Raul V. Fabella on “Cesar Virata Life and Times”

Cesar VirataAs I accumulate years, my consciousness tends increasingly to dwell on the past – finding increasing enjoyment in reading history. One has to of course beware: history is written from many lenses.  One lens is ideology: facts are martialed to serve an interpretation. Another lens is participation:  “having been there” confers a level of authority but commingled with responsibility. Authors may find it hard to disentangle the two whether the episode ends in singular success or disaster. Sometimes, the proclivity is clear; sometimes it can only be inferred from what is left out.

I read the biography “Cesar Virata: Life and Times” by Dr Gerardo Sicat as a source of history. It is a hefty volume meant no doubt to match a hefty career. If you want an account of a life of singular and self-less devotion to duty, this book is for you. What I gleaned from Gerry’s account of Virata’s life is the heroism built not so much on the “what” as on the “how” one does what one does. I came to know Cesar later in his life when the enormous programs and powers had passed into other hands.  He was still stellar in the “how”. Cesar never ceased to self-renew in ideas and outlook.

Gerry’s vivid account of the idealism and commitment of the bright boys who followed Cesar into the Marcos cabinet leaves me angry – the same fury I harbored for “Erap” Estrada after he betrayed his own bright boys. For I don’t believe that the subsequent economic disaster was due only to unfortunate external shocks like the Volcker interest rate. The rape of the government banks by behest loans financed unfortunately by foreign debt facilitated by the bright boys, the rape of the judiciary, the armed services and the legacy of rent- extraction and monopolies  all profoundly hamstrung Philippine development decades after Marcos. The existential question subliminally posed in Ishiguro Kazu’s “The Remains of the Day” about the heroic butler applies here: Should a man’s worth be reckoned on the strength of his own supreme competence or on the folly of the master that he faithfully served? I say, the master be damned!

Raul V. Fabella


Read related piece from F. Sionil Jose http://www.philstar.com/sunday-life/744662/man-who-holds-candle-cesar-virata-marcos-regime


UP Press titles available in digital format

View the full list of UP Press books in digital format at the local store flipreads.com or refer to this listing by retailer.


  1. A History of the Philippines – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IWWBF7A
  2. An Embarrassment of Riches – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IWXON78
  3. Beautiful Accidents: Stories – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IWZNZUC
  4. Damaged People: Tales of the Gothic-Punk – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ITUZSU0
  5. Defiant Daughters Dancing: Three Independent Women Dance – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ITV009I
  6. Forcing the Pace: The Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas: From Foundation to Armed Struggle – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IWZO4NY
  7. Fourteen Love Stories – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ITTUXWO
  8. Geek Tragedies – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IWYV92E
  9. Ghosts of Infinity: and Nine More Stories of the Supernatural – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IWH3R3U
  10. Hairtrigger Loves: 50 Poems on Woeman – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IWHG6E2
  11. Life Before X and Other Stories: a new edition – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IWTD72O
  12. Mind-Body Communication Technique: An Alternative Way of Learning and Teaching Confidence in Public Speaking – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IXGR9CU
  13. One Hundred Love Poems – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IXH7YTW
  14. Philippine Postcolonial Studies: Essays on Language and Literature – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IWUGZ4K
  15. Philippine Studies: Have We Gone Beyond St. Louis? – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IY4L2MY
  16. Pinoy in America: The stateside life in the time of Barack Obama, Facebook and Pacquiao-mania – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IWWBBX8
  17. Postcolonialism and Filipino Poetics: Essays and Critiques – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IY4YYLA
  18. Reconnaissance – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IUNAEUU
  19. Revisiting Usog, Pasma, Kulam – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IUPPD3G
  20. Selected Stories – Jose Y. Dalisay Jr.    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IUP4ZK8
  21. Sundays in Manila – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IY5FAQ2
  22. Surgeons Do Not Cry – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IY5G03Y
  23. The Gaze: Poems – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IUM8ZK2
  24. The Sky Over Dimas: A Novel – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IY9C8RW


  1. Sundays In Manila – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sundays-in-manila/id815488968
  2. The Sky Over Dimas – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-sky-over-dimas/id815489117

Selected titles are also available in Kobo and Barnes & Noble.

