Filipino Writers on Writing

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Filipino Writers on Writing

Reflect on these quotes from 10 Filipino writers--poets, essayists, fictionists--about writing.

Write the story that only you can write.

- Francisco Arcellana

The writer has the advantage of a medium that can be contemplated many times over on the pages of a book or a magazine. The words lie on the page and the writer has an extended opportunity to imprint on his reader every meaning and nuance distilled from experience.

- Bienvenido Lumbera, "The Filipino Writer and His Audience"

Go through the history of literature, and you will find that the greatest writers are ever those whose feet were planted solidly on the earth regardless of how high up in the clouds their heads might have been.

- Salvador P. Lopez, "Literature and Society"


(T)he mind of a poet often performs miracles--

a few coarse-grained words, apprehended,

become bullets and roses.

- Amado V. Hernandez, "A Poem on Poetry," trans. by E. San Juan Jr.

They call us fools! the lowing herd

That never yet rang out a word

Vibrant with light like you and me

Who conjugate infinity!

- Angela Manalang-Gloria, "In Defense of Poets"

The end of the Filipino writer, although he employs foreign materials, should always be to harness and unite these in the native manner so that the resultant piece becomes a perfect work of our own literature; developed in the treasury of the national soul.

- Manuel Briones, "An Affirmation of the Filipino in Literature," trans. from Spanish by Nicanor Tiongson

The Filipino writer may write about the Philippines and the Filipino, but he transcends both. He actually writes about the Philippines as a nation of men, the Filipino as a human being.... To isolate the Filipino and things Filipino from the rest of humanity is not to know what is Filipino. It is to mistake the leaf for the forest.

- Emmanuel Lacaba, “The Filipino and the Man”

I must confess that one thought bothers me a great deal: that when I write I have the power to waste 3 resources: first, ink; second paper.... But most of all, I am afraid of wasting the greatest resource of all--the reader's time.

- Rolando Quintos, "The Task of the Writer Today" in Manila Bulletin

I think that by the very nature of his art and craft, the writer is essentially a lonely man.... When a writer goes to war, he is not less a warrior because he is moved by the colors caught in the prism of a dewdrop while in bivouac. He is not less a lover when in the arms of his beloved he mourns the drooping flowers in the vase nearby. He is lonely because his is a keener heart for both pain and joy.

- Lina Espina-Moore, “The Writer as a Person”

(W)riting is always more than experience, more than raw data, more than a matter of who or what the author is. Like all art, it selects, it structures, it integrates, it elevates raw material into another form and level of understanding.

- Jose Dalisay Jr., "The Knowing is in the Writing"



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