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Cordero receives prestigious Stellenbosch Artists Fellowship

Bikol writer and filmmaker Kristian Sendon Cordero has received the Stellenbosch Institute of Advance Study Artist-in-Residency Fellowship for the First Semester of 2020. Cordero is expected to participate in a six-month residency-writing program that will enable him to participate alongside with other fellows invited in this prestigious gathering of artists and scholars around the world. Cordero is expected to be in Cape Town, South Africa from January to June 2022 to write and present his new creative project.

Ateneo de Manila Professor Oscar Camponanes, a literary critic writes, ‘The Stellenbosch is one of the world’s most reputable institutes for creative and transdisciplinary work, the likes of intellectual giants like Manuel Castells have spent residencies there! KC (nickname of Cordero) is probably not only the first Filipino to be offered a stint there but also among the few youngest. Stellenbosch prefers to offer fellowships to senior scholars, creatives and scientists.

Cordero will pursue a new writing/film project tentatively entitled PAGASA, after the government’s weather bureau. Part of his project proposal states: PAGASA or Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration is the main weather agency responsible for monitoring and tracking tropical cyclones that visit the Philippines, considered to be “the most storm exposed country on earth.”

Cordero is the deputy director of the Ateneo de Naga University Press and runs Naga’s independent and community boookshop, Savage Mind.

According to Time magazine: “On average, eight or nine tropical storms make landfall in the Philippines each year, with another 10 entering Philippine waters. In 2013, only six storms have affected the country. The worst year was 1993, when 19 cyclones pummeled the coastline.” The acronym is also the Filipino word for “hope”. It is within this framework of “hope” and the tempestuous heavens that this film project will explore the life of a soon-to-be-retired weather forecaster. Stationed in one of the remotest and substation weather offices in the town of Camaligan, in the Bikol region, the Philippines, the weather forecaster though quite famous among women remains unmarried.

While PAGASA’s main preoccupation is to monitor and track tropical cyclones entering Philippine’s area of responsibility, the film will begin with an astronomical phenomenon, “an alien invasion” allegedly witnessed by the old weatherman who would have to convince the locals that certain extraterrestrial forces are about to attack the planet. The locals would not be convinced about this new pronouncement. This so-called “invasion” coincides with the advent of new technology, a more “strange” and “alien” form of typhoon tracking that the old forecaster would have a hard time to track.

Now considered senile, the forecaster would recount certain episodes in his life and career lasting three decades of dedicated service, many would wait for his weather forecast, many would find solace in his voice—for his voice was their voice of hope, the only one that would stay awake in the midst of every typhoon. His was the voice, the last to be heard over the radio. Cataloguing the typhoons that had visited the region for the last three decades, for him to “re-member” and “re-call”, he would recount his previous intimacies characterized and tempered by the names he would gradually recognize. Names that would trail a blaze in a mind that has become darker and darker— incarnating the stranger, “the alien” that has always been with him since his first weather forecast, few months before after the whole country was put under martial law by Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos.

Stellenbosch or STIAS provides and maintains an independent ‘creative space for the mind’ to advance the cause of science and scholarship across all disciplines.

It encourages the cross-pollination of ideas across cultures, academic or otherwise, and hence gives preference to projects that will tap into, and benefit from, a multi-disciplinary discourse while also contributing unique perspectives to such a discourse. This interaction is fostered by inviting individual fellows or project teams where each team member is evaluated individually.


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