National Artist for Literature Francisco Sionil Jose was guest lecturer at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila on July 30, 2018. Hundreds of students packed the Justo Albert Auditorium to hear him talk on the "Why Literature?".
The celebrated author of The God Stealer and Other Stories (published in 1959) and Waywaya (published in 1979) expounded on the important role of literature in nation-building. In this connection, he cited the role that writers such as Goethe had in Germany in the formation of its nationhood, of Homer in Greece, of Cervantes in Spain, of Shakespeare in England, and Jose Rizal in the development of a Filipino national consciousness.
As literature allows us to reflect on ourselves, open ourselves for self-examination, as well as view things from another perspective, he called on his audience to develop a love for reading.
Expounding on the idea that sacrifice is the philosophy of love, he notes that we are still not a true nation because we have not yet learned how to sacrifice our personal needs and interests in favor of the greater good. He called on his audience to develop a stronger sense of self-sacrifice for the sake of the nation.
Still an active thinker at 93, Sionil Jose still spends time to write at Solidaridad Bookshop which he owns. The bookshop is located at 531 Padre Faura St., in Ermita, Manila. Interested parties can still purchase Sionil Jose's books at the Solidaridad.
Sionil Jose was invited to deliver a talk at PLM as part of the University's Culture and Arts Program aimed at giving PLM students and staff well-rounded education and historico-cultural orientation, as well as a strong appreciation for the arts.