Monday July 8, 2002
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The day Cornelio came home
Aline Parrone

Born in the island of Banton in Romblon in 1908, Cornelio Faigao y Festin was a poet, a writer, an educator and a newspaperman. Along with Romblon-born, National Artist awardee and writer N.V.M. Gonzales and contemporary writer, Jose Dalisay, Faigao is the province's proud contribution to Philippine literature.

Cornelio Faigao however lived out most of his professional and writing career in Cebu City where he came to live at the age of 21. Fresh with an education degree from the University of the Philippines, he started his teaching career at the Cebu Provincial High School, Southern Insititute and finally, the University of San Carlos where he eventually became the chairman of the English Department.

Aside from teaching, Faigao was also an active journalist, editor and columnist of several newspapers in the city and was one-time a president of the Cebu Press Club. His poems and essays appeared in big national publications like Free Press, Graphic, Tribune, etc.

He died young in 1959 at the age of 51.

In 1984, the University of San Carlos' Cebuano Studies Center, through its chairman and leading Filipino scholar in Cebu literature, Dr. Resil Mojares founded the Cornelio Faigao Memorial Writers Workshop. It has been held annually since then and has been an influential instrument in the development of young and budding writers in the city and the region.

Last April 27-29, 2002, it was time for Cornelio to come home to his birth province. Together with Dr. Mojares, a group of panelists, writing fellows and observers came to hold a memorable 19th C. Faigao writers workshop in Talipasak, Romblon, Romblon. The workshop was made possible by the Romblon Discussion List group (RDL-CLEAR), a non-advocacy, non-political grouping of globally-based Romblomanons. Together with English, Cebuano and Filipino, the workshop for the first time included a Romblomanon language, Asi. It has been noted that succeeding workshops that could possibly be held in the province, specifically in his hometown in Banton would definitely include the other languages in the province, Onhan and Romblomanon.

It is hoped that Cornelio Faigao would be proud to see the writers workshop in his name finally find its way home and be proud of it; just as he had made Romblom proud of his achievements and contributions to Philippine literature.

The panelists included Resil Mojares, Erlinda Alburo, Mila Aguilar, Rosario Lucero and Jose "Butch" Dalisay. The fellows were Cherrie Lee de Guzamn, Heidi Palapar, Michael Obenieta, Arlaine Jayo-Obenieta, Henryl Moreño and Jeneen Garcia (Cebu), Vivian Limpin, Erwin Lareza, Michelle Correa, Gabriela Dans Lee, Roselle (Manila) and Abner Faminiano (Romblon). Rodil Fadri and myself (Aline Parrone) came as observers.