LITERATURE AND SOCIETY: A virtual conversation with Salvador P. Lopez
1. Can you tell me about yourself?
I studied at the University of the Philippines and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1931 and a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy in 1933. At UP, I was drama critic for the Philippine Collegian and member of Upsilon Sigma Phi.12 From 1933 to 1936, I taught literature and journalism at the University of Manila. I also became a daily columnist and magazine editor of the Philippine Herald.
2. What award did you receive from your work?
In 1940, my essay entitled “Literature and Society” won the Commonwealth Literary Awards. My essay posited that art must have substance and that poet Jose Garcia Villa’s adherence to “art for art’s sake” is decadent. The essay provoked debates, the discussion centering on proletarian literature, i.e., engaged or committed literature versus the orientation of literature as an art for the sake of art itself.
3. What work did Diosdado Macapagal offer you?
I was appointed by President Diosdado Macapagal as Secretary of Foreign Affairs and then became ambassador to the United Nations for six years before reassigned to France for seven years.
4. After, all the things that you have been through, what position did you had in UP from the year 1969 to 1975?
I was the president of the University of the Philippines from 1969 to 1975. He established a system of democratic consultation wherein decisions such as promotions and appointments were made through greater participation by faculty and administrative personnel; I also reorganized UP into the UP System.
5. Is there other information that you can share about your position?
It was during my presidency that UP students were politically radicalized, launching mass protests against the Marcos regime right from the so-called “First Quarter Storm” in 1970 to the “Diliman commune” in 1971. During the latter, I called on all UP students, faculty, and employees to defend the university and its autonomy from Marcos’s militarization, as the military sought to occupy the campus in search of alleged leftists, activists and other opponents of the regime. Due to my defense of UP’s autonomy and democracy, many considered me a progressive and a militant member of the UP academe.