The media, particularly TV, discovered ghost writers during the Corazon Aquino administration. It was primarily because her principal ghost writer wouldn’t stop talking about it. That was Congressman Teodoro Locsin Jr., who on numerous occasions would mention that he wrote this speech or that for Mrs. Aquino. Mr. Locsin seems to have also ghost-written for Fidel Ramos, and lately for Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Not only does he not deny it; he even seems to glory in it.
On the other hand, the late Adrian Cristobal never admitted in public that he ever wrote anything for Ferdinand Marcos, whose spokesman he once was. In one forum introduced as “the President’s (Marcos’) ghost writer,” Cristobal declared that “that is not true; the President writes his own speeches.” But Cristobal was not only in the Marcos stable of speech writers. He also wrote “his” books, among them the regime bible Today’s Revolution: Democracy, and the equally wily The Filipino Ideology.
Completed pre-martial law in 1971 when revolution was both the promise and threat of the future, Today’ Revolution… claimed that the Marcos government was not only leading “the revolution from the center,” it was the revolution.
Written during the waning days of the Marcos period, The Filipino Ideology not only argued that there was such a thing (an ideology is a class rather than a national attribute), but also that the desire for social, economic and political change is inherently Filipino, a claim too tough to either prove or disprove.
Cristobal, in any case, believed that speech writing for the powerful was just another writing job. Having been commissioned to do it, the ghost writer had no claim on the result once it left his typewriter (then) or laptop (today). The speech or book henceforth belonged to the person in whose name it was delivered or issued. Which is why Cristobal never claimed that he ever wrote for Marcos — although the distinct possibility that Marcos would not have liked it if he did might have been an equally compelling reason.
In contrast, Cristobal’s successors have made a virtue out of claiming authorship for this or that president’s speech. They even appear on TV to say so — as Locsin did right before Mrs. Arroyo delivered her eighth State of the Nation Address last Monday.
Who wrote which speech for whom makes for an interesting footnote to recent events as well as history. But the even more interesting question is how much of the ideas in a policy-maker’s speech was his (or hers) and how much was the ghost’s.
The answer is that it depends on whether the principal is fairly clear about what he or she wants to say, or is as clueless about governance as an actor turned congressman. In both cases, however, it’s inevitable that some of the ghost’s thoughts, especially if he or she is reasonably well-informed and has his or her policy preferences, should end up in the speech. The principal can’t possibly anticipate everything, and it’s up to the ghost to amplify, embellish or pursue to their conclusions even those thoughts that might have been originally the former’s.
Ghost-writing is the professional writer’s occupational hazard, especially when he or she’s new in the game. I must admit that I stopped doing it in my forties except when it was completely unavoidable, after having ghost-written for, among other worthies, two senators and two university presidents. In all those cases, the main ideas were those of the principals. They were after all senators when senators were not actors, and presidents of the country’s leading university.
Writing being what it is, however, the particular way in which one presents those ideas could and probably did influence how they were received. Having been a long-time admirer of William Butler Yeats, for example, I once prefaced a description of the state of the country during the martial law period with the first stanza of “The Second Coming,” which among other widely quoted lines declares that:
“Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/ The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/ The ceremony of innocence is drowned;/ The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity.”
A man of letters and no mean writer himself, the principal liked that touch, which of course he had not suggested for inclusion. That particular speech was delivered in Honolulu, Hawaii by a University of the Philippines president whom Marcos later removed from his post for, among other reasons, making that speech.
Which should lead us to ask, not whether the ghost writer was partly to blame for that event, but the more crucial question of how much public policy is being made by ghost- writers endowed with the power to put words that turn into state programs in the mouths of decision-makers.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, how much of the national crisis we can blame on ghosts rather than on the flesh and blood monsters who regularly mouth platitudes from the public podiums of this sorry land?
Néstor Vicente Madali González (September 8, 1915 – November 28, 1999) was a Filipino novelist, short story writer, essayist and poet. Conferred as the National Artist of the Philippines for Literature in 1997.
He was born on 8 September 1915 in Romblon, Philippines. González, however, was raised in Mansalay, a southern town of the Philippine province of Oriental Mindoro. González was a son of a school supervisor and a teacher. As a teenager, he helped his father by delivering meat door-to-door across provincial villages and municipalities. González was also a musician. He played the violin and even made four guitars by hand. He earned his first peso by playing the violin during a Chinese funeral in Romblon. González attended Mindoro High School (now Jose J. Leido Jr. Memorial National High School) from 1927 to 1930. González attended college at National University (Manila) but he was unable to finish his undergraduate degree. While in Manila, González wrote for the Philippine Graphic and later edited for the Evening News Magazine and Manila Chronicle. His first published essay appeared in the Philippine Graphic and his first poem in Poetry in 1934. González made his mark in the Philippine writing community as a member of the Board of Advisers of Likhaan: the University of the Philippines Creative Writing Center, founding editor of The Diliman Review and as the first president of the Philippine Writers' Association. González attended creative writing classes under Wallace Stegner and Katherine Anne Porter at Stanford University. In 1950, González returned to the Philippines and taught at the University of Santo Tomas, the Philippine Women's University and the University of the Philippines (U.P.). At U.P., González was only one of two faculty members accepted to teach in the university without holding a degree. On the basis of his literary publications and distinctions, González later taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, California State University, Hayward, the University of Washington, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Berkeley.
