Saturday, July 12, 2014
It was all too sudden. We were still reeling from the news that Silliman alumna Ross Camara, publisher of Aria Editions, had passed on when we got another unfortunate missive. Last Thursday afternoon, I got a text message from Silliman University’s Alumni Affairs Officer Ruben Bokingo, informing me that Rose Lamb Sobrepeña
—writer, philanthropist, and wife of Atty. Enrique Sobrepeña Jr.—had also died. Mrs. Sobrepeña, especially for many recent fellows of the Silliman University National Writers Workshop, is known in Dumaguete as the generous spirit behind the Writers Village at Camp Lookout, Valencia. For that, and for many services she has given her Alma Mater, the Writers Village, established in 2008, has been named in her honor.
And so, last Monday finally found me and English Department Chairperson Warlito Caturay Jr. in Manila. Her funeral service was being held at Heritage Park in Taguig City, and we went there to pay our final respects to one whose generosity has helped much of creative writing in Silliman today.
The memorial program that Monday afternoon was organized by La Hermandad Zamboangueña (led by its past president, the beautiful Gloria Pichel Mara, who is better known to all of us as Loli Mara) and Silliman University. And we were all there, “because for the loving memory of our beloved Rose,” Ms. Mara said in behalf of all of us.
Indeed, Ma’am Rose was that beloved—and the emotional and often funny outpouring from friends who gave testimony were a clear indication of just how much she was held in high esteem in the many circles she ran in, including the United Church of Christ in the Philippines community.
There were several Sillimanian alumni that day at Chapel 6 of Heritage Park, which included former Silliman President and recently declared National Scientist Dr. Angel C. Alcala. Also present were the University Board of Trustees’ Ambassador Antonio Villamor and Atty. Grace Sumalpong, Silliman Alumni Association Manila Chapter President Edna Mijares, National Writers Workshop Director Susan S. Lara, as well as Melba Adraincem, Chatty Realiza, Gloria Belarmino, Radi Apostol, Mel Morales, Diane Morales, Dolly Felicitas, Bishop Norman Marigza, Joselito Asiniero, Bobby Cafe, among many others. We went together as members of a larger Sillimanian family to give honor to one of our own. And in our own half of the memorial service, Atty. Sumalpong spoke in behalf of the university, and in particular BOT Chair Leonor Magtolis Briones, Vice President for Academic Affairs Betsy Joy Tan, and President Ben S. Malayang III.
Among many Filipino writers—especially those who have been through the beautiful rigors of the Silliman University National Writers Workshop, founded by Edilberto Tiempo and National Artist for Literature Edith Lopez Tiempo—the name Rose Lamb Sobrepeña is synonymous to three things: home away from home, comfort, and a beautiful camaraderie. And that is because those are the things that perfectly describe the looks and the experience of the Writers Village back home, which is named of course after our beautiful benefactor.
I have met Mrs. Sobrepeña only once, in Dumaguete, when she came to visit the Writers Village named after her, and to launch her latest collection of writings. And my impression has always been that of an indomitable woman who was also kind hearted and who was also a writer to reckon with. She was peerless in her devotion to literature and creative writing, and in fact, her love story of how she met and fell in love with Sir Ike is one legend we keep repeating in the telling back in Silliman.
Thank you, Ma’am Rose, for your life and your gift.
Labels: dumaguete writers workshop, memories, people, silliman
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