Wednesday, June 17, 2009

G.E.M. (March 30, 2009)

Genoveva Edroza Matute was supposed to be one of our featured interviewees, together with National Artist Edith Tiempo, for the Likhaan Journal's University of the Philippines Centennial Edition last year.

But a male voice from the other side of the phone did everything to prevent us from
recording our literary history direct from the horse's mouth.
Last March 23 -- hours before Adrian Cristobal Jr.'s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and Filipinas Collecting and Licensing Society (FILCOLS) with the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) Board of Directors paid tribute to another National Artist, Virgilio Almario (a day after the University of Regina Carmeli conferred him honoris causa) during Open Mig Gig at the Mag:net Gallery Katipunan – we understood why.
Yes, last Monday, Ms.Cora Kabigting, her niece, revealed all during wake of Ms. Matute at the Sanctuarium.
We lost the G.E.M. of Philippine literature to old age.
For the 94 years of her life, she did nothing but lead a writer's life.
She never, literally never, stopped writing!
Actually, she was finishing a one-act play before she met her Maker around 5 p.m. of March 21.
And that was one of the reasons why her nephew did not return our call.
Like security guards, her close relatives had been staying with her since she and her late great Panyong, or Epifanio G. Matute, retired from teaching, after 50 or more years!
The couple was childless.
Probably they got used it.
By it, we mean friendship.
Imagine they were on – as nobyo and nobya -- from 1943 to 1953!
Then they realized, after 10 long years, these best friends ought to get married.
Happily, there was no professional rivalry between these two pen-movers.
They just wrote themselves away!
Until she was left behind a decade ago -- on February 20, 1999.
Successfully, she turned to writing.
Spiritually and otherwise, she survived.
For one, she had been receiving P100,000 from the book Layag alone.
Ever since, she had banging her old Underwood typewriter up to her last breath.
In 2007, she was able to publish a collection of stories Diaspora at iba pang Kuwento at 92!
Indeed, she was special.
When she was born, she showed signs of giftedness, when they saw her “may supot na kasama.”
Out of a dozen, three kids survived and she was one of them.
It was from Paz Latorena, who discovered her, where she learned the fundamentals.
Though she finished B.S. Education, major in English, she wrote in Filipino.
Her alma mater, Philippine Normal University (PNU), recognized her contribution to Philippine arts and letters during the 80s.
St. Scholastica's College did the same.
What about the only Royal, Pontifical, and Catholic university in the country when she took her graduate courses?
Honestly, she did not mind.
To a fault, she would just give and give and give.
During the 90s, a priest solicited P100,000 from her in the name of his parish in Tabuk, Mountain Province.
Up to now, the church is still nowhere to be found.
LESSON #1: Even the men of God are ungodly.
LESSON #2: Even the fictionists believe in fiction!
Anyway, last March 25, during the necrological service -- when UMPIL joined forces with PNU lead by Dr. Pat Villafuerte and De La Salle University headed by Dr. Efren Abueg – we got
That G.E.M. mothered a lot of kids in Dr. Benilda Santos, Dr. Fanny Garcia, Dr. Jun Cruz Reyes.
That's how motherly she was.
So much so that beside her coffin, poets Teo Antonio and Mike Coroza were able to hold back their instinct to fight, literarily that is, and hum songs of praises for her instead one day before she was finally laid to rest last March 25.
Which reminds us of a translated ambahan during the recent Mangyan Heritage Week that was opened -- by Maritoni Ortigas, Lolita Delgado Fansler of the Mangyan Heritage Center, Amb. Robert Brinks of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Antoon Postma and his angels -- last March 26 at the Ayala Museum:

You once were passing this way
it's not long since you've been here
Your footprints are still around.
Today, at 11 a.m., there will be a Philippine Halo-halo:The Mangyans of Mindoro lecture at the European International School in Better Living, Pananaque – coinciding with a photo and artifact exhibit running until April 3 -- where they will teach you how to write your name in Mangyan syllabic script.
Later, tonight at 6, witness the Mabuhay Guides Commencement Rites, as they are introduced to the members of the tourism industry at Almacenes Reales in Fort Santiago.
According to Undersecretary Eduardo Jarque Jr. of Tourism Planning and Promotions, “in response to the growing tourist arrivals despite the economic challenges, the Department of Tourism has established the Mabuhay Guides training program – set to raise the notch of Philippine tour guiding in the country. Mabuhay Guides is a premier course which aims to give a holistic approach to the field of tourism and produce excellent guides and tour leaders, to present the country in the best light to travelers, business investors and tourism partners. The curriculum consisted of on-site trainings conducted by the prestigious London Blue Badge trainors Irish Barry, Nicky Godfrey-Evans and Roger Rajah. They took the Mabuhay Guides to actual comprehensive field learning sessions for four weeks.”
Lectures were also given by well-respected personalities from different fields such Philippine art, culture, identity, heritage, geography, ecological tourism, among others.
The first batch of trainees only twenty-three participants from amongst hundreds of applicants were selected by a panel composed of industry leaders.
We, from Filipinas Institute of Translation, are planning to tie up with the DOT and the like in helping not merely translators and interpreters but tour guides as well, exposing them to Philippine literature.
For instance, to G.E.M.
KATUTUBO 1: Mag-iingat ka sa iyong babaybayin na daan dahil ito ay mapanganib. Kunin mo itong gamot sa kagat ng ahas baka sakaling ika'y makagat. Kunin mo itong isang bote ng hamog dahil ito ay nakakatanggal ng uhaw at gutom. Dalhin mo ang balaraw na ito ng ating mga ninuno upang maprotektahan ka laban sa mga mababangis na hayop. Natatandaan mo pa ba ang daan anak ko?
KATUTUBO 2: Opo, basta text-text na lang if ever.
KATUTUBO 1: Okey-dokey, basta miskol u me pag feel mo na ha. Ingatz.
Thought you might enjoy this interesting prayer given in Kansas at the opening session of their Senate. It seems prayer still upsets some people. When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was Expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard: Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that isexactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare . We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and po r nography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen! The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India , Africa and Korea. Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, 'The Rest of the Story,'and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired. With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called 'one nation under God.'

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