July 5, 2000
Venue: College Assurance Plan Building, Makati City
AUDIO WAS DUBBED FROM VIDEO FOOTAGE
Alejandro "Anding" Roces: Roces, I'm, ah, one of the nine brothers of we are nine brothers and that four of them are, were involved in writing. The first one was Rafael "Liling" Roces, who wrote a column called Roses and Thorns for the Manila Times and he was, ah, killed by the Japanese. And then was, ah, Joaquin Roces after the war although he wrote also before the war but Joaquin Roces wrote for the Manila Times post war and he wrote a column called, ah, um My Daily Bread. Then I followed and I inverted the column of my brother Liling who wrote before the war, his column was called, ah, Thorns and Roses, I made my column Roses and Thorns. I wrote that column for the Manila the Daily Mirror, Manila Times and now for ah, Star. And then I have a younger, or better still my youngest brother, Alfredo, who's also a columnist and who recently wrote a book that covers the history, very well done, of the Roces family it is called, "The Search for Liling". Thank you.
Sassy Mae C. Sumulong: Sir, um, clarifications, ah, what are the your other like ventures aside from writing, aside from CAP?
A: I, I have a lot of ventures, um
Q: Anything media inclined?
A: media inclined? Well, literature inclined you know the three manuscripts of Rizal were stolen during the, ah, Centennial of his, ah, birth by, by, somebody stole it and he wanted millions for it and I went to see him in Cavite and got it back and now it's again intact in the museum those are the three most priceless, ah, the most priceless manuscripts in our history.
Q: So, sir you're more on, um, literature inclined? Ah, not really on the journalism side
A: Ah well, ah, you know, ah, this is the, the irony, noh, you cannot make a living, you can make a living here journalistically but you cannot make a living literature. So, you have to do both and you have to teach to compensate. I have to work here in CAP so I can continue writing. Right now the words are (garble of words) up to this point in our culture, writing has to be subsidized, I'm sorry to say.
Q: Sir, um, can you give us a, a brief background or a history how you get ah, get in ah, affiliated with, ah, this the College Assurance Plan.
A: College Assurance Plan? Well, I got affiliated here because of my great interest in education. And I saw from the very, very beginning that this company was really committed to education, so I, I was interested in being connected to the company.
Q: How about in writing can you, ah, recall any memorable instances? Um, what pushed you to excel in writing or to pursue a career in writing?
A: Well, ah, it's ironic see because, ah, I did not, believe it or not, I did not begin to write, year after Liberation. When I was in the University of Arizona, there I was not in the influence of any school, any teacher or even my own family and that was when I discover that I was a writer.
Q: Sir, is it something to do with you being a Roces?
A: Well, genetically yes but as far as that is concern I have to discover it on my very own, individually, not as a Roces.
Q: (AUDIO DUB INCOMPLETE) works like, like your book the Fiesta?
A: I felt really because, I, you know when I wrote the Fiesta everybody was against fiestas. Everybody wanted to eradicate it, they thought it was the greatest ban against progress, in fact Raul Manglapus my very, very good friend, um, instigated something to try to change the fiesta (AUDIO DUB INCOMPLETE)
A: but I saw the fiesta as our highest community expression. I was in the guerillas when I was a teenager and so I was in close touch with the people and I thought that fiesta was our highest community expression. And that was the impression it made on me so I wanted to preserve it.
Q: Sir can you give us, give us a story, a short story of your life when you were a guerilla?
A: Well, uh, you know nobody at that time, nobody believe that America could lose the war against Japan, suddenly the Japanese landed and before we knew it Manila was declared an open city. Then the Japanese were in Manila and we used to go to the boulevard to watch where, where Bataan was, wondering how the battle there was going on. We did not believe America could possibly lose but they lost. So, it was harsh, ah, you know it was, it was a big traumatic event. I joined the guerilla because later on I was told, "mayroon ng lumalaban". Sino? "Sa Pampanga". Anong pangalan? It was the communist group, "hukbo ng bayan laban sa Hapon". So, I joined the guerilla under Marking and that's how I got involved.
Q: Sir you were how old when you
A: I was a teenager but I, still I ended up with the rank of captain, I was in, ah, Ipu Dam. But then it's, it's my own fault, I didn't clear my papers when I, I saw the opportunity to scho , continue my studies in America, I left without clearing my papers, so it's my own fault.
Q: Ah, it's like the disposal papers po ba yon?
A: No, no I should have been, at least made my papers that I was a I never got any back pay or anything but I'm not, but it's my fault and I'm not, I'm not objecting or criticizing but and I don't think I made a mistake I went to the States, I saw an opportunity to study so I went abroad and studied and it was in Arizona where I became a writer.
Q: 'cause sir my grandfather is also a guerilla, tapos he is mentioning also about Ipu Dam and
A: About what?
Q: about the Ipu Dam?
A: We were probably together. Find out, find out.
Q: Sir, so any ano, um, how, how was it like when you were in du in the war?
A: Oh, no, no, to me I felt very, very good because every time we were in Manila the Japanese had the edge, there we were on equal terms they could shoot me but I could shoot them back. So I, it felt good.
Q: Um, ah, how about your encounters there? How would did you ever get into a very serious shooting fight or something?
A: Well, yes, but I would rather not talk about that because people will not understand. Because, ah, you know, um, war involves lives and, ah, well, there were things people will understand like for example in the guerillas you cannot take prisoners. You cannot take Japanese prisoners, how were you gonna feed them? They're gonna be with you, they're gonna wake up one night and kill you. We have no room for prisoners. So, maybe I better skip that part.
Q: Sir, do you think, ah, yung, um, with your, with everything that you have experienced in your life you had, ah, eventually it had made you a better writer, in that sense? With all the experiences
A: A better writer?
Q: A good, I mean, ah, because it was lately that na-discover nyo that you can write di ba?
A: No, no, it made me a better person. You cannot be a great writer, first you have to be a, a good person.
Q: Sir, ah, that's all.