Monday, February 22, 2016

Argentine envoy graces book launch of Borges' Bikol-translated work
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, Feb. 20 (PNA) -- For the first time, the Argentine ambassador visited Naga City this week to grace the launching of Jorge Luis Borges’ selected poems translated to Bikol by poet and fictionist Kristian Sendon Cordero.

Cordero has received recognition for his literary works, including Maningning Miclat Poetry Prize, the National Book Awards for his books "Labi" and "Canticos," and the Palanca Awards for Literature.

Ambassador Roberto Sebastian Bosh came here as the official representative of Argentina after their embassy commissioned the work of the 20th century Argentine author to Cordero in 2013.

The rights to translate the works of Borges required the consent of the Borges Estate in Argentina which finally allowed the translation work by Cordero and its printing this year.

Fr. Wilmer Tria, director of Ateneo de Naga University Press that published the translated work, introduced Bosh as the first-time ambassador assigned in the Philippines in October 2014 as “a rare blend being a political scientist and a lover of culture.”

Tria said the Argentine ambassador was the chief of the economic and trade affairs of the economic section of the Argentine embassy in Brasilia.

Bosh held the position director of economic and trade affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Argentina.

He also served as representative of Argentina in the international economic mission in Geneva, dealing with trade issues at the World Trade Organization and the United Nations’ mission on trade and development.

Bosh graduated with political science course in the Universidad del Belgrano in Buenos Aires in 1992 and in 1998, he received the gold medal of the Instituto Exterior de la Nacion for the highest grade he achieved.

He also got the highest grade and received medal for the subjects in international politics.

In his talk, Bosh confessed that he came to the Philippines without knowing anything about the country.

He said that aside from Evita Peron, tango and football star Maradona, Argentina has many other things to offer as he showed visual presentation of his country’s geographical location, demography, weather and culture.

Bosh cited the similarity of the Philippines and Argentina as both were part of the Spanish empire.

Cordero, as the translator of Borges’ poems, reminisced the time when he developed his love for books by hanging out in the library and eventually, as becoming a writer that he is today.

“Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine writer we are honoring today, thought of heaven as a library,” he said.

Cordero narrated that he remembers all the librarians in his “childhood life with fondness and trepidation.”

He said Borges started as a librarian in a small library in Argentina “until the change in political leadership and he was reduced into a poultry inspector, a post he certainly despised.”

Cordero said Borges persisted, “like all good writers must; in spite the usual persecutions and harassments. He would later become the librarian of the National Library, a post he held for several years until his blindness.”

“Borges is claimed by the Guardian as the best writer of the 20th century, although some say it is Franz Kafka that is the best writer of the last century,” Cordero said.

Cordero has also translated the work of Kafka, which translation was published by Ateneo De Naga University Press and whose launch was attended by Czech ambassador last month.

“Borges, known for the splendor in his writings, has always inspired me to go through the labyrinth of language and the language of my dreams,” he said.

Cordero explains that in Borges’ essays entitled “The Argentine Writer and Traditions,” the Argentine author talked about the universality of the local, which for him is the Buenos Aires.

“It is this same fervor for his Buenos Aires that I want to share with you with your love for Bikol, and for this sad republic. For Borges, the local is not tied up with the image of the local alone, within every local there lies the universal, the other world, the parallel universe, the other shore,” he said.

Cordero concluded that “by working this most noble task of translation, we are moving towards a literature that knows no borders.” (PNA) RMA/FGS/JME/CBD/ssc