Guillermo Gómez Rivera


Guillermo Gómez Rivera

Guillermo Gómez Rivera (born September 12, 1936) is a Filipino writer, journalist, poet, playwright, historian, linguist, and scholar of Spanish and British descent from the province of Iloilo.

Gómez Rivera is an academic director of the prestigious Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española (Philippine Academy of the Spanish Language), the local branch of the renowned Real Academia Española based in Madrid, Spain, and part of the Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española (Association of Spanish Language Academies). He is also a teacher of various Spanish dances, and is considered the undisputed maestro of Flamenco in the Philippines.

In addition to his contributions to Philippine literature and history, Gómez is also an accomplished linguist and polyglot. He speaks and writes fluently in his native Hiligaynon as well as in English and Tagalog. Aside from being an acclaimed master of the Spanish language in the country, he is also conversant in French, Italian, Portuguese, Kinaray-a, and Cebuano, and has made an extensive study of the Visayan and Chabacano languages.

Literature, history, and culture

Critics regard him as the Spanish equivalent to his friend Nick Joaquin's English. Joaquín's body of written works were discreetly about the "Hispanic soul" of the Philippines brought about by three centuries of Spanish rule. Joaquín's stories in particular were sentimental, reminiscing the Philippine's Spanish past as well as its decline. Gómez wrote on the same theme, more thoroughly about the decadence of the country's "Hispanic soul," but his style was much frank and straight to the point—the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) were the cause of Spanish decline in the Philippines. Also, unlike Joaquín, Gómez focused more on fiery essays than short stories.

He won a Premio Zóbel in 1975 for his play "El caserón" (The Big House) which was published in 1976. He has since been a longtime master of ceremonies for the said award-giving body. Prior to this, Gómez won second place in the Premio Manuel Bernabé for an essay on the historical and nationalistic value and import of the Spanish language.

Much of the theme for Gómez's poetry, as well as his essays and short stories, lie mainly on the destruction of which he calls the "Filipino Cosmos," i.e., the destruction of Philippine languages and culture due to American neocolonization.

Gómez is a very belligerent writer, as can be gleaned by his scathing attacks in his Spanish weekly newspaper "Nueva era" against what he observed as local pro-compulsory "ONLY-English-language government officials" who he accuses as vile puppets of US WASP neocolonialism. Many of his writings boast of proofs against these people he accuses. Through his monumental body of literary works, he has advocated his Filipino readers to "rediscover" their Spanish past in order for them to gain knowledge of their true national identity.

Another way of doing this is through cultural dissemination, particularly through dance. Aside from sharing his knowledge of Flamenco, he has made several researches on Philippine songs and dances, especially those of Hispanic influence, which he was able to contribute to the internationally acclaimed Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company. In fact, most of the Spanish-influenced native songs and dances choreographed by the said group can trace their origins from Gómez's researches, which earned him the role of an adviser for Bayanihan.

He was also a recording artist, having recorded Filipino songs that were originally in Spanish, as well as Chabacano songs that used to be popular in areas were Chabacano is prevalent.

Gómez is also credited for reintroducing into the modern local film industry the now forgotten film "Secreto de confesión". It was the first film that was produced in the Philippines that was spoken and sung in Spanish ("la primera película hablada y cantada en español producida en Filipinas").

Flamenco

Much of Manila society knows Gómez as the country's leading instructor of Flamenco. He learned Flamenco as well as many other Spanish dances from his maternal grandfather José Rivera Franco's second wife, Rosa Jiménez, a Flamenco dancer from Sevilla, Spain. Jiménez taught him at the age of four. Later in his life, he was able to choreograph dances. To date, he has a repertoire of more than a hundred choreographed dances, mostly for the Gypsy and Andalusian schools. Flamenco has six schools, namely: "Escuela Andaluza" (Andalusian), "Escuela Bolera", "Escuela Creativa" (or "de Fusión"), "Escuela Folklórica", "Escuela Gitana" (Gypsy), and "Escuela Popular".

He also learned short courses from Spanish international dancers such as "Los Chavales de España", Antonio (Ruiz), and José Greco who visited Manila in the 1970s and 1980s.

