Sinai Hamada (February 1912 – September 1991, Baguio City) is the founding editor of the oldest running local newspaper in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Baguio Midland Courier. In addition, as a fictionist, he is known for his most popular short story, “Tanabata’s Wife”. He is also the first lawyer of Baguio City.
“Syne” as fondly called is the son of Ryukichi Hamada and Josefa Cariño. His father is a Japanese Engineer who was a foreman for an American firm and the Heald Lumber Company, while his mother is an Ibaloi who belonged to one of the elite clans in Benguet. Syne’s biological father died in a sawmill accident when he was still one month old. His stepfather, Teruji Okubo, is also a Japanese national who became a prominent builder in Benguet, as well. His brother is Oseo Hamada, who managed the Baguio Printing and Publishing Company; while his half-sister is Cecile Afable, also a famous journalist in Baguio City.
His wife is Geralda Macli-ing of Bontoc, Mountain Province, a teacher in Mainit, Bontoc during the 1930’s. Their children are Stephen Hamada and Zenaida Hamada-Pawid.
He died at the age of 77 in September 1991 due to a heart ailment.
Syne studied in public schools patterned after the American system. He graduated high school from Baguio City National High School (BCNHS). Then he finished Law and Journalism from the University of the Philippines in 1937.
After graduating from law school, Syne immediately began with his law practice in Baguio City. Then, in April 28, 1947, he, together with his brother Oseo, established the weekly paper Baguio Midland Courier. Another weekly tabloid he founded was the Cordillera Post. He, as well, taught in the law school of Baguio Colleges Foundation (presently University of the Cordilleras) and became a president of the Baguio Press Club, which was reactivated after WWII. In addition, he was the chairman and general manager of Mountain Province Development Authority (MPDA) from 1965 to 1973.
Between 1960 & 1961, Syne travelled the US for five months for a Journalism grant under the US State Department. Then from May 1 to June 30, 1971, he travelled to Japan thru a Japanese grant under the Colombo Plan. Moreover, between 1978 and 1979, he toured China for ten days under the Chinese Friendship Grant.
Highly influential to Syne’s fictions are Cordillera folktales and community events narrated by his mother and his grandmother. Critiques refer the 1930’s as the period when he produced his most notable works. Some of his works are seen below.
His first published work is the short story “Whose Home” in the publication Graphic Magazine while he was in senior high school. This story was also eventually included in Jose Garcia Villa’s anthology of best short stories in English in 1930. Also in 1930, he wrote his most anthologized work “Tanabata’s Wife”. In 1932, “Kintana & Her Man” features the situation of being a widow in a traditional Igorot society. In the same year, “The Woman Who Became Alive” gives a glimpse of the old Baguio and describes a legend about the existence of dark and fair Ibalois in Benguet.
In 1954, “Out of Darkness & Wilderness” portrays the struggles of natives to rise from their primitive surroundings to adapt with ways of the world. Also in the same year, “The Last Slave” is an autobiographical story about a slave given as a gift to their family. The main character in the story embodies Igorot tradition and resistance to modernization. In 1975, “A Christmas Boy” shows the tension between lowland and highland cultures, and the stigma against Igorots.
Further, several of his poems in the 1980’s were unpublished. At the time of his death in 1991, he was finishing his autobiography entitled “O Benguet Land”.
- Anna Christie K. Villarba-Torres. “Negotiating Ethnicity: Images of the Igorota in the Short Fiction of Sinai C. Hamada”. Accessed November 2, 2011
- Francis C. Macansantos. “Sinai Hamada and the Power of Sympathy”. National Commission for Culture & the Arts. January 26, 2004. Accessed November 2, 2011.
- Anna Christie K. Villarba-Torres. Fas-ang: Cross Cultural Currents in the Literature of Sinai C. Hamada. Philippine Studies Vol. 39, No. 2. Ateneo De Manila University. 1991. Accessed November 6, 2011.
- Gerard A. Finin. The Making of the Igorot: Contours of Cordillera Consciousness. Ateneo de Manila Press. 2005. Accessed November 6, 2011.
- Alfred A. Yuson. Cordillera Crossover: A Japanese Legacy (Book Review). Philippine Headline News Online. November 15, 2004. Accessed November 6, 2011.