Layag 1st of European anthologies in Filipino
More than five centuries ago, the first Europeans set foot on Philippine soil after miles upon miles of sailing the world’s hitherto impassable oceans. Now, it’s the Filipinos who get to explore unfamiliar territory through Layag: European Classics
in Filipino – the very first Filipino anthology of short stories. With contributions from 11 European nations it has a story of its own, as the longtime ambition of Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša jr.
The last decade – after the signing of the Lisbon Treaty eight years ago – Europe became even more integrated as an economic and political bloc. However, it still remains also a whole continent with rich diversity of languages, cultures, and that is what keeps attracting tourists and scholars from all around the world. A sample of the best of Europe´s literary culture was unveiled to the Philippine public in the anthology Layag, which contains 14 short stories by writers from 11 European countries. This literary tour of Europe, translated into Filipino, features Nobel Award for literature laureates, such as Italian Luigi Pirandello and Polish Henryk Sienkiewicz, and global all-time favorites: Austrian Stefan Zweig, French Guy de Maupassant, Czech Karel Čapek, and German Erich Kästner. And moreover, yet unknown in the Philippines, masters of their national literatures from Denmark, Hungary, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland, are included.
It is the very first time that such a selection of short stories by different European writers have been combined in one book in Filipino. This pionering anthology, published by Anvil in cooperation with Manila cluster of EUNIC, a European network comprising of cultural institutes and embassies, was spearheaded by Jaroslav Olša Jr., Czech ambassador to the Philippines.
A former translator, editor and publisher himself, Olša, who came to Manila in 2014, is persuaded that literature is a very effective tool of cultural promotion and visibility to the public. “There are many tools for public diplomacy, such as films, music and the arts. But I believe literature is something that has a really long-lasting impact,” he said. “Therefore I embarked to promote both Czech and European literature in the Philippines, and establish and maintain the literary traffic in a two-way, too.“The result is noticeable: famous Prague writer Franz Kafka saw recently editions of The Metamorphosis in Filipino and Bikolano; acclaimed pre-World War II Karel Čapek´s drama R. U. R. Rossum´s Universal Robots was staged by Tanghalang Ateneo and published by the Czech Embassy in Filipino. Plans for Cebuano editions are being made in the near future, and soon, the selection of Čapek´s short stories will be published in two volumes in Bikolano.
Among upcoming titles are the anthology of Czech writing, from late 19th to early 21st century in Filipino, to be published by Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, and a reciprocal anthology of 39 short stories written by contemporary Philippine writers, due for publishing in the Czech Republic by mid-2017.
Photo shows Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša jr., general manager of Anvil Publishing Andrea Pasion-Flores and Danish Ambassador Jan Top Christensen.