Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo

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Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo (born Cristina Pantoja on 21 August 1944) is an award-winning Filipina fictionist, critic and pioneering writer of creative nonfiction. She is currently Professor Emeritus of English & Comparative Literature at the University of the Philippines Diliman and Director of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies.

Academic career[edit]

Pantoja-Hidalgo is a high school valedictorian of St. Paul College Quezon City. She received both her Bachelor of Philosophy (Faculty of Philosophy and Letters) (1964) magna cum laude and MA in Literature (1967) meritissimo from the University of Santo Tomas. She later received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of the Philippines Diliman in 1993. She is a member of the Philippine Literary Arts Council (PLAC).

She previously served as the Vice President for Public Affairs of the University of the Philippines System, Director of the University of the Philippines Press and coordinator of the Creative Writing Program at the Department of English and Comparative Literature of the University of the Philippines Diliman. At UST, Pantoja-Hidalgo held the post of UST Publishing House Director.

Before and after her fifteen years abroad, Hidalgo was a teacher first at the University of Santo Tomas and later at the University of the Philippines. Completing the requirements for her doctoral degree on Comparative Literature, Hidalgo has found many opportunities to read Literary Theory as well as put these into practice in her own works. Hidalgo claimed that she had never considered herself a literary critic, but just the same, she found it useful to collect five of her critical essays in A Gentle Subversion: Essays on Philippine Fiction in English (1998).

Literary career[edit]

Pantoja-Hidalgo has been writing for Philippine newspapers and magazines since the age of fifteen. She has worked as a writer, editor and teacher in Thailand, Lebanon, Korea, Myanmar (Burma) and New York, U.S.A. Her interesting lifestyle, the result of her husband's fifteen-year connection with UNICEF, is reflected in her writing. Pantoja-Hidalgo was originally best known for an unusual kind of autobiographical/travel writing, which includes Sojourns (1984), Skyscrapers, Celadon and Kimchi (1993), I Remember (1991) and The Path of the Heart (1994). Pantoja-Hidalgo later won numerous other prizes for her fiction, creative nonfiction, literary scholarship and edited anthologies. She has frequently published many of her creative and critical manuscripts in major publications in Finland, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and the United States.

Besides travel essays, Hidalgo has a collection of personal essays, The Path of Heart (1994), and Coming Home (1997). She has also edited several anthologies with the help of her colleagues from the University of the Philippines such as: Philippine Post-Colonial Studies: Essays on Language and Literature which she did with Priscelina Patajo-Legasto and The Likhaan Book of Poetry and Fiction with Gemino Abad.

She has encouraged many aspiring writers’ efforts by editing their works: Shaking the Family Tree (1998) and Why I Travel and Other Essays by Fourteen Women (2000) with Erlinda Panlilio. Hidalgo found the idea of writing short and simple initiation stories appealing. It reflects in her collection of short stories: Ballad of a Lost Season and Other Stories (1987), Tales for a Rainy Night (1993), Where Only the Moon Rages: Nine Tales (1994), Catch a Falling Star (1999) and the most recent one Sky Blue After The Rain: Selected Stories and Tales (2005).

Hidalgo's critical essays, which reflects her interest in fictional writing by Filipino women, serves a much-needed contribution to a developing body of feminist scholarship in the country today.

Novel: Recuerdo[edit]

Recuerdo is an epistolary novel consisted of messages sent through email. The messages all came from Amanda, a middle-aged widow, to her daughter Marisa, a university student. Amanda is in Bangkok while Marisa is in Manila. Writing letters is Amanda's way of sorting out her life and helping Marisa understand their family' past. Amanda use her own mother's (Isabel) stories in many of these letters.

This way of storytelling resulted to a "Dynasty in Cyberspace" against a backdrop that juxtaposes two entirely different cultures: the first being superstitious while the other sophisticated. Such stories leave the readers a fascinating effect ---- for it would have been our own ancestors' story if we have the courage to dig them all up.

Hidalo has been very firm abut her stand on this particular novel, it isn't realistic nor does it have any attempt on realism ---- it is a romantic novel. Fellow writer Ophelia Dimalanta supports Hidalgo as she says in her review of Recuerdo, that readers might have the tendency of commenting on the contravening of some degree of verisimilitude in the narrating o the stories rendered through letters which come regularly and with such contrived continuity and incessantness. Clearly, Dimalanta's response is a way of reinforcing Hidalgo's claim of Recuerdo being a romantic novel.

Novel: A Book of Dreams[edit]

A novel all about dreams and their respective dreamers. A novel in which the characters live in their own dreams, in particular, those of Angela's. But before readers mistakenly take this for a postmodern novel, the book's blurb adds, "But for all its affinity to the postmodern pastiche, its plot is the traditional one of the search... the quest."

Works[edit]

Short Fiction[edit]

  • Ballad of a Lost Season, 1987;
  • Tales for a Rainy Night, 1993 ;
  • Where Only the Moon Rages, 1994;
  • Catch a Falling Star, 1999
  • Sky Blue After The Rain: Selected Stories and Tales, 2005

Novels[edit]

  • Recuerdo, 1996;
  • Book of Dreams, 2001

Essays / Creative Non-fiction[edit]

  • Sojourns, 1984
  • Five Years in a Forgotten Land: A Burmese Notebook, 1991
  • I Remember...Travel Essays, 1992
  • Skyscrapers, Celadon and Kimchi: A Korean Notebook, 1993;
  • The Path of the Heart, 1994;
  • Coming Home, 1998

Literary Criticism[edit]

  • Woman Writing: Home and Exile in the Autobiographical Narratives of Filipino Women, 1994;
  • A Gentle Subversion: Essays on Philippine Fiction, 1998

Anthologies (as editor)[edit]

  • Selections from Contemporary Philippine Literature in English, 1971
  • Philippine Post-Colonial Studies, 1993 (coedited with Priscelina Patajo-Legasto)
  • The Likhaan Book of Poetry and Fiction: 1995, 1996
  • Shaking the Family Tree, 1998
  • An Edith Tiempo Reader, 1999
  • The Likhaan Book of Poetry and Fiction: 1997, 1999
  • Pinay: Autobiographical Narratives by Women Writers, 1926-1998, 2000
  • Why I Travel and Other Essays, 2000
  • Sleepless in Manila: Essays on Insomnia by Insomniacs, 2003
  • My Fair Maladies, 2005

Textbooks[edit]

  • Creative Nonfiction: A Manual for Filipino Writers, 2003
  • Creative Nonfiction: A Reader, 2003

Honors and awards[edit]

External links[edit]