A literary hero in Ilagan during the American colonial regime whose memory was given tribute by the National Historical Institute in 1982, but nobody cares in his hometown.
A lonely marker stood amid the town plaza in the vicinity of Rizal park in the capital of Ilagan, Isabela. The marker placed by the National Historical Institute (NHI) in 1982 in one corner of what was formerly a children’s playground is now obscured by a newly constructed amphitheater, worst, Ilagueno’s rarely knew for whom that simple monument stood for.
The marker was a tribute to Fernando Maramag (1893-1936) an eminent and prolific writer and poet in his times born in Ilagan and became editor of the TRIBUNE during the period of the American colonization and commonwealth era.
On January 21 marks the 118th Birth Anniversary of Maramag who also became President Manuel Quezon’s speech writer and editor of the prominent Philippine Collegian, a student publication of the University of the Philippines where he finished college.
But since it was first installed by the NHI in December 1, 1982; no other occasion was feted for the monument as Maramag’s memory quietly passed the years unnoticed. Not even Officials of the Isabela Cultural Council and the Provincial Museum knew it existed.
Ironically, the Cultural Council has commenced its preparation this month for the grand “Bambanti” (scarecrow) festival chaired by Governor Faustino Dy III’s wife Mary Ann to be held this coming May 11.
Pete Maramag Aggraviador, a descendant of Fernando Maramag recalls how the Maramag clan was invited for the Dec. 1 1982 tribute which coincided the inauguration of the Philippine National Bank (PNB) building in barangay Calamagui.
“Politicians in Ilagan wanted to please Fernando Maramag Jr. who is incidentally is Executive Vice President of the PNB that time so they expedited the erection of his father’s marker,” Aggraviador told the STAR.
Maramag Jr. led the inauguration of the PNB building and his father’s marker that same day.
It was during the Marcos regime that the Maramags where known to have close ties with the Marcoses. Aggraviador said a daughter of the writer, Ileana, was Imelda Marcos biographer and wrote many books about the Marcos New Society in the 1970s. He said Ileana was instrumental of her brother’s appointment in the PNB.
Besides the Marker, a street in the poblacion was named after Fernando Maramag Aggraviador added.
The clan of Maramag is also a prominent in Isabela politics, a brother Rafael was the first Mayor of Ilagan and became the first Governor of Isabela under the American Government reorganization on August 24, 1901. Rafael’s younger sibling Gabriel succeeded him as Ilagan mayor.
Aggraviador, who works at the Diocese of Ilagan, laments that the clan holds no other records regarding their clan though he was referred by the family to have more knowledge about their prominent ancestors. He said he knew of several unpublished manuscripts of Fernando Maramag left to a great grand aunt in Tuguegarao city before his death. Sadly, he lost track of the manuscripts.
According to Aggraviador, the Maramag sibling Fernando Jr. and Ileana were already deceased.
Fernando Maramag also worked as teacher at the Instituto de Manila (now University of Manila).
Besides the Tribune, Maramag also wrote and become editor to several magazines, including Rising Philippines, Citizen, Philippine National Weekly and Philippines Herald.
He also served in the Publication Division of the Department of Justice, and then transferred to the office of the President of the Senate under Manuel L. Quezon.
A poet and essayist, Maramág translated Ibanag folk songs into English, such as the “Cagayanon Labor Song,” “A Translation of an Orphan’s Song,” and “Cagayano Peasant Song”. His poems include “To a Youth,” “The Aetheist,” and “Moonlight on Manila Bay”.
Maramag’s literary works focuses on the Filipinos “unassuming “ attitude on American colonization as reflected in his “Moonlight on Manila Bay” , a poem he composed at age 19. Despite the splendor of Manila Bay Sunset admired by foreigners, Maramag chose to focus on moonlight as it suggests the cover of darkness by which he attributes how the foreigners have been wresting Filipinos of their native land. The sonnet’s line :“The deep’s bare bosom that the breeze molests” was Maramag’s vision of how the country is exploited using sexual assault figuratively as his metaphor for colonization.
His essays were anthologized in Leopoldo Yabes’ Filipino Essays in English 1910-1954 (1954). He passed away on October 23, 1936.