Edgardo B. Maranan

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Edgardo B. Maranan (also credited as Edgar B. Maranan, Ed Maranan, and E.B. Maranan) is a Filipino poet, essayist, fictionist, playwright, writer of children’s stories, and translator. He was the Philippine fellow at the Iowa International Writing Program in 1985, National Fellow for Poetry of the UP Creative Writing Center in 1988, and participant in the International Writers Residence at Lavigny, Switzerland in 2006.

He was born in Bauan, Batangas and grew up in Baguio City, Philippines. Currently back in his homeland after years of experiencing first hand the Filipino diaspora, he now makes a living as a freelance writer.

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Diplomatic and overseas work

At the age of 16, while a senior at St. Louis College high school in Baguio, he was a finalist in a national essay competition, and was subsequently chosen by the Department of Education and the cultural affairs office of the US Embassy as the Philippine delegate to the 1963 New York Herald Tribune World Youth Forum.

In 1987, he was awarded a one-month research fellowship in China under an agreement between the Philippine Social Science Center and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In 1992, he was given a fellowship by the British Council to attend courses in contemporary British poetry (Birkbeck College, University of London), and modern literary theory (Oxford University). In 1993, he was appointed by the Department of Foreign Affairs as information officer of the Philippine diplomatic mission in London.

From 1993 to 2006, Maranan worked as information officer of the Philippine Embassy in London and edited The Philippine Newsletter. While living and working in London, he wrote for various Filipino publications, contributing articles, news features, short stories and poems. He co-edited and contributed to the book Hinabing Gunita (Woven Memories: The Story of Filipinos in the UK) published in London in May 2004 by the Centre for Filipinos, a UK charity. He also became active as an adviser for a writers group, UMPUK, composed of Filipinos who have been long-time residents in the United Kingdom but continue to propagate their national language while honing their literary skills in English. Ed’s haikus also appeared in The Guardian’s weekly online haiku competition, which encouraged terse, poetic reflections on current themes of topical relevance.

Teaching and academia

Before his stint in the Philippine diplomatic service, Ed taught graduate courses in Philippine Studies at the University of the Philippines Asian Center in Diliman, Quezon City between 1979 and 1991. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service in 1967, he studied for his master’s degree in political science and taught undergraduate courses in political theory and international relations from 1970 to 1972, all at UP.

Activism

While a UP student, he joined the Kabataang Makabayan in 1966 and participated in numerous student demonstrations. As a faculty member of the UP Department of Political Science in the early 1970s, he became involved with progressive groups such as PAKSA (Panulat para sa Kaunlaran ng Sambayanan), a national organization of left-wing writers, and SAGUPA (Samahan ng mga Guro sa Pamantasan), an informal union of activist faculty members in the university.

When Martial Law was declared in 1972, he worked with the underground movement until his arrest in 1976. He spent more than two years in political detention at the Bicutan "Rehabilitation" Center, where he continued to be active in cultural work, writing prison plays and poetry. His play "Ang Panahon ni Cristy" was written in Bicutan and won the grand prize for full-length drama in the Palanca awards of 1978.

After his release from prison, Maranan joined a group of poets and writers called GAT (Galian sa Arte at Tula) and became active in advocacy for Philippine indigenous people, becoming national vice-chairman of TABAK (Tunay na Alyansa ng Bayan Alay sa Katutubo). He also served as board member of the Philippine Peasant Institute (PPI)and AsiaVisions, an alternative media organization, for which he and the late Lito Tiongson produced Fragments, a documentary film on the Philippine crisis under the Cory Aquino regime, with his poetry as the narrative medium.

Literary achievements

Since he started writing in the early 1970s, Maranan has won a measure of recognition through various prizes from national literary competitions. He has garnered a total of thirty-three (33) prizes for his works in English and Filipino in the Philippines’ most prestigious literary competition, the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, reaping these prizes in various categories—drama, poetry, essay, fiction, and short story for children—and holds the record for the most number of Palanca awards in the history of the competition. He was inducted into the Carlos Palanca Hall of Fame (for winners of five or more First Prizes) in September 2000. He has also won awards in other literary competitions such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines Annual Literary Contest, Palihang Aurelio Tolentino Playwriting Competition, Surian ng Wikang Filipino (formerly the Institute of National Language) annual poetry competition, Philippines Free Press Literary Awards, Philippine Graphic Magazine’s Nick Joaquin Literary Prize, Filamore Tabios Sr. Memorial Poetry Prize (Meritage Press, USA), the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY)-Salanga Writers Prize, which he won three years in a row, from 1989 to 1991, and the biennial National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Writer’s Prize.

Maranan’s first two collections of prize-winning poetry were published in 1982 by the UP Asian Center and the UP Press—-Alab: mga tula (Carlos Palanca and CCP Literary Contest winners) and Agon: poems (Carlos Palanca winners). Maranan’s third poetry book, Passage / poems 1983-2006, came out after twenty-five years, in October 2007, under the Bookmark imprint. Most of the poems in this book are part of poetry collections which won in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature (Voyage, 1984; Hinterland, 1987; Star Maps, 1988; and Tabon, 2000). Some of them have also appeared in the following anthologies, journals, magazines, websites, and newspapers: Father Poems, Honoring Fathers, Cogito Ergo Sum, A Habit of Shores: Filipino Poetry and Verse from English ‘60s to the ‘90s, Euro-Filipino Journal, Philippines Free Press, Philippine Express International, The Filipino (London), Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards Poetry Anthology, 100 Love Poems, The Guardian Unlimited Haiku Section, Likhaan Book of Fiction and Poetry, Our Own Voice e-zine, Asia & Pacific Writers Network online, and Focus Philippines, among others. Passage / poems 1983-2006 won a National Book Award for Poetry in 2008 from the National Book Development Board and the Manila Critics Circle.

