[Blueboard] A book by “the Greatest Hispanic Filipino Novelist After Rizal”

mvilches at ateneo.edu mvilches at ateneo.edu
Thu Feb 28 00:21:14 PHT 2013

On March 5, El Campeón, a novel by Filipino writer Antonio M. Abad, is  
set to make its debut at 4:30PM in the Basement of the Manuel V.  
Pangilinan Center for Student Leadership (MVP) at Ateneo de Manila  

Although a recipient of the Commonwealth Literature Prize in 1940, it  
has remained unpublished until now. It is the third title in the  
collection Clásicos Hispanofilipinos, a project initiated in 2009 by,  
Instituto Cervantes de Manila, the cultural arm of the Spanish  
Embassy, to revive an area of Philippine literature often neglected  
and shrouded in mystery— works by Filipino authors written in Spanish.  
  The publication of El Campion was made possible through the  
collaboration between and among Instituto Cervantes, the Embassy of  
Spain, UnionBank, Ateneo de Manila University and Colegio de San Luis,  
A.C. (Mexico).

Antonio M. Abad (1894-1970) was a poet, playwright, essayist and  
novelist born in Barili (Cebu) and is frequently referred to as “the  
greatest Hispanic Filipino novelist after Rizal”. In 1927, he  
published his first novel El Último Romantic. Two years after, he won  
the Premio Zobel said to be the most prestigious award in the field of  
Filipino literature for the novel, La Oveja de Nathan.

The novel El Campeón is told from the point-of-view of the rooster  
Banogon who, after suffering a crippling injury in a cockfight, has  
been destined for the chopping board. However, because of his fame as  
a cockfighting champion, he is instead brought to a farm where he is  
to guard the mother hens from preying hawks. There, he befriends the  
caretaker, with whom he shares the tales of his reign as a national  
champion and the story of his first great love, Baikiki, whom he  
eventually meets again in the den where he is destined to spend his  
remaining days as a cripple. To fully appreciate the genius that Abad  
had created, it must be noted that El Campeón was written during a  
time when the American colonial government had been pushing for the  
eradication of cockfighting in the Philippines. The novel was Abad’s  
reflection on the polemic that was resonating in the halls and in  
streets of Manila then. In reply, Abad wrote about the art inherent in  
this sport that many Filipinos, up to this very day, take delight in.

This edition of  EL CAMPEÓN  has been annotated by Mexican scholar  
Salvador García (Colegio de San Luis, San Luis de Potosí, Mexico) who  
taught Spanish this year at Ateneo de Manila’s Modern Languages  
Department, and Luisa Young, a Spanish instructor in the same  
department.  El Campeón’s publication is a significant contribution to  
the preservation and appreciation of Filipino cultural heritage and  
the School of Humanities takes joyful pride in helping uncover such a  

El Campeón” is available at Ateneo de Manila University Press and  
Instituto Cervantes. More information on “EL CAMPEÓN” and the  
collection “CLÁSICOS HISPANOFILIPINOS” can be obtained from  
www.manila.cervantes.es or by calling the Cultural Affairs Department  
of Instituto Cervantes at 526-1482 loc. 115 c/o Nicole Villamor  
<Cultx2mni at cervantes.es>.

Associate Professor
Dean, School of Humanities
Loyola Schools, Ateneo de Manila University
Loyola Heights 1108, Quezon City, Philippines
Telephone (632) 4266001, Ext. 5300, 5301
Telephone & Fax (632)4261042

"I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."
            -W.B. Yeats


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