On 14 April 1987, the University of the Philippines conferred on N.V.M. González the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, "For his creative genius in shaping the Philippine short story and novel, and making a new clearing within the English idiom and tradition on which he established an authentic vocabulary, ...For his insightful criticism by which he advanced the literary tradition of the Filipino and enriched the vocation for all writers of the present generation...For his visions and auguries by which he gave the Filipino sense and sensibility a profound and unmistakable script read and reread throughout the international community of letters..."
N.V.M. González was proclaimed National Artist of the Philippines in 1997. He died on 28 November 1999 in Philippines at the age of 84. As a National Artist, Gonzalez was honored with a state funeral at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Gonzalez is buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The works of Gonzalez have been published in Filipino, English, Chinese, German, Russian and Indonesian.
- The Winds of April (1941)
- A Season of Grace (1956)
- Baho Mo Gagog
- The Land And The Rain
- The Happiest Boy in The Lolo nyop pilay by: rovic m dionisio !!!!! Thank You!
- "The Tomato Game".1992
- A Grammar of Dreams and Other Stories. University of the Philippines Press, 1997
- The Bread of Salt and Other Stories. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1993; University of the Philippines Press, 1993
- Mindoro and Beyond: Twenty-one Stories. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1981; New Day, 1989
- Selected Stories. Denver, Colorado: Alan Swallow, 1964
- Look, Stranger, on this Island Now. Manila: Benipayo, 1963
- Children of the Ash-Covered Loam and Other Stories. Manila: Benipayo, 1954; Bookmark Filipino Literary Classic, 1992
- Seven Hills Away. Denver, Colorado: Alan Swallow, 1947
- A Novel of Justice: Selected Essays 1968–1994. Manila: National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Anvil (popular edition), 1996
- Work on the Mountain (Includes The Father and the Maid, Essays on Filipino Life and Letters and Kalutang: A Filipino in the World), University of the Philippines Press, 1996
Gonzalez on a 2015 stamp of the Philippines
Awards and prizes
- Regents Professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, 1998–1999
- Philippines Centennial Award for Literature, 1998
- National Artist Award for Literature, 1997
- Oriental Mindoro Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution "extending due recognition to Nestor V. M. González... the commendation he well deserves..." 1996
- City of Manila Diwa ng Lahi award "for his service and contribution to Philippine national Literature," 1996
- City of Los Angeles resolution declaring October 11, 1996 "N.V.M. González Day, 1996
- The Asian Catholic Publishers Award, 1993
- The Filipino Community of California Proclamation "honoring N.V.M. González for seventy-eight years of achievements," 1993
- Ninoy Aquino Movement for Social and Economic Reconstruction through Volunteer Service award, 1991
- City and County of San Francisco proclamation of March 7, 1990 "Professor N.V.M. González Day in San Francisco," 1990
- Cultural Center of the Philippines award, Gawad Para sa Sining, 1990
- Writers Union of the Philippines award, Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtás, 1989
- University of the Philippines International Writer-in-Residence, 1988
- Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) from the University of the Philippines, 1987
- Djerassi Foundation Artist-in-Residence, 1986
- Philippine Foreign Service Certificate of Appreciation for Work in the International Academic and Literary Community, at San Francisco, 1983
- Emeritus Professor of English, California State University, 1982
- Carlos Palanca Memorial Award (Short Story), First Prize for 'The Tomato Game,' 1971
- City of Manila Medal of Honor, 1971.
- Awarded Leverhulme Fellowship, University of Hong Kong, 1969.
- Visiting Associate Professorship in English, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1968.
- British Council award for Travel to England, 1965.
- Intemaciones Award for Travel in the Federal German Republic, 1965.
- Philippines Free Press First Prize Award winner for Serenade (short story), 1964.
- Rockefeller Foundation Writing Grant and Travel in Europe, 1964
- Jose Rizal Pro-Patria Award for The Bamboo Dancers, 1961
- Republic Cultural Heritage Award for The Bamboo Dancers, 1960
- Carlos Palanca Memorial Award (Short Story), Third Prize winner for On the Ferry, 1959
- Philippine Free Press Third Prize winner for On the Ferry, 1959
- Republic Award of Merit for "the advancement of Filipino culture in the field of English Literature," 1954.
- Carlos Palanca Memorial Award (Short Story), Second Prize winner for Lupo and the River, 1953
- Rockefeller Foundation Study and Travel fellowship to India and the Far East, 1952
- Carlos Palanca Memorial Award (Short Story), Second Prize winner for Children of the Ash-covered Loam, 1952
- Rockefeller Foundation Writing Fellowship to Stanford University, Kenyon College School of English, and Columbia University, 1949–1950
- Liwayway Short Story Contest, Third Prize winner for Lunsod, Nayon at Dagat-dagatan, 1943
- First Commonwealth Literary Contest honorable mention for The Winds of April, 1940