A Catholic priest is among those nominated to be the Philippines next national artist, said an article that appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on April 8.
Writing in the paper’s Lifestyle section, Amadís Ma. Guerrero said “the Cebuano genius (in storytelling) is best exemplified by [Renato E. Madrid].”
Madrid, Monsignor Rodolfo Escalon Villanueva in real life, was born on Sept. 16, 1940, is a priest of the Archdiocese of Cebu and is known as a composer of liturgical music and plays.
His higher studies led to a Master’s in English at the University of Sto. Tomas as well as a Master’s in Music at the State University in Moncato, Minnesota.
He finished his Philosophy and Theology studies at the San Carlos Seminary in Cebu.
Aside from his novels and short stories, the priest is famous for his liturgical works that include choral compositions, Masses, musical drama, and a three-movement piece for pipe organ.
His published literary works include Devil Wings (1997); Mass for the Death of an Enemy(2000); and Southern Harvest (1996).
In his article, Guerrero wrote that as a seminarian at the University of Santo Tomas, Villanueva “shyly presented his stories to (national artist) Nick Joaquin, then and now every young writer’s literary idol.”
“I suppose I was expecting a wad of devotional gooey,” Guerrero quoted Joaquin. “What I got was stuff to make the flesh crawl.”
The National Artist Award is the highest distinction bestowed upon Filipino artists whose body of work is recognized by their peers and by their countrymen.
Administered by the Cultural Center of the Philippines through proclamation 1001 dated April 2, 1972, by then president Ferdinand Marcos, the government of the Philippines confers the award to deserving individuals as recommended by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.