Sunday, June 8, 2008

Prof. Jesus Q. Cruz

Prof. Jesus Q. Cruz taught literature for almost half a century at the Far Eastern University since he obtained his A. B. English (summa cum laude) in 1957. He took his M. A. in Creative Writing at the Ateneo de Manila University in 1962. Cruz went to the Stanford University (1963) and the Columbia University (1964) in the United States as a Fulbright-Hayes scholar to study music, the visual arts, and modern French Literature. In the late 60s, he was asked by Francisco Arcellana to teach Humanities at the University of the Philippines.

He won awards twice each in the Palanca and Focus Philippines literary contest for the short story. He was recently awarded the Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez for Outstanding Educator in Literature by UMPIL (Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas chaired by poet Alfred A. Yuson. About 10 years earlier, he was given by FEU the Green and Gold Artist Award.

His collection of short fiction, Games and Other Stories was published by the Ateneo de Manila Office of Research and Publication in 2000. He served as chairperson of the FEU President’s Committee on Culture from 1994 to 1997.

Cruz wrote reviews for The Manila Bulletin, The Manila Chronicle, Focus Philippines, and The Manila Standard. Lately, he was the music and drama critic of The Philippine Star and his articles came out every Monday.

As one who thought he could exhaust the possibilities of experience, Cruz painted a set of 12 watercolors depicting supernatural creatures of Philippine mythology, which was later donated by Mr. Alejandro Roces to the National Museum; played a pipe organ for a wedding in Maui; fought a shark with a harpoon for four hours in Puget Sound; worked as an usher for one season at the Chicago Opera House; spent three seasons at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall; lived for three years in Greenwich Village; went down to the catacombs in Rome; lay side by side with a dead man to hide from the military during martial law; attended a Shakespearean festival at Stratford-upon-Avon; visited the temple of the reclining Buddha in Bangkok; and climbed to the king’s chamber in the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Gaza.

Cruz’s great ambition was to be a beach bum.

His profound effect, his students would attest, was similar to getting tatooed. Once you leave the room, you’re no longer the same person. ©

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