Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hail to Thee of Lit (and National) Royalty

Yesterday, during our last classroom session with Isagani Cruz (the acclaimed literary critic, not the bigot) in his Philippine Literature in English course, we were all asked to give a “creative” five to ten minute presentation on our book reports.

In the attempt of proving that all writing—even fiction—is autobiographical in a way (as I believe Ninotchka Rosca’s State of War somewhat exemplifies), I called upon the assistance of English Lit majors Carlo Rivera and Luigi Ereñeta.

Luigi I’ve known since we were Creative Writing freshmen. He decided to shift to English Lit because he’d “rather read than write.”

Carlo I first met last semester, when the two of us were in Ambeth Ocampo’s history class. He shifted from Economics when he probably realized that words make a lot more sense than numbers.

I gave both of them the following premise: Some sort of insurgency is attempting to topple Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Then I asked them, using their own interests and sensibilities, to create the general plot of a story with this premise.

Both turned to military violence. Carlo’s story involved a break into Malacañang and having a literary critic succeed GMA as ruler of the country.

Luigi’s was metaphorically emblematic of real life. Amidst all the bombs that exploded, more than one group of insurgents was set to take over Malacañang. His twist? One group in particular was led by a literature guy.

OK, so the experiment didn’t really work as I thought it would in that I don’t think there’s something autobiographical in the two students’ use of military violence in their stories. (At least I hope there isn’t.)

But they both did use literary figures, which is reflective of their biases toward their particular field of study.

And when you think about it, when you pit his name against all of them clowns in (or running for) office, King Isagani Cruz (the acclaimed literary critic, not the bigot) sure does have a nice ring to it.


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