F. Sionil Jose Quotes

Francisco Sionil José (born 3 December 1924) is one of the most widely 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, Indonesian, Czech, Russian, Latvian, Ukrainian and Dutch.

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F. Sionil Jose


When I wake up every morning, I thank God for the new day.

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From antiquity, Latin died but is still studied in seminaries and elite universities. So did Sanskrit in Asia. iI was replaced by Pali, but even Pali died, too. Linguists say the only ancient language which was resuscitated from the grave was Hebrew of Israel.

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Class - or the economic status of individuals - is evident in all societies, some very well stratified by a rigid caste system determined by birth.

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Cultural values are, in themselves, neutral as well as universal, and so much depends on how individuals or ethnic groups use them. Values are influenced by so many factors such as geography, climate, religion, the economy and technology.

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Colonialism subdues in many dulcet guises. It conquered under the pretext of spreading Christianity, civilization, law and order, to make the world safe for democracy.

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Some lucky people can be funny without half trying because they actually look funny, because acting funny is in their bones - fun as funny, not funny as crude slapstick.

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I can't understand Urdu, Bahasa or Russian, but when the Pakistani Faiz, the Indonesian Rendra and the Russian Rosdentvensky declaim, I can feel the living throb of rhythm and music, the warmth and passion of their poetry, as do the hundreds, not a mere roomful, of poetry lovers in the audience.

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As artists, we must not go down to the level of the masa; we should bring them up, intellectualize our languages, create classics out of our folk arts. We can do this if we are true to our roots and strive for excellence.

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I write entirely in English; Tagalog chauvinists chide me for this. I feel no guilt in doing so. But I am sad that I cannot write in my native Ilokano. History demanded this; if it isn't English I am using now, I would most probably be writing in Spanish like Rizal, or even German or Japanese.

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A weak people and its equally debilitated leaders are bludgeoned by history. It maims them into the cripples that they are meant to be.

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To fund major cultural efforts, we must not rely alone on government and foundation patronage; if the farmer can spend for beer, he can pay for good entertainment which he can understand, which he can identify with and which will fortify his spirit.

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I envy those Hindus and Buddhists who have in their religion philosophy and ancestor worship which build in the believer a continuity with the past, and that most important ingredient in the building of a nation - memory.

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We recognize the distinctness of Asian art when we turn to its traditional forms, recognize it as Japanese, Chinese and Indian, even Balinese or Thai.

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Art, whatever form it takes, requires hard work, craftsmanship and creativity. As a writer, I know my grammar, cadence, the music of prose, and the art of the narrative.

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I said that if I were an industrialist or entrepreneur, I would invest in agriculture-based enterprises, for there is so much that can be done in manufacturing, in food preservation.

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