By Jose A. Bragado

It was in mid-November 1966 when Dr. Hermogenes F. Belen, Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Graduate Studies of the Philippine College of Arts and Trades (now Technological University of the Philippines), visited the offices of Bannawag in 1655 Soler, Sta. Cruz, Manila and proposed the organization of GUMIL in Manila and suburbs, offering his residence as venue for the organizational meeting. GUMIL Ilocos Sur, GUMIL Pangasinan, GUMIL Abra and GUMIL Laoag had by then been set up.

Such a meeting of Ilokano writers living in Manila and suburbs was set for Dec. 12, 1966 at the Belen residence at 136 K, 3rd Street Kamuning, Quezon City.

About 40 writers attended the 2 p.m. encounter. Dr. Belen was elected president. Other officers were Dr. Marcelino A. Foronda Jr., vice-president; Atty. Benjamin M. Pascual, secretary; Luz Flores-Bello, treasurer; Genara Jurado, assistant treasurer; Jesus Bello, business manager; Abundio Cardenas, assistant business manager; Gregorio Cadiente, auditor; and Segundo La. Foronda, public relations officer.

The directors were Artemio Andres, Lt. Col. Primitivo C. Milan (ret.), Edilberto H. Angco, Placido R. Real, Jr., and Mrs. Encarnacion Gerardo.

Artemio Andres, editor of Presstime Courier, proposed that the next meeting, the following month (Jan. 8 ) be held at his residence at 22 Kapitan Akong, Marulas, Valenzuela, Bulacan (now Metro Manila).

Majority of the members attended the meeting that Sunday morning when projects were discussed. For the next seven years and four months, GUMIL Manila was steered by Dr. Belen until his death on April 16, 1974.

In May 1986, or 12 years and a month after Dr. Belen’s death, a group of writers in Manila agreed to reorganize the GUMIL Manila. A month later, on June 28 at the Liwayway Publishing, Inc., the members present changed the name of the organization and adopted GUMIL Metro Manila, in keeping communities were integrated into Manila. They elected a new set of officers: Juan A. Alegre, president; Lorenzo G. Tabin, vice-president; Linda T. Lingbaoan, secretary; Cles B. Rambaud, treasurer; Rogelio A. Aquino, auditor; Hernelio A. Baradi, business manager; and Angel R. Calso, public relations officer.

Director were Feliciano Martin T. Rochina, Paul N. Zafaralla, Marcos B. Cate, Agustin DC. Rubin and Eutiquio C. Aguinaldo.

Advisers were Greg Laconsay, David D. Campañano, Dionisio S. Bulong, Horencio Ma. Hernando and Juan S.P. Hidalgo, Jr. Consultants: Jose A. Bragado, Reynaldo A. Duque and Leonardo Q. Belen.

They took their oath of office before novelists F. Sionil Jose at the latter’s office at Soladaridad along Padre Faura on Aug. 16, 1986.

They later met at the Liwayway Publishing, Inc. where the officers discussed the possibility of printing an anthology of poetry which eventually was published with the tittle Talibagok. This 184-page anthology – 157 poems of 20 poets edited by Atty. Benjamin M. Pascual, Jose A. Bragado and Cles Rambaud – was off the press in 1987.

That year, on Aug. 22 Placido R. Real, Jr hosted a meeting at his residence at 49 Seattle Street in Cubao where organizers of Kutibeng, an association of Ilokano writers in 1958, like Pacifico Espanto, Judge Guillermo R. Andaya, Paul B. Zafaralla, Placido R. Real, Jr., Leonardo Q. Belen and Jose A. Bragado, had a nostalgic reunion. Roland Al. Bueno, now residing in Hawaii (Benjamin L. Viernes died years earlier), was not able to attend the reunion.

On Sept. 19, 1987, Leonardo Q. Belen hosted a meeting at his Fairview, Quezon City residence. Talibagok was launched that day, followed by a poetry reading.

