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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

entry arrow5:57 PM | Loreto Paras Sulit, 99

When I was staying with Rica Bolipata-Santos at the Bolipata house in Manila a few weeks ago, I spent a great deal of my off time (when I was not out with Plet and Emong) reading up on the matriarchs of Philippine literature in English -- Paz Marquez Benitez, Angela Manalang-Gloria, Paz Latorena, and Loreto Paras Sulit -- simply because Rica had books from ALIWW (mostly authored by Edna Zapanta-Manlapaz) scattered around on her work desk as she prepared to teach Philippine literature in the coming school term. The literary biographies were a delightful bunch, and Paras-Sulit's story proved to be more than interesting. I just learned today that she just died, and with her loss is the closing of one window into the beginning days of our literature in English. She was 99. Her body lies in state in Funeraria Paz.

From her profile in the ALIWW website: "When Loreto Paras enrolled for the education degree at the University of the Philippines, she promptly became a charter member of the UP Writers Club in 1927. Her stories earned her the admiration of peers, including Jose Garcia Villa who later identified her as his 'idol' during those years. Decades later, in response to a request from ALIWW, Paras-Sulit donated a typescript entitled All About Me. It is a brief autobiographical narrative that promptly begins with a disclaimer about her birthdate: 'For many years my birthday was listed as Dec. 10, 1908.' Then, Paras-Sulit proceeds to tell how a pious 4th-grade teacher changed her name from Loreta to Loreto Paras. The writing dates back to February 1945, when she first took it up, and extends to her retirement from the Philippine National Red Cross, of which she was the first woman Secretary General. All About Me attests to the undiminished verve in Paras-Sulit’s storytelling. Brief and poignant, the narrative captures precious scenes from a girlhood devoted to fairy tales, her U.P. working-student days, and various portraits as a young bride, a mother of eight coping with the death of her favorite child, and, as her devotion to the Philippine National Red Cross affirms, a tireless public servant all her life."

You can read her short story "Harvest" here.

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