Maranan is also one of the contributors to a poetry anthology entitled Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond, edited by Tina Chang et al, which came out in April 2008 from Norton Publishing in New York, as well as two chapters—on the novelists Linda Ty Casper and Lualhati Bautista—in the recently published Dictionary of Literary Biography edited by Prof. David Smyth of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Bookmark Inc. of Manila has published several children’s titles by him, with four coming off the press in October 2007—his Palanca prize-winning story for children, Ang Batang Nanaginip na Siya'y Nakalilipad and its English version, The Girl Who Dreamt She Could Fly, and the second edition of his 1989 PBBY-Salanga Grand Prize winner Ang Awit ni Pulaw together with its English version, The Song of Pulaw. The first of his children’s books published by Bookmark was his 1991 PBBY-Salanga winning story, Ang Salot, ang Lumba-lumba, at ang Hiwaga sa Laot, together with its English version which went on to win a Palanca prize, The Jinx, the Dolphin, and the Deep-Sea Mystery. His latest children’s book from Bookmark is his 1990 Grand Prize winner of the PBBY-Salanga Writer’s Prize, Si Sibol at si Gunaw, which will later have an English version. A full-length ballet, entitled Alamat: Si Sibol at si Gunaw, was performed in December 2009 by the Ballet Manila company of Lisa Macuja Elizalde, who based the dance libretto on the story. Maranan’s trilogy of PBBY prize-winners carries environmental messages for the young generation. Also coming out in 2009 was a children’s book about the life and times of Edgar Jopson, entitled A Child of the Storm, which tells about the activist hero’s boyhood and his youthful idealism as a student leader in the 1970s. This work is part of the Modern Heroes series of Bookmark Publishing. Maranan’s second book in the series, coming out in 2010, is entitled The Man Who Reached for the Stars, the story of the martyr-hero Evelio Javier who successfully campaigned for Cory Aquino against Marcos in the 1986 snap presidential election, and was later assassinated by the dictator’s henchmen in Antique.

In December 2009, C&E Publishing came out with two children’s books by Maranan, Pangako ng Bayani (on the life of Edgar Jopson), and Ang Ambahan ni Ambo, a Palanca prize-winner. These two titles are part of a series of twelve books which the author wrote for young readers over a period of years, and which will come out sometime in 2010 under the imprint of C&E Publishing. Some of these stories were produced under a writing grant the author received from the CCP in 1988.

Maranan’s other published works include Kudaman: Isang Epikong Palawan na Inawit ni Usuy (with Dr. Nicole Revel McDonald, published by the Ateneo University Press, 1992), a translation into Filipino of a major Palawan ethno-epic, which won a National Book Award as part of the Panitikan Series of the Ateneo University Press. His poems, stories, essays, articles, and reportage have appeared in anthologies, journals and other publications, such as Diliman Review, Asian Studies Journal, Philippines Free Press, Ani (Cultural Center of the Philippines literary journal), Filipino Observer, Philippine Express International, Filipinos Abroad, Hoy magazine, Mizmo magazine, Filipinas magazine, Planet Philippines, Our Own Voice (online literary magazine of the Filipino diaspora), EuroFilipino Journal, The Philippine Newsletter (official publication of the Philippine Embassy in London), Philippine News and Features, and other national and international literary anthologies, from 1980 to 2008.

From his London posting which lasted fourteen years, Maranan came back to the Philippines in December 2006 to devote himself full-time to creative writing. His short story Luna’s Land—about the oppression of Filipino peasants during the colonial period—won third prize in the 2006-2007 Nick Joaquin literary competition of the Philippine Graphic magazine. This piece was his translation of his own short story in Filipino, Buwan at Lupa, which won yet another Palanca prize, also in 2006. In 2007, he won second place in the Filamore Tabios Sr. Memorial Prize for Poetry sponsored by Meritage Press in the United States, with his retrospective collection of works entitled Star Maps & other poems. Baguio Midland Courier, in December 2007, named him and another Baguio-bred writer, US-based prize-winning poet Maria Luisa Aguilar-Igloria, as “International Poets of the Year”.

In 2008, Maranan came out with an anthology of food essays entitled A Taste of Home: Pinoy Expats and Food Memories, which he co-edited with his daughter Len Maranan-Goldstein, also the designer of the book’s cover. The book was launched on December 3 at the Philippine Embassy in London, following a successful earlier launch at Powerbooks SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila. Published by Anvil, A Taste of Home is a collection of 46 essays written by Filipinos working abroad as consultants, journalists, businessmen, academics, creative writers, IT experts, and NGO workers, among other professions. The editor provides an introduction where he describes the book as a collection of Filipino expatriates' reminiscences of home and hometown, with Filipino cooking as the unifying thread, and takes the reader as well on a journey through his own memories of childhood, homegrown cuisine and Filipino culture. The book was a Finalist in the 2008 National Book Awards sponsored by the National Book Development Board and the Manila Critics Circle.

Several honors came Maranan’s way in 2008. In June, he was awarded a grant by the Asian Cultural Council of New York City to undertake research into Philippine-American community theater in the United States. In July he received the NCCA Writer’s Prize for the English Essay, a grant that will enable him to finish his book of essays entitled The Country in the Heart: A Writer’s Times and Travels. In October he was conferred the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas by the Unyon ng mga Manunulat na Pilipino (UMPIL). And in December he won a National Book Award for his third book of poetry, Passage: poems 1983-2006, published by Bookmark in 2007.

On April 2, 2009, Maranan gained another recognition. He was conferred the Gawad Francisco Balagtas by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (formerly the Institute for National Language), for his contribution to the growth of Philippine literature over a period of time, writing in both Filipino and English, and in various genres.

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