That meeting was followed by yet another one, now hosted by Judge Guillermo R. Andaya at his San Pablo City residence on Oct. 18. Thirty-five members who attended discussed how to implement the group’s projects, a topic that was followed through during the pre-Christmas meeting hosted by Jose A. Bragado.

On Jan. 17 the next year, GUMIL Metro Manila held its meeting and election at the residence of Juan A. Alegre in Parañaque. Elected were Jose A. Bragado, president; Rogelio A. Aquino, vice-president; Linda T. Lingbaoan, secretary; Cles B. Rambaud, treasurer; Feliciano Martin T. Rochina, auditor; Jacinto B. de Peralta, business manager; Fortunato Sub. Serna, public relations officer.

Directors were Marcos B. Cate, Linda V. Landingin, Agustin DC. Rubin, Demetrio Sarmiento and Herman G. Tabin. Alegre automatically became ex-officio director.

Named advisers were Greg Laconsay, David D. Campañano, Dionisio S. Bulong, Juan S.P. Hidalgo, Jr., Atty. Benjamin M. Pascual and Rene B. Ragunton. Consultants were Leonardo Q. Belen, Reynaldo A. Duque and Judge Guillermo R. Andaya.
Judge Andaya administered the oath to office to the officer at Alegre’s front-yard.

Bragado meanwhile drafted the Constitution and By-Laws which were presented to and approved by the members during the Feb. 21 meeting at Bragado’s Phase IV, Bagong Silang residence in Kalookan City. The pre-Constitution term of one year for elected officers was made two years.

Preparation of the Articles of Incorporation and plans to register GUMIL Metro Manila with the government’s Securities and Exchange Commission were discussed.

On March 20 another meeting was held at the residence of Reynaldo A. Duque at Greenheights Subdivision in Parañaque. They discussed the possibility of publishing Kurditan: Mga Kuwentong Iluko, a book translated Iloko short stories into Filipino was taken up. Designated editors were Duque, Bragado and Linda T. Lingbaoan.

The untimely death of Rogelio S. Aquino caused a vacancy forcing a special election where Atty. Nole V. Lansangan was elected vice-president. The meeting/election was held at the Fort Bonifacio residence of Rochina on April 16.

Dr. Godofredo S. Reyes, president of GUMIL Filipinas, the mother organization, inducted Lansangan as GMM vice-president at a later meeting at the residence of Dionisio S. Bulong in Novaliches, Quezon City. The meeting also decided that manuscripts for Kurditan be submitted as originally scheduled.

The meeting at Vic Palcong’s residence at Lagro, Novaliches on July 17 focused on the mode of payment and the translation of the materials for Kurditan. On Aug. 14, at Bernardo Tabbada’s residence in Project 4, the registration of GUMIL Metro Manila was tackled while the meeting at Rene Ragunton’s residence at Miramonte, Kalookan City on Sept. 17 Logistics Command, Camp Aguinaldo on Oct. 30 hosted by Maj. Lorenzo Ilustre. The members agreed to launch the book on Dec. 10 at the National Press Club in Intramuros.

The members also approved the GMM intent to host the 21st Convention and Literary Seminar-Workshop of GUMIL Filipinas which was discussed later at the GF board meeting on Nov. 6 at Max’s Restaurant in Quezon City.

On Nov. 11, the application of GMM with the Securities and Exchange Commission was approved per SEC Registration No. 157082.

In a general membership meeting at the canteen of Liwayway Publishing, Inc. on Jan. 17, 1989, Bragado officially informed the members that GMM would host the GF National Convention and election on April 22-23 at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center along United Nations Avenue. The members also discussed the second launching of Kurditan at the Faculty Center of the University of the Philippines in Diliman on Feb. 3. The UP affair was hosted by Dr. Jose V. Abueva, UP president.

