Thursday, July 16, 2009

Defying Limits Through Passion

(An interview with Dr. Lourdes S. Anonas)

It was an apparent glistening of the eyes as the daughter spoke about a man close to her heart. The words came out as excited as possible, as vivid as her story's content. That encounter with Dr. Lourdes S. Anonas, Executive Vice President of the University of Nueva Caceres, introduced us to the life of a prominent writer, a loyal family man, a deserving person - Bienvenido Nuqui Santos, her father.

The life of this man entailed responsibility and discipline at the same time. A poor boy should reach out more to achieve his dreams, and that is what this man had done in his life, except that he chose the path where he could apply his passion and God-given gift.

Nobody should be hindered by poverty in learning. Nobody should practice procrastination when it comes to making dreams come true. Bienvenido "Bening" Santos' childhood proved that even a 4th grader could make a way to ensure his future through knowledge he gained from indulging himself to reading in a public library. These efforts were witnessed by his teacher who herself was impressed by the unfathomable eagerness of her student to learn despite poverty which deprived him from purchasing books.

Growing up in the Sulucan slums in Antonio Rivera, Tondo, Manila, he found how meaningful life could be. The people became his inspiration in writing short stories. In this time, he entered his profound place in the world of writing. Reading...reading...reading... That is the secret of this great man. All you have to do is read when you have time. Transform ideas into words and attach them to papers through your pen. After writing, you may set it aside. However, according to the principle he lived for, real writing is rewriting. For when you rewrite, you improve what you've written. What you have set aside should be reopened and nourished for enhancement, if not for perfection.

Armored with skill, passion and determination, Bienvenido, a college student then, continued what he had started. Philippine Collegian opened its doors to him. The community of the University of the Philippines witnessed how his skill flourished through his writings in the school publication. There he met the apple of his eye, whom had kept all his letters and had cut out clips from their school's publication (a very touching act, isn't it?). Probably, caused by a little spell of the heavens, Bienvenido N. Santos married Beatriz Nidea which resulted to initials BNS both of them shared for the rest of their lives. The unity gave birth to four lovely children of three girls and a boy.

Sent by the Philippines to the United States of America as a pensionado, he had to leave his family behind. World War II broke out and he found himself an exile. Lourdes was still a little child that time thus admitted that she was closer to her mother whom she had most of her childhood with. During the time of war, Bienvenido was not hindered to continue writing. Provided with hope in his heart and love for his family back in the Philippines, he would write letters and birthday cards especially made for his children yearning for their father's return. It was only after the war when those letters were given to them. Then those were kept and preserved by his wife.

Much of his life story has been written in his autobiography Memory's Fiction.