De Lima honors F. Sionil Jose for great contributions to PH literature


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today filed a Proposed Senate Resolution honoring the late National Artist for Literature, F. Sionil Jose, for his invaluable contributions to Philippine literature.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said Jose’s pieces depict social issues and struggles, and emphasize the importance of social justice, thereby immortalizing arts in words.

“It is only fitting that the Senate recognize National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose’s immeasurable contributions to Philippine Literature and honor him for his role in shaping art and literature in the Philippines, inspiring generations of Filipino writers,” she said.

“Whether or not we agreed with his political views on the issues of the day, there is no mistaking that he has always sought to champion the interests of the Filipino people,” she added.

Jose, whose prolific writing career spanned seven decades, died last Jan. 6. He was 97.

With the sheer volume of his literary work alone, Jose has been on the forefront of Philippine literature, with his works having been translated into 22 languages, including Korean, Indonesian, Russian, Latvian, Ukrainian and Dutch.

Five of Jose’s works won the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. He was also a 1980 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for journalism, literature, and creative communication arts.

Jose continued to receive recognition from several award-giving bodies, including the Cultural Center of the Philippines Centennial Award in 1999, the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 2000, and the Order of Sacred Treasure (Kun Santo Zuiho Sho) in 2001.

He was later conferred the title of National Artist for Literature in 2001, and was awarded the prestigious Pablo Neruda Award in Chile in 2014.

In honoring Jose, De Lima drew attention to how he was not afraid to mirror daily realities, such as corruption and poverty, as well as colonialism and diaspora, in his artistic works.

“One of the most widely read Filipino authors in the world, his novels showcased class struggle – letting the world know how the elite caused and compounded the suffering of the poor and the marginalized,” she said.

“F. Sionil Jose will live through the pages of his artistic pieces. The message of his literary works will continue to reverberate in society as a clear message that as long as there will be oppressors, there will be the oppressed, and as long as social justice is not upheld, protected and fought for, the Filipino class struggle will persist.

“His works are a poignant reminder that the long-standing fight to achieve equality and equity is a battle that can only be won if acknowledged, and then finally properly addressed,” she added.

De Lima said Jose has inspired generations of writers who are not afraid to publish the truth regardless of how painful or ugly it might seem.

“His literary pieces stimulated the imagination and creativity of Filipino writers to keep depicting reality and society without embellishment,” she said. (30)

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