Noralyn Mustafa, Tausug fiction writer and journalist, writes 30

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 March) – Tausug fiction writer and journalist Noralyn Mustafa passed away at 4:51 p.m. on Saturday, March 27 at the Ciudad Medical Zamboanga due to complications from aspiration pneumonia, according to a statement from her family.

The 80-year old Mustafa, daughter of a public school educator and a tobacco farmer, was among the columnists of Kris-Crossing Mindanao in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.  She was the paper’s Sulu correspondent since 1996.

Noralyn Mustafa
(from FB profile photo)

In the 1970s, Mustafa was known as the only active female Tausug fiction writer, at a time when women writers in general were just a handful, and Muslim Mindanao fictionists were even rarer.

Mustafa took up AB English and Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

Her short stories, mostly written during the 1970s, were published by the Philippines Free Press, Philippines Graphic, Diliman Review and other national and local publications. Among her noted works of fiction were the short stories “And the Smell of Many Flowers,” “Termites,” “A Day in the Life of Dr. Karim,” and “To Pet, Who Saw Me through November.”

She was a fellow at the Silliman University National Writers Workshop and the UP National Writers Workshop, where she was mentored by national treasures NVM Gonzalez, Edilberto and Edith Tiempo, and Nick Joaquin, among other literary giants.

Mustafa’s most recent work of fiction — an excerpt of her unpublished autobiographical novel “Pages From a Journal” about the Moro rebellion and burning of Jolo in the 1970s — appeared on Tenggara: Journal of Southeast Asian literature published in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She was featured in 2019 in the book “Songs Sprung from Native Soils: More Conversations with Eight Mindanao Writers” published by the Xavier University Press and edited by prize-winning poet Ricardo M. de Ungria, who interviewed her for Kinaadman Journal, Vol. 41.

Mustafa, who wrote and archived volumes on the history, sociology and politics of Southern Philippine, served as coordinator of  the Institute of Cultural Studies for Western Mindanao at the Ateneo de Zamboanga where she also taught communication and fiction writing.

Mustafa’s media career spanned  at least six decades, starting with a stint as a radio broadcaster, disc jockey and variety show host in Jolo during her teens and worked in various capacities in print and broadcast media in Jolo, Zamboanga and Manila.  She also served as correspondent for a number of national and foreign media outfits, and was featured in documentaries locally and abroad, on topics such as the Moro insurgency and the peace process.

“Noralyn is survived by seven children, a dozen grandchildren, and a brood of pets,” the family statement said. (MindaNews)