On Feb. 25, GMM received a P10,000 grant from the Cultural Center of the Philippines which was used during the 21st GF convention and a partial venue grant for a seminar at the National Arts Center in Mt. Makiling in Los Baños, Laguna. On April 3, GMM also received the Gawad Pagkilala from the Linangan ng mga Wika sa Pilipinas which was handed by Director Ponciano Pineda in recognition of GMM’s publication of Kurditan.

Bragado won the presidency of GF during the convention and he decided to quit GMM president paving the way for Lansangan’s accession to the presidency during the association’s meeting on may 6 at the Liwayway canteen.

As president, Lansangan sent a letter to the Cultural Center of the Philippines suggesting – and was granted – that grantees be given a certificate each aside from the cash awards.
On July 1-2, GMM held its literary seminar-workshop at the National Arts Center in Mt. Makiling attended by more than 20 members.

On July 16, the Kurditan received the National Book Awards for Anthology 1988 from the Manila Critics Circle in ceremonies at the Loyola campus of the Ateneo de Manila University.

On Jan. 27, 1990, a new set of officers was elected at a general membership meeting at the Liwayway canteen. Lorenzo G. Tabin, beat Honor Blanco Cabie by one vote for the presidency. The latter was unanimously chose vice-president. Eliseo B. Contillo was elected secretary; Cles B. Rambaud, treasurer; Cirilo Barcena, Jr., business manager; Feliciano Martin T. Rochina, auditor; and Harmony Francisca A. Cabie, public relations officers.

Directors were Maj. Lorenzo Ilustre, Prodie Gar. Padios, Herman G. Tabin, Agustin DC. Rubin, Jacinto de Peralta and Linda V. Landingin. Ex-officio director was Atty. Nole V. Lansangan.

They took their oath of office immediately before GF president Bragado.

Linda V. Landingin hosted the next membership meeting at her Valenzuela residence on Feb 4. The next board meeting was at Liwayway Publishing, Inc. on March 24 when GMM’s participation in the GF convention on April 21-22 in Bangued Abra was discussed.

After the convention, a meeting was convened on May 20 at Bragado’s residence in Bagong Silang. No Agsuratka iti Sarita, a how-to book on short story writing by Reynaldo Duque, was launched. A Thank-You resolution was also presented to Atty. Benjamin M. Pascual to show gratitude for the books he donated to the association.

On June 23, the officers met at the Liwayway canteen to discuss the possibility of printing an anthology of poetry and short stories. Designated editors were Lorenzo G. Tabin, Honor Blanco Cabie and Feliciano Martin T. Rochina. On July 21, the members agreed on Batonsileng as the book title. On Jan. 6, 1991, a meeting at the Child Jesus School of Kalookan City attended by Ric Agnes of GUMIL Hawaii discussed the compilation of materials for Batonsileng and the submission of writer’s biographical sketches for the GF Directory of Ilocano Writers. GMM’s participation in the GF national convention in Aparri, Cagayan that summer was also taken up.

Two more meetings before the Aparri convention were convened at the residence of Juan S.P. Hidalgo, Jr. at the UP Campus in Diliman and the other one later at the residence of Dr. Ebitha Y. Dy at 7-B, Carmel St. in Fairview on April 7. On April 18, members gathered at the LPI offices for the more than 500-kilometer night trip to Aparri.

The originally scheduled election of officers on Jan. 25, 1992, during the membership meeting at the LPI canteen was reset to the next meeting on Feb. 15. This was after some members suggested that only those present could qualify for election – whereupon Cabie, who had previously expressed a desire to run for president, stood down because he was leaving for a mid-afternoon date at his Alma mater to receive an award. The members agreed to postpone the election.

On Feb. 15, Cabie was elected president; Feliciano Martin T. Rochina, vice-president; Prodie Gar. Padios, secretary; Cles B. Rambaud, treasurer; Eliseo B. Contillo, auditor; Danilo T. Aroc, business manager; and Harmony Francisca A. Cabie, public relations officer.

