Filipino literary community pays tribute to poets Cirilo Bautista, Ed Maranan

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 9) — Readers and writers alike took to the Internet to pay tribute to two Filipino poets who passed away earlier this week.

National Artist for Literature Cirilo Bautista passed away at the age of 76 on May 6, on Sunday.

His passing was followed by 71-year-old writer and activist Edgardo Maranan on May 8, Tuesday.

Bautista is a multi-awarded poet, fictionist, and essayist who is known for helping establish the Baguio Writers Group, the Bienvenido Santos Creative Writing Center in De La Salle University (DLSU), the Iligan National Writers Workshop, the Philippine Literary Arts Council.

The DLSU Department of Literature said his obra maestra was the modern epic "The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus," for which he was hailed Makata ng Taon in 1993.

Maranan, a 30-time Carlos Palanca awardee, wrote in both English and Filipino across various genres including drama, children's stories, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. He was inducted into the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature Hall of Fame in 2000.

He won many other awards and wrote dozens of books, amid stints in foreign service and later, teaching political science and Philippine Studies at the University of the Philippines.

Their deaths come as the Filipino cultural community mourns the passing of architect and heritage advocate Augusto "Toti" Villalon.

Necrological services for Bautista will be held on Thursday, May 10, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He will receive state funeral rites at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Maranan's wake will be held at the University of the Philippines Catholic Church from May 8 to 10. His body will be cremated on May 11, and his ashes will be brought to his home in Baguio City.


Social media tributes

The Baguio Writers Group paid tribute to its two prominent members in separate posts on Facebook. It said it would continue to regard Bautista "our editor, headmaster, guardian and spiritual guide."


It also extended its condolences to Maranan's family.


Joel Toledo, former literary editor of the Philippines Free Press, said on Facebook the writers were "two of the best poets the country ever produced."

In a tribute to Bautista on Facebook, DLSU's Department of Literature said it lost its "Moses, Gandalf, Nero Wolfe, Obi Wan Kenobi."


In a post on his Tumblr blog, poet and novelist Eric Gamalinda wrote, "We have lost one of our greats."

"Cirilo's work changed the way I looked at poetry, and I realized poetry was an effective way to explore Filipino history and identity," he said.

Dumaguete-based fictionist Ian Rosales Casocot also wrote about how Bautista remembered his writing and encouraged him to keep at it.

"I think kindness is what we remember most of people above all else, including accomplishments," said Casocot. "He had both: a towering career as one of our most important poets, and the heart of a good man."


University of the Philippines professor and writer Butch Dalisay shared a handwritten poem by Bautista on Twitter.


In a separate tweet, he recalled Maranan as a "wizard of wit (and) poet of passages" as well as "a good friend and fine writer."

Lualhati Bautista, who wrote the acclaimed novels "Dekada '70" and "Bata, Bata, Pa'no Ka Ginawa?" wrote on Facebook she had prayed for a peaceful passing for Maranan.

"Tulad ni Cirilo at ng iba pa, hindi kayo tunay na mawawala dahil mananatiling buhay ang inyong mga obra at paninindigan. Saludo kami sa inyo," she said.

[Translation:Like Cirilo and the others, you will not really be gone, because your masterpieces and convictions are still alive. We salute you.]


Edgar Samar, author of the bestselling Janus Silang series, also thanked Bautista and wished him "Maligayang paglalakbay [safe travels]." He also wrote a longer post recalling a conversation with Maranan, who missed his youth.


"Sa huling birthday greeting ko sa kaniya, dama ko ang isang pangungulila sa pagkabata at isang mapayapang pagtanggap sa pagtanda," said Samar. "Exciting ang aming henerasyon dahil sa mga tulad ninyong niyakap ang pagsusulat hanggang sa huling sandali!"

[Translation: During my last birthday greeting to him, I felt both longing for childhood and a peaceful acceptance of growing up... Our generation is exciting because of those like you, who embraced writing until the end!]

Journalist Joel Pablo Salud also recalled a previous conversation with Maranan, who said he was "regaining 'some balance.'"

"I recall feeling sour inside, not knowing what to say to you," wrote Salud. "I had no knowledge on the nature of your condition save what I've read online... but you never failed to send me news that you were okay. Paalam parekoy at matalik na kaibigan [Goodbye, my good friend]."

Writer Nash Tysmans, who co-authored a book on Maranao cuisine "Mga Tutul a Palapa," said of Bautista and Villalon, "I can't help but appreciate how rich they've made me feel as a Filipina."

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Tysmans also wrote on Tuesday that she remembered Maranan while looking at two birds.


"You were always kind to me and encouraging, always quick to push this bird outside of the nest. 'Fly already,' you would say," she recalled. "Today it's my turn to tell you, 'Fly already... There will always be a special perch for you by my window next to the acacias.'"