F. Sionil José
Francisco Sionil José is one of the most read Filipino writers in the English language. His novels and short stories depict the social underpinnings of class struggles and colonialism in Filipino society. José's works—written in English—have been translated into 28 languages, including Korean, Czech, Latvian and Dutch. José was born in Rosales, the setting of many of his stories, he spent his childhood in Barrio Cabugawan, where he first began to write. José is of Ilocano descent. Fleeing poverty, his forefathers traveled from Ilocos towards Cagayan Valley through the Santa Fe Trail. Like many migrant families, they brought their lifetime possessions with them, including uprooted molave posts of their old houses and their alsong, a stone mortar for pounding rice. One of the greatest influences to José was his industrious mother who went out of her way to get him the books he loved to read, while making sure her family did not go hungry despite poverty and landlessness. José started writing in grade school, at the time.
In the fifth grade, one of José's teachers opened the school library to her students, how José managed to read the novels of José Rizal, Willa Cather’s My Antonia and Steinbeck. Reading about Basilio and Crispin in Rizal's Noli Me Tangere made the young José cry, because injustice was not an alien thing to him; when José was five years old, his grandfather, a soldier during the Philippine revolution, had once tearfully showed him the land their family had once tilled but was taken away by rich mestizo landlords who knew how to work the system against illiterates like his grandfather. José attended the University of Santo Tomas after World War II, but dropped out and plunged into writing and journalism in Manila. In subsequent years, he edited various literary and journalistic publications, started a publishing house, founded the Philippine branch of PEN, an international organization for writers. José received numerous awards for his work; the Pretenders is his most popular novel, the story of one man's alienation from his poor background and the decadence of his wife's wealthy family.
José Rizal's life and writings profoundly influenced José's work. The five volume Rosales Saga, in particular and integrates themes and characters from Rizal's work. Throughout his career, 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. "Authors like myself choose the city as a setting for their fiction because the city itself illustrates the progress or the sophistication that a particular country has achieved. Or, on the other hand, it might reflect the kind of decay, both social and moral, that has come upon a particular people." Sionil José owns Solidaridad Bookshop, on Padre Faura Street in Ermita, Manila. The bookshop offers hard-to-find books and Filipiniana reading materials, it is said to be one of the favorite haunts of many local writers. In his regular column, Hindsight, in The Philippine STAR, dated 12 September 2011, he wrote "Why we are shallow", blaming the decline of Filipino intellectual and cultural standards on a variety of modern amenities, including media, the education system—particularly the loss of emphasis on classic literature and the study of Greek and Latin—and the abundance and immediacy of information on the Internet.
Five of José's works have won the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature: his short stories The God Stealer in 1959, Waywaya in 1979, Arbol de Fuego in 1980, his novel Mass in 1981, his essay A Scenario for Philippine Resistance in 1979. Since the 1980s, various award-giving bodies have feted José with awards for his outstanding works and for being an outstanding Filipino in the field of literature, his first award was the 1979 City of Manila Award for Literature, presented to him by Manila Mayor Ramon Bagatsing. The following year, he was given the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism and Creative Communication Arts. Among his other awards during that period include the Outstanding Fulbrighters Award for Literature and the Cultural Center of the Philippines Award for Literature. By the turn of the century, José continued to receive recognition from several award-giving bodies; these include the Cultural Center of the Philippines Centennial Award in 1999, the prestigious Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 2000, the Order of Sacred Treasure in 2001.
In that same year, the Philippine government bestowed upon him the prestigious title of National Artist for Literature for his outstanding contributions to Philippine literature. In 2004, José was garnered the coveted Pablo Neruda Centennial Award in Chile. A five-novel series that spans three centuries of Philippine history, translated into 22 languages Po-on ISBN 971-8845-10-0 The Pretenders ISBN 971-8845-00-3 My Brother, My Executioner ISBN 971-8845-16-X Mass ISBN 0-86861-572-2 Tree ISBN 971-8845-14-3 Source ISBN 0-375-75144-0 Don Vicente ISBN 0-375-75243-9 – Tree and My Brother, My Executioner combined in one book The Samsons ISBN 0-375-75244-7 The Pretenders and Mass combined in one book Three Filipino Women ISBN 9780307830289 Two Filipino Women ISBN 9711001136 The God Stealer and Other Stories ISBN 971-8845-35-6 Puppy Love and Thirteen Short Stories ISBN 971-8845-26-7 and ISBN 978