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.


  1. Kathleen Burkhalter said,

    March 21, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Beautiful tribute.

  2. Kathleen Burkhalter said,

    March 21, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    And I loved his story, “How my Brother Leon brought home a Wife.”, and he was from Bauang, La Union, which was my provincial home.

  3. March 21, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    You know, Arguilla was so restrained, his writing reminds me of Pramoedya Ananta Toer.

    I didn’t know you were from La Union. Now I see the Baguio connection between you and Luisa!

  4. Kathleen Burkhalter said,

    March 22, 2010 at 1:17 am

    My grandparents had a special place in Bauang, a sweet beach resort called Cresta Ola. They were from Pampanga and Marinduque. We would go to Bauang on weekends, holidays, and summer vacations. I went to school for a year in San Fernando, La Union. It was great.

  5. March 22, 2010 at 3:21 am

    Oh, your childhood was idyllic! I hope you’re writing a book about your memories.

  6. KJB said,

    March 23, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I think selective memory is idyllic. We can all pull images out of our bag of memories to refresh us and give us strength. Alas, nothing lasts and my great struggle is to reconcile the two halves, which is what takes courage in a writer.

    Wish me luck!

  7. March 23, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Selective memory works! So, write your story.

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