Books and Catastrophe

[Closing remarks of J. Neil C. Garcia, UP Press Director, during the UP Press year-end launch last November 29, 2013 at the West Wing Gallery, UP Vargas Museum]

Okay, team UP Press: that’s three book launchings in 2013.

Meaning: three times the panic and glorious exhaustion, but also three times the sense of accomplishment for a job well and cheerfully done (a job that—we never for a moment forget—is a singular and immensely relevant one).

For me, in specific: three launchings means that much more speechifying! Seriously, I can’t help but regard this obligatory part of the program with a sense of immense privilege, but also of trepidation and, well, plain and simple anxiety: just what am I going to talk about, this time?

Let’s see… Over the past couple of years I’ve already covered such geeky and clumsily polemical topics as literacy and orality, the cognitive superiority of reading over viewing, the difficulties of marketing print material in an increasingly digital age, and the advantages (as well as the responsibilities) of being a nationally mandated and government-subsidized academic press…

This time—seeing as how the world seems to be literally crumbling all around us—I suppose there’s no better (or, at least, timelier) topic than the calamitous, and what books can do for us as we face the increasingly bleak prospect of an apocalyptic fault suddenly snapping and swallowing the ground under our feet, and of more preternaturally violent storms unleashing the ocean into our homes and blasting the roofs over our luckless heads…

This is, of course, an entirely serious matter, and aside from the familiar rituals of trauma and recovery we as a people need to give ourselves some credit—and pat ourselves on the back: quite possibly, we are the only nation on the planet that has to worry about the imminence of doomsday events as a matter of everyday conversation (over lunch or dinner), as Facebook updates, or as the last quivering thought in our brains just before we drift off into fretful slumber—all the while mightily striving to keep our sense of humor relatively (if not perversely) intact…

Suffice it to say that we are not new to cataclysm in this tempest-tossed country, whose jagged islands are perched on the lip of the restive abyss. Just now I’m reminded of my first speech as director of our university Press: how theatrically I bewailed the residual but altogether powerful orality that permeates our lives as a recently literate country, simply because this cultural feature (characterized by a provisional, fluid, and mutable memory) has, all too sadly, prevented us from remembering and thinking categorically about things. As we know, this is precisely the kind of skill that we need in order to set aright so much of what is wrong about our political, economic, and moral systems, all of which are blighted by exactly the kinds of feudal and clientelist ties premised on the personalistic and anti-meritocratic logic that orality breeds and requires.

And so, as we’ve been told, our memories are not quite long, enduring or solid enough, and this is why we never seem to learn the ‘lessons’—bitter and many and repetitious—of our mostly anguished history. However, in light of all these recent and positively horrific environmental catastrophes, we may begin to understand that maybe all this is so, for a reason: in the face of the depredations of cyclical misery in this corner of a hostile earth, who indeed wants to keep recalling such repetitive and unremitting loss? On the other hand, because orality brooks no easy remembering, we now and then also forget, along with most others things, just how courageous, strong and (in the words of the great writer and friend, Ninotchka Rosca), ‘metamorphic’ we are, even as, in the end, we probably don’t really need to remember any of this—we only need to be so, for ourselves and for each other.

These ‘misgivings’ concerning the burden of an enduring memory aside, we of course must champion reading and writing, as well as the literacy that they presuppose and cultivate, not only because textual and categorical mentality is something our country vitally needs, but also because it is especially through these acts of the mind that an ethical intuition can take root. Simply put: literacy suspends us inside the consciousness of others—rendering us responsible for our ways of relating with them, who affirm our sense of self precisely by being irreducible to it, and with whom we simply must share this imperiled and perilous world. Immersing ourselves in a book, we leave behind the safety of the familiar, the known, the commonplace and the same, in order to confront, respect, and relate to strangeness, difference, otherness. It is through literacy and its imaginative flights—its ability to endow us a point of view distinct from our own, to ‘incarnate’ us, as it were—that we bring our sense of identity, our very self, to a state of beautiful crisis, from which we may emerge not only more aware and appreciative of the existence of others, but more importantly, as fundamentally different from or ‘other’ to ourselves.