Directors were Linda V. Landingin, Jefferson A. Apolonio, Agustin DC. Rubin, Jacinto B. de Peralta, Victorino O. Milo, Eutiquio C. Aguinaldo, Ma. Adelmo B. Cabreros and Marcos B. Cate.

They were inducted into office by Arturo M. Padua, GF’s first elected president and a candidate for senator during the national election on May 11. Forthwith they discussed participation in the 24th GF national convention and literary seminar-workshop at the Angadanan Agro-Industrial College in Angadanan, Isabela on April 11-12.

The two vacancies in the board of directors – following the resignation of Cate and of Rubin – forced a special election at the LPI where Benn A. Cabacungan and Placido R. Real Jr. respectively replaced the two.

Batonsileng dominated the meeting at the Fairview residence of Leonardo Q. Belen. A plan to form a GMM cooperative also surfaced.

On Oct. 4, a meeting was hosted by Cirilo A. Barcena, Jr. at his Deparo abode in Kalookan City. The members discussed the president’s intent to celebrate for the first time GMM’s anniversary on Dec. 12. Cabie, through an Executive Order, also disclosed the creation of the Order of Dr. Hermogenes F. Belen, a leadership award, to be given out to former presidents of the association. He also gave a posthumous award to Dr. Belen and created the GMM president award for members who won major prizes in national literary contests.

That year, the presidential awardees, who each received a certificate and a gold medal, were Aurelio S. Agcaoili (Iloko Poetry), Jose A. Bragado (Filipino Children’s Story, Palanca), Hermione Mary Anne A. Cabie (English Essay and English Poetry), Reynaldo A. Duque (Iloko Short Story), Prodie Gar. Padios (Iloko Poetry), Cles B. Rambaud (Iloko Novel), F. Martin T. Rochina (Iloko Short Story).

Two members of GMM who have sponsored literary contest were also given presidential awards: Atty. Nole V. Lansangan (Constancia V. Lansangan Literary Awards), and Rene B. Ragunton (Economy Tours and Travel Inc.).

During GMM’s 26th anniversary at the National Press Club, Senator Heherson T. Alvarez, the guest speaker, touched by the group’s welcome, instituted – his word – P100,000 as seed money for awards to be given out to members. He asked the GMM President in his applauded speech to draw up the mechanics for the awards.

The Order of Dr. Hermogenes F. Belen was conferred on Juan A. Alegre, 1986-1988; Jose A. Bragado, 1988-1989; Atty. Nole V. Lansangan, 1989-1990; and Lorenzo G. Tabin, 1990-1992. The award honors former presidents and is intended to focus public attention and confer recognition on those who, like Dr. Belen, dedicated their lives in the service of the Ilokano writers and who thereby serve as an inspiration to succeeding generations of writers.

In a board meeting on Jan. 6, 1993, at the LPI canteen, treasurer Cles B. Rambaud reported that the 26th anniversary program netted P6,971.55. The members, bouyed by the successful launching of Batonsileng during their anniversary, discussed the possibility of coming up with yet another but similar project. This time, as suggested by Reynald F. Antonio, the book should be in English to – in the President’s words – enable the members to reach a wider market. There were discussions on whether the materials should be translation from the Iloko – and only Iloko – original or straight English original. Jose A. Bragado informed the Board that he would try to get an assistance grant from the National Commissions for Culture and the Arts for the book publication.

During the meeting , GUMIL Metro Manila Multi-Purpose Cooperative was organized. Elected officers were Bragado, chairman, and Cabie, vice-chairman, while Rochina was chosen president and general manager.

Directors were Cabacungan, Cecilio Teñoso, Contillo, Antonio, Ross M. Derit, Romy Cargo, Lansangan and Hidalgo, Jr. Padios was apointed secretary. Rambaud, treasurer; and Pascual, legal counsel.

