NAGA CITY --- After receiving his honorary fellow degree for writing from the University of Iowa last November, 7, 2017, Bicol Mail columnist and Ateneo de Naga assistant professor Kristian Sendon Cordero has recently been appointed as the new artist-in-residence of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies in the University of Michigan for this year 2018.
He will be back in the United States this coming May and he is again expected to deliver lectures, readings, and participates in arts and culture activities in the area. He is also to start writing his first novel in Bikol.
Described as the enfant terrible of Bikol contemporary writings, Cordero is a poet, fictionist, essayist, translator and an independent filmmaker. He has written five poetry collections in Filipino, Bikol and Rinconada. His most recent collections, Canticos: Apat Na Boses/Canticles: Four Voices (UST Publishing House, 2013) and Labi/ Ruins (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2013) both received the National Book Awards for Poetry in Filipino and Bikol in 2014. In 2011, he published his Bikol translation of selected poetry of Rainier Maria Rilke, Minatubod Ako Sa Diklom (I Have Faith in the Night). Succeeding translation projects include Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis (An Pakagimata ni Gregor Samsa) in Bikol and An Mapara Sa Kinaban/Ang Maglaho Sa Mundo, selected poetry of Jorge Luis Borges in Bikol and Filipino under the translation grant from Programa Sur of Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores Y Culto of the Republic of Argentina. He co-edited The Naga We Know (Anvil, 2013), an anthology of personal essays on the city of Naga and another anthology of Bikol contemporary poetry, Sagurong/ The Bamboo Lifelines (DLSU Academic Publishing House/Vibal, 2011) with the literary scholar Paz Verdades Santos. Some of his literary works are included in Philippine textbooks read by high school and college students across the country. His first full-length feature, Angustia (Out of the Depths, 2013) received the Best First Film from the Young Critics Circle of the Philippines. He recently finished his second full-length film, Hinulid which starred the legendary actor Nora Aunor. During his stay in the US, he had a screening of the said film in Iowa, San Francico, Michigan and Alaska.
At a young age, Cordero started honing his writings through formal literary workshops offered by the Kabulig Writers Group in Naga City, the Ateneo de Manila Institute of Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP) and the University of the Philippines Institute of Creative Writing (UP-ICW). He has received literary prizes from the longest-running literary awards in the Philippines, the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature (for poetry, fiction, essay and screenplay). His first poetry collection also received the 6th Madrigal-Gonzales Best First Book Award given by the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Creative Writing; the Writers’ Prize for Bikol poetry in 2007 given by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the 2009 Maningning Miclat Poetry Prize in Filipino.
As an academic based in the region, Cordero continues to be active in Bikol literary and cultural scene through his many advocacies and participation in various literary and art workshops, read-along series, book and film caravans, teachers’ conferences and other cultural events that promote literature, history, cultural literacy, and scholarship.
He has delivered his scholarly papers on literature and culture in different parts of the Philippines and abroad. He is a founding member of the Burikbutikan Artists Collective, a group of local visual artists and writers that spearheads art exhibits and cultural forums particularly in Camarines Sur.
As deputy director of the Ateneo de Naga University Press, he has been actively promoting alongside with his colleagues in the university and other kindred spirits the development of Bikol Studies program that highlights the importance of historical and cultural studies about the region and its tangential relations to the “imagined” nation and the global spheres.
The press has published several series on the history, the arts and culture that include the Bikoliana Klasika Series, a project that aims to reintroduce and republish the archival materials particularly those that were published during the late part of the 19th century up to the publications of Liberia Mariana, Sanghiran Bicol, Academiang Bicol (early 20th century) and the postwar materials published by the Cecilio Press, a small commercial press in Naga City that aside from publishing the regular devotional materials, Cecilio Press had published several works of Luis Dato, Manuel Salazar, Antonio Salazar, and Rosalio Imperial Sr., who translated the works of Leo Tolstoy, Gustav Flaubert, William Shakespeare, Victor Hugo (to mention a few) into corridos, a popular poetic form among the Filipinos particularly during the Spanish and American periods.
Cordero also serves as consultant and translator for several projects by the U.P. Surian ng Wikang Filipino, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino. He has represented Bikol in the Philippine International Writers Festival in 2009 and 2011 and the Philippines in the ASEAN Literary Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia. He was also a writing fellow in the ASEAN-Japan Writing Fellowship in 2016. He is a member of Philippine PEN International and Union Writers of the Philippines. Cordero continues to write a regular column on arts and culture for Bicol Mail and is an assistant professor at the Ateneo de Naga University.