Danny Arao, Alex Remollino on Nick Joaquin

A magazine that Nick Joaquin (1917-2004) used to edit asked me to write a short statement on his death. Below is the full text of that statement. Thank you. – Danilo Araña Arao, Professor, UP College of Mass Communication

The death of a person is always an occasion for remembering how he or she lived. As the nation mourns the death of Nicomedes “Nick” Joaquin (aka Quijano de Manila) on April 29, 2004 at the age of 86, we remember his vast contribution not just to fiction writing but also to Philippine journalism.

Born on May 4, 1917 in Paco, Manila, he became a journalist despite finishing only three years of secondary education at the V. Mapa High School. He started as a proofreader at the Philippines Free Press and later became its contributing editor and essayist using the nom de plume Quijano de Manila. In 1970, he left the Philippines Free Press and edited the Asia- Philippine Leader. Later on, he became editor of the Philippine Graphic and publisher of the Women’s Weekly.

Aside from his various awards in creative writing, he was conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and CreativeCommunication Arts in 1966. Ten years after, he became a National Artist (Literature).

Students are encouraged to read his feature articles, mostly personality profiles, compiled in books like Reportage on Lovers (1977), Nora Aunor & Other Profiles (1977) and Gloria Diaz & Other Delineations (1977). He writes in a manner that makes readers relate to what his subjects went through, using the simplest of words and narrating stories and circumstances as directly as possible.

His death is indeed a cause for mourning, but it should also be a time for reflecting, understanding and remembering.

(NOTE: A number of Nick Joaquin’s fellow writers at Asia-Philippines Leader were incarcerated during martial law, among them Pete Lacaba who is publicly known to have been heavily tortured by the late Col.
Rodolfo Aguinaldo and his henchmen.

It must be noted here that Joaquin, who was named National Artist for Literature in 1976, accepted the award on the condition that his detained fellow Asia-Philippines Leader writers would be released. He got his demand and personally delivered the release papers of each of his incarcerated co-writers.

Joaquin would later be seen often at human rights rallies against the Marcos dictatorship. Although he is not known to have joined any cause-oriented organization and was definitely far from being the iconoclast that his contemporary Renato Constantino was, he can be admired and remembered for taking a stand at a time when one most had to. – Alex Remollino)

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