|5 Letters To The WorldFrancisco
Arcellana, Professor Emeritus of the University of the Philippines, surprised me with a
letter in late 1993. And then when I was rummaging through my old dusty files in Ramadan
of January 1999, he surprised me again with his letter of 1993. In Arcellanas
scraggly handwriting, it read like this:
UP Village Diliman Q.C.
MM. R of the P
Dear Said K
Thank you for Bugs
& Bytes and, by implication, thank you for thinking me a
"decision-maker." In all my 77 years I regard that as the highest compliment I
have ever received that would put me up there in the company of the movers and
shakers of the world. "Personal publishing" thats a fascinating
concept. Isnt it a kind of samizdat sort of sophisticated?
Technically, what you do isnt that a form of desktop publishing? In any case,
Im happy to hear from you even if it is so formal "business-like" way. For
indeed from an examination of B & B, I realize that youre engaged in serious
business, very serious business indeed but I doubt very much that in the harum-scarum of
this hurly-burly world, thered be people enough who would understand you, enough
people whod pause long enough to try to understand what youre saying. I
remember you as a poet. Now I see youve become a prophet too. Of course poetry has
always a form of prophecy. A prophet, they say, is unhonored in his own country. At 77
which is how old I am as of this writing Im convinced that the prophet, not unlike
the poet, is not just unhonored in his own country, he is unsung, unpraised, unhonored in
the world! But I tell you I can only hold the highest hopes for your very worthwhile
enterprise. I think I have most of Volume 2 how about sending me Volume 1
and all the back issues you can spare. We have a reading room in the UP Creative Writing
Center. I can have them displayed there (which is exactly what I am going to do after I
have finished digesting them) so our writing students can read them. Meanwhile,
while youre there, why dont you make a bid for being a foreign correspondent
for one of the Metropolitan Manila newspapers like, maybe, the Philippine Daily Inquirer?
Theres a big Filipino community there and Philippine readers will always be
interested in what happens there. Right now, top news is Nur Misuari and the MNLF.
Filipinos would like to know the Filipino Muslim view from there. Incidentally, how are
you? And where is Mehol? Im trying to recall were you ever a fellow at the
writers workshop that weve been holding since 1965? What degree did you get from UP
and what class do you belong to? Im now Professor Emeritus of English and still
teaching one class, for free. I am also consultant for the Creative Writing Center.
Im 77 now which means a dozen years since I was retired and drive myself to school
in my Beetle which I acquired in 73! Im pleased that youre doing Bugs
& Bytes but Id be happier if youd address some of your writings to the
Filipinos here. I do feel theres place and need for the writing that you do right
here. Engaged, as we are, in the supremely important and paramount effort towards
unification, the Muslim Filipino isnt adequately heard from. We dont have as
much Muslim writing as we should have. What we do have are the writers of Davao City,
Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro. How fairly representative are they? They are mostly Xtian
Filipino writers. The Muslim writers are unheard from. Among my own contemporaries I can
remember only Ibrahim Jubaira. And where is he? The writing students that come from
Mindanao to UP CWC summer workshops have been almost all of them non-Muslim. Why is that?
How is that? You might use B & B to help that sad circumstance. Indeed it is a sorry
situation. You know what this means, Said; you must take time to write me a letter in
answer to the questions I have asked. But keep B & B coming: theyll end up on
top of the round table in the UP / CWC public room where the UP writing students gather.
Theyll get curious. Theyll read your letter to the world!
Arcellana, Professor Emeritus of English
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