanskrit in Asia. iI was replaced by Pali, but even Pali died, too. Linguists say the only ancient language which was resuscitated from the grave was Hebrew of Israel.
I am for poetry that is admired by peasant and aristocrat alike.
What is needed in the theater, in fact for all our art forms, is a vibrant critical tradition.
All through history, a nation or a civilization's enduring glory is articulated by its mega constructions - the pyramids, the lofty cathedrals of the Christian world.
We are shallow because our media are so horribly shallow. Every morning, I peruse the papers, and there is so little to read in them. It is the same with radio - all that noise, that artifice.
Poetry, fiction as novels or short stories - these are autonomous as created by their authors. They should stand on their own, like pieces of furniture that should be judged as to their usefulness, elegance.
November is auspicious in so many parts of the country: the rice harvest is already in, the weather starts to cool, and the festive glow which precedes Christmas has began to brighten the landscape.
In a much larger sense, the problem of Sabah is directly influenced by the duplicity of imperial Britain. For whatever devious reason, the dismantling of the British empire created divisions and violence due to ethnic and religious differences.
I envy those Hindus and Buddhists who have in their religion philosophy and ancestor worship which build in the believer a continuity with the past, and that most important ingredient in the building of a nation - memory.
I can imagine the writers of China, England and France, crippled and unsure of themselves when they feel that the ghosts of Confucius, Mencius, Chaucer and Shakespeare and Victor Hugo are looking over their shoulders.
Colonialism subdues in many dulcet guises. It conquered under the pretext of spreading Christianity, civilization, law and order, to make the world safe for democracy.
The literary depiction of life and its moral dilemmas compel us to use our conscience, to make those infallible distinctions between right and wrong.
My wife and I often visit Rosales and the Ilokos as a matter of habit or whim induced by nostalgia, homesickness - whatever draws pilgrims to worshipped sanctuaries. Or, perhaps, what compels moths to seek the votive flame.
Japan is very cosmopolitan - it values its origins, but a world view hovers above this narrow perspective. The interest of the Japanese in their folk culture is transcendental.
The Japanese covet important symbols - their heroic past as enshrined in Yasukuni, the Imperial family which has never been sullied by scandal.
Our appreciation of folk art will strengthen our identities, our pride in belonging to a community. People trained in the creative use of their hands soon acquire skills, excellent craftsmanship which will be the most important measure of how well we can industrialize.
Art, whatever form it takes, requires hard work, craftsmanship and creativity. As a writer, I know my grammar, cadence, the music of prose, and the art of the narrative.
For decades, as literary editor, I have followed the growth of our creative writing in English. In my Solidaridad Bookshop, half of my stock consists of Filipino books written in English and in the native languages.