Quotes by: F. Sionil Jose
|F. Sionil José
Francisco Sionil José in 2005.
||Francisco Sionil José
December 3, 1924
Rosales, Pangasinan, Philippine Islands
||F. Sionil José
||Filipino novelist, writer, journalist
||University of Santo Tomas (dropped out)
||1962 – present
||Philippine literature in English
||The "Rosales Saga" Novels (1962–1984)
Pablo Neruda Centennial Award (2004)
Philippine National Artist for Literature (2001)
Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres (2000)
Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts (1980)
City of Manila Award for Literature (1979
Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature (1959, 1979, 1980, 1981)
As artists, we must not go down to the level of the masa; we should bring them up, intellectualize our languages, create classics out of our folk arts. We can do this if we are true to our roots and strive for excellence.
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.
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.
What is needed in the theater, in fact for all our art forms, is a vibrant critical tradition.
You perhaps know me as a novelist. Literature is one of the arts - in fact, the noblest of the arts. That is not my opinion; it was first expressed by the ancients. As art, literature has many similarities with the other art forms.
Some lucky people can be funny without half trying because they actually look funny, because acting funny is in their bones - fun as funny, not funny as crude slapstick.
At 86, I can easily look back to the last eight decades. Though memory often fails me now, so many images of the past are still clearly polished, and I can yet recall not just an abiding sense of place, but the keen smells, the sensory responses to the events of that past.
In the Western tradition, the first writers were teachers and historians, vastly traveled, who spiced their reports with fantasies. They were also poets who sang and entertained prince and pauper.
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.
We are shallow because we have become enslaved by gross materialism, the glitter of gold and its equivalents, for which reason we think that only the material goods of this earth can satisfy us and we must therefore grab as much as can while we are able.
Tourists as well as natives want to see cultural achievements - whether it's the Banaue Terraces, the old churches or museums.
We recognize the distinctness of Asian art when we turn to its traditional forms, recognize it as Japanese, Chinese and Indian, even Balinese or Thai.
Writing is a solitary profession; you are really alone when you write. Then the emotions become well shaped and distinct. But their transition into words must be done deliberately and with rigid artistry.
We are shallow because we are 'mayabang,' ego driven, and do not have the humility to understand that we are only human, much too human to mistake knowledge for wisdom.
Past middle age, some friends suggested that I should have my eyebags removed, the deepening creases on my face stretched. I often examined my face in the mirror, imagining how I'd look if I followed the suggestion. I decided to retain the old mug. I was too familiar and comfortable with it. And the final hindrance: the cost.
Christianity doesn't demand that we worship our ancestors. If we don't remember our ancestors, then, in all likelihood, we cannot also recall the distant past.
The past could liberate or imprison - it creates a nation's character, provides the nourishment or the poison a people imbibe in their very marrow.
In the '50s, I was traveling alone all over Mindanao, Basilan, all the way to Tawi-Tawi with just a camera and a notebook. I always stayed in the houses of Moros.
Self-respect, the value of 'face,' is universal but is most pronounced in China, then in Japan where the Confucian ethic is most influential.
Literature - Eastern and Western - abounds with stories, myths, legends about the search for youth, for eternal life.
My reading of philosophy and history is desultory; I know so much and yet so little.
I can't understand Urdu, Bahasa or Russian, but when the Pakistani Faiz, the Indonesian Rendra and the Russian Rosdentvensky declaim, I can feel the living throb of rhythm and music, the warmth and passion of their poetry, as do the hundreds, not a mere roomful, of poetry lovers in the audience.