Layag 1st of Euro­pean an­tholo­gies in Filipino

The Philippine Star - - OBITUARIES -

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.

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