Wednesday, December 05, 2007


By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
Last updated 08:31pm (Mla time) 12/05/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine arts and letters lost two stalwarts on Wednesday with the deaths of Rene Villanueva and Monico Atienza, both writers and professors.

Villanueva, a professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) and an award-winning writer of poems, children's stories, and essays, died at around 2 p.m. at the Philippine Heart Center after suffering a stroke on Tuesday. He was 53.

Atienza, who also taught at the UP, was also known as an activist. He died in his home at UP at 5:20 p.m. after being comatose for almost year. More known as “Ka” (Comrade) Nic, Atienza was president of the First Quarter Storm (FQS) Movement, an organization of activists from the 1960s and 1970s.

Bonifacio Ilagan, FQS Movement chairman and one of Atienza's closest friends, confirmed his death to

Friends sponsored a mass for Atienza Tuesday in what Ilagan sensed could be the last for his friend. He said Atienza's health had been deteriorating very fast over the past two weeks.

Ilagan said they are still making arrangements for the venue of the wake which could either be at the UP chapel or at the faculty center.

Atienza has been comatose since December 23, 2006 after an undetected mass in his throat gradually blocked his air passage, leading to successive heart seizures, according to an entry by Ilagan in the website

"His friends and relatives described Monico Atienza's stubborn will to live, in the face of a most life-threatening debilitation, as very characteristic of the man. This kind of courage, they say -- together with the man's extraordinary conviction and abilities -- enabled him to live the kind of life he has chosen, unmindful of the obstacles that came his way," wrote writer Alexander Martin Remollino in his blog

The had this entry on Villanueva:

“…Villanueva, a playwright, was among the leading figures in children's literature in the Philippines. He was in the hall of fame list of the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. He graduated with a degree in history at the Lyceum of the Philippines in 1975.”

According to his profile on Villanueva was awarded the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining (Literature) in 2004 and the Gawad Chanselor sa UP in 2005.

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