memory

On November 18 2005, the U.P.-Diliman residence of Narita Gonzalez and the late N.V.M. Gonzalez was consumed in an electrical fire.  For details, please refer to the article in the November 20 Manila Times.  We are in the process of collecting materials to rebuild a library in both their names. In the meantime, what was salvaged from the fire have been painstakingly restored by the University of the Philippines Library.

NVM and Narita Gonzalez moved to A. Mabini Street, Area I, in the early fifties. At the time, the University of the Philippines provided generous housing programs to its faculty among them the group of “Pioneer Homes” that became the hub of the University community. It was a distinction that the Gonzalez residence enjoyed for over fifty years.
On November 18, 2005, as was her custom, Narita settled into the living room to pick up on her writing from the previous day. Around mid-morning a fire broke out in an annexed bedroom, sped across the ceiling, leapt down the walls and in the quick span of half an hour laid bare the seared bones of a beloved home. Narita had been spirited out of the house just as the inferno descended into the interior structure. She was unhurt but distraught.
diliman
An accumulation of books, photographs and mementos from many years of writing, teaching and traveling are all gone.  NVM’s letters, unpublished manuscripts and some published articles survived but require restoration and conservation.  The University of the Philippines’ Archives is in the process of evaluating the extent of work required to ensure the full rehabilitation of the collection.
While it was first and foremost home to NVM, Narita and their four children, Ibarra, Selma, Michael and Lakshmi, P-57 A. Mabini was a haven to many – to NVM’s students, to writers, musers and would-be philosophers, to musicians and sometimes even members of the clergy.  It was a place where friends congregated, where courtships flowered and dissolved, where fates were pondered and sometimes pursued.  In the mind’s eye, one can still make out the photographs and artwork that hugged the walls.  Books that marched in silence across the shelves from corner to corner and clambered down to the floor.  Late in the day, Balinese woodcarvings playfully cast their shadows on the walls until they were banished by the fading light.  Now and then one can still hear the strains of a violin and the quick gasp of the player as he ends his piece on a lingering, solitary note.
To those who share our memories and the countless others who have reached out to our family during this ordeal, we express our humble and deep appreciation.  We would also like to express our gratitude to those who have extended material assistance to our mother, Narita.  We would like to especially thank the Lesaca family for their loyalty and forbearance.  We would like to acknowledge the support of the University of the Philippines’ administration in finding alternative housing for the family and in guiding our plans to rebuild a new residence on the same site. Efforts to restore and preserve surviving documents are being undertaken by the University Archives. In time, we hope to rebuild a digital NVM collection.  

combo

This experience is a call to writer's families and collectors for the need and urgency of implementation preservation programs for writers and artists. The NVM Writers' Workshop hopes that it can influence those in management of this materials to develop preservation strategies. The Workshop is ready to assist in these efforts.