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Of poets, writers, and artists

ONE doesn’t turn 70 everyday, and writer Alma Cruz Miclat decided that her 70th birthday was the perfect day to release the second volume of her book celebrating Filipino poets, writers, and artists.

“The bulk of the book consists of features about Filipino poets, writers, and artists who make our country proud,” she said during her birthday party cum book launch on Zoom on December 15. These were collated from her articles in the aforementioned daily, but also the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ (NCCA) Sanghaya journals, among others.

The book Soul Searchers and Dreamers Volume II, is a sequel to the book released in 2015.

The 152-page, 8.5” x 11” hardbound book in full color has a stunning cover of an oil painting by the author’s departed daughter, designed by poet and artist Fidel Rillo. The foreword was written by Ms. Miclat’s editor, Thelma Sioson San Juan, who edited Inquirer’s lifestyle pages for 17 years.

Profiles featured in this book are National Artists Nick Joaquin and Napoleon Abueva, literary icons Gilda Cordero Fernando and Rogelio Mangahas, art gallery doyenne Norma Liongoren, art luminaries Danny Dalena, Imelda Cajipe-Endaya, Julie Lluch, Addie Cukingnan and Romeo Gutierrez, maverick artists Kublai Millan, Danny Rayos del Sol, Dexter Sy, Dansoy Coquilla, Azor Pazcoguin, Nasser Lubay and physician-artist Orestes P. Monzon as well as language stalwarts Teresita V. Ramos and Mario Ignacio Miclat, the late academic Ajit Singh Rye, diplomat Nona Zaldivar, entrepreneur Herman T. Gamboa, and man of the cloth Jose Maria de Nazareno.

Also included in the book were the several years the family spent in China, from 1971 to 1986 (during the turbulent Marcos regime). This had previously been published in the anthology Dark Days of Authoritarianism (2019). Ms. Miclat also wrote about her time during the community quarantine, particularly in the months of July to March.

Ms. San Juan wrote: “Alma’s writings could very well be a journey into the Filipino soul, a journey taken over the Filipino’s turbulent years, the tipping

points, the detours and false exits… This book is an echo of all that — a Filipino’s unending journey. Honest books such as this, in these trying times, make the journey a bit bearable, even enlightening.”

“I thought I had enough material for a sequel for my first Soul Searchers and Dreamers,” said Ms. Miclat. “In fact, what I wrote during these five years after I retired were more from what I wrote for 15 years from the time Maningning passed in 2000.”

“Retirement offered opportunities to write more…about art and advocacies I believe in,” she said. Explaining the title, she said, “I write about soul searchers and dreamers — artists and writers who have gone and left behind awesome works; those still around and continue to bring magnificent creations.”

The book is jointly published by the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation, Inc. (MMAFI)and Erehwon Center for the Arts. The book can be pre-ordered through maningningfoundation@gmail.com or 09189057311. Payment for the book can be coursed through BPI Savings Account No. 0326-0448-45; or GCash Banaue M. 09995042898. — Joseph L. Garcia

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