[Blueboard] Gerard Rixhon, 1925-2012: A life in the service of scholarship

m baytion alunsina2010 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 3 08:10:55 PHT 2012


On September 1, 2012, Prof. Gerry Rixhon, beloved author and teacher,
passed away after a massive stroke. He had just turned 87 on August 20.


Prof. Rixhon spent a good part of his life studying Sulu and its rich
culture. In 1968, after his graduate studies at the Ateneo de Manila, he
returned to Sulu amidst political turmoil and uncertainty to work in the
Coordinated Investigation of Sulu Culture, the research arm of the Notre
Dame of Jolo College. His dream of preserving Tausug verbal arts was met
with challenges on several fronts—from an initial lack of enthusiasm for
the project displayed by young educated Tausug, to outright disapproval by
some religious leaders; from the restrictive atmosphere created by martial
law, to the destruction and disappearance of recorded material as research
became an added casualty in the crossfire.


His last book, VOICES FROM SULU (2010), tells of the heartbreaking loss of
documented artifacts: after the Army took control of the Notre Dame college
in early 1974, “the soldiers recorded radio music” over cassettes that
contained Tausug ballads, songs, proverbs, which represented hundreds of
hours of painstakingly taped interviews and performances.


But Prof. Rixhon proved to be of sterner stuff than all the obstacles that
came his way. He eventually  published articles about these oral traditions
in subsequent issues of a journal called *Sulu Studies* from 1972-1994. In
many more venues—classrooms, conferences, conversations—his passion for the
study of Tausug life and culture would be palpably felt. And through all
this time, his desire to propagate knowledge about and appreciation for it
had been unwavering.


To the young people he had encountered and converted to his cause decades
ago, and to those of us whom he had infected with his enthusiasm in more
recent times, Prof. Rixhon showed how it is to dedicate one’s life to
scholarship as a way of instilling greater understanding of and respect for
ourselves and one another.


-- 
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Events in September: Ongoing till Sept. 5, An exhibit of JOY DAYRIT
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I read everything....Just to feel the word entering into your soul kindles
something.
                                                                   -Eudora
Welty
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