Hidalgo lectures on Edith L. Tiempo’s Fiction for NCCA’s National Artists for Literature Series

UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies Director Professor Emeritus Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Ph.D., delivered an online lecture on the short stories written by Edith L. Tiempo as part of the “Manila Reads Edith Tiempo,” a special webinar organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies.

Hidalgo’s lecture titled “Women and Power in Edith Tiempo’s Fiction” focused on the proto-feminist elements in Tiempo’s short stories “The Corral” and “The Black Monkey” to prove her thesis that, as a writer of fiction, Tiempo was ahead of her time.

Quoting the esteemed literary critic Isagani R. Cruz, Hidalgo reiterated Tiempo’s theoria and praxis of “paying attention to contemporary social problems as a strong material for the literary work, and evolving structures and symbolisms for the exploration of those contemporary problems.” Then she demonstrated how these two stories belie the idea held by some critics and readers about Tiempo’s being mainly an advocate for New Criticism.

Focusing on the protagonists Pilar and Neena, she emphasized Tiempo’s awareness of many women’s situations during her time, her explorations of the nuances of women’s relationships with the men in their lives, and her belief that, though a woman might sometimes be entrapped, she was not entirely unarmed—empowerment was within her reach, and she could choose to seize it.

Hidalgo is a prolific prize-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction, a critic and a literary scholar, with more than 40 published books, including three novels, five short story collections, and 16 essay collections. Some of these books have received national awards, like the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature’s Grand Prize for the Novel, and several National Book Awards (given by the Manila Critics Circle and the National Book Development Board), for both her fiction and her nonfiction. She has also received the Dangal ng Lahi Award from the Palanca Awards, the Gawad Balagtas from the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL), and the Parangal Hagbong from the UST Varsitarian.

Hidalgo is credited with being a pioneer writer and scholar of creative nonfiction, particularly travel writing. As a critic, she is best known for her groundbreaking work in studying the literary memoir and fiction by Filipino women. Her latest book is Collected Stories and Tales published in 2019 by the UST Publishing House.

“Manila Reads Edith Tiempo” is the second installment of the National Artist for Literature Series of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ National Committee on Literary Arts. The first one, titled “Cebu Reads Lazaro Francisco,” was held at the University of San Carlos on April 11, 2019, and was co-sponsored by the NCCA, the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF), and the Cebuano Studies Center. The third installment titled “Davao Reads Amado Hernandez” will be held on October 2, 2020.

Tiempo, who was honored as National Artist for Literature in 1999, is the author of the following books: the novels A Blade of Fern (1978), His Native Coast (1979), The Alien Corn (1992), One, Tilting Leaves (1995), and The Builder (2004); the short story collection Abide, Joshua, and Other Stories (1964); the poetry collections The Tracks of Babylon and Other Poems (1966), The Charmer’s Box and Other Poems (1993), Beyond, Extensions (1993), Marginal Annotations and Other Poems, and Commend Contend/Beyond Extensions (2010), and the writing guides Six Uses of Fictional Symbols (2004) and Six Poetry Formats and the Transforming Image (2008).

Aside from being named National Artist, Tiempo also won the following awards: the Palanca Awards (1951, 1955, 1967, and 1969 for her poetry and short stories), the Philippines Free Press Short Story Contest (1955 and 1959), the Cultural Center of the Philippines Award (1979, First Prize for the Novel), and the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas from UMPIL in 1988. Tiempo has mentored many aspiring Filipino poets and fictionists from all over the Philippines through the Silliman National Writers’ Workshop, which she established and directed in Dumaguete City with her husband Edilberto Tiempo, himself a prize-winning fictionist.

Other participants of the event were UP University Professor Emeritus Gémino H. Abad, who delivered the second lecture, which focused on Tiempo’s poetry; Prof. Virgilio S. Almario, National Artist for Literature and former Chairman of the NCCA and the KWF; UST’s Prof. Joyce Arriola, who delivered the opening remarks; UST Publishing House Director Asst. Prof. Ma. Ailil B. Alvarez, who read selected short story excerpts and poems; Cebuano Studies Director Prof. Hope Sabanpan-Yu, who delivered the closing remarks, and UST CCWLS Assistant Director Assoc. Prof. Ralph Semino Galán, who served as the overall emcee as well as moderator of the open forum.

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