Author Archives: Francis Macansantos

About Francis Macansantos

Francis C. Macansantos was born in Cotabato City, grew up in Zamboanga City, and was a resident of Baguio City from 1981 until his demise in July 2017. He earned his MA (Creative Writing) from Silliman University in Dumaguete City and was a five-time Palanca award winner in English Poetry. He won the NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) Writer?s Prize for Epic Poetry in 2003, and has four books of poetry: The Words and Other Poems (UP Press 1997), Womb of Water, Breasts of Earth (NCCA 2007), Balsa: Poemas Chabacano (NCCA 2011) and Snail Fever (UP Press 2016). Snail Fever won the National Book Award for Poetry in English in 2017. Balsa - a collection of 31 poems in Chabacano, with translations into English - was finalist in the National Book Award in 2012 for Poetry in English. Macansantos taught at several universities, including Mindanao State University and the University of the Philippines, and served in panels of critics in creative writing workshops throughout the Philippines. In 2007 and 2014, he was elected as Baguio/Cordillera representative in the Executive Committee for Literary Arts of the NCCA. In 2014, Macansantos was one of the recipients of the Martha Faust Sonnet Prize in Minnesota.

My Trilingual Career

Francis C. Macansantos ? Butch to his friends and family ? considered many places home. Born in Cotabato City in 1949, he spent his boyhood in Zamboanga City, hometown of his parents. A Zamboangueno at heart (and palate), his memories of growing up with boyhood friends in Zamboanga were vivid and came to life in many of his poems written in English and his native Chabacano. Though he earned his A.B. (English) degree from Ateneo de Zamboanga (where he also completed his high school education), he earned some of his collegiate units at MSU Marawi, where he came under the mentorship of talented Literature teachers such as Nena Marohombsar. On the recommendation of fellow Zamboangueno writer Cesar R. Aquino, Butch attended the Silliman Writers? Workshop in the early 1970s, and was drawn to the Dumaguete community of writers and teachers, enough for him to subsequently enroll in the university?s MA Creative Writing program. He lived the writer?s life in Dumaguete for close to a decade, learning to speak Cebuano, and enjoying the company of friends both in the university and in the city. This stay in Dumaguete afforded him regular attendance in the annual summer workshop, where he later served (formally and informally) on the critics? panel, with his mentors Dr. Edith Tiempo and Dr. Edilberto Tiempo. At Silliman, Francis also worked at some point with the late Antonio Enriquez, who taught briefly at the University, and who remained a close friend until he passed on in 2014.

Butch taught for close to two years at MSU Marawi until 1980, when he had to leave after incurring the ire of the then University president, for a parody performed in public by Francis? group of faculty members. Mindanao during Martial Law was not the best place for outspoken academics and writers, and though the stories seemed unbelievably horrific, it was later confirmed by fellow teachers (who hid Butch and his fellow offenders in the women?s dorm) that indeed gunmen were on the lookout for the group. In 1981 Butch relocated to Baguio to join his spouse Priscilla ? whom he met in 1976 at Silliman. He has since lived in this mountain city, save for a five year stay in Newark, Delaware in the US, in 1990 until 1995. Though he learned only a smattering of Ilocano, the lingua franca of Baguio, Francis considered Baguio and the Cordilleras his home for more years than the periods of stay elsewhere. He was a regular market-goer and had many sukis in the market and the neighborhood. One of his sukis at the local talipapa was the wife of a writer in Ilocano ? Jimmy Agpalo- and he interspersed literary banter with everyday neighborhood gossip whenever he had the chance to chat. (At his wake, friends from the university were joined by his loyal market vendor friends and members of the barangay council.) Teaching briefly at UP Baguio, he made friends with the visual artist Darnay Demetillo, a fellow Sillimanian, and joined the artists? collective Tahong Bundok, founded by Darnay and fellow Baguio visual artist Pyx Picart. Before the turn of the century, Butch also formed, together with the late National Artist Cirilo Bautista, the Baguio Writers Group. He mentored young writers in and out of the university, and sometime in 2007, initiated the holding of the Cordillera Creative Writers Workshop at UP Baguio. It was also during this period when he served in the Literary Arts Committee of NCCA as representative of Baguio and the Cordillera region. The essay that follows was read at the last Cordillera Writers workshop in which he participated as panel member.

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