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Freeway honors F. Sionil José

by Freeway, 2011
Freeway x National Artist Collectors Series F. Sionil Jose

Francisco Sionil José (F. Sionil José) is one of the most widely-read Filipino writers whose work is now translated into 28 languages including his native Ilokano.  His novels and short stories depict the social underpinnings of class struggles and colonialism in Filipino society.

F. Sionil José was born on December 3, 1924 in Rosales, Pangasinan, the setting of many of his stories.  He was introduced to literature in public school and later attended the University of Santo Tomas after World War II, but dropped out and plunged into writing and journalism in Manila. He started journalism in the forties and was for ten years a staff of the old Manila Times ‘til 1960.  His essays on agrarian reform and on social issues won him numerous awards.

In subsequent years, he edited various literary and journalistic publications, started a publishing house, and founded the Philippine branch of PEN, an international organization for writers. Sionil José received numerous awards for his work. The Pretenders is his most popular novel, which is the story of one man’s alienation from his poor background and the decadence of his wife’s wealthy family.

Jose Rizal’s life and writings profoundly influenced José’s work. The five volume Rosales Saga, in particular, employs and interrogates themes and characters from Rizal’s work.

Throughout his career, Sionil José’s writings espouse social justice and change to better the lives of average Filipino families. He is one of the most critically acclaimed Filipino authors internationally, although much underrated in his own country because of his authentic Filipino English and his anti-elite views.

Sionil José also owns Solidaridad Bookshop, which is on Padre Faura Street in Ermita, Manila. The bookshop offers mostly hard-to-find books and Filipiniana reading materials. It is said to be one of the favorite haunts of many local writers.

In 1980, Sionil José received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Literature and Journalism.  In 2001, he was names National Artist for Literature and in 2004, he received the Pablo Neruda Centennial Award.

Check out Freeway x F. Sionil Jose National Artist Collectors’ Series No. 5 Collection here.

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