On Jan. 27, the chairman sent a letter to the Director of Cooperative Development Authority in Quezon City requesting that a seminar/training on cooperatives be conducted for the officers and members of the GUMIL Metro Manila Multi Purpose Cooperative.

On Feb. 27, two CDA representatives held a seminar for the officers and members at the LPI canteen.

The group later met at the residence of Placido Real, Jr. in Quezon City where members discussed their attendance at the 25th annual convention and literary seminar-workshop of GUMIL Filipinas at the Carille Terrace in San Fernando, La Union on April 23-25.

Real’s re-entry as active member – in fact as GMM director and GF director – led Rochina to relinquish his post as president of GMM Multi-Purpose Cooperative and personally nominated Real for the post. Real was unanimously chosen by the members.

Various titles for the group’s latest book project were submitted, eventually choosing Hildalgo’s “Lingka”. They agreed on the content and named Cabie, Real and Pascual. Several months later Pascual, citing work overload, endorsed Rambaud, the designated book layout artist, to replace book cover designer.

The National Commission for Culture and Arts approved an assistance grant of P1000,000 for the publication of Lingka, projected to be off the press by the first quarter of 1994.
During GMM’s 27th anniversary on Dec. 11, 1993 at the Bulwagang Plaridel of the National Press Club, the first recipients of the Sen. Heherson T. Alvarez Award for Literature – Pascual and Bragado – received their awards: cash prizes and a plaque. Each.

Pascual was sketched as “an essayist, fictionist, novelist and poet whose works have been published at home and abroad. His writing career has spanned nearly 60 years, starting he was 17. he has since won awards from various name organizations including the Geneva-based Ecumenical Youth Commission which gave him an Honorable Mention Certificate for an English essay in a worldwide competition in 1939. A prolific writer in English and in Iloko, he has published several various anthologies, published two novels in Iloko and translated Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat into Iloko in 1972; translated into English the Iloko epic Biag ni Lam-ang (Life of Lam-ang). He was also awarded a writing grant by the Cultural Center of the Philippines for producing 52 poems in sonnet form in his native Iloko.”

Bragado himself was cited as “a novelist, fictionist, poet and literary editor of Bannawag. He is at present the coordinator for Northern Luzon of the National Committee on Literary Arts, National Commission for Culture and the Arts. A former president of GUMIL Metro Manila and the national association of Ilocano writers, he has published 16 novels, 55 short stories and more than 50 poems helped edit several anthologies and translated five novels from Pilipino to Iloko for Bannawag.

“A director of the Writers Union of the Philippines and the Unyon ng mga Taga-Salin sa Pilipinas, this politician – he ran for Batasang Pambansa seat in 1984 in his home district – has won several awards including the third prize in the Palanca Memorial Awards (Maikling Kathang Pambata) in 1992, and the Pedro Bucaneg Award (1993) for significant contributions to the development of Iloko literature.”

The presidential awardees, who each received a certificate and a gold medal, were Jefferson A. Apolonio (Iloko Poetry), Harmony Francisca A. Cabie (English Essay), Samuel F. Corpuz (Iloko Novelette and 1993 CCP Grant for Iloko Novel), Reynaldo A. Duque (Iloko Novelette), Vic pacursa (Iloko Poetry for Children), Cles B. Rambaud (1993 CCP Grant for Children’s Literature), F. Martin T. Rochina (Iloko Poetry for Children), Agustin DC. Rubin (Iloko Short Story), and Lorenzo G. Tabin (Iloko Short Story).

On Jan. 15., 1994, GUMIL Metro Manila hosted GF’s board meeting at the Child Jesus School of Kalookan City where the national officers discussed the upcoming national convention and the political problems in GUMIL Ilocos Sur.

On Feb. 27, during the general membership meeting of GMM at the Barcena residence, the members unanimously re-elected Cabie to an unprecedented two-year term. Many of the officers during the first term were also re-elected.

(From the book “Lingka” published by GUMIL Metro Manila)


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