Allow me to extend my gratitude, then, to all our authors, whose books—the children of their best selves, bequests of their generous consciousness—are nothing if not invitations to the ethical life, manifestos against the shame and impunity of forgetting. Allow me to thank also the members of the editorial, marketing and administrative sections of the Press, as well as our artists and partner printers, for their untiring dedication to the task of helping to create our nation’s abiding memory. And finally, I would like to thank the administration of President Alfredo Pascual, especially my immediate and tireless boss, the complexity expert Vice-President Gisela Concepcion, for their unwavering support of the activities and initiatives of UP Press, as it forges ahead into the ever-catastrophic future. The world may be on the brink of ending any day now—perhaps it has always been so—but as long as we are reading and writing (these two gestures are, to the mind, finally indistinguishable), I believe it’s also equally true that the world is beginning anew, bright and lovely and brimming with extraordinary hope.

And we all shall be all right.

Thank you for coming. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas. Mabuhay ang Pilipinong mambabasa at manunulat. Magandang gabi po sa ating lahat.

J. Neil C. Garcia

DACUN launches 7th Phil-BIST Conference and Fair

davao event 2

The Library Committee of the Davao Colleges and Universities Network (DACUN) will be holding the 7th Philippine Book, Information Science and Technology (Phil-BIST) Conference and Fair this August 13-15, at the University of Southeastern Philippines, Davao City.

The event aims to provide a regular venue where professors, information managers, information specialists, government planners, private sector advocates, and industry players exchange professional agenda to improve the educational and academic landscape of Davao, the Mindanao Region, and the Philippines in general.

This year its theme is: “The Mindanao Summit on Excellence, Service, and Professionalism (ESP) in Philippine Librarianship: National Agenda and Global Realities after RA 9246 and Beyond.”

RA 9246 is also known as “The Philippine Librarianship Act of 2003.”

DACUN is a network of ten colleges and universities in Davao City that was founded in 2001. Its members include Assumption College of Davao, Brokenshire College, Davao Doctors College Inc., Holy Cross of Davao College Inc., Philippine Women’s College of Davao, Rizal Memorial Colleges, University of Mindanao, University of Southeastern Philippines, University of the Immaculate Conception, and the University of the Philippines Mindanao.

The University of the Philippines Press (UP Press) is one of the exhibitors at the 7th Phil-BIST Conference and Fair.

Text by Jamila Lucas
Image by Regine Deximo

Will P. Ortiz book wins 2012 Madrigal-Gonzalez award

Last Friday, December 07, the Likhaan: UP Institute of Creative Writing and the Madrigal-Gonzalez Family held the annual Writers Night and the Best First Book Award ceremony at the GT Toyota Hall of Wisdom.

Out of the six finalists for the Best First Book Award, three are published by the UP Press. These books are Lagalag ng Paglaya by Rommel B. Rodriguez, Miss Dulce Extranjera by Sir Anril Pineda Tiatco, and Bugtong ng Buwan at Iba Pang Kuwento by Will P. Ortiz.


Will P. Ortiz’s collection of short stories took home the Madrigal-Gonzalez Best First Book Award for 2012.

Bugtong ng Buwan cover

Click here to read more about this event. You may also visit our website for more information about UP Press titles.

UP Press eco-bag sports new logos

Plastic bags are so out and eco-bags are definitely here to stay! So make sure you get one UP Press eco-bag when you visit the bookstore.

This year’s eco-bag features our two new logos and is available in two sizes.

Two ways to get the UP Press eco-bag:

  • It’s free! Purchase amounting to Php2,000 gets you the smaller bag; Php 3,000 for the big one.
  • Buy it out right! Php 40 for the small bag; Php50 for the big bag.

ECO BagSee you at the bookstore!