Premio Zobel winner finds new audience with translation

Posted on August 09, 2013

AS FEWER Filipinos learn the Spanish language, they are losing a connection with their history and with a rich heritage of Spanish literature by Filipinos.

With the recent launch of Premio Zobel awardee Antonio Abad’s La Oveja de Nathan (Nathan’s Sheep), this distance will be shortened, if just a little bit. The book features a translation into English by Lourdes Castrillo Brillantes, with the original Spanish version and its English translation presented side-by-side.

Premio Zobel, one of the oldest literary awards in the country, honors the best in Philippine letters in Spanish.

The novel, which Premio Zobel’s current benefactor Georgina Padilla y Zobel de Mac-Crohon calls “the Filipino equivalent of War and Peace,” tells the story of a Filipino’s journey toward understanding historical events -- the Spanish regime, the coming of the Americans, and how he begins to see the Philippines metaphorized as a lamb lovingly nurtured by Spain, juxtaposed against American imperialism which deprives the poor Filipinos of their Spanish heritage.

“The book embodies qualities of the typical Filipino: honest, brave, unassuming and hardworking,” said Ms. Mac-Crohon.

During the recent book launch at the Ayala Museum, short, enlightening talks were delivered by the translator Ms. Castrillo Brillantes, the author’s son Gemino “Jimmy” Abad, and by Ms. Mac-Crohon.

The history of the Premio Zobel was given in a video produced by Gaspar Vibal. The award was introduced by Don Enrique Zobel in 1920 to keep the Spanish language alive, and how Ms. Mac-Crohon’s parents, Doña Gloria Zobel de Ayala de Padilla and Don Ricardo Padilla y Satrústegui carried the tradition forward. Annually, a winning novel in Spanish was picked from sometimes as many as 90 entries, to be awarded the Premio Zobel. Today, Ms. Mac-Crohon keeps the torch burning with her grandfather Don Enrique Zobel’s favorite novel, La Oveja de Nathan.

Antonio Abad was twice a winner of the Premio Zobel. Among other awardees were the Orosa family (Sixto, Dr. Severina Luna Orosa, and Rosalinda); Guillermo Gomez Rivera whose grandfather, Guillermo Gomez Wyndham, was also a Premio Zobel awardee; Lina Obieta Sevilla; Leon Ma. Guerrero; Ambassador Juan Rocha; Fr. Jose Arcilla, S.J.; and Ms. Castrillo Brillantes.

Publication of the book received a partial grant from the Spanish Cultural Cooperation and the Spanish Embassy under the aegis of former Spanish ambassador to the Philippines Luis Arias.