by Kristian Cordero
The Bicol Mail
A MULTI-AWARDED writer and a teacher first before becoming one of the most promising young leaders in the country today, Professor Danton Remoto of Ateneo de Manila University surprisingly arrived and graced the 5th Premio Tomas Arejola Para sa Literaturang Bikolnon last September 13, 2008, which was held at the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary in Naga City. He also attended the traslacion festivities of the Our Lady of Penafrancia, commonly known as Ina by Bicolanos far and wide.
Remoto is also the Chairman of Ang Ladlad, the largest organization of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender Filipinos in the country today. Unlike other politicians now vying and realigning their political ambitions in the next election, Remoto came to Naga City without the pomposity of streamers, courtesy visits, and media hypes.
Instead, the English professor of Ateneo de Manila — who served as a judge in this year’s Miss Gay Bicolandia and Ginoong Bicolandia — quietly mingled and then conversed with the Naguenos and asked them of their dreams and aspirations in changing the political landscape of the country still in the grip of traditional and dyspeptic politicians. Remoto also donated two full college scholarships to two poor but bright candidates in the said contests. The scholarships are tenable at the University of Nueva Caceres, through the kindness of Ang Ladlad Bicol Region Coordinator Jack Hernandez.
In his impromptu speech during the awarding ceremony, Professor Remoto — who is the son of a Bikolano military officer and a Music teacher from Oas, Albay — encouraged the students, writers, and cultural workers to continue to promote and encourage the development of Bikol arts and culture. He said they should also join the Bikolano literary contests sponsored by the Palanca Memorial Awards and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts.
As a writer, Remoto is known for his landmark poetry collections and the three anthologies of Ladlad, a collection of Filipino gay writings, which he co-edited with UP Professor J. Nail Garcia. He has won various awards and scholarships abroad, among them, the ASEAN prize for the essay, 1979; the Palanca for the essay in 1987; the CCP literary award for poetry; the Stirling District Arts Council award for poetry and the short story in Scotland, the Philippines Free Press Award for the essay and short story, and Nick Joaquin Award for the Short Story from Philippine Graphic magazine.