The home of NVM Gonzalez, one of the greatest English writers ever produced by the Philippines, burned down last Friday, with it all his literary works, including his essays, fiction, poetry, and books, his certificates, medals, and entries to the NVM Gonzalez Award.
Having Professor Gonzalez as a fiction teacher was one of the greatest experiences of my life. He taught simply, inspired greatly, and had a passion for the written word that I had never seen to date. When he died, I traveled from my home in Paranaque to where he lay in state in the University of the Philippines, and as I sat at the back, remembering what he taught me, I knew I was privileged to have known him and been in his presence, if only for a semester.
I am no great writer. NVM Gonzalez was a great writer. And now all his work – gone.
My heart weeps for the loss. It is a tragedy – more of the Philippines’ than anyone else’s. When your nation is blessed with brilliance and genius, to have it all taken away – all, being the operative word, now that both writer and works are gone – is simply too much, too much.