Cebu’s young writ­ers pay homage to lit­er­ary lu­mi­nary Re­nato Madrid

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Contents - By Tiny Di­a­pana

NO thanks to click­bait ar­ti­cles and “news” feeds in the in­ter­net age, it’s so easy to lose one­self and lose sight of what truly mat­ters. Take the case of lit­er­ary gi­ant Msgr. Rodolfo Vil­lanueva, oth­er­wise known as Re­nato Madrid.

De­scribed by na­tional artist Nick Joaquin as one of the top five fic­tion­ists of the Philip­pines and is cur­rently one of the can­di­dates of the Panglaw ng Lahi award, Madrid has writ­ten two com­pelling English books about the lives lived by Filipinos: “Devil Wings” and “Mass for the Death of an En­emy.” He has a short story col­lec­tion ti­tled “South­ern Har­vest” and has com­posed many prize-win­ning songs as well.

De­spite of all that he’s prof­fered, so few among Ce­buanos know about the great Re­nato Madrid, his in­flu­ence on Ce­buano lit­er­a­ture, and his hefty con­tri­bu­tions to the lit­er­ary de­vel­op­ment of the Philip­pines. That was un­til Dan­daniw 2016 rein­tro­duced the peo­ple to the man last April 8 at Robin­son’s Gal­le­ria in Cebu City.

To reac­quaint the peo­ple with their writ­ers, Dr. Hope Sa­ban­pan-Yu, as co­or­di­na­tor of the Cen­tral Visayas leg of the Na­tional Com­mis­sion of the Lit­er­ary Arts (NCLA) and as a war­rior of the lit­er­ary scene, spear­headed a trib­ute to Re­nato Madrid. The trib­ute was part of Dan­daniw 2016, a

na­tion­wide ac­tiv­ity spon­sored by the Na­tional Com­mis­sion for Cul­ture and the Arts (NCCA) in cel­e­bra­tion of the Na­tional Lit­er­a­ture Month. Light and feath­ery, the word “Dan­daniw” is an Iluko word that stands for po­etry.

For Cebu City’s cel­e­bra­tion of Dan­daniw 2016, Dr. Yu or­ga­nized the trib­ute to rein­tro­duce Re­nato Madrid to to­day’s gen­er­a­tion and ral­lied the sup­port of Cebu’s five ma­jor lit­er­ary or­ga­ni­za­tions: Mga Anak sa Da­gang (MAD), No­mads, Tinta, Women in Lit­er­ary Arts (Wila), and Batha­lan-ong Halad sa Da­gang (Batha­lad).

Writ­ers, lit­er­a­ture en­thu­si­asts and lo­cal artists were in at­ten­dance, along­side batches of young sem­i­nar­i­ans and priests from the San Car­los Sem­i­nary Col­lege, the col­lege where Re­nato Madrid orig­i­nally grad­u­ated and even­tu­ally worked as an English and mu­sic ed­u­ca­tor.

Sto­ries that stuck

Many of the sto­ries that the speak­ers shared dur- ing the event were wist­ful anec­dotes of en­coun­ters with Re­nato Madrid in and out of the sem­i­nary. For me it was a ten­der ex­pe­ri­ence, lis­ten­ing to the guests con­jure and piece to­gether this amal­gam im­age of a sweet, sim­ple priest who also turns out to be an

in­cred­i­bly hu­mor­ous and tal­ented writer.

Msgr. Joseph Tan, one of Msgr. Vil­lanueva’s col­leagues in the Cebu Arch­dio­cese and one of the speak­ers dur­ing the event, de­scribed him as a faith­ful Fa­ther who was ded­i­cated to his pro­fes­sion both as an ed­u­ca­tor and as a writer. Msgr. Tan spoke about Re­nato Madrid’s pas­sion for writ­ing, about how he was com­mit­ted to lan­guage, and how he be­lieved that the comma should stay in the place he last left them. He went on list­ing Madrid’s lit­er­ary achieve­ments, from be­ing con­sid­ered a top fic­tion­ist by Nick Joaquin to be­ing elected as a can­di­date for the “Panglaw ng Lahi” award.

Re­sil Mo­jares, an­other prom­i­nent lit­er­ary fig­ure and his­to­rian, de­scribed Madrid as a reclu­sive writer who al­ways left him im­pressed. Mo­jares said a writer’s work al­ways speaks for it­self and Madrid’s com­po­si­tions were noth­ing short of strik­ing and stel­lar.

Bea Martinez, a young writer who also gave trib­ute to Madrid de­scribed his sto­ries as ex­cit­ing and com­pelling. With stars in the rim of her eyes, she re­counted Madrid’s sto­ries where women chased butt-naked men out in the fields, sto­ries of pas­sion, and sto­ries of the slow but ram­bunc­tious life in the prov­inces.

But it was the anec­dotes from In­soy Niñal that left the most mem­o­rable im­pres­sion. An ed­i­tor for Sun Star Cebu and a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of San Jose Recoletos by day and lead vo­cal­ist for Bis­rock pi­o­neer Miss­ing File­mon at night, Niñal re­counted how he had joined the ranks of the sem­i­nar­i­ans in the San Car­los Sem­i­nary Col­lege just so that he could learn writ­ing and mu­sic from Re­nato Madrid him­self.

