Monday, November 19, 2012


Today, I'm honoring the writer N.V.M. Gonzalez, whom I had the privilege of knowing. I first met him with Bienvenido N. Santos at a literary event sponsored by Linda Nietes' Philippine Expressions. Like Mr. Santos, Mr. Gonzalez encouraged my literary efforts; he generously wrote blurbs for my book projects or contributed stories for anthologies which I edited.

N.V.M. Gonzalez was born on September 8, 1915 in Rombon, Philippines, although he grew up in Mindoro, later the setting of much of his fiction, such as the stories in Seven Hills Away, Children of the Ash-Covered Loam, and Look, Stranger on This Island Now. His father was a teacher and school supervisor.

N.V.M. played the violin and reportedly earned his first peso by playing the violin at a Chinese funeral in Romblon. He attended Mindoro High School, and later the National University although he was unable to complete his undergraduate degree. In Manila he wrote for the Philippine Graphic, the Evening News Magazine, and the Manila Chronicle. He was a member of the Board of Advisors of Likhaan: the University of the Philippines Creative Writing Center, and he was also the founding editor the Diliman Review. He was the first president of the Philippine Writers Association.

In the US, he attended creative writing classes at Stanford University. He later taught at the University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, the Philippine Women's University, University of California Santa Barbara, UCLA, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington, and the California State University at Hayward.

He won many honors, including the Republic Award of Merit, the Republic Cultural Heritage Award, the Jose Rizal Pro-Patria Award. In 1987, the University of the Philippines awarded him honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters. In 1997, he was proclaimed National Artist of the Philippines.

He died on November 28, 1997 in Quezon at 84. As a National Artist, he was honored with a state funearl at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
External Link:

Photo below shows N.V.M. Gonzalez and Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

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