Gómez has trained the likes of Manila socialites Marissa Aboitiz, Marités Cancio-Suplico, María Emma Estrada, Cecile de Joya, actress Maggie de la Riva, former Philippine Basketball Association coach Dante Silverio, Perla Primicias (daughter of former Philippine Senator Cipriano Primicias), and daughter Marién Gómez de Lizares.

Throughout the years, Gómez has developed a five-level Flamenco course that has been proven effective. He has come up with an entertaining teaching system called "choreographic immersion" with preliminary drills in footwork, hands, and movements that also include the "compás" of fours and twelves. Many of his students also learn many of these dances with or without castanettes.

Educator

Gómez also spent several years teaching Spanish grammar, Philippine history, and philosophy in Adamson University. For a time, he also served as the head of the Adamson's Spanish Department. He retired from the university in 2001, but he still teaches Flamenco in his home and in Steps Dance Studio [http://stepsdancestudio.ph] in Makati. He occasionally offers Spanish language tutorials.

During his teaching stint, he was also the president of "Corporación Nacional de Profesores en Español" (CONAPE), an organization of Filipino educators who teach the Spanish language.

Media

Gómez's career in journalism started with the magazine "El maestro" during the 1960s. The magazine's aim was to aid the predicament of the Filipino teacher in Spanish.

Aside from being the current editor of "Nueva era", the only existing Spanish newspaper in the Philippines today, he also edits "The Listening Post" and "The Tagalog Chronicle". These three newspapers are published weekly and are only accessible via subscription.

In 1997, he was a segment host of ABS-CBN's defunct early morning program Alas Singko Y Medya. In the said show, he hosted a five-minute Spanish lesson.

Biography

Gómez, as he is fondly called by his friends, students, and contemporaries, hails from Dingle, Iloilo on the southeast portion of Panay Island. He is a product of the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City, where he earned degrees in Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Bachelor of Science in Education.

In 1967, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán.

Gómez has been a staunch advocate of Filipino-Hispanic language and culture all his life. Most of his written works are aimed towards the preservation of the Filipino-Hispanic way of life, particularly the Spanish language.

In Adamson University, he gained notoriety as a teacher with strong convictions. It is claimed by some that he inspired true nationalism and Filipinism among several of his students, based on the original Hispanic identity of the Philippines.

While teaching in Adamson, he also worked for San Miguel Corporation when the said conglomerate was still at the helm of Andrés Soriano III, a Filipino of Spanish descent.

He was also the National Language Committee Secretary of the Philippine Constitutional Convention (1971–1973) during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos. As part of the committee, he fought for Tagalog to become the country's national language. In the same convention, Gómez teamed up with other nationalists to preserve Spanish as one of the country's official languages. Spanish, however, was only made as an optional language (together with Arabic) from the Freedom Constitution of 1987 when Corazón Aquino took over from where former strongman Marcos had left.

He is a grandnephew of Guillermo Gómez Windham, a famous Filipino writer and former Philippine Customs Commissioner during the American Occupation. Gómez Windham was the first Filipino to have been awarded a Premio Zóbel medal in 1922.

Gómez has two children: Marién and Guillermo Gómez Ordóñez. He currently resides in Makati City. He has transformed his home into a virtual Spanish dance studio and library of Filipiniana materials.

External links

* [http://www.geocities.com/tokyo/pagoda/7029/rivera3.html THE FILIPINO STATE/ EL ESTADO FILIPINO]
* [http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Pagoda/7029/tagallano.html Influencia española en el tagalo (I)]
* [http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Pagoda/7029/gramtag.html Influencia española en el tagalo (II): GRAMATICA.]
* [http://www.bayanihannationaldanceco.ph/NEWS/bayanihantreasure.html BAYANIHAN: The Treasure Chest of Filipino Dances and Culture]
* [http://members.aol.com/efaro26164/revpri00.html#EDITORIAL EDITORIAL: HOMENAJE A GUILLERMO GOMEZ RIVERA]
* [http://www.emanila.com/pilipino/various/ggr_tatarin.htm Ang Pinanggalingan ng 'Tatarin']


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