Francisco Sionil Jose, national artist for literature, dies at 97

Francisco Sionil Jose, national artist for literature, dies at 97

Francisco Sionil Jose, world-renown writer and recipient of the National Artist Award for Literature in 2003, has passed away Thursday night (January 6). He turned 97 last December 3.

The news was first confirmed by his wife Tessie Jovellanos Jose to The Varsitarian, the official newspaper of Jose’s alma mater University of Santo Tomas. Jose’s death came just a day before his scheduled angioplasty at the Makati Medical Center, as he himself revealed in a Facebook post earlier today.

Jose continued to be a prolific writer even in his 90s – often weighing in on national issues during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte like the shutdown of ABS-CBN and the recent Nobel Peace Prize win of journalist Maria Ressa through his Facebook page and weekly column on The Philippine Star.

francisco sionil jose death
The writer with the late Francisco Sionil Jose, the national artist for literature for 2003

Nonewithstanding all his controversial statements in the past few years, I have a fond memory with Mr. FSJ.
In 2009, we were tasked to a write a feature story about a national artist, without necessarily interviewing the recipients themselves.
I have read Mr. Jose’s works as a high school student, and so I wanted to interview him. I can dream, right? I eventually learned that he has a book shop somewhere in Manila, and I contacted it to try to schedule an interview. What are the chances that a National Artist will accept an interview request from a 19-year-old college student? But he did!
That feature story is included in “RIGHT ON THE MARK: Selected Articles From The Filipino Scribe.”

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Mark Pere Madrona

The Filipino Scribe (TFS) is managed by Mark Pere Madrona, a multi-awarded writer and licensed professional teacher from the Philippines. Mr. Madrona earned his master’s degree in history from the University of the Philippines-Diliman last 2020. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in journalism cum laude from the same university back in 2010. His area of interests includes Philippine journalism, history, and politics as well as social media. Know more about him here:

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