Niñal talked about his life in the sem­i­nary with Madrid, how sim­ple the man was, teach­ing English and Mu­sic with three ragged t-shirts for cloth­ing and a dog for a teach­ing as­sis­tant. He talked about the earth­i­ness in Madrid — though he was a priest, Msgr. Vil­lanueva was not afraid to get down and drink with his stu­dents out­side the sem­i­nary.

And the priest had a funny bone as well. Ap­par­ently, one time Madrid, un­der­whelmed by a stu­dents’ work crum­pled the sheet of pa­per and gave it to his “teach­ing as­sis­tant,” his dog. When the dog spit the ball of pa­per out, Madrid ex­claimed “Awa ra gud, dili makaon in­y­ong sin­uwatan sa iro (Even the dog can’t stom­ach your work).” The au­di­ence roared with laugh­ter. At the end of his trib­ute, Niñal closed his speech de­scrib­ing Madrid as some­thing like “tagip­tip na dili matang­tang sa panit (dirt that won’t come off the skin),” an im­age both lu­cid and mem­o­rable.

Lit­er­ary gi­ant ar­rives

Later on Msgr. Vil­lanueva ar­rived on scene, stay­ing at the back row as peo­ple crowded around him for pic­tures and the op­por­tu­nity to speak with the guest of honor him­self. The man was just as shy and reclu­sive as the speak­ers had pictured him out to be. He even re­fused to come up on stage and in­stead stayed at the back­most por­tion of the event near the area where stands sold copies of his books, along with publi­ca­tions from the Ce­buano Stud­ies Cen­ter, Tinta, Batha­lad, No­mads, and from other lit­er­ary or­ga­ni­za­tions at­tend­ing the event. Though Msgr. Vil­lanueva left the event early, the spirit of his pres­ence and of the sto­ries from his life re­mained, as cor­po­real as the skin-dirt im­age de­scribed by Niñal.

Elvin Ruiz, an in­struc­tor at Cebu Nor­mal Univer­sity and an aspir­ing writer ad­mit­ted he “had no idea that among the ce­les­tial bod­ies a star was qui­etly shin­ing,” re­fer­ring to Madrid. Ruiz felt like the event not only opened an­other con­scious­ness in him, but it also helped him re­dis­cover his iden­tity as a Ce­buano.

Den­ver Tor­res, a pro­lific mid-ca­reer writer also agreed that Dan­daniw 2016 had a def­i­nite im­pact on the au­di­ence and was thank­ful that Dr. Yu or­ga­nized the event. To have this awak­en­ing spur among the younger gen­er­a­tion of writ­ers is a def­i­nite sign that the Dan­daniw 2016 in Cebu was a suc­cess. The only hope is that Dr. Yu, the NCLA and the lit­er­ary or­ga­ni­za­tions in Cebu will con­tinue band­ing to­gether to keep the em­bers of art and lit­er­a­ture burn­ing.

Msgr. Rodolfo Vil­lanueva, a.k.a.Re­nato Madrid, with sem­i­nar­i­ans from the San Car­los Sem­i­nary Col­lege Gaanan Edric Ger­ald, Louise Carr, Lyle Carino, Mae Abe­gail Mer­cado, Th­esa Are­nas Cote­jar, Hus­sein La­cia, Edda Shane Ju­lia and Princess Mae Guinto

Guest speaker Re­sil Mo­jares with Fran­cis Tor­re­sand MaiMai Mon­te­bon Brigoli

Msgr. Joseph Tan talks about Re­nato Madrid

Den­ver Tor­res

Louise Car presents Tampu: Writ­ing and In­flu­ence in Ce­buano Lit­er­a­ture MaiMai Mon­te­bon Brigoli, Carol Ann Mon­tana Day­day, Kristi­nova Jus­tim­baste and Julz Cesar by the book stands

In­soy Ni­nal shares anec­dotes about Re­nato Madrid

Tinta’s Mon­ica Man­lu­luyo, Astrid Ilano and Tara Pri­eto

Jona Ber­ing talks about her par­tic­i­pa­tion in Tampu

Shane Carreon

Richel­let Chan

Msgr. Rodolfo Vil­lanueva, a.k.a. Re­nato Madrid Noel S. Vil­laflor pre­sent­ing Dila+IlabIlab+Black Hole po­etry chap­book Dan­daniw hosts Jake Ramos and Juanita Ro­mualdez

Dan­daniw 2016 Or­ga­niz­ing head Hope Sa­ban­pan-Yu with Ir­ish Jane En­con­tro and Joanna Fa­jardo-Salazar

Some of the books launched dur­ing Dan­daniw 2016: Pan­sit Po­etry by Karla Quim­s­ing, Dila+IlabIlab+Black Hole by Noel S. Vil­laflor, Jo­sua Cabr­era and Jeremiah Bon­doc, and Tampu: Writ­ing and In­flu­ence in Ce­buano Lit­er­a­ture edited by Dr. Hope Sa­ban­pan-Yu.

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