Award-winning writer Leoncio Deriada dies
MANILA, Philippines – Leoncio P. Deriada, known as the father of contemporary West Visayan literature, has died. He was 81.
The Silliman University National Writers Workshop as well as the university’s Edilberto and Edith Tiempo Creative Writing Center, posted about his death on their official Facebook pages.
Deriada was born in Iloilo and studied in Davao, where he earned his BA English degree at the Ateneo de Davao University. He earned his MA in English at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro, and his PhD in English and Literature from Silliman University in Dumaguete.
He was an award-winning fictionist, poet, and playwright, producing stories such as The Road to Mawab and The Day of the Locusts, and plays such as The Dog-Eaters and Medea of Siquijor. He was also a teacher, and was Professor Emeritus at the University of Philippines Visayas where he taught Comparative Literature.
Known for being a prolific writer in various languages – he wrote in English, Filipino, Hiligaynon, Kiniray-a, and Cebuano – Deriada was a champion for writing in one’s mother tongue.
“The first thing you do if you would like to write, is decide what language you would like to write. If you decide to write in English, you next responsibility is to master the English language. No less than master…you cannot write in a language you do not know because writing is also the art of manipulating words,” he said in 2015, in a video posted by the Cultural Center of The Philippines, when they awarded him the Gawad CCP para sa Sining.
“The best language to write in would always be your home language, kasi 'yun, wala ka ng problema (you have no problem), you have already mastered its grammar so you take care only of things like nuance, symbols, atmosphere,” he said.
He won 18 Palanca Awards – the most prestigious literary award in the country – most recently bagging the third prize in the Short Story-Cebuano category at the ceremony in October 2018, alongside his daughter Dulce, who also won an award in a separate category. He was inducted into the Palanca Hall of Fame in 2001.
Fellow writers, fans, and former students of Deriada mourned his death and posted tributes on their social media pages. – Rappler.com
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