Irony of Ironies

The man who taught self to love the stories of Manuel Arguilla was an American Jesuit named Joseph Galdon.

Self had not seen him in many, many years, but her old classmates at the Ateneo told her the news: he passed away yesterday.

The last time she saw him, she had a desk quite close to his: it was the year she was the Henry Irwin Professor of Creative Writing at the Ateneo. He would come and go and smile at her and be very polite, but say nothing. This was a man who reduced self to tears once by telling her during a retreat that she had a nice face. Now he didn’t remember her at all.

But she thinks it is important that he taught her to love Manuel Arguilla. For Arguilla really was one of the greatest short story writers self has ever read. And she thanks Father Galdon from the bottom of her heart for this, for reading Arguilla made self want to write, and may have been the reason she always wanted to be known, not just as a writer, but as a Filipino writer.

Rest in peace, Father Galdon. Also because of you, I know what it means to say: Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

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