Thursday, May 20, 2021

Francisco Sionil José

He is one of the most important authors in the Philippines: Francisco Sionil José. Even at the age of ninety-five, he repeatedly takes up current events in his texts and attacks those in power.

What the secret of his long life is and what the beret is all about - these two questions were asked more and more of Francisco Sionil José when he celebrated his birthday. The Filipino author's answer was: "Very simple: The good die early, and the hat protects me from pneumonia."

José found his way to literature, as he likes to tell again and again, thanks to the books in the Catholic lending library and the only streetlamp in the village

He experienced first-hand conflicts between large landowners and farm workers, the overpowering influence of the Catholic Church and the importance of their own culture. Violence was always omnipresent: exercised by remaining Spanish hacienderos, US-Americans as new colonial rulers and Filipino upstarts. In addition, he experienced violence during the Second World War when Japan occupied the country: At that time, José commuted between Manila and his hometown, the small village of Rosales in the Pangasinan province, and supplied his relatives in the capital with rice.

In 1946 he began to study literature in Manila, which was severely damaged by the Second World War - after Warsaw, Manila was the most destroyed capital. In February 1945 alone, over 100,000 people, mostly civilians, had died. Since then, he has accompanied, commented, and processed current events as a journalist and writer.

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