Higaonon novelist to launch second IP book

Telesforo Sungkit Jr. (3rd from left, in orange) poses with award-winning Mindanawon writer Dr. Macario Tiu (lef) and other young writers from Mindanao during the Philippine PEN Conference in December 2013 at the De La Salle University in Manila Bukidnon News photo courtesy of FB account of Ms. Jhoanna Cruz

Telesforo Sungkit Jr. (3rd from left, in orange) poses with
award-winning Mindanawon writer Dr. Macario Tiu (left) and other young
writers from Mindanao during the Philippine PEN Conference in December
2013 at the De La Salle University in Manila
Bukidnon News photo courtesy of FB account of Ms. Jhoanna Cruz

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/19 February) Higaonon novelist Telesforo S. Sungkit Jr. from Malitbog, Bukidnon will be launching his second book highlighting the point of view of the indigenous peoples, especially the Higaonons of Mindanao.

Sungkit told Bukidnon News Wednesday “Driftwood on Dry Land” published by the University of Santo Thomas (UST) Publishing House will be launched on February 25 at the Subic Bay Holliday Villas in time for the Taboan Writers Festival.

He said the book will also be launched in Bukidnon in September 2014, in time for the province’s centennial celebration.

The book, he added, is an English translation of “Mga Gapnod sa Kamad-an” an unpublished book written in Cebuano, which won for the author the NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) Writers Prize in 2007 for the novel category.

“It seeks to articulate how the so-called lumads view their history as opposed to how others see them. And it also tries to show the different ways of how they engaged the different races of colonizers past and present,” he added in a note to this reporter.

Front Cover of "Driftwood on Dry Land" Courtesy of UST Publishing House

Front Cover of “Driftwood on Dry Land”
Courtesy of UST Publishing House

The 240-page book will sell at P550 per copy, he noted.

Sungkit lamented that he faced difficulty publishing the books original Cebuano text.

“Sa pagkakaron maora og wala gyoy mainstream publishing sa mga Cebuano nga literary output,” he added (for now literary output in Cebuano is not in mainstream publications).

Sungkit also won the NCCA 2011 Writer’s Prize for the Cebuano language novel category with his work “Agalon sa mga Balod” (Lord of the Waves).

“Agalon sa mga Balod” is a story of a young Higaonon Vincenzo Makaindan and his discovery of his supernatural ability to command the waves and other bodies of water. He inherited powers from his ancestor Buuy Pigsugdan, who belonged to the original people of Mindanaw.

The 2011 novel is a sequel to “Mga Gapnod sa Kamad-an” (Driftwoods in the Dryland).

In 2009, Sungkit launched during the Kaamulan his book “Batbat Hi Udan” (The Story of Udan) the first epic novel from Bukidnon.

Written in Filipino, “Batbat Hi Udan,” was described by UPLB Chancellor Dr. Rey Velasco, as quoted in the author’s blog, as the Philippine version of “The Lord of the Rings.”

The novel tells the story of Udan (Binukid for “rain”), a young man, his journey to a hidden world called Lidasan beneath the Mt. Kitanglad range, and his love for Ananaw (the beloved).

The setting of the character’s journey in “Batbat Hi Udan” covers four present-day towns of Lantapan, Sumilao and Impasug-ong, and the City of Malaybalay.

Sungkit said it is not just a love story because it interlinks with the epic scale narrative of rivalry among datus (tribal chieftains) who struggle for supreme leadership of the world.

He said there must be a way to preserve what he described as the Lumad’s “dying tradition” of nanangen oral story telling. People should pursue telling the stories to others, he said.

“We must put it into print because the future generations may no longer know what we used to hear,” he added, as reported by MindaNews in 2009.

Sungkit is a BS Agricultural Engineering graduate from UP Los Baños. He has put up a tutorial school in Laguna, but for six months in 2005 he wrote the first draft of the book.

He has since based in Malitbog town, where he writes and farms at the same time.

The NCCA Writers’ Prize is a biennial award given to five writers, one for each of the following categories:  Poetry (Waray language), Novel (Cebuano language), Essay (Bicolano  language), Short Story (Panay  language) and Drama (Filipino language).

Sungkit is literary and native language editor of community news agency Bukidnon News.